A long-term trip overseas is the adventure of a lifetime. However, the last thing you want to do is bog it down with loads of heavy luggage. The key to a smooth experience is to pack just enough to meet your needs while leaving room for souvenirs you collect along the way.
But how do you do it, exactly? It’s hard to fathom packing light if you plan to be gone for weeks at a time, yet it’s not impossible. In fact, with a little creativity and thinking ahead, you can get away with never having to check a single bag of luggage!
Scrap your old packing checklist, grab a sheet of paper, and get ready to embark on a crash course in efficiency as we teach you how to pack a carry on in a way that’s light, efficient, and smart.
How to Pack a Carry On for a Month’s Worth of Travel
Packing a month’s worth of necessities in a single carry on bag is easier than you think. They key is to think like a minimalist. Below, we’ve broken down the packing process into 5 easy steps.
Step One: Pick a Roomy Carry On That’s Easy to Lug Around
First and foremost, you have to choose the right bag. You’ll want to find something that is both roomy and easy to carry. After all, you’ll be dragging it around with you for several weeks!
If you feel comfortable stripping your belongings down to the bare necessities, then a light option, such as a camper’s backpack or a duffle bag, will do. However, if you plan to carry more bulky items then consider a larger option that is easy to navigate.
Rolling luggage is a great example. They’re spacious and capable of tackling most urban terrains.
Step Two: Pack a Blend of Mix and Max Outfits
All too often, people back by the outfit instead of viewing the clothes inside their bag as a slimmed down closet. Unless you’re sweating in every ensemble, you’ll be able to wear most outfits more than once.
Pack your clothes so that everything pairs well together. This allows you to mix and match so that you’re wearing the same clothes more than once while creating new outfits.
As you do this, consider what kind of clothes you’ll need on your trip, such as:
- Heels or Dress Shoes
- Flats, Sandals, or Flip Flops
- Jackets and Sweaters
- Outdoor Clothes
We often recommend packing from your toes to your top. Start by selecting shoes and work your way up the body, spreading your clothes out so you can determine whether they mix and match well together.
The best way to do this is by choosing a color scheme and running with it.
Aim to pack for a week’s worth of clothes. Most places you travel to will have a means for doing laundry, whether it’s stopping by a laundromat or taking advantage of facilities within hotels or hostels.
As for your necessities, such as soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, and makeup, stick with travel sizes and only bring what you’ll need. Remember, many hotels supply these items so you may not need to include as much as you think.
Step Three: Pack Like a Soldier
The trick to packing well is not just in what you pack, but how you pack. Military soldiers are well known to be masters of efficiency when packing a travel bag. Most popular is the method known to Army Rangers as “Ranger Rolling”.
This practice involves laying your clothes flat and folding both sides inward so that it’s about one-third of its original width. From there you start from the bottom and begin rolling the fabric upward.
The end result will look a lot like a burrito. You then take these small clothes burritos and line them up side-by-side within your luggage. You’ll be amazed at just how much you can fit inside your bag using this method!
Use small, flexible storage bags for loose or small personal items, such as chargers, toothbrushes, and other handheld items.
If you have bulky items, such as a jacket, roll it tight and then tie it closed using a cord or string.
Step Four: Test Your Bag Weight to Ensure Comfort
Keep in mind you’ll be carrying your bag around quite a bit. In order to avoid aches and pains, make sure you pack light. In this case, light isn’t just about slimming down the number of items, but also the weight of your bag when you’re finished packing.
If you complete your process only to find it’s too heavy to carry, open it back up and ask yourself again, “Do I really need everything that’s in here?” If the answer is yes, then distribute the weight better.
Place the heaviest items at the bottom of your bag closest to your spine. This will naturally place the weight of your bag closer to your center of gravity, which makes it easier to bear.
Step Five: Tuck In an Extra Bag for the Trip Home
Few travelers can explore a new area without taking a few new items home. Instead of trying to fit both your necessities and your souvenirs in one bag, plan ahead. A duffle bag or cloth backpack folds easily when there’s nothing in it.
Fold one of these items into a fraction of its original size, just like you did with your clothes. Tie it shut to keep it condensed and then tuck it into your carry on bag.
As you travel, you can pull it out and start filling it up if and when you find the need. This ensures you’ll never have to worry about extra space!
Prepare for Exploration with More Travel Tips
You may know how to pack a carry on bag now, but are you ready to embark on a journey overseas? For more travel tips on how to backpack your way through a foreign country, make sure you explore our blog!
We offer a host of informative articles and how-to posts to help you prepare for the adventure of a lifetime. Grab a notebook, dive in deep, and plan your next excursion!