1 Carry-On Bag + 30 Days = The Ultimate Travel Packing List
Are you planning a long trip that involves air travel? Do you want to save some money?
Flying is pricey enough as it is without the added cost of checked luggage. More so, travelling for an extended period of time with lots of baggage can rack up your expenses significantly.
So what if I told you that you can cut down on your air travel costs and still pack enough for that long trip you've been planning?
Most budget airlines allow you to have a free or low-cost carry-on bag which meets the dimensions 55 cm x 40 cm x 20 cm. Some of these airlines include EasyJet, Wizz Air and Ryanair (Please see Ryanair's new cabin baggage policy here).
This article will show you how to pack a 55 cm x 40 cm x 20 cm size cabin bag for 1 month of travelling. You may think that this sounds crazy but it is entirely possible and actually very easy.
All that you need to do is find yourself the right size bag and then follow our handy guide. We would recommend this Flight Approved Carry-On Bag by Cabin Max if you don't have a bag that meets the size requirements already.
To help you make the most of your carry-on luggage, this article includes a packing list with everything that you will need for one month of travelling and instructions on how to pack your bag.
The mantra for this guide is pack sparingly and wash frequently. We aim for you to pack roughly a week's worth of items that you will need to wash frequently in the laundry services at your hostel or in a laundromat.
So, without further ado, we give you the HostelsClub 30 Day Hand Luggage Packing List!
THE PACKING LIST
1- WALKING BOOTS OR SHOES
The most important thing you can bring with you is a pair of good-quality walking boots or shoes.
These will be your only shoes for one month so it is essential to have something comfortable and supportive.
If you're worried about packing these, don't. You will always wear your walking boots when travelling so they will never go into your bag.
2- WATERPROOF FLIP-FLOPS
Don't panic, you will have a pair of back up shoes...
The versatility of waterproof flip-flops make them essential for any trip, no matter the season.
These will be your slippers, your shower shoes and your going-out footwear for when your feet need a break from your boots!
3- TWO PAIRS OF TROUSERS
One pair to pack in your bag and the other to wear on travel days.
Any kind of trousers will do: jeans, trackies, chinos... whatever you're most comfortable moving around in. Just remember to minimise space by choosing something of a light material and avoiding thick denims that will take up a lot of room in your bag!
The reason you will only need two pairs of trousers for one month is simple: trousers don't need to be washed every day. Wear your trousers on alternating days before washing them at the end of the week.
While having one pair of trousers is always useful for travelling year-round, you can easily swap the second pair for one or two pairs for shorts if you are travelling in the summer or in a hot country.
4- A PAIR OF SHORTS OR LEGGINGS
A pair of shorts, leggings, or light-weight trackie bottoms will do as easy alternative to your everyday trousers.
Go for something comfortable to wear around your hostel or something that you wouldn't mind getting active in. The important thing is that whatever you pack is smaller and lighter than your other trousers.
5- MAXIMUM SEVEN SHIRTS
For a month long trip five to seven shirts of light, easily-foldable material is the perfect number.
If you are travelling in the summer we would recommend packing three or four tee shirts and one or two vest tops. For winter excursions think layers: four or five long-sleeved shirts and two thermal base layers are ideal.
Remember: these are the only shirts that will go in your bag. You will wear your extra shirt on travel days.
Don't forget our mantra: pack sparingly and wash frequently! We would recommend packing as little as possible so if you can manage with fewer shirts than the number we've recommended, go for it! You may just need to wash your clothes a little more regularly.
6- MAXIMUM SEVEN PAIRS OF UNDERWEAR AND TWO BRAS
If you're going to skimp anywhere, don't skimp on the undies. You hear about backpackers who live by the motto 'a pair and a spare'. If you want to do this, good for you.
But unless you want to do the inside-out trick for a month, having roughly a week's worth of underwear cannot hurt. Six pairs of knickers or pants will easily fit into your bag. Save the seventh pair for travel days. Additionally, you could easily slip a pair of swimming trunks or a bikini into your bag if need be.
If you wear a bra, you've probably been wearing the same one for a month without washing it; You definitely don't need more than two. Pack one in your bag, and wear your second to the airport.
7- THREE PAIRS OF SOCKS
We'd recommend a pair, a spare and and an 'in-case of emergency' set of socks.
This probably sounds a little low but if you wash your socks after every wear with Pyramid Multi Purpose Travel Soap (see the Toiletries section) or with a little dish soap, you will have fresh socks every single day.
8- ONE PAIR OF PYJAMAS
You only need one pair of PJs: something light, preferably short, and easy to squish in between your clothes. Leave your onesie and thick wintery pyjamas at home.
If you need something to sleep in while your PJs are in the wash, wear your spare tee shirt with your pair of comfortable shorts or leggings as a substitute.
9- ONE JUMPER OR HOODIE
A jumper or hoodie is always perfect for layering up.
Try something light and multi-seasonal if you want to stay warm while saving bag space.
If you pack a thick winter jumper, or if you’re feeling stretched for space, we’d recommend wearing your jumper or hoodie on travel days.
But if you assemble your bag according to our packing instructions we doubt this will be a problem.
10- A COAT OR A JACKET
Always wear this on the plane, never pack it.
In the winter make sure that any additional items such as hats, scarfs or gloves are worn when travelling. In the summer take either a jacket or a jumper, not both!
1- A RESEALABLE PLASTIC BAG
We have one rule for packing your toiletries: all of your products should be able to fit in a medium or large sized resealable plastic bag.
Ditching your clunky toiletries bag for something smaller will not only save you space by encouraging you to pack less, it will also make security check much easier for you when you have to remove your toiletries to put them through the airport scanner.
You will probably run out of toiletries on your trip but you can always pick up some more along the way! Just make sure that they are less than 100 mls per item in order to meet the hand luggage requirements at the airport.
2- MULTI PURPOSE SOAP OR TRAVEL MINIS
Save room with this Pyramid Multi Purpose Travel Soap! Use it as body wash, shampoo, laundry detergent and even dish soap!
Better yet, each bottle is only 60 mls so it will meet the airport requirements for toiletry allowance. We'd recommend taking two or three bottles of this miracle potion to last you the length of your trip.
However, if you really can't part from your usual toiletries, take 100 mls of your favourite shampoo, conditioner and body wash in refillable travel bottles. Or, if necessary, you could always pick up travel minis at the airport.
3- ADDITIONAL TOILETRIES
You have leeway with whatever toiletries you want to bring as long as they are 100 mls or less and fit in your resealable plastic bag.
Like everything else you pack for your trip, we recommend bringing only essential items to save room. Try to limit yourself to three or four extra toiletries if you can.
4- A TRAVEL TOWEL
A portable towel like this Fit-Flip Microfibre Travel Towel will come in handy if you're staying in a hostel! The microfibre material makes it small and light enough to carry in a backpack.
Of course, if you don't have a travel towel handy, you could always rent or borrow towels at your hostel.
MUST-HAVES AND DOCS:
1- PASSPORTS, IDS AND VISAS
Absolutely essential. Never leave the house for the airport without these. If you have any doubt about whether or not you will need a certain document, bring it.
2- TRAVEL INSURANCE
Always carry a paper copy of your travel insurance or a health insurance card. For EU residents, an EHIC card is always mandatory.
3- ESSENTIAL MEDICATION
You can take any medications necessary for your plane journey in your hand luggage.
We won't tell you what you should or should not bring when it comes to your health, just make sure that what you bring meets the hand luggage requirements of the airport you're travelling in. If you have any doubts, it won't hurt to double check!
4- YOUR SMART PHONE AND WALLET
We know you'd never leave the house without these, this is just a reminder.
If you're old school and you don't have a smart phone, bring your mobile along and you could always use the computer in your hostel.
5- YOUR CHARGERS AND ADAPTER PLUG
Don't forget your chargers and don't forget to pack an adapter plug if you want your chargers to work...
Never travel anywhere without a multi-country adapter plug like this CleverTrips Universal Travel Power Adapter. If you can't find one before your trip it's easy enough to pick one up at the airport.
6- STRING BACKPACK OR TOTE BAG
In case you don't want to carry your backpack or suitcase while sightseeing, a lightweight day bag, like this Centrix Drawstring Gym Bag, or a simple tote bag, like these Natural Cotton Shopping Tote Bags, are a good idea. You will store all of the must-have items above in your string backpack or tote bag.
The items below are only recommendations. We suggest taking only three or four of these extra items for the duration of your journey.
1- A BOOK, E READER OR JOURNAL
It is unlikely that you will have room in your bag for a book unless it is something small and thin. The same goes for journals. If you can fit a book in your bag, great. If not, many hostels have a stash of paperbacks that travellers swap on their journeys'.
One of the most space-effective ways to read during your trip would be to bring an e reader, since they are thin, flat, and easy to pack. Or better yet, you could always download the Kindle App or iBooks on your phone.
Under no circumstances should you pack headphones unless you want to carry them around your neck for a month. While headphones have excellent sound quality, they are clunky and unnecessary for travelling.
You can easily fit a pair of earphones into even the fullest of bags.
Many travellers want to return home with stunning photos. A small camera can be nestled easily between your clothes in your bag while larger, professional cameras should be packed in a separate camera bag.
A fun, easy-to-pack alternative is a disposable camera. But of course you could skip bringing a camera entirely and just take pictures on your phone. It's up to you.
Cards are great for long journeys or evenings spent with fellow travellers. You could effortlessly fit a pack of cards into your bag or find a spare deck lying around the hostel.
Please note that makeup is not listed under the essentials.
If you choose to bring makeup you are only going to pack the bare basics. We're talking foundation, blush, mascara and eyeliner. Done.
Store these in a separate resealable plastic bag or fit them into your toiletries bag if you have the space to do so.
LOGISTICS AND ASSEMBLY
Now for the big assembly...
You're probably wondering how on Earth you will be able to pack all of the above items into one little bag. Don't worry! If you follow these instructions you will be able to do this quite easily.
We want to make it clear that the goal of this guide is not to stuff your bag until its heavy and overflowing. If followed correctly these instructions should help you to have a little spare room for any extra items or souvenirs you may collect on your travels. However, the results may vary depending on the size of your bag and the thickness of your clothes.
We understand that all bags are a little different, but for the purposes of this article we will be instructing you on how to pack a backpack like the Flight Approved Carry-On Bag by Cabin Max. However, you can use many of these same techniques for packing a small suitcase of the same dimensions.
To begin, you will pack your heavier and thicker items at the bottom of your bag in order to create a base layer. Having a good base will make packing the rest of your items significantly easier.
Start by packing one pair of trousers (you will wear the other pair to the airport), the pair of shorts or leggings, the jumper or hoodie and your travel towel. To save space when packing, roll your clothes and towel instead of folding them. The diagram below explains the best way to roll your clothes. Make sure to pinch and squeeze the items as you roll them in order to push out any extra air and to make the clothes as compacted as possible! Afterwards, flatten the items into the bottom of the bag with your hands so that they create a base layer with an even height.
Once you have completed your base layer, you can get started on packing the middle section of the backpack. Start by standing your flip-flops in an upright position in your bag so that their soles are touching the back wall of the backpack. They should be aligned with the part of the bag that will rest on your back when you wear it. Secure the position of the flip-flops by tucking their ends in between the items that make up the base layer and the inner wall of the backpack.
If you are bringing a book, e reader or journal, stand it upright and rest it flat against the top of the flip-flops.
Next take 6 pairs of underwear and two pairs of socks (save and extra pair of each to wear to the airport). Roll up your underwear and store it inside one of your socks (normally three pairs of underwear fit into one sock). You can then fold your socks as you normally would before placing them into your bag. The same can be done with any swim suits that you choose to pack. This will allow you to save space and will also make finding your socks and underwear much easier.
If you are bringing bras on this journey, pack only one in your bag and wear the other when travelling. If you are bringing a padded bra, twist it in the centre so that you can rest one cup inside the other in order to make it smaller. If you are packing an unpadded bra, roll it up in the same way you've rolled your underwear. Afterwards, pack your bra in the middle section of your backpack with the socks.
Next pack your six shirts, leaving one on the side for your travel day. Roll the shirts as instructed above and then place them into your bag. Make sure to push the shirts and socks into any gaps or spaces that you can find in your bag in order to use your space most effectively. You can nestle small items like a cameraor a pack of playing cards in between your shirts as you do this.
Your pyjamas will be the last thing that you pack in the middle section because you may need to have easy access to them on arrival at your destination. Roll them up and leave them positioned near the top of your bag.
The last few items that you will pack in the top section of your bag will be kept separate from the rest of your things. Place all of your toiletries and makeup into their resealable plastic bags and put them at the top of your backpack so that they can be easily removed at airport security.
Next, place all of the essentials, including any important documents that you will need at the airport, into your separate string backpack or tote bag. You can place the string backpack or tote bag into your rucksack next to your toiletries or carry it with you at the airport. Just make sure to return it to your backpack shortly before boarding your flight. You should also keep your earphones and any other extra items that you want to use on the plane in your separate bag.
In addition to the one extra outfit that you will have saved for your travel days, make sure to always wear your walking boots, coat and any winter accessories to the airport. These items should never see the inside of your bag.
And that's it! You've now successfully packed one hand luggage size bag for 30 days of travelling!
You can see the full packing list below, but before you save yourself a copy, make sure to start booking your 30 days of travel with Hostelsclub.com and choose from our 30,000 properties worldwide!