Recently I took a 10 day trip to Bali for a friends destination wedding. Being a short trip, I decided what better time to test out my OneBag challenge? and attempted to survive for 10 days with carry-on luggage only.
By the halfway point of the trip, after seasons began changing, I began to throw away clothes that were beginning to get tattered, worn, or that I no longer needed.
Not long after, I had an epiphany.
Susan Eileen via Pinterest
I decided that 85L was too much to be carrying, especially after having to walk several miles (several times) with all that weight on my shoulders.
But before I could go all-out, downgrade, and buy a smaller backpack, I had to be sure I could survive okay as a minimalist traveller.
The goal being a 50L pack that can be taken on-board as carry-on, and surviving out of it for a 6-10 week trip.
The much simpler sub-goal being: survive for 10 days with a small backpack.
The Bali trip would be only 10 days. I knew the climate would be tropical, and I knew I was only allowed 7kgs by the airline for carry-on, with one other item (eg. laptop, purse, or suit).
Being a tropical climate, I knew I could get away with wearing very little.
Being Bali, I knew that I could buy whatever I was missing quite easily by shopping Kuta or Legian markets and haggling a good price.
I encourage you to watch the video. There are a few helpful packing tips to show you how you can pack light, taking only your carry-on allowance. It's only my second video though, so be kind.
What I packed
- Not shown in the above video clip, I also packed my carry-on toiletries bag. A clear plastic bag showing my liquids and gels (less than 100ml in size). I didn't take aerosols, so no deoderant. But I just picked this, and more than 100ml of sunscreen up, once I landed from a convenience store.
- One pair of jeans (that I wore on the plane)
- One pair of shorts
- One pair of board-shorts (swimwear)
- 4 pairs of socks
- 4 pairs of underwear (do some laundry on holiday, or wear swimwear more often)
- 4 t-shirts
- One nice shirt (dress shirt)
- One full suit (carried-on in a suit bag, as my secondary piece of carry-on luggage), including shoes
- Another pair of sand-shoes or thongs (flip-flops)
- Notebook and/or Journal. I always carry a couple of notebooks with me on holiday.
- Mobile phone, charger, and international adapter. I picked up a local SIM card in Indonesia to make calls to my CouchSurfing hosts, friends, and other wedding guests.
For the Ladies
Advantages to travelling light
There are so many advantages to travelling light. Here are some of the top reasons to travel with carry-on only, discovered from experience with my short trip to Bali:
- Packing – You're a last minute packer anyway, aren't you? Packing light means that there's less to pack when you're running around throwing everything together at the 11th hour. Just pick on a set of clothes, pack a couple other sets, zip up, and away you go.
- Mobility – One of the biggest benefits. No more walking around in the heat for hours with all that weight on your shoulders. So easy to get around. No reservation? Don't like the service, just walk-on to the next accommodation.
- Simplicity – Minimalism brings inner peace. You get to focus on enjoying yourself, instead of worrying about what you're wearing, buying, or packing. Less stress about where your bags are, how to get them from A to B. No need to worry where you store your bag, just take it with you.
- Airports – Everyone else has to go to the carousel and wait for their baggage, you go straight through to the carpark.
- Transportation - Don't worry about where your bags are stored when getting around. Your bag is always with you. Yes, even on the infamous scooters of Bali. Strapped to your back as you tear through traffic!
- Environment – Yes, there's an environmental advantage to packing light. Less things with you means less fuel, less space taken up, and less impact on the environment. Think about your carbon footprint next time, and leave the big suitcase at home.
ToastyKen via Flickr
Disadvantages to travelling light
Of course, there were a few disadvantages to travelling with carry-on only.
- No room for shopping: I didn't have much room to buy more stuff. If I had filled the backpack, I would have to consider throwing things out, sending things home, or layering as much on myself as possible.
- Security: In Bali I was stopped by airport security, they wanted to know where my luggage was. They treated me with a bit of skepticism when I said I didn't have any.
- Gels, Liquids, Aerosols: I could have saved a few dollars by being able to take more (bigger) gels, liquids, and aerosols. I would have been able to bring brands from home, brands that I trusted. Similarly for pocket-knives, nail-clippers, cigarette lighters, etc.
- One Bag: Having only one bag meant that if I wanted to take something somewhere (in a bag), I had to empty out my luggage for the trip to use the bag, or buy another bag. There is no "daypack" when you have one bag.
- Think about what you pack: You really have to plan out your outfits and think about what you pack. You have to research the climate and be aware that you may need to take a swimsuit, or a jacket on the trip. Then work out smart ways to carry it on without exceeding your luggage limit.
Post Trip Thoughts
I easily survived the 10 days in Bali with only the carry-on items described. I purchased a few extra shirts as souvenirs along the way, partly so I didn't have to do laundry as soon as I ran out of clothes, and partly so I had something practical to remember the trip by.
Given it was Bali, and the dress-code for clubs and bars is a lot more relaxed than what I'm used to, I could have travelled without the jeans and just another pair of shorts. I know for next time.
Even with the extra purchases, everything fit in the carry-on bag. If you do buy a little too much, you might consider layering the clothes on your person as you board the plane, or simply paying the extra and checking-in some luggage.