Are you a notorious over-packer? If you are nodding your head frantically right now – welcome to the club. It is good know that I am not the only travelette out there who is dreading to lift her 60+ backpack off the ground after attaching everything that didn’t fit inside to the outside of the pack with those handy loose straps. If you tend to end up kicking and screaming at your backpack instead of stepping off the bus/plane/train and start exploring your destination before even heading to your hostel – I promise, there is help!

Read these 17+ awesome tips for travelling with hand luggage only; even long-term or across seasons!

photo by Katja Hentschel

1. Only carry clothes for 1 week.

Lay out everything you think you’ll need and then take at least 50% away before you pack.

2. Don’t pack clothes only because they’re said to be practical.

If you don’t like the way you look in them before you leave, you won’t ever wear them on your trip.

3. Bring basics and stand-out accessories.

Pack simple clothes that mix and match and a few key pieces to accentuate your outfits. Over the years we have collected several packing lists – for specific countries, seasonal trips or just stylish travel.

4. Get yourself a 40L backpack (or there abouts).

…don’t even think about buying a 60+L one. If you need help finding the perfect backpack for your trip – here is our handy guide.

girl with red shirt

5. Embrace the laundromat.

Besides reducing the amount of clothes you need to carry, the laundromat is always an interesting look into local life! Or…

6. Stay in hostels or Airbnbs with a washing machine…

…to save your pennies.

7. Use little, refillable bottles for beauty products.


8. Use solid products instead of liquid shampoo, soap, deodorant etc. Lush has a great selection.


9. Use an all-in-one product like Dr. Bronner Castile Soap.

They are available in liquid and solid form and can be used for everything from washing your hair to doing your laundry.

What to wear in India, Women, Packing List, Kathi Kamleitner, Travelettes-15

10. Know your airline’s policy on hand luggage inside out.

This will avoid disappointments upon check-in.

11. Bring only what you really need.

Leave ALL ‘what if’-items at home!

12. Start packing in advance.

Take your time thinking about real necessities and versatile outfit combinations.

13. Leave your makeup bag at home.

If you can’t do without, focus on essentials, like a bold lipstick or compact powder.

girl with lipstick

14. Instead of a reusable water bottle bring a water pouch.

These lay flat when empty and don’t unnecessarily take away space.

15. Invest in a stuff-able down jacket.

If you travel from hot to cold climates invest in a down jacket that you can stuff into tiny spaces – they are a little more expensive, but so worth it.

16. Roll your clothes!

And bring wrinkle-free clothes.

17. Don’t overdo the souvenir shopping.

Send postcards instead!

For more tips read on in the comments – thanks for everybody contributing your packing knowledge!!

Postcard (1 of 1)

Now it’s your turn – what’s your top tips for travelling with hand luggage only?

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This is a post by Kathi Kamleitner.

Kathi Kamleitner was a regular contributor at Travelettes from 2013 to 2019. Originally from Vienna, Austria, she packed her backpack to travel the world and lived in Denmark, Iceland and Berlin, before settling in Glasgow, Scotland. Kathi is always preparing her next trip – documenting her every step with her camera, pen and phone.

In 2016, Kathi founded Scotland travel blog to share her love for her new home, hiking in the Scottish Highlands, island hopping and vegan food. Follow her adventures on Instagram @watchmesee!