Travelling with Hand luggage only

During 2017 and 2018 I did a substantial amount of solo overseas travel and learned the value of travelling light.

What I take for 4 months overseas, including summer and winter climates

Having various items of clothing that work together need not be boring.  I stuck with blues and greens and flexible pieces that could be worn in hot climates but could be layered for colder weather. I try to choose fabrics that don’t crease too much and wash and dry easily. IMG_3607.jpg


In the case are: jeans, heavy cardigan and top which I wear on the plane with the black boots (leaving plenty of space for electronic gear.  The laptop fits neatly on top)

I don’t pretend to be a perfect packer. Sometimes I roll my clothes, sometimes I layer them flat, sometimes I stuff them in – all ways it fits.

Dresses x3

  • 1 black and white below the knee, short sleeved dress
  • 1 blue/green coloured tunic, short sleeved
  • 1 sleeveless, patterned floaty tunic  (top/nightdress/over undies for swimming)

Bottoms x4

  • 1 jeans
  • 1 smart black trousers
  • 1 knee length pencil skirt
  • 1 pair shorts


  • 1 long sleeved grey fine merino T shirt
  • 1 colourful floaty top
  • 1 white patterned shirt
  • 1 pink/green patterned organic cotton

(I like my tops to be longer length with 3/4 length sleeves: discrete and protects my arms from sun so no sunscreen needed)


  • 1 green cotton
  • 1 blue, longer length – merino

Coat x1

Lightweight blue wind/waterproof (not pictured)

Shoes x3

  • Black short boots with good tread
  • Flat green sandals
  • Red comfy, lightweight closed in shoes

Miscellaneous (in red stuff sac)

  • 5 panties
  • 2 bras
  • 2 pairs warm opaque black stockings
  • 1 pair compression stockings – worn on all flights
  • 2 pairs stocking socks
  • 1 white vest
  • 1 pashmina
  • 1 colourful scarf
  • 1 pair fine merino fingerless gloves
  • 1 pen
  • 1 Tiny notepad
  • 1 paperback book for reading (once finished I leave it where I am and pick up another)
  • 2 lightweight ‘eco’ bags

Toiletries (in very small bag – no liquids making airport security easy)

  • 1 toothbrush
  • 1 small toothpaste
  • 1 lipstick
  • 1 small solid deodorant
  • 1 handkerchief
  • 1 foil paracetamol
  • 1 foil ibuprofen
  • 1 foil antihistamine
  • 6 medicated plasters
  • 12 imodium tablets
  • 1 insect repellant bracelet

NO soap, shampoo or washing powder – I’ve found it available pretty much everywhere I’ve been and, if not, plain water suffices.

NO sunscreen – I cover up if needed – pashmina for my head, neck and face – 3/4 sleeves for my arms.

Camera/ electronic gear (bits kept together in a stuff sac)

  • Universal adapter (surge protector)
  • Phone and charger
  • Laptop and charger
  • 3 camera batteries and charger
  • 1 DSLR camera body 
  • 1 lens 24 – 70 mm
  • 1 2T external backup drive
  • Several SD cards
  • 1 soft lens cleaning cloth

I fit my camera in my rucksack styled handbag so it is not obvious I’m carrying expensive gear.

Motivation For Travelling Light

Personal safety: to keep tabs on all my gear at critical times e.g. when moving from A – B and to ensure I did not have to rely on strangers helping me with my gear. (It is at these vulnerable times when I suspect thieves take their chances).


  • Simple system that keeps me organised – especially useful when tired and/or disoriented in a foreign place
  • Ease of keeping gear together and, because I had so little, I immediately KNOW when something is missing
  • Saves time unpacking/packing/deciding what to wear
  • No hanging around at airport carousels waiting for luggage
  • Ability to squash into smaller vehicles i.e. transport flexibility

What ifs

Most of my “what ifs” were based on fear. Once I realised I couldn’t possibly mitigate for every kind of ‘emergency’, it was easy to “let go”. I travelled on the premise that, should a problem arise, I would have to purchase what was needed or come up with a creative solution. Or rely on the kindness of strangers.

Laundry on the Go

I use my accomodation shampoo/soap and dry the clothing over-night in-front of fan/air-conditioner/open window.

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