The plight of the overpacker creates more than just stress--it costs more, weighs more, and generally detracts from the travel experience. And so when my husband and I crammed everything into storage, moved out of our apartment, and jetted off to parts unknown, we knew we wanted to consolidate everything we'd bring into just a carry-on and a small backpack. After all, the previous year, we had backpacked Europe for 5 weeks with only a small backpack!
When we boarded our one-way flight out of West Palm Beach, we had all of our possessions within reach, packed into one small carry-on and one small backpack each. Our backpacks contained our toiletries (for easy access to our Ziploc of liquids in airport security lines) plus work/fun items: laptop, charger, phone cord, small notepad and pens, passport and other important documents, and maybe a book or two for me. Our carry-ons held our clothes, shoes, and any toiletries that weren't liquid (hairbrush, toothbrush, etc).
After traveling for so long with so little, I learned a thing or two about packing correctly (read: lightly). In fact, the most common question I was asked during our trip was how we managed to live on the road for months on end without ever checking a bag! In partnership with Genius Pack, I've finally sat down to put my best packing tips and tricks on paper. Here's what I packed, how I packed it, and some tried-and-true packing advice for short- or long-term travel.
Pictured is almost exactly what I traveled with, minus personal items like bras, underwear, and toiletries. In list form, starting at the left of the photo:
Of course, packing also depends greatly upon what you like to do when you travel. You know your lifestyle; if you're very outdoorsy and plan to hike and exercise a lot, you'll want a couple more items of athletic wear than I packed. If you stick to cold places, you'll want a few more layers than I had available. If you tend toward more upscale destinations, you'll want a couple pieces that allow you to dress to impress (and maybe a pair of heels too). We do a little bit of everything but spend a good bit of time working then walking around and exploring the city, maybe eating at a local favorite restaurant, and we're always up for the occasional out-of-the-ordinary excursion... So that's the kind of versatility we packed for.
Regarding packing method, the great debate--folding vs rolling -rages on, and I refuse to pick a side. My method is a little bit of both; I roll and compress bulkier pieces of clothing while minimally folding thinner, lighter items. I place the largest/least flexible items (shoes and heavier items) in first, lining the sides and bottom of the suitcase, then fill in the spaces around them (and inside them) with everything else. In my opinion, the way you pack isn't as important as what you pack and how you pack it. At the end of the day, no clothes-rolling technique is going to help you if you've simply overloaded yourself with too much stuff!
From now on, my extended stints on the road will be much more organized and packable thanks to my Genius Pack carry-on! As you can see in the video, everything I mentioned fit into my carry-on and there was even room left over for more. Its compact size somehow manages to fit all the essentials, yet remains within the size limitations for overhead compartments in planes around the world! The pockets and thoughtful design of the suitcase take the headache out of packing and traveling, so get going—and spend those saved “checked bag” fees on a nice resort in Southeast Asia because, yes, they’re an equivalent price.
Carry on, wanderlusters.
About the Writer:
Skye Sherman is a globetrotting travel writer who enjoys jetting off on adventures with her husband. She has traveled to over 25 countries without checking a bag and has mastered the art of traveling light! When she's not on the road, she's soaking up the sun at home in South Florida. Follow along with her adventures on Instagram and Facebook.