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The All-Seasons Carry-On Packing List

by Globetrooper Lauren | 11 Responses
Pack a Carry-On Bag For All-Seasons

With horizontal snow racing past outside, I’m mentally waving goodbye to Toronto for who knows how long. There’s an unusual amount of leg room so I’m reminding my knees to savor these lush moments of space on the Maple Leaf train heading to New York City.

My gut says the trains will be a little different on the Great Circular Indian Railway Challenge.

Before we came to Toronto’s frigid winter for a January of Tim Hortons, we spent three months basking through Montreal’s summer festivals, lived in Cusco for two cool months, backpacked through Bolivia, lived in Buenos Aires for a delicious summer month of asado after asado, and now we’re preparing for India.

So after 8 months on the road, I reckon I’ve got this bag thing sorted, and for the majority of weather conditions, and for just a small carry-on bag.

Many people have asked how I do it, how do I have ‘my whole life packed into a small backpack’ or ‘room to fit everything’, especially women. So I’ve made a list of the ‘stuff’ I’m currently hauling around in my 37L Arc’Teryx Axios backpack and my Pacsafe sling purse, and there’s still room to spare!

My Backpack


  • 1 x jeans
  • 1 x leggings
  • 1 x convertible pants
  • 1 x 3/4 pants
  • 1 x long pyjama pants
Arc'Teryx Backpack

My Arc'Teryx Backpack - the Men's Tall version as I'm 5 ft 12 :)


  • 4 x singlet tops
  • 2 x t-shirts
  • 1 x merino long-sleeve top
  • 4 x thin cardigans/sweaters
  • 1 x thick fleece
  • 1 x rain jacket


  • 7 x underwear
  • 2 x brassieres
  • 1 x sports bra
  • 3 x sports socks


  • 1 x ballet slippers
  • 1 x sandals
  • 1 x trail runners

Seasonal extras

  • 1 x scarf
  • 1 x beanie/tuque
  • 1 x warm gloves
  • 1 x woolly socks
  • 1 x swimsuit
  • 1 x summer dress


  • 1 x Macbook 11” with case
  • 1 x Kindle
  • 1 x camera
  • 1 x water bottle and purifier
  • 1 x paperback
  • 1 x plastic sleeve for docs
  • 1 x headtorch
Pacsafe purse

My Pacsafe purse keeps my mind at ease when in dodgy areas


  • 1 x 100ml shampoo
  • 1 x 100ml conditioner
  • 2 x moisturiser
  • 1 x pack of face wipes
  • 1 x face scrub/exfoliant
  • 1 x hairbrush
  • 1 x toothbrush and toothpaste
  • 1 x sunscreen
  • 1 x diva cup
  • 1 x micro-fibre towel


  • 1 x tinted moisturiser with UV40+
  • 1 x concealer
  • 1 x eye pencil and sharpener
  • 1 x bronzer
  • 1 x eye shadow/blush combo
  • 1 x mascara


  • 1 x First-aid kit
  • Many cords & cables for electronics
  • 1 x International driver’s licence
  • 1 x Vaccination book
  • 1 x Small box of earrings and hair clips
  • 1 x Eye mask (for sleeping, not replenishing)

My Purse

  • 1 x Passport
  • 1 x iPhone
  • 1 x wallet
  • 1 x notepad
  • 1 x iPod and earphones
  • 1 x lip balm

*With the exception of my hairbrush and toothbrush, everything is mini or travel-sized (under 100ml for liquids). Hostels sometimes have large containers in the showers for shampoo, conditioner and /or soap where I’ll refill my little bottles, or if you’re in a hotel, they usually provide mini shampoos etc anyway.

As you can see, I still have a great deal of ‘stuff’ that some of I could easily do without, but I think it’s sensible to have some comforts, otherwise you’ll be wishing for home instead of enjoying your travels.

My Comforts

I love that you can have an entire bookshelf in a Kindle, but I also love to read a proper book that I can then swap with someone along the way. I also carry way too many face creams, cleansers, exfoliators etc. but they make me feel a whole lot better when I’m having a bad day. And washing underwear every day or every second day is not high on my to-do list, they’re small and light, so why not pack a bunch of them.

Most things that you think you ‘might need’ you can usually find in any city, so try not to pack an extensive medical/first-aid kit, a hairdryer, large shampoo/moisturiser bottles or too much of any one thing. It also paves the way for a new experience by making you solve simple problems in a foreign country that turn out to be not so simple after all, in the end giving you a new story to tell or advice to give others. Plus it gets you buying and trying local products or experiencing the local way of doing things.

Posted in Gear & Gadgets,, How-To Guides | February 9th, 2011

11 Responses to The All-Seasons Carry-On Packing List

  1. Are you lugging this lot across the Gobi?

    • Hahaha… no. I think it’ll be hard enough with a pack full of just water!

  2. I think you have done very well getting a life into those 2 smallish bags – cant imagine doing that myself. And I see you will have to lighter even still when you go to Gobi! You are an amazing girl! – love the photo of you in the snow by the way
    good story – love mum

  3. Wow! Loz that is so impressive! I will try and live by this list on my next trip away….going to aim for just carry on for next trip to Melbourne!
    x x

    • Oh Caro! You MUST go carry-on only for your next domestic flight. Surely Vanessa or Carla will let you use their hair dryer and straightener!

  4. I’m always on the lookout for packing list examples. Nice job on yours…a few things I would recommend:

    1. instead of shampoo and conditioner, Lush (and other places) sell solid shampoo/conditioner combined – reduce your liquids and save space with this method

    2. instead of the capri pants, change this to a skirt – several places in the world prefer women in skirts and you can’t go in most religious sites without one

    3. 7 pairs of undies is quite a bit – get 3-4 quick dry ones (Ex Officio is good, or I like the Jockey no line options, a bit cheaper and dry in 2 hours!)

    4. Invest in a large refill pack of wipes (usually in the baby or health section) – these come in handy everywhere

    5. Add a sarong to your list – cover up, pillow, instant skirt, etc

    Hope you have a fantastic time on your travels!

    • Thanks for your recommendations Megan. It’s funny you bring up all of these. I actually did have the Lush solid shampoo/conditioner and thought it was really neat getting around the liquids limit and it smelled really good. However practically it didn’t hold up, after a few days the solid bar just turned into mush and leaked from the container.

      I also just bought a skirt here in India and feel much comfortable walking around in it than my capri shorts.

      I know 7 pairs of undies are bit much, but I also hate washing and would prefer to carry a few more because they don’t take up much space anyway. Haven’t tried the Ex-Officio or any quick-dry ones though, will look into them.

      I could not travel without my face wipes, I don’t have the massive pack, just a small one that holds 25 or 30 sheets because I’ve found you can buy them almost anywhere when you run out.

      And as for the sarong – I use my scarf for all those purposes instead, as I’m not a big beach buff.

      Great additions though, cheers!

  5. Lauren. Doing 6 weeks N.Z Dec/Jan; 2 weeks E coast Oz Feb; 10 day train tour Vietnam Feb/Mar; 8 day Kenya safari Mar then to England ten days then home to Canada. Was your pack a carry on or checked luggage? Do you think this tour could be done w/carry on only? Thanks. Happy Wandering!

    • Hi Jon, sounds like a great trip.

      You could definitely do this with just carry-on luggage as it should be all warm weather (except for England where you could layer instead of packing a big jacket). You really only need a week’s worth of clothes, and that leaves room for buying more if you want to.

      Let us know when you’ll be in Sydney, we might be there!

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