Can I travel to the other side of the world for a month’s holiday with only carry-on luggage?

I don’t know, can I travel from Australia to England for a month with only carry-on?

My daughters laugh out loud, my family look at me askance, my friends try to hide their smirks and my husband tells me to think ‘seriously’ about what I’m proposing (in his teacher voice no less).

Little do they know that their reactions, instead of putting me off the ‘challenge’ I’ve been pondering, actually spur me on and I become determined to at least give it a try.

Yes I know that carry-on luggage is only 7kgs, I know I’m limited with the liquids I can carry and I know it’s not an easy thing to do. I will not be spoilt for choice in my clothing options while away from home, but I really don’t mind. In fact I’m keen to have limited choices of clothing, it makes life easier sometimes.

Have orange suitcase will travel!
Have orange suitcase will travel!

Usually this is my suitcase plus a carry-on bag with essentials for the flight. Before I bought this orange suitcase, I travelled with a backpack weighing approx. 15kgs but about 10 years ago when I was travelling solo from Australia to UK I decided to move to a bag with wheels, due to some drama! You can read about some of the drama here – Kindness to a stranger on Mother’s Day

Have you ever been the last one standing at the luggage carousel hoping that your bag is just delayed and then finally giving up to go looking for the relevant office to give the details of your bag so it can be sent onto you in a few day’s time? I’ve been that person and it’s not much fun!

Lately I’ve heard horror stories of bags going missing, as airlines aren’t coping too well with the increase in travel. I’m quite keen to try something different.

Mature aged backpacker
Mature aged backpacker in 2013

Our Travel Plans

We leave in a few week’s time, driving three hours from home to Canberra, bus to Sydney, then fly from Sydney to Heathrow (London) via Singapore, for a total of four weeks. Unlike previous trips to England we are only visiting our daughter and her family, for little Dottie’s 3rd birthday, staying in a cottage in the village and not going anywhere else apart from locally. We aren’t hiring a car (at this stage), we will use our daughter’s bike or maybe hire ebikes for longer rides and everything we need is within walking distance. Going out will involve visiting friends or going to the pub.

Lists, lists and more lists

So far I’ve made some notes and they look like this:

  • buy shampoo and toiletries when I arrive
  • wash every few days
  • mix and match outfits
  • it’s late summer there (so warmer than being at home where it’s still winter)
  • borrow things from Melanie – eg. coat/jumpers if needed
  • shoes? wear white sneakers on plane and take pair of sandals (maybe thongs)
  • layers
  • scarf/buff
  • exercise gear
  • makeup – don’t need much
  • chargers – iPhone, iPad, computer
  • headphones, eye mask
  • nothing that needs excessive ironing

I’ve made a clothing list as I’ve read in other posts, and I’ve chosen a colour theme but some suggest choosing a neutral colour – NOPE not me! I have a range of colours and outfits that will all go with each other. I’ve thought about the weather and think I have most contingencies covered and if not I can borrow from my daughter! Last time I was with her I bought some wellington boots and left them there so I know I have an extra pair of ‘shoes’ if required.

  • light wrap-skirts x 2
  • shorts x 1
  • jeans x 1
  • sloppy joe (jumper) x 1
  • underwear and socks x 4
  • cycling pants
  • wind jacket (very light)
  • tshirts x 3
  • leggings x 1
  • pyjamas
  • dress (wear on plane with denim jacket and scarf)
  • wear sneakers on the plane and take a pair or orange sandals

I’m also known as a savvy shopper (my words) whenever I travel and I will need to buy gifts for my grandchildren back in Aus, so I may think about posting things home or checking my bag in on the final leg. The challenge would have been completed by then. The Mathematician has already said I can’t put anything in his bags if I go ahead with this hair-brained scheme – tell me what you really think!

Let's go travel - what are your main dislikes about travel
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

My Canadian friends Sue and Dave at Travel Tales of Life, have posted here about travelling for a month only with carry-on and I remember thinking as I read their post years ago, I couldn’t do that!

But what if I can?

What do you think? Can I do it? Is it worth trying?

I’d love to hear from you if you’ve managed to do something like this.

Not long until we leave now!

Deb 🙂

Note: My update post is here – see how I am going with my challenge!!

You can also find Deb’s World in lots of other places – stay in touch by clicking any of the buttons below.

Bold Debbie 2021

A tragic accident at age 17, resulting in a Bravery Award from the Queen, didn’t deter Debbie from travelling the world.  A young retiree,  after being made redundant from her 22 year career managing education programs in a men’s correctional centre, she now loves reading, blogging, riding her ebike and a good cup of tea! Also known as Granny Debs to her 4 grandchildren.

Read more here

Copyright © 2022 debs-world.com – All rights reserved

89 Replies to “Can I travel to the other side of the world for a month’s holiday with only carry-on luggage?”

  1. It’s absolutely doable, Debbie. We just did 2 and a half weeks in England with only carry on. I felt a little short of options once or twice and wished I had an extra jumper, but if you have your sister’s wardrobe to help you out and a washing machine it’s a piece of cake. Enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Recently I discovered Wool& clothing range and how perfect it is for travelling. Fine merino wool so comfy and perfect for travel (even for this wool allergic person). Warm in cooler weather and cool in heat, quick drying, odour resistant and so light in the suitcase. I am currently doing a challenge to wear the dress for 100 consecutive days. https://forestwoodfolkart.wordpress.com/?p=32660
    I am on day 95!
    Enjoy your trip!

    Like

  3. What a great question and challenge! I can’t wait to hear how you go. I guess you totally could do this if you buy some things when you arrive in the UK. Likewise you can buy some cheap but nice clothes in Primark etc and then donate to charity before you leave for home 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  4. You can do anything you put your mind do Deb and I know you’ve got this. We all pack way too much and yes I was the person on a flight from Rome to the UK one Christmas who waited and waited and waited at the carousel only to find that my bag had been damaged and didn’t leave Rome! I’m looking forward to you taking up the challenge and sharing the outcome. Be Bold! xx

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I know it’s been done by millions before. I just go away for the weekend and pack the car full including the kitchen zinc. I dread the day I fly overseas with just 7kgs and a handbag. Let us know the results and if you did manage with just 1 bag

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s do-able but takes planning. I take everything when we go in the car but flying is a whole different story. I’ve just posted an update to this one.

      Like

  6. It can totally be done, especially if you’re willing to wear clothes more than one day between washings. I’ve done it myself with a two week trip without having to do laundry, and am now planning a 6 week trip European train tour using only my carry-on, doing laundry once every other week. I don’t really want to run the risk of the airline losing my luggage, nor do I want to be lugging anything larger on and off the train.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I agree Ryan, being able to wash regularly makes all the difference. I feeling confident I can do this and appreciate everyone’s thoughts. Good luck with your planning for your trip away!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Deb. I bet you can. You’re a clever gal, but I suspect one snag may yet get you. Getting gifts there and then trying to get them home with you. Perhaps a small change of plans would be to purchase an inexpensive piece of check-able luggage to bring those gifts back in. That way you can both travel with only your carry-on, but do something special for your gift recipients back home.
    You’ll have a great time regardless.
    Blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes gifts for the trip home do concern me and my love of shopping in new places but I can always just pack my bag up on the way home and check it in, so that’s a possibility.

      Like

  8. You can most definitely do this! (Or maybe you already have, since it ism five days ago you posted this?) Your list of essentials to bring looks very well thought out. It’s like an exercise in minimalism. If you plan what situations you may find yourself in and what you need for each occasion, just like you did, you don’t need that much. There are also great videos on Youtube how to pack, and how to fold your clothes to save space. This is a great article to read https://thetraveltester.com/konmari-folding-method-for-travel/ (not mine, but I find it useful.) I am certain that you can do this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Maria! I looked at the video you shared and it has some good ideas. I’ve found ziplock bags are working well for me. We still have another 2 weeks before we go and I’m planning an update post on my packing progress shortly. It is a great exercise in minimalism and I’m enjoying the challenge!

      Like

  9. Deb, you can absolutely do this. An extra absolutely since you’re staying in one place and just visiting family. No ball gowns needed 🙂

    I’m heading to Ireland in August, ( my first trip since Covid), and I’m only taking carry-on. Granted, I’m only going for 2 weeks, but carry-on is the way to go. Especially with the chaos in airports these days.

    You’ve got this!!!
    Please post about your carry-on experience. Enquiring minds want to know 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s great to hear you are doing the carry-on only thing too. I am hearing so much about lost luggage lately I think I’ve made the right decision. I’m doing an update on my progress this week. Thanks for your support & encouragement- no balls gown required 😂😂😂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Natalie, I agree with you, as we’re staying put in the one place for the month it will be much easier to do. I’m slowly getting organised, I’ve forgotten about travelling overseas and have to remember all the bits!

      Like

  10. I love that orange suitcase. I use to travel with a carry-on size suitcase. I the freedom of the little suitcase. Now I have children and my days of traveling light are gone for a while… Great post, thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I guess if you only bring clothes, this will work! Also, I totally recommend getting bar shampoo, bar soap (I use my shampoo bar as both), bar conditioner, and it IS possible to get most skincare in bar form too..or super small bottles. It takes almost zero space in your suitcase. When I flew to Sweden, my soap & shampoo took maybe 5×5 cm space and I had it in my camera bag!
    How lovely for you too see your family in the UK! I hope all will go well with flights etc.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes Susanne, I’ve used the bars before and liked them. I’m starting to get excited about seeing my family again but won’t believe it until I’m actually on the plane!

      Like

  12. Hmm is my first thought. It won’t be easy and are you saving any money doing it? If you are then will you spend your savings on things you didn’t pack? IPad and computer weigh quite a bit. I think you’ll end up wearing all your daughter’s clothes and be shopping at Primark. My main question is why though?
    Will be looking forward to the updates.
    Yes I have been left standing a few times at the carousel!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hmmm – you’ve given me a few things to think about Ali, so thanks for that. No I won’t saving any money by doing it and it’s not easy as my first trial pack was over the limit. I’m considering not taking the computer at all and having a break from it and only using the iPad when needed mainly for reading books social media (it’s a small one). The ‘why’ is interesting – because I want to try it, and I’m worried about bags going missing. Also my husband has annoyed me with his attitude so I’d like to prove that I can do it 🙂

      Like

      1. Haha you sound very stubborn Debbie
        I hope you don’t end up with egg on your face! So no shopping for nice new summer clothes
        Maybe you can sneak something at the bottom of your husband’s case.
        Keep us up to date

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Deb, Goosebumps and super excited how you are finally going on this trip to England. I am rooting for you with the carry-on, Deb. Like you say “spur me on.” I am getting emotional as I continue to read. I have been following Dottie and your daughter and family for the past few years on social media. Sooo thrilled this is finally happening. Ha, ha, ha…”can’t put anything in his bags.” One day I will tell the story of the ‘milk powder’ in a ziploc for my morning coffee………totally true……and, yes, actually powdered milk. Looking forward to virtually travelling with you. xx ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Erica, lovely to have your comment. Goosebumps indeed, i still can’t believe we’re going soon. Dottie is getting excited and making plans for things to do with Granny and G, she has so much to show us. I’m not sure I can do the carry-on only but think it’s worth a try. Would love to hear your milk story one day! xx

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Tracey, I just keep hearing of people who have not got heir luggage until days before going home and think it’s worth a try to do this. But we’ll see!

      Like

  14. What a challenge! The longest trip I’ve done with hand luggage only was 4 days. But it sounds like you have managed to sort out a lot of mix and match things and as you will have laundry facilities to have a turn around of clothes I think you will manage it (worst case scenario you will have to buy some new bits while you are here and maybe leave some of the older clothes behind!)
    Have fun x

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Sounds like a great experiment and I love your list. I wouldn’t do it, but I know people who do and they swear by it. I am trying, though, to really cut back so that my suitcase is as light as possible. It’s worth a try and can’t wait to hear how you go. Toni x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s not as easy as I thought Toni and my first trial went terrible wrong! I hate having a heavy suitcase so I’ll continue working on my project, and give updates along the way!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure I can do it either but I’m going to try. My first trial pack went overweight with lots of things missing so I must have a rethink! I’ll post updates 🙂

      Like

  16. Hi Deb I’m not sure if I could do it but it’s definitely worth giving it a go. I’m going to Qld at end of the month and am seriously considering carry on only. I’m going to a conference where I’ll need to dress professionally which will make it a bit tricky. Other than the luggage issues isn’t it wonderful to be able to travel again.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Jen, it’s really quite hard to keep the weight down as my first trial showed me. But I’ll continue trying, it’s not for everyone I know that! Good luck if you decide to give it a go for your trip but professional clothing is much different to holiday attire. It feels really weird to even write a ‘travel’ post!

      Like

  17. I think you could do this. Especially if your packing light. I always take a carry on since the time my luggage got lost. I received it the say before I was coming home. 😄

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Sounds like a good idea. I’m off to Greece, just for 10 days, and thought about it…but i like to have a lot of choices and “my stuff” around me. Look forward to hearing how it goes!

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Do it. Don’t get sucked into the carousel or the lack of airport support of something happens. Convince the mathematican to do it as well. I would skip thongs in fabour of sandals but otherwise your list looks great. You will look outstanding and have a good time flying instead of being concerned about the end. You can always do a canvas bag on the way back for the gifts. Bernie

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m trying hard to do it but it’s not easy at all Bernie! I have sandals in my bag already and will leave the thongs out. I love your confidence in my abilities :). many thanks!

      Like

  20. Yes, go with carry on only! Everyone always over packs any way! And you can buy more liquids when you arrive. I’m following a family on Instagram and they are on a trip around the world for a year….,with 5 teenagers…..they are traveling with one large backpack per person…..for a year!!! Be aware that if you are the last to board and there’s no room in the overhead bin, they will check your carryon.

    I am concerned that I don’t see books listed! 😱😂 Are you loading up your kindle?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have often taken too much away and not worn everything but liked the options so that will be hard I think Carol. That family sounds amazing! The books are loaded on my iPad all ready to go, never fear!!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Hi Debs, my husband wanted to do this on our current trip from Australia to Uk as friends did it recently when coming to visit us. As he was planning to go mountain climbing and cycling I pointed out that I really didn’t think he would be allowed to take an ice axe in his hand luggage!
    We do however always try to pack as lightly as possible. I usually only take three of most things – one to wear, one to wash and one spare, as we usually stay in AirBNBs or cottages with washing machines. As you are staying with your daughter, I 100% believe you can do this!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think so too Janine! If we were touring around like we usually would during our time away it would be different but this trip is simply to see our daughter, her family and our friends. We will be active but I’m confident I can manage with what I’ve planned. We’ll see. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and recent experience.

      Like

  22. Carry on only is the only way I travel! It’s a little challenging going to colder climates but like you, I borrow coats and even boots as needed. I shrink down my usual toiletries and sometimes, miss the full roundup, but I survive without them. Shoes sometimes are a problem…tennis shoes for walking / workouts, sandals, maybe something nice for a dress, etc. I even squeeze in my laptop and camera(s) … in fact, it’s usually a pair of shoes that gets booted. I laughed when the mathematician said you can’t put stuff in his back! I’m confident he’d let you borrow a small air pocket here and there!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. These are great thoughts, thanks so much, you are obviously very experienced at it! I’m thinking of leaving my computer at home and trying to do what I have to do on my iPad but we’ll see. I’m not hopeful the Mathematician will change his mind but at least he’s got the presents for Dottie and our daughter in his bag!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol…I learned early to travel light for work. One of my last big China work trips was me and 4-5 men…they all had to check they’re big bags and here I am, the one female, skating thru with my carry on. I try to fly with just my iPad, but lately seems I need my MacBook with me as well.

        Liked by 1 person

  23. Given your plans once you arrive, and the fact that you are visiting family, I think it should be possible. If you need more while you are here, buy it and leave it with your daughter to donate to a charity shop. But I would consider lighter-weight trousers than jeans and then you might be able to squeeze in two pairs, or an extra top – maybe a cotton shirt to layer over a t-shirt if the weather is a bit cool?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Sarah, I’ve actually thought of wearing my jeans and sweatshirt on the plane as they are the heaviest things. The idea of a cotton shirt over a t-shirt is a good one, thanks!

      Like

  24. Yes you can. You can easily buy extra clothing at Primark or similar shop after you arrive and leave a couple of outfits in Cheddar for next time. I never understand why people take large bottles of shower gel and shampoo abroad. Just buy it when you get here. My son has done a lot of travelling and he suggests wearing two or three thin layers on the plane to give you a couple of extra tops.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes I had thought of that option Anne, leaving extra clothes at the local opp shop or even checking out what they have to offer. I have re-looked at my plane outfit several times.

      Like

  25. Hi Deb – I think it’s a fun challenge to set for yourself. As you say, you can always add a bag for the trip home if you need to. I see lots of people taking just carry on luggage to avoid the long wait at the baggage carousel (and the fear of the lost suitcase). If it adds to your enjoyment of planning for the trip then go for it!

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Of course you will do it and do it easy. I can’t believe the mathematician is doubting you. I think for all the reasons you have mentioned it is very wise. Besides I’m pretty sure if you find yourself needing something you could buy it there. Think how much extra time you will have to blog while waiting for Grant to get his bags from the carousel.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. YES you CAN…and then so does the Mathematician…!! I have had ONE O.S. trip & it was 15 days solo to Hawaii and several other states of USofA. I researched packing, and I decided to have a carry on with range of items I could get by with if bag went missing & I did choose a colour palette of sorts because it worked for me. I didn’t need to wash (just as well) because every few days I was on another plane…what I did need however, once back in Hawaii for a few more days was a new canvas bag to add to my wheelie bag and backpack because “shopping” for everyone but me! I would never shop like that again…lesson learned.

    Liked by 3 people

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