How I travelled to the other side of the world for a month with only carry-on luggage

Verdict: Travelling with carry-on luggage for a month away wasn’t always easy but I did it!

Yes, I did it!!! And what a wonderful feeling it is to know I managed to pack one small bag with all I needed, for just over a month away from home – and to the other side of the world no less. I may just be a convert to this carry-on only caper.

Don’t laugh but there were times when I wanted to have a sign on my back that said, I’m feeling super pleased with myself, this is all I’m taking for a month away!

I also took a blogging break for the month I was away and am only now getting back into it. Welcome back to Deb’s World, I’ve missed you all 🙂

Home sweet home

I’m back home in Tumbarumba now, exactly 6 weeks since we left and am adjusting to those early days when you miss all the excitement of days spent with family, doing wonderful things, the travel, the change lifestyle, the relaxing of normal routine and the simple fact that being on holiday overseas with my daughter and granddaughter, especially after so long apart (2.5 years), is a panacea for all the ills of the world.

It’s indeed a bittersweet feeling to be back!

I think I could have a case of post holiday blues! I’m missing the chats with my daughter, Dottie’s love and playfulness, the summer weather and long light in the evening (it’s back to wearing many layers of clothing here), the wonderful activities, the fun, the buzz, the feeling of escape from normality and routine and yes, the simplicity of my one carry-on bag of clothing…..I’ll be OK once I settle in to being at home for a while. I am very appreciative of all I have, so I don’t want to come across as privileged and whining!

I found this article about post holiday blues, Why it’s normal to feel post-holiday blues very interesting and although I’m not returning to work, it still had some relevant insights and advice. We’re already planning our next visit!

The post-holiday blues typically reflect the emotional cost of having just enjoyed a few weeks of fun….by far the best thing you can do is book your next holiday. Nothing alleviates the perceived misery of normalisation than the prospect of another holiday in the not-too-distant future.

Dr Melissa Weinberg

My carry-on only story

My recents posts, Can I travel for a month with only carry-on luggage? and Update: Travelling to the other side of the world for a month with only carry-on have been very popular ones with many readers sharing their thoughts and encouragement when I broached the subject of taking only carry-on luggage for our recent trip to England from Australia for a whole month.

I think there are a lot of people out there keen to give this luggage method a try! There have been a lot of stories in the media about issues related to travelling, and lost luggage in particular, in recent times, as people get back to travelling once the world started opening up again.

Someone suggested I do a daily outfit of the day photo on Instagram to show my variety of outfits, and I had the best fun doing just that. #Sorrynotsorry I used it as a way of keeping track of our daily activities as well as showing what I was wearing and really got into it. If you missed them you can check out my shots here: Deb’s World Instagram – these are two of my favourite shots below. The Mathematician and my daughter were my main photographers and there was only some eye-rolling as I requested certain shots 🙂 I’m not a diva, or a model for that matter!

I promised a post with my verdict once our trip was done – so here it is!

Overall thoughts:

  • White tops were a bit of a rookie mistake due to a toddler wanting to be picked up often, so I had shoe scuff marks and random hand prints/food and other ‘stuff’ on my shirts which showed up quite clearly and required more frequent washing than I had first thought!
  • I was lucky the weather was hot, but it did mean I had to wash things more often. Luckily they dried quickly in the heat. I was fortunate to be able to use my daughter’s washing machine.
  • I needed more underwear and bought some but they were awful and so were a waste of money.
  • I probably should have taken a cardigan or light denim jacket but my Rip sun hoodies did the job when I needed some light warmth around my shoulders, which wasn’t very often to be honest!
  • I had to buy some more ankle socks as I found I was wearing my sneakers a lot (we walked or rode everywhere) and I’d taken a mix of longer socks (which were unsuitable) and ankle ones. Dottie ended up wearing some of my socks and wouldn’t take them off!
  • I took a crossbody bag as a handbag but rarely used it so wouldn’t bother next time. I used a small folding shopping bag and my Dottie Wombat Deb’s World pouch when needed or my backpack.
  • My Apple watch was the best thing – somehow it worked without being a cellular watch or having my iPhone on global roaming, it was great for paying with my cards, tracked my exercise, and even told me the time 🙂

Towards the end of the trip I got a bit philosophical:

You see, it’s not what you packed or what you wore that’s important, it’s the impact you have on others and what you experience when you travel away from home and outside your comfort zone. It’s letting your inner child out for a play and forgetting you’re a 61 year old Granny. It’s cream teas in the cafe, playing in the cubby house, taking selfies to try to capture the moment and the little things in life that make you smile.

The smiles, the hugs, the ‘I missed you Granny’ (when I’d only popped to the shops for a short time), the imperious tone of ‘come on Granny’, requests for help or to play, the happy selfies while wearing our sunglasses (we’re same same Granny), the insightful commentary on life as seen through the eyes of a 3 year old – it’s making memories, loving each other unconditionally and smiling through the inevitable tears of goodbye that are just around the corner.

Debbie (Deb’s World Facebook page)

The main points of our trip:

  • We travelled from Australia to England (to Cheddar a rural countryside area in Somerset) for just over a month, to see our daughter, son-in-law and 3 year old granddaughter who we hadn’t seen since January 2020 due to covid restrictions and border closures. Dottie was born in August 2019 at 25 weeks and I had spent a month with them in Aug/Sept before returning with the Mathematician in Nov 2019 – Jan 2020. When we left in January 2020, Dottie was home from NICU but still on oxygen and just a tiny dot of a thing!
  • We planned to be there to celebrate Dottie’s 3rd birthday with a party and loads of fun times, getting to know her.
  • We had an AirBnb cottage booked nearby to my daughter’s home.
  • We had access to my daughter’s washing machine.
  • We didn’t hire a car but walked or rode my daughter’s bike everywhere in the village.
  • It was summertime – and what a summer it was!
  • I decided to buy toiletries once I arrived and left them with my daughter.
  • I was happy to borrow things from my daughter and buy things from charity shops.
  • We weren’t travelling away from the area – we usually do side trips but not this time.

Making lists

I made lots of lists, updating my notes and doing lots of research – very important – what’s that saying… if you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.

I made a mind map graphic – which helped me to see at a glance what I was taking with me.

Carry-on only packing list
My carry-on only packing list

My packing list and how often each piece was worn:

  • RipSkirt wrap-skirts x 2 (blue & red spot) – wore each twice (my daughter referred to them as my ‘tennis skirts’ 🙂
  • short denim skirt – wore 4 times
  • navy shorts – wore 7 times
  • denim shorts – wore 2 times
  • black stretch jeans – (only wore on the plane)
  • red oversized jumper – (only wore on the plane)
  • denim 7/8 length jeans – wore 2 times
  • green exercise jumper – wore 2 times
  • underwear and socks x 5 – I needed more undies!
  • padded floral cycling pants – wore 4 times
  • pink wind jacket (very light) – didn’t wear it (not needed due to hot weather)
  • red RipSkirt sun hoody – wore 3 times
  • white RipSkirt sun hoody – wore 3 times
  • t-shirts x 5 (white, navy and coral) – wore each loads of times, at least 5 times for each
  • printed bold colourful tops x 2 – wore my pink tunic 3 times and printed short once due to it needing to be ironed
  • long sleeve cotton shirt – yellow/white stripe – only wore on plane
  • grey full length leggings – wore once
  • black 3/4 length leggings – wore 5 times and wore them on the plane home for comfort
  • Nightie – every night (with weekly washing)
  • swimmers – wore 4 times
  • white sneakers (wore on the plane) – wore these most days as we did a lot of walking and riding, very comfortable Skechers brand
  • thongs – wore quite often as temperature got quite warm
  • orange sandals – wore 8 times
  • buff – wore once while out walking in Cheddar Gorge to keep my hair off my face
  • scarf – tried to wear once but too warm so took it off
  • red/orange dress – wore twice, weather too warm
  • navy drape dress – wore 2 times
  • navy/white spot dress – wore 4 times

I packed everything in zip lock bags and tried to flatten them out as much as possible. It worked well!

In the interest pf being accountable I did buy some things:

Charity shop purchases:

  • red cotton top – cost 4 pound – wore 3 times (left it there to be returned to charity shop)
  • blue tunic dress – cost 4 pound wore 3 times and brought it home with me
  • blue/white sleeveless dress – cost 5 pound – wore 2 times and brought it home with me
  • swimmers- cost 2.50 pound – although I took my own swimmers they were uncomfortable so when I saw this bargain I snapped them up (left them to be returned to charity shop)

Other purchases:

  • Sunhat, navy and white – bought at National Trust shop at Dunster Castle and wore continuously due to the heat! Funny story – after carrying my hat on buses, through airports, on flights and back into Aus, I left it on the bus in Canberra! Luckily I realised I was missing it and they had it in their lost property so we were reunited the next day! Travelling can be stressful.
  • Navy shorts – active sporty type and extremely cool and comfortable
  • 5 pack of ankle socks – due to heat i needed more socks than I’d taken!
  • 2 pairs of undies- a complete waste of money as they were awful and didn’t come home with me

On top of my 7kg bag, I also took a soft backpack as a handbag which held medications, glasses, purse, passport, phone, travel documents, diary, pen, noise cancelling headphones, small iPad, tissues, hand sanitiser, masks etc. It weighed approx. 2kg.

Traveling tends to magnify all human emotions.

Peter Hoeg
Saying goodbye is so hard
Saying goodbye was so hard

Sunday Stills

The prompt for this week’s Sunday Stills just happens to be Vacation – I always enjoy joining Terri and others with these weekly posts. Terri’s post is here: Why I chose a Staycation over a Vacation.

Would I do it again?

Yes absolutely! I think it might be harder in cooler weather as clothes tend to be heavier but with planning it can be done. It took a lot of the stress away from travelling, it made my life simpler with limited choices, I enjoyed waltzing on board with all my things with me and no worries about lost luggage, I only had one bag to unpack when I came home, I felt organised and in control. The only issue would be gifts – taking them and bringing them back. Luckily the Mathematician had checked in luggage and was happy to be the bearer of gifts!

I hope this has been useful in showing how carry-on can be managed for a month long holiday. I had a great holiday in case that’s not obvious in my photos!

Deb 🙂

Recent posts:

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

Debbie - mother of a 40 year old

Everyone has a story to tell! Deb is a young-at-heart & active 60+ blogger/retiree, after being made redundant from her 22-year career managing education programs in a men’s correctional centre (jail). She now spends her time reading, blogging, riding her ebike and travelling. Deb was awarded a Bravery Award from the Queen when she was 17 after a tragic accident – a definite life changing moment! She is married with 3 grown-up daughters & has 4 grandchildren. She never imagined being Granny Debs would bring so much joy to her life! You can read more of Deb’s story here

Copyright © 2023 – All rights reserved

53 Replies to “How I travelled to the other side of the world for a month with only carry-on luggage”

  1. Hi Deb – the carry-on luggage challenge was certainly a winner for you, but over and above all that I SO enjoyed all your happy family snaps and seeing you and Dottie delighting in each other. Grandchildren are such a blessing and you’ve cemented the bonds forever during that month away. Welcome home (and yes I totally understand how bitter-sweet it is). xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Deb,
    Glad to see you’re posting again, I’ve missed your cheerful posts. Kudos to you for making it all work and I would never have guessed from the photos that you had a limited wardrobe. Sounds like you had a wonderful time and must have been heartbreaking to say goodbye. I hope you have plans to see them again in the not too distant future.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for missing me Ali :). We are already planning the next trip as I can’t wait another few years before we see them again! My daily posts on IG were a great way to share my clothing combinations and so much fun!!


  3. I’m glad it all worked out so well for you! Do you think you would now feel able to try this for future trips when maybe you won’t have the use of a washing machine and weather might be colder or less reliable?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sarah, yes I think I could do it for future trips but cold weather might be harder to pack for I’m not sure! I’d happily use a laundromat if away from family and loved the charity shops over there.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I followed your travels on FB, Debbie! I thought it was genius that you shared what you wore. Other than a few items, you packed quite well. I like to pack my potions and lotions with me so I need a check-through for stuff like that. I suppose you can just buy those items upon arrival. When we packed for our road trip, I brought three bags–one for all beach stuff (totally overpacked for the what-ifs), a small roller suitcase for the main items as we stayed at each location, and another for things I wouldn’t need at certain locations. Still way overpacked. I love your choice of ripskirts–I packed mine as well–good choice there! This was a great challenge for you and I believe we all learned something from your careful planning 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your lovely words Terri! Good to know we are now ripskirts sisters as well!! I agree road trip work well when things are compartmentalised like you describe. So pleased you enjoyed my daily posts, it was such a fun way to share and it was thanks to Bernie that I decided to do that as she suggested a daily IG shot.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. A great post Debbie. You did really well.I enjoyed following your adventures on IG. Next week we’re off hiking in the Lake District but I fear I will need more than a carry on type bag. The weather is always unpredictable there and I will need fleeces, rainwear, swimwear, cycling wear and smart clothes for the evening (dinners at the hotel are quite “posh”). But I’ll try to get by with the minimum for the evenings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m running so far behind on replying to comments Gail, apologies! I did really well with my outfits and it made me appreciate how planning ahead can make life so much easier when travelling. I trust you enjoyed your hiking, what a lovely part of the world to visit!


  6. Welcome back, Deb. You were GREATLY missed!!
    Your photos are awesome.
    Congratulations on using a carry-on bag only. I find it so liberating that I don’t think that I could ever go back to a large check-in bag. Then again, I never quite look at stylish as you. Very impressive!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. That last picture made me tear up! 😢 I followed your example and only packed one bag and my back pack but my biking clothes would be too repetitive to post daily. I really did enjoy your daily posts!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Bernie, it was you who gave me the idea to do a daily Insta post and I had a ball doing it! Well done on your packing for your trip, sounds like you did great.


  8. Hi Deb what a wonderful holiday you have had making memories especially with Dottie who will always remember this special time. I can imagine the heartache at leaving her (and your daughter). I so enjoyed seeing your daily posts – what you were wearing and what you and Dottie were up to. I missed you but was so happy to see you enjoying your time together. Well done on the packing too – you proved you could do it and rose to the challenge xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for all your support along the way Sue, it was a real challenge at times but I’m so pleased with how I achieved it! We’re already planning our next trip so that makes me happy. It was one of the best trips we’ve had and Dottie made it all the more special, as our bond was so strong. I actually had a ball doing the daily outfits and as you know I’m not one to do many fashion style shots normally!


  9. Welcome back Deb. It sounds like you had a wonderful time and I love how you coordinated everything. Thanks for sharing it all with us. I definitely got teary seeing your final hug with your granddaughter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Carla, it was the most wonderful time away. My outfits were great and I didn’t get sick of my limited wardrobe much which I thought might happen. My photo saying goodbye to Dottie still makes me cry when I look at it!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Very impressive, Debbie! It sounds and looks like a great trip! I’m a guy who doesn’t spend much time focusing on his appearance, but I doubt I could have pulled this off.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My pleasure, I had a ball working out what combinations to wear and the daily Insta shots were fun to do. I don’t normally post fashion pics but I found I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.


  11. I loved following along with your trip and looked forward to your outfit of the day. Could I do carry on for that length of time? I don’t think so – but I do admire you for doing so.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kirstin it was such fun to write my wrap-up post and the trip itself was fantastic in every way. Good luck with your packing, it takes some time to think it through but worth the effort.


  12. Wow, I’m impressed with how this small travel capsule worked for you! I also may have lost my mind over the colorful palm print top in that first Insta OOTD pic – it is EXACTLY the kind of thing I adore. I love the photo of you with Dottie at the end, so much love – saying goodbye is the hardest!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Sally! My capsule worked really well and I always felt comfortable in my outfits of the day. That printed top is a fave of mine too, due to the colours and style, but unfortunately it does need some ironing after being washed and so I only wore it once I think. Saying goodbye was heartbreaking but we already booking our next trip!


Let's keep the conversation going...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: