Going “Carry-On Only” 12 Thoughts Every Traveler Has

One of the biggest decisions every traveler must make (other than where to go of course) is what to pack and, equally important, what to pack it in! So much of an experience can be affected by the type of luggage you have. Ever tried rolling a suitcase with wheels down an uneven cobblestone road?? Ever carried a lop-sided duffle bag through a large airport or struggled to hold onto it while hitching a ride on a motorcycle?? You want your packing to be minimal, something you don’t have to think about much, and something that doesn’t hamper the way you travel.

Like many travelers, TJ and I do all of our traveling with one carry-on backpack each. I know I know, the idea of fitting your life into one bag can be pretty daunting, but it’s doable! For us, taking the leap and deciding to carry our lives on our backs FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR was an exhilarating decision. It meant a life with nothing holding us back and the freedom to explore the world to our heart’s content.DSC_0480

Thinking of taking a pack on your next trip? Check out the 12 thoughts every long-term traveler has when choosing to go “carry-on only” for the first time.

The Carry-On Only Thought Progression

1). Having only one backpack would be great. Dreams about not carrying too much, being a minimalist, and having everything they need in one place.

2). Look! So many other travelers do it! A carry-on for 2 weeks, 2 months, or 2 years. Thinks if they can do it, I can do it too!! It might be tough, but it’s definitely doable.Becomes inspired to go carry-on only by looking at other's blogs

3). Alright now, what pack do I get?! Spends hours researching top loaders versus front loaders & different brands. Realizes they probably don’t want to dig to the bottom of their pack each time they need a pair of knickers and settles on a front loader.

4). Picks a bag & buys it! Decides on a pack and picks it up… or excitedly waits for it to arrive from Amazon (or Tortuga!).Researches different types of carry-on backpacks including the Tortuga brand

5). Wait what? How am I going to fit everything in here? Wonders if everything they’ve accumulated and/or purchased for their trip will fit now that the pack has arrived. Slight panic may temporarily set in (not to worry it will dissipate).Carry-On pack arrives and you wonder how on earth to make everything fit

6). Ummm ok, let’s just start packing Thinks, well it’s here, other people recommend it and make it work, let’s just start packing… maybe it’ll all work out!Decided to try re-packing the carry-on backpack with a fresh attitude and using every pocket

7). There’s no way this is going to fit. Clothes, electronics, toiletries & misc. gear… Packs 75% of the packing list using one packing cube and the bag is quite full; becomes nervous again. Attempts to hold everything in the bag thinking it may fit that way.Holding all the precious belonging into the Tortuga, carry-on backpack hoping it will fit

8). But other people do it! Becomes inspired and decides… if it doesn’t fit, I don’t need it! I can do this! Plus, I can buy something when I arrive if needed. Dumps everything out to start over!Dumps everything out of the carry-on and begins packing again! Time to use space more efficiently

9). Begins packing again Places items in smaller packing cubes, uses all pockets in the bag, and gets excited about finding a place for each item.Packing up my Tortuga backpack for a year of travel in SE Asia

10). It fits!! Pack has room to give and I’m ready for exploration! Completes the packing and everything fits (maybe after removing one or two things)!Tortuga carry-on backpack all packed and everything fits

11). Walks around house with pack on and a giant grin Shares excitement of being all packed and ready to go with anyone and everyone around (Snapchats and Insta Stories for all to see).Backpack packed and ready for travel! Excited to be exploring the world.

12). Best decision ever! Compliments themselves on the slightly daunting, but wonderful decision of taking a carry-on pack for any length adventure because of the freedom, ease, and flexibility it allows.Thrilled with going carry-on only and having everything fit in the Tortuga backpack

While choosing to go “carry-on only” can be incredibly daunting, there is nothing more rewarding than living off of what you can carry. Curious about what to pack for a year-long adventure? Stay tuned for our SE Asia packing list for an entire year of travel and exploration!

Still not sold on going carry-on only? Check out why Sonja from Migrating Miss will only travel with a carry-on. Or, keep calm and carry-on with Lauren’s advice from Departful.

If you’ve chosen to go “carry-on only,” what has it been like for you?

Share this: Let us know if you think in the comments and be sure to share the stories of your adventures with us on Facebook and Instagram (tag @LifeIsMeantForExploring we will see it). Happy exploring! Pinterest fan? Pin one of the images below!

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