12 Tips on How to Travel With a Carry On Only

Travelling with a carry on only is the best way to save time, money and reduce the stress of travel these days.

We’ve all seen the news lately of the massive amount of lost luggage in airports around the world. You don’t want that to be you! Now more than ever is the best time to travel with cabin baggage only. 

Why should you travel with carry on luggage only?

First of all, you will not need to wait as long to check in at the airport. Secondly, you will save money on checking-in luggage fees and baggage weight charges. Thirdly, you won’t have to wait for hours for your luggage to be loaded off the plane and onto the carousel at your destination. And finally, you won’t have to worry about having your luggage lost or damaged during transit! 

BONUS: Read and save the comprehensive Southeast Asia Packing List for a 30L Carry on Backpack too!

Travelling with cabin baggage only can be a fun and easy way to save money and time. However, if you’re not sure how to pack your bag, it can be quite stressful. Here are some tips:

1. Buy a suitable travel backpack or small suitcase

Check with your airline and find out the measurements and weight limit they allow for carry on luggage. It also doesn’t need to be expensive. I recently bought a $40 AUD Billabong backpack that’s 30 Litres for me to take over to South East Asia for 2 weeks. 

2. Pack non liquid toiletries

Lush for example has many bars of soap, shampoo, conditioner, perfume and deodorant that you can cut into smaller sizes. Packing a minimal liquid free carry on is one of my favourite things to do.

3. Buy items at your destination

It can be very cheap to buy clothing and toiletries in some countries, especially South East Asia. And you know it’s a MUST to buy a pair of elephant pants! Haha

4. Choose to travel to warm countries only

If you’re only travelling with a backpack, it’s so much easier to pack light when you travel to warm weather countries only! No jeans or thick jackets needed! 

5. Minimise your makeup

Try to reduce your makeup to just a few things (or none at all!). In warm weather countries it will most likely melt away anyway lol, but you’re not going to be seeing these people again so does it really matter if you have a face full of makeup? Keep it simple by just taking some BB Cream, waterproof mascara and lip gloss. 

6. Wash your clothes on the road so you don’t need to pack as much

There’s two options here, send your clothes off to a laundry service (very cheap in SEA) and they will have them all washed and dried for you in the same day.  Wash your clothes yourself in your shower/bath and hang them up in your bathroom to dry while you’re out during the day. 

7. Be selective about footwear

2 pairs. That’s honestly all you’ll need. A pair of runners/walking/hiking shoes. And a pair of sandals. Wear your heavier shoes onboard and pack the smaller lighter ones!

8. Pack a small travel scale

If you’re really watching your dollars and don’t want the airline to shock you with a large amount you have to pay if they randomly weigh your carry on (which some airlines do!), I really suggest packing a small travel scale in your bag so you can keep an eye on how heavy your bag is. 

9. Wear your heavy items on the plane and don’t pack them

Wear your bulkiest items like long pants, long sleeved top and runners on the plane so it removes that weight and space from your carry on. 

10. Pack a foldable day bag/day backpack inside your main bag

I pack a 15 Litre foldable backpack inside my carry on luggage so when I get to my destination, this is what I use day to day when I’m out. Everything else stays back at the hotel so I’m not lugging it all around. 

11. Don’t pack jewellery or non essentials 

Do you really need that thick gold chain or your diamond ring? No you don’t. It would be a beacon for theft and that’s the last thing you want to deal with while on holiday. Don’t pack or wear anything that is super expensive. 

12. For people who menstruate, time your travels around your period

This is what I do. I literally book my holidays in between my period so I don’t have to ever worry about it! Which means never needing to pack period products like pads or tampons. 


Are there weight limits for carry on luggage? Yes. Here are some for example: Jetstar 7kg, AirAsia 7kg, Scoot 10kg, Qantas 7kg, Singapore Airlines 7kg, Virgin Australia 7kg, Thai Airways 7kg. Please also confirm with your airline as these limits can change. 

Are selfie sticks allowed on carry on? Not in Australia. It’s classified as an item that can be used as a weapon so they’ll remove it. 

Can I carry a razor in my carry on? In Australia you can carry a disposable razor that does not have a removable blade. 

Can you bring small scissors in carry on? No. Definitely not. They will remove them. 

Can you bring portable battery packs in carry on? Yes. But they must be under 100w. 


1 thought on “12 Tips on How to Travel With a Carry On Only”

  1. So many great tips here, especially about weighing your luggage. I worked for an airline for 10 years and we weighed carry-on on nearly every flight… and the fees are so expensive. Definitely saving this post for future reference, thanks heaps

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