Last November I traveled solo to England for 2 weeks and enjoyed a range of activities all out of a carry-on.
Managing all my clothes and gadgets in one carry-on is important to me when I travel solo. I don’t want to be weighed down by more luggage or held up at the airport for check in or out.
I did a Halloween punt on the Cam river in Cambridge, walked the Lake District, wandered fashionable Bath and went to a trade show and other meetings in London.
Some people wonder how it can be done with just one carry-on. I have to admit that this was a greater challenge than most trips but I did manage. Here’s how.
Don’t pack the bulky things.
First, I wore the bulkiest items on the plane – makes sense. I never packed my hiking boots. For most moving around, I tied them onto my carry-on. However, this isn’t possible at the airport. There, I changed into my hiking boots and packed away the shoes. I wore my bulkiest pants, sweater (with t-shirt underneath) and waterproof rain coat. Once on board, I tucked the coat away with my carry-on in the overhead bins and took off my sweater and used it as a blanket.
I grant you, this was a logistical plan executed with military precision — I wouldn’t want to travel this tight all the time — but it did work.
Solo Travel Packing List – the essentials
First pack the basics. These go on every trip with me:
- All paperwork, hotel confirmations, flight information, passport and travel insurance info.
- Ipod and power connector
- Book to read, notebook, pen
- Computer and ac adaptor (computer and all of the above go in the outside pockets)
- Phone and cable
- Camera and cable
- Vitamins, supplements, water bottle
- Tiny first aid kit
- Conditioner, hair product, face cream, makeup, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste
Solo Travel Packing List – clothes
Then pack your clothes. This is where there are variables and you must be strategic. It’s easier for men so I’m going to focus on women’s clothes. To have clothes for a range of activities choose one color palette. Mine was black and gray with purple as an accent.
- Shoes – one pair street shoes one pair heels. (Remember, I’m wearing my hiking boots on the plane.)
- Pants – one pair dressy casual pants, one pair black dress pants. (I’m wearing jeans.)
- Tops – one blouse, one light sweater, one camisole (that works as an under layer for hiking and under a jacket for business), colorful t-shirt. (I’m wearing a casual sweater and t-shirt)
- One cardigan and one light jacket that dress up or down depending on jeans/pants and accessories – both work with the cami and t-shirts.
- Belts, jewelery, scarves – to dress up casual clothes
- Umbrella, scarf, gloves, rain pants, hat, vest, pair of sunglasses
- Pajamas, underwear, socks
Sounds like a lot but it’s not. Rinse clothes out when necessary. Count what you didn’t use when you get back and don’t pack it again. The dressy casual pants were never used by me. They’re cut next time.
This works because I don’t usually buy much when I travel. This trip I bought a new pair of boots but because I leave with only a purse and my carry-on bag, on the way home I tossed my purse and and booths into a tote bag and got on board. Easy.