As a digital nomad couple, when Jad and I travel, we hop between different cities a lot. We’re currently on a 3 month trip visiting 10 different cities.

This means we have more transportation, more walking and more dragging bags. But I know what you’re thinking, this means we need more stuff and more clothes. Well, not necessarily.

In one of my first few trips, I met a European friend traveling for around 6 months with just a carry-on, I was shocked and honestly felt silly that I had a big bag and a carry-on for a 2 week stay. So I decided to change my lifestyle.

Traveling light is traveling happy.

Here's why.

1. Easier mobility

Pack Smart

Traveling light, easier mobility / abcnews.go.com

You walk with your luggage much more than you think. When you have a small bag, you won’t have to worry about stairs, running to catch the bus, or straining your shoulders.

2. Saves money

When you travel with only a carry-on, it saves you up to 80$ on a round trip flight with connections. Imagine how much you can save per year, especially if you’re a frequent traveller.

3. Saves time

You don’t have to wait for your luggage anymore. You’ll be the first person to go out from that exit door. Also, you’ll spend less time packing.

4. Better lifestyle

Traveling with big heavy bags makes you a typical tourist. Just saying.
Here’s how we do it.

Here’s how we do it.

When we travel, we carry 2 things: a carry-on luggage and a laptop backpack that can be attached to the carry-on.

Samsonite S’Cure Spinner is a great high-quality bag, a bit pricy but totally worth it.
As for the laptop backpack, choose any bag that can fit a lot of stuff and that can easily be attached to the luggage.

Now, how do we fit a whole 3 month trip in a small carry-on?
Simple.

Don’t bring a lot of stuff.

1. Don’t pack for the worst-case scenario

Ask yourself, do you really need four pairs of pants? You probably wear the same jeans for a week or 2 anyway.
Keep in mind, you can wash your clothes pretty much wherever you go, you already do that at home anyway.
Don’t think about the “what if”s and start thinking about what you can’t live without. When in doubt, keep them out.
So choose your favorite clothes and just wash & re-wear them.

2. Choose your outfits

Choose outfit

Choose comfy clothes / pexels.com

The best way to bring less clothes and avoid getting useless stuff is to choose your outfits before packing.
I usually try to get everything in black or grey, but that’s just me.
The point is, choose matching colors and style so that everything can go with everything.

3. Roll em up

Roll clothes

Roll, roll, roll your clothes

The best way to pack your clothes is to roll them. Rolling clothes is a great way to prevent wrinkles and saves some space in your suitcase. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to roll your clothes properly.
Choose a side for the clothes and the other one for the remaining stuff (toiletries, liquids, etc.). I usually put the stuff in the closed zipped side so they don’t scatter around everywhere.

4. Limit your liquids

Liquids

Put your liquids in a sealed bag / housemadehome.com

If you want to travel with just a carry on, keep in mind that each liquid bottle in your bag should be 100ML max. Make sure the size is actually written on the bottle or else the security guys will tell you “how would I know that this is less than 100ML?” trust me, it happened to me.

All your liquids (combined) should be in a sealed bag and less than 1L, and at some airports it’s even less.

Pro tip #1: Always take hotel shampoo with you when checking out, these things are handy and can be refilled. You can also buy mini bottles and fill them up with your favorite shampoo, cream, etc. You can find these at most pharmacies.

Pro trip #2: Go solid as much as possible by buying solid shampoo bars, solid cream bars, solid toothpaste, solid perfume & more from Lush Cosmetics.

5. Layer up

Instead of bringing a heavy coat, bring multiple layers of clothes. This way, you can wear them with multiple outfits, and in different seasons.

6. Wear the heaviest

It might be annoying, but it’s worth it. Wear your heaviest clothes and jackets to make space in your bag. If it’s too warm, then tie them around your waist.

7. One shoe to rule them all

Do you really need more than one pair of shoes? I never carry more than one pair with me, shoes take a lot of space. So try to find a good pair that can go with all your clothes and wear it.

8. Use free baggage service

Keep in mind that a lot of times the flight can be full, in this case the gate staff might ask you to check your luggage free of charge. I love when that happens.

9. Size matters

Your carry-on bag has a size and weight limit, but there is no standard size. Each airline comes up with their own restrictions on size. Here’s a handy chart that shows carry-on restrictions and limitations for more than 150 airlines.

However, going a bit above limit is fine as long as the airline doesn’t know about it. Which brings me to the next tip.

10. Check in online

Print your boarding pass in advance or use the check-in machines to avoid the check-in desk and go straight to security. The check-in desks is where your bag will most likely be weighed. If it’s above the limit, you will pay a huge amount to check in your baggage at the gate (usually 2x the normal fee). So make sure to avoid the check-in desks.

Check out my packing list to see what I packed for this 3-month trip.

The measure of a good traveler is how light they travel. By traveling light, you are more in control and stress-free.