Travel Tips


 I have become accustomed to carry-on only travel over the last few years. I love the convenience of getting off a plane and leaving the airport. No hassle or fuss with waiting around for checked bags, just get up and go.

That said, since I have only traveled domestically for the last few years I have yet to attempt carry-on only travel on a big, multi-country trip. With my first international trip in over two years, one that had me visiting eight countries on three continents, I thought I would give carry-on-only travel a go. Here’s how it went along with my tips and suggestions for next time.

  • Pick the Right Bag

The first step to carrying one only travels for a long trip is selecting a bag that is up for the task. Domestically and for short trips, my Herschel Novel duffel bag has served me well. For my electronics and miscellaneous items, I use a PKG Durham backpack. These are both great, stylish bags but are pretty limited for a long trip. The duffel bag is only 42 liters and is cumbersome to carry long distances. The PKG bag is stylish and super functional but bulky and not ideal for taking on hikes or day trips. With this in mind, I started searching for the perfect travel bags to take with me.

  • Main Bag for Carry-On Only Travel – Osprey Porter 46

I had a few factors to consider for my main bag: size, weight, portability, functionality, and style.

  • Size

If you are traveling long-term and want to travel carry-on only, you will want the largest size allowable for airplane cabins. Although a lot of shapes can be stuffed into the metal size allocation bin at check-in counters, the maximum allowable limit is 46 liters.

  • Weight & Portability

Since I would have to carry this bag through airports and to hotels I wanted a backpack. Although wheeled bags are great, (I took a Timbuck2 CoPilot around the world three times!) they are typically bulky and add weight. As such, I searched for a backpack.

  • Functionality

That said, the amount of time I would be using the bag on my back would be limited to long walks between gates. All other travel with my larger bag would be in taxis or cars. As such, I wanted the option to use the bag like a duffel to easily pick up and go.

Also, unlike my Hearchal Duffel, I needed more than one or two pockets to better organize.

  • Style

Last but not least, I wanted a bag that looked good. I was looking for a bag that would not be out of place in a business-class cabin while maintaining a balance of lightweight, functionality, and portability. As such, I avoided bags with flashy colors typically found with backpacking and outdoor gear.

   Carry-On Only Packing List

Now that I had my bags sorted it was time to fill them. Since I was attempting carry-on travel, I needed to pack light. This was tricky as, when I pack checked bags, I always seem to overpack and end up not wearing all the clothes I bring. I’m sure I’m not the only one who does this. This meant I needed to pack light…then pack lighter.

With that, I set out to pack enough to last me one week at a time to wash my clothes every 7 days or so. After a few revisions I landed on the following;


  • Short socks x 5
  • Long/Dress socks x 1
  • Compression socks x 3 (I use these on flights)
  • Underwear x7 (Saxx Quest are great – lightweight and easy to hand wash if needed!)
  • Tshirts x 7
  • Sweater x 2
  • Gym shorts
  • Swim trunks
  • Shorts x 2
  • Tank top x 2 (highlight recommend these lightweight bamboo ones!)
  • Pants x 2
  • Button-up shirts x 2

   Shoes and Accessories

Now since I was visiting locations that were both well above and below freezing, I needed to ensure I brought clothes that I could layer and use in a range of climates. This meant packing a compressible puffy jacket as well as a light rain jacket. Other miscellaneous items              include the following;

  • Flip flops
  • Sunglasses
  • Glasses x 2
  • Mask x 2
  • Sneakers x1
  • Ballcap
  • Tuque
  • Puffy jacket
  • Rain Jacket/Windbreaker
  • shaving kit
  • Notebooks x 3(I love these Moleskine softcover ones!)

       Camera Gear & Electronics

On the electronic side I had the following to pack;

Compression Bag or Packing Cubes?

Next up was figuring out how to get this all into my bags. To make it fit I first tried compression sacks which I have used in the past with success. They work great however the downside is your clothes are largely stuffed into the sack and are a bit of a pain to sort through. As someone that likes to stay organized, I landed on some packing cubes from MEC.

These come in a variety of sizes. I ended up with three large, one medium,m and three small.

For the large, I separated my shirts in one, pants and sweaters in another, and shorts and tank tops in the last one. I used the medium one for underwear and a small one for socks.

All four fit perfectly in the Osprey Porter 46. Initially packed the large ones vertically with the handles up. This made them very slick for pulling in and out however limited the use of the bag’s compression straps so I repacked with them stacked.

In the front small pocket, I packed my sunglasses and spare glasses along with a shaving kit. I packed my puffer jacket, rain jacket, spare notebooks, and a small tripod in the top pocket. Last, I stored my travel documents in an envelope with a padded back sleeve I also used this for my laptop as it’s better protected than in the DayLite Plus. It’s also super convenient for going through security.

For my Osprey DayLite Plus backpack, I used one small packing cube for my charging cables and Minix Neo P3 100w charger and one for my camera batteries, GoPro, and hard drives. I packed my camera and lenses into my camera messenger bag and then put that into the main cavity for flights.

Putting It All Together

After zipping and compressing the Osprey Porter 46 I was surprised by just how much I was able to get into this sausage-like bag. I packed up the DayLite Plus and attached it to the Osprey Porter and, although it holds, it makes for one large bag on your back. As such, I don’t see myself using this option often but nice to have if needed.


As of writing this, I am three stops into this trip and am happy to report that this setup has worked out great so far! Getting through security is a breeze and no issues In and out of overhead bins I have flown in both narrow and wide-body aircraft. I will update this post if I encounter any issues, but this solution is great so far! I highly recommend it if you are looking for a long-term carry-on-only travel bag with a daypack that can house your electronics and miscellaneous items.

What say you?
What do you think of these Carry On Only Travel Tips? Let’s hear it!



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