How to Pack One Bag for Travel: Mastering the Art of Light Packing and Slow Travel

How to Pack One Bag for Travel

Packing light is more than just a practical choice; it's a mindset—a conscious decision to prioritise experiences over possessions. By packing just one bag, you can transform your travel experience, making it less stressful and more enjoyable, every step of the way.

One-bag travel is about decluttering excess and embracing the beauty of slow travel. With less time spent fussing over luggage and more energy devoted to embracing new experiences, you'll find yourself loving every moment of your journey.

From London to Tokyo to Paris, I've travelled across the globe with just one bag. While packing light may require some practice, it's an attainable goal for anyone, regardless of the destination. Let me show you how.

How to Pack One Bag for Travel

What is One-Bag Travel?

One-bag travel, or "onebagging," is a minimalist approach to travelling where all your belongings fit into a single, carry-on-sized bag. This travel philosophy emphasises efficiency, simplicity, and the freedom that comes with packing light. Instead of being burdened by multiple suitcases and unnecessary items, one-bag travel focuses on packing only the essentials needed for a comfortable and enjoyable trip.

One-bag travel isn't just about carrying less; it's about prioritising the joys of travel over the burden of excess luggage. By packing light, you can enjoy a more immersive and stress-free journey by focusing on what truly matters: the experiences and memories you create along the way.

The Principles of One-Bag Travel

  1. Pack Light: Only take what you need for about a week. This should include versatile clothing that can be mixed and matched, essential electronics, and multi-use toiletries.

  2. Don’t Pack Your Fears: Resist the temptation to pack items "just in case." Instead, trust that you can make-do, improvise, or purchase as needed during your trip.

  3. Do Laundry Along the Way: Plan to wash clothes along the way. This might mean booking accommodation with laundry facilities, packing quick-drying clothing for sink washing, or even washing clothes in the shower.

By limiting your clothing to a week’s worth and paring down toiletries and electronics to only the essentials, you should be able to fit everything into a 25L-35L backpack or a small duffle/suitcase. If it doesn’t fit, reassess and reduce your items again.

The Benefits of One-Bag Travel

  • Mobility: With only one bag, you can move around more freely and quickly, whether you're navigating crowded airports, hopping on public transport, or exploring bustling city streets.

  • Less Stress: Travelling with just a carry-on means you have fewer items to keep track of and can avoid the hassle and worry of lost or delayed luggage.

  • Cost Savings: Travelling with just a carry-on not only avoids checked baggage fees, it reduces the risk of lost luggage, saving both money and hassle.

  • Enhanced Experience: By focusing on packing just the essentials, you can immerse yourself more fully in the travel experience without the distraction of excess belongings.

One-bag travel is a balance between the convenience of having all your usual comforts and the freedom of travelling light. By embracing this minimalist approach to travel you can prioritise what truly matters: creating meaningful experiences and memories rather than managing and organising excessive luggage.

How to Pack One Bag for Travel

How to Pack One Bag for Travel

Whether you're off on a weekend getaway or embarking on a journey around the world, packing just one bag can transform your travel experience. Learning how to pack light can make all the difference between smooth sailing and unnecessary stress. Here’s how to pack one bag for travel, no matter your destination.

Choose the Right Bag

Choosing the right bag is a critical decision for one-bag travel as picking the wrong one can have disastrous consequences. Bag sizes span a broad spectrum, ranging from ultra-minimalist 15L packs to more spacious options approaching the maximum carry-on size of 40L. Assess your needs and preferences to determine the most suitable size for your travel itinerary.

While backpacks are often the go-to choice for many travellers, there's no one-size-fits-all solution. When deciding between options, prioritise finding a lightweight bag that strikes the perfect balance of durability and practicality.

Look for features like multiple compartments and pockets, as these will help streamline your packing process and keep your belongings tidy and accessible throughout your journey. If you plan on flying, make sure your chosen bag complies with airline carry-on size restrictions.

Create a Packing List

Before you start tossing items into your bag, take some time to create a comprehensive packing list. This inventory will not only guide you through your current journey but will also become an invaluable template for all your future trips. Not only will a packing list ensure that you don't overlook any essential items, it also helps prevent the temptation to overpack.

A well-considered packing list is more than just a checklist; it's a strategic tool designed to streamline your preparations and make packing easy. Just remember to adapt and customise your list for each trip, accounting for the destination, climate, and any planned activities.

Plan a Capsule Wardrobe

Clothing tends to take up the most space in your luggage, so choosing versatile, easy-to-wear pieces is key to packing light. The most effective way to reduce how much clothing you pack is to create a travel capsule wardrobe. This means selecting a limited number of pieces that can be mixed and matched to create a variety of outfits suitable for different activities.

A well-planned capsule wardrobe not only minimizes the amount of clothing you need to bring but also ensures you’re prepared for various activities and settings without the bulk and hassle of overpacking. A neutral colour palette will make it easier to coordinate outfits, and a few simple jewellery pieces will help transition a look from day to night. Remember, you can always do laundry during your trip, so you don’t need to pack a different outfit for every day.

Test Your Outfits

Once you've put together your travel capsule wardrobe, it's crucial to ensure its practicality and versatility by planning outfits for each day of your trip. Planning your outfits in advance saves time during your trip, allowing you to focus on enjoying your adventure rather than worrying about what to wear each day.

Testing your travel capsule wardrobe will confirm that your chosen pieces can be mixed and matched effectively to create a variety of looks suitable for any planned activities. It will also help identify any gaps or redundancies in your travel wardrobe, helping to ensure you have everything you need without packing any unnecessary items.

How to Pack One Bag for Travel

Limit Shoes

Shoes can quickly eat up precious space in your bag, so it's essential to limit the number you pack. Aim to pack as few pairs of shoes as possible, prioritising comfort and versatility. Choose a pair of shoes that can be dressed up or down, ensuring they are suitable for various activities and occasions.

By selecting multi-purpose footwear, you can significantly reduce the bulk and weight of your luggage. To maximise your packing space, wear your bulkiest shoes while travelling and pack any smaller, compact shoes like trainers and sandals in your bag.

Embrace Multi-Purpose Items

By choosing items that serve multiple functions, you can significantly reduce the number of things you need to pack. For example, a lightweight scarf can double as a blanket or pillow, while a sarong can be used as a beach cover-up or picnic blanket. When it comes to toiletries, just pack the essentials and decant full-size products into small, reusable travel-sized bottles.

Get around airline liquid restrictions by packing solid hair care bars, or packing multi-purpose products such as a combined shampoo and body wash, or a moisturiser with built-in sunscreen. Alternatively basic toiletries are sold everywhere so you can always choose to leave these behind and buy what you need at your destination.

Pack Strategically

When packing for one-bag travel, it's essential to use every inch of space efficiently to keep clothing wrinkle-free and organised. Carefully roll or fold each item of clothing into packing cubes to maximise space and minimise wrinkles. Place heavier items at the bottom of your bag to help to distribute the weight evenly, ensuring your bag is stable and more comfortable to carry.

Utilise every available nook and cranny in your bag by packing socks and underwear inside shoes, storing small electronics and accessories in internal pockets or side compartments, and using small pouches for toiletries.