I am a cheapskate, carry-on-only traveller. I fly with budget airlines a lot. If you don’t know already, all of them have stringent cabin bag rules. To make sure that my stuff fits their criteria, I have to weigh every piece of item that I bring with me when I travel. After years of travelling, I have compiled a list of travel gears that I never travel without and here goes!
The most important thing about fitting your bag into the cabin is the dimension of your cabin bag. If you choose to fly with budget airlines no matter long haul or short haul, invest in a good cabin bag. It will be your companion for a long time.
The American Tourister 4 Kix Rolling Travel Tote has been my cabin bag for 4 years and it is still working fine. It fits perfectly in cabins of some of the stringent airline companies that I have flown with (think AirAsia, Spirit, Scoot, Ryanair, Tigerair). You can carry it too when you have some cobblestone streets or muddy water to walk through.
If you are travelling a little longer, Kelty Redwing 44 Backpack will be a great fit. This backpack is the best one after having tried 4 backpacks (2 broke). My Kelty is still standing strong after 3 years. The best feature is the possibility of unzipping parts of the backpack that I don’t use often to turn the part into another bag.
ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Foldable bag is a favourite for most travellers! When the lady from Ryanair asked me to repack my bag (as it was more than 10kgs), I simply took this foldable bag out from my tote and stuff some of the heavier stuff in this foldable bag. I wore a jacket over it. She didn’t even realise. Foldable bag saved the day. You’re welcome.
Travel Tools I need to have
If you are travelling to many destinations at once, you will need packing cubes. With TravelWise Packing Cubes, packing-unpacking becomes easier. You don’t have to unload everything to find something that might be deep in the bag. After using the stuff that you need, you can chuck those cubes back in your bag. Packing done and you’re ready to go.
Again, if you fly with budget airlines, please treat your neck a little better by getting yourself a travel pillow. This travel pillow is made of memory foam, so it takes the shape of your sleeping posture to ensure ultimate comfort. A travel pillow can be optional if you get a really good scarf (see below).
Get some luggage locks. Not only these can keep your luggage more secure (or your backpack which doesn’t normally have a lock), it can use as a lock for your locker in hostels. These are TSA compatible so even if someone wants to steal your stuff, they have to work hard for it (which might make them turn away from your bag and look for another prey).
An eye mask (and ear buds) is very important for my sanity while I survive through a long haul flight or a wild hostel night. I have only started using this eye mask during my Europe trip and I love it. If you are a light sleeper, definitely get it. Bad sleep really kills the holiday mood and it ruins your following days as well.
External battery (or power bank) is one of the most important gadgets that I travel with. I find Xiaomi 10000mAh to be the most affordable. It can complete 2 charges for most phones. It only weighs 230g and has a thin, minimalistic design. It can even fit in your pocket!
I bought my Canon g7x Mark II and have since then moved on from phone photography. This point-and-shoot, small-sized camera is so powerful that I don’t think I will be upgrading my camera in the next 5 years.
I have been travelling with Joby Gorillapod as soon as I started travelling solo. It helps me take a decent photo of myself (no offence, strangers), take a decent timelapse of sunrises and sunsets, stabilise my image, take photo from high above, act as a good weapon…
Getting a good universal travel adapter is vital if you travel with a lot of gadgets. This adapter is compatible with all the plugs in the world. You can travel to anywhere with this adapter. It is really compact as it comes down to only a cube when you are not using it.
If you are going to many parts of the world where pickpocketing is common (I’m looking at you, Europe), you are going to need some boxers with pockets. You can stash your important documents, cash and cards into these pockets. I swore by these boxers for keeping my possessions away from searching eyes while travelling in Europe.
I normally travel with T-shirts from another Japanese brand until I found these. These premium T-shirts are much lighter and they are more breathable. I normally bring 5 of these with me and 2 nicer shirts (just any of your nicer, lighter shirts will be fine) and I’m good to go.
I do laundry a lot when I am travelling. Socks can be a pain to dry if you don’t choose the material wisely. I have 5 pairs of Merino Wool socks that are cool in summer and warm in winter. It is also easy to dry them so if I ever run out of socks, I can just quickly wash them and hang dry (quick to dry even in winter). They also have funky colours so you can have a little of fun with your socks matching!
When I lost my pocket towel in the Philippines, I immediately got another one because it is just so essential when I go travelling. They are very absorbent, takes only a small space (hence the name pocket towel) and quick to dry!
Get a thicker scarf when you are travelling. It can be your neckwarmer, your pillow, your eyemask, your beach mat or even your blanket. I always travel with a scarf because it really is a versatile item that has many functions.
So there goes! These are the gears that I personally love and have to travel with. With all these (and some of your personal stuff like your phone and laptop), you can definitely travel with just a carry-on! Have fun packing!
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Born and raised in Malaysia, Aaron is a medical student who desperately preaches about “Travelling doesn’t have to be expensive” – well, he has a full-on blog about it. When he is free, he checks for the cheapest airfare that would get him out of Australia. Aaron indulges in local cuisine so much that he has to lose some weight before and after he goes travelling. Read more about him here!
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