Why Travel Light?

Big 75L Backpack vs Smaller 50L Backpack - You get the idea!


Travelling Light. Travelling with One Bag Only. Not everybody does it. But everybody should. This is why travelling light is for everyone.



When you travel light, with a carry on a plane sized bag, you can take it with you everywhere. When I say everywhere, I mean everywhere. Your bag will fit in the overhead compartment on the airplane, in the luggage rack above your head on a train or bus, between your legs on a ferry, perched on a stool at a road side food stall, on your back when you have to go to the toilet urgently at the train station… anywhere.

Having a bag that is bigger than a carry on bag means you will probably have to check it in at the airport: your bag will get thrown around with the rest of the other bags, you will have to wonder if it will arrive where you arrive. Even worse is having to store it underneath a bus in their storage area. Buses stop often, people get on, get off, the luggage store opens and closes. Anyone could take your bag (or temporarily put something in it while you pass through checkpoints). All without you even knowing.

Being able to keep your one bag with you at all times also means that any electronic equipment you have with you, for example, laptops or cameras, will be with you always. You can always see and feel your bag. There is no need to have a separate bag just for your laptop. Place it in your one carry on bag along with everything else and no one will even know that your laptop is in there.


A smaller bag equals less stuff . To an extent anyway.

We all over-pack. Everyone has done it at some stage of their life. There was a time when I would bring 15 pairs of underwear for a 2 week holiday. One for each day and another for just in case. That takes up a lot unnecessary space! (and its a lot of unnecessary undies!) I am not condemning this but now, for our never-ending life on the road ahead of us, I only have 5 pairs. Every night, every second night at most, I wash my underwear and hang them to dry overnight. Simple.

Instead of taking items of clothing for those “just in case” moments, only pack clothing that you will definitely wear. A lot. That is the difference. For those of you who think that you already do this, you can probably halve your clothing pile again! There is no need for 2 pairs of pants, one pair of jeans and one pair of track suit pants. Pack two pairs of pants. That is all you need. You could argue that two pairs of pants is one pair too many…

Once you have sorted out your clothing (less is best), it is time to tackle your footwear. Same rule goes here. There is no need for you to take four pairs of sneakers. Will you have time on your travels to worry about your sneakers matching the t-shirt that matches your underwear that matches your bag? I think not! Three pairs of footwear is the absolute maximum – sneakers, sandals and thongs (flip flops). Andrew doesn't even have sneakers. He has a good quality pair of sandals for walking around in and his flip flops for the bathroom. If you do take a pair of sneakers wear them on planes etc so they aren't taking up room in your bag.

Unless you are going to a very secluded place where there are no shops within a 10km radius, packing toiletries isn't necessary unless you use special medicated face cream (for example). You can buy tooth paste anywhere. The same goes for deodorant, soap and aspirin. You're not going to the moon. They have tooth brushes in Thailand. They have moisturiser in Spain. Don't load your bag up with this stuff. Chances are it will be cheaper where you're going anyway.

If you do want to pack toiletries, ensuring the size of liquid bottles / tubes are 100mls and under allows you to still put your bag on as carry on luggage. Check out solid shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, moisturiser etc instead of the liquid versions. Especially if you travel often.


Travelling is less of a chore when you only have to worry about one bag (ok, two if you include your hand bag). You will worry less about your stuff if you have it all with you. You will also be more comfortable walking around. Your back won't hurt. You will be happier.

Check out what we packed for our travels – https://www.magictravelblog.com/2011/12/long-term-one-bag-travel-packing-list-for-two-people/

Trust me. Get a smaller bag and try this the next time you travel.

8 thoughts on “Why Travel Light?

  1. Hi Tayna and Andrew,
    I have really enjoyed your travel blog. The content is very informative especially the pages concerning visa requirements, how to travel light as well as the solid hair and conditioner bars. I too am about to set off on a 5 week journey around Europe so I also really enjoy your mix of content, as including images and videos into your blog has really allowed a better insight into your experiences!
    Enjoy the rest of your trip.

    1. Hi Kirsten,
      Thanks so much for visiting our blog and writing to us. We are happy to know that we are helping people along the way!
      Enjoy your 5 week trip in Europe! Next time, make it 5 months!
      Great to hear from you, Tanya

  2. hello Tanya
    I came across your blog while surfing on the net for a backpack. Im a novice when it comes to backpacking and wanted your advice on buying a Backpack for my first ever trekking trip. What size backpack would you recommend for a 4 to 6 day trek.

    1. Hi! Buying a backpack depends on what type of trek you are going to do. Are you referring to a trek up and down a mountain with no stairs or are you talking about a trek through the winding beautiful walkways of Amsterdam?

      I can’t really give you any advise on either treks except to say that you should get everything together that you want to take with you and bring it with you to a bag shop. Pack each bag with your stuff, put it on, and walk around with it all in it.

      Try not to buy the bag first before packing as the backpack may be too big and then you will be more inclined to pack more crap in it!

  3. Tanya,

    Could you send us a link of the backpack that you purchased or just even the model/name? I’m interested in comparing what I’m thinking of purchasing versus what you bought.

    Thank you


    1. Hi Arvie, the backpack I bought was a Deuter ACT Lite 40 + 10. This backpack was still too big for me and I couldn’t quite get it to fit right the entire time we were travelling for ten months. Apparently Deuter do have a women’s fit range that would probably work better for me as I am quite short in the torso.

      I recommend you try out whatever bags you are looking at and load them up with all your stuff that you would be taking. It is hilarious when you are in a shop doing this but very worthwhile.

      Good luck 🙂

  4. Hi Tanya great post! and I agree with the packing light philosophy.

    Just wondering if you’re always able to take your 50L backpack as carry-on? It still seems a little big to me to fit into the overhead compartment.

    I just bought an Osprey pack which is 40L + 15L daypack. Even with the daypack stuffed inside the main pack I think I’ll be lucky to take it as carry-on.

    Let me know what you think! Love your work, keep it up 🙂

    1. Hi! Well the thing to remember is that even if your bag is 40L or 50L or 60L it all depends on the shape and dimensions of the bag. Even though they may look a little big, once you use the compression straps and pull everything in together really well, the bag does get smaller.

      Our tip to overhead compartments is to get ont he plane as soon as possible and get your bags in there first!

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