One-Bag Travel: Packing List

In sharing Why We Travel with Only One Bag each, I also shared that traveling so light seemed utterly impossible to me. And that’s because I’m the type of person who likes being prepared for anything and everything! An organizer and champion list maker, I’d jot down everything imaginable and drag it along. Only to realize that we never even used a lot of it! 

Yet I still find that a complete packing list can make both the challenges and benefits of one-bag travel work better. Not only can it make sure we don’t forget things, but it also keep us from over-packing. Which by the way, experts feel is the number one travel mistake.

One thing to keep in mind is that this packing list is a general guide. Not everything on it has to get packed for every single trip. Take only what you need!

Clothing & Laundry:

I include Laundry Supplies with the clothing because washing things out as you go is the main key to packing light!


This includes the clothing worn in travel. Special note: One of our most important travel items are our bandanas. They are so multi-functional that we always keep on in our purse, book bags, etc. We rarely leave home without them!

2-4 Bottoms Pants, shorts, or skirts: in neutral colors
4-6 Tops In colors that make a capsule wardrobe
1 jacket or cardigan For dressy occasions; plus a neck tie or 1-2 Silk scarves
1 jacket or coat  Plus Travel umbrella ?
1 Pashmina Or shawl; this can double as throw or swimsuit cover
1 Swimsuit Or thermal underwear, depending on season
2 pair Shoes Choose shoes that work as both shoes & slippers
3 pair Socks 1 to wear, 1 to wash, 1 clean + 1 pair pantyhose
3 Underwear 1 to wear, 1 to wash, 1 clean (underwear, bras & slip)
1-2 sets PJ’s Sweat suits or swimsuit covers do double-duty
1 Belt Also use as emergency suitcase handle or tourniquet
Hat, Gloves Plus scarf, for sun/rain/wind/cold/heat
2 Bandanas Scarf, headband, hair tie, neck tie, and so many other uses!
2 Hankies Can also use as wash cloth, emergency sanitary pad
Laundry Supplies:
1 bar of Laundry soap No liquids to spill or get through customs
1 universal sink stopper Fits any sink
1 Laundry bag To keep dirty clothes separate (fold first)
1 homemade travel clothesline (no clothespins needed) Or buy one here. Safety pins also work as clothespins!
Tools & Repairs:

The advent of smartphones makes this list considerably shorter!!

Read | Why I Got a Smartphone (Finally)

Smartphone + charger GPS, weather, agenda, flashlight, compass, alarm, calculator, notepad, mirror!
Door lock Such as this travel door lock. Useful in hotels, on trains, etc.
Whistle Useful for calling for a taxi, self-defense, or emergencies.
Suitcase locks Lock bags in overhead bins too to prevent pilfering.
Carabiner clips Clip things to bags, keep bags together, or carry things.
Sewing kit Buttons, needles/threader, scissors (less than 4″ from pivot point), thread braid.
Tiny Repair Kit: Safety pins, Rubber bands/elastics, Twist ties, Binder clips, Lengths of cord/twine. Use as zipper pulls, fastening luggage tags, for holding things together, tying pant legs shut for biking or against insects.
Eyeglass repair kit Note: screwdrivers less than 7″ long are allowed.
Extra shoe laces You can also use them to tie things, or as carry cords or make-shift suitcase handle.

Documents, etc.
Documents Passports, visas, IDs, licenses, tickets, reservations, vaccinations, money, bank/credit cards, checks, insurance paperwork. Plus copies/ scans of documents.
Security pouch. To hide documents & valuables under your clothes.
Laptop or tablet Plus charger and adapter. And you also have reading material at your fingertips!
SD card Plus computer key for data storage or transfer.

Soap, shampoo Both in bars (no liquids)
Deodorant Stick or crystal (no liquids)
Toothbrush + powder No liquids
Dental floss + needle Also for thread/string, shoe laces, clothesline.
Hand/face cream & Lip balm For dry skin on airplane.
Comb/brush, mirror  Mirror = emergency reflector.
Nail clipper + file + razor  Also as thread snipper & sweater shaver.
1 Towel Peshtemals, compact, lightweight – but huge!
Bandana Doubles as wash cloth, shower cap, or hair towel.
Hair dryer  Travel-size, dual voltage.
Travel Aids

Small handbag or day back for everyday use. Choose flat and lightweight so it can be easily packed.
Travel pillow  Inflatable.
Travel blanket Lightweight viscose (held rolled by elastic band).
Bandana (from clothing) Use as sleeping mask, sit-upon cloth, or window shade on car/train/bus.
Sleep mask + Ear buds Or use bandana as a sleep mask.
Reading material Small, lightweight; device batteries can run down.
Mini playing cards Measure less than 1 x 2.5 inches (2.5 x 6.35 cm).
Health & First Aid
Medical Prescriptions + medications; Remedies/herbal tea bags for headache, fever, intestinal & tummy problems, nausea, etc.
First Aid Supplies Bandaids, Antiseptic wipes, Tweezers, Tissues.
Bandana: bandage, ice pack, tourniquet, breathing mask.
Women’s Sanitary Products Enough for trip; buy more later.
3rd world health/sanitary needs See’s suggestions.

Note: TSA currently allows foods on board (but not always on overseas flights). Any liquids must follow their 3-1-1 rule.

In closed packages from home: granola or candy bars. They keep well, don’t crumble, and boost energy.
Buy at airport: cheese, bagels, fruit, sandwiches. These keep well out of fridge and are nourishing.
Empty water bottle Fill it after airport checkpoints.
Bandana Use as napkin or place mat.

Our packing list may seem unnecessarily long, but trust me, it all fits into one small carry-on bag. And we travel well-prepared for emergencies, and have never yet forgotten anything!!

And now, we wish you a buon viaggio!!

[Clothes with sneakers and hat: courtesy of StockSnap,; all others are our own.]

7 thoughts on “One-Bag Travel: Packing List

    1. Great! But it’s also useful for non overseas travel. I generally store a lot of the little items in our suitcases so they’re also ready! Hope it helps you Lynn!


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