Real life one bag travel: My Packing List

Hi Frugalistas!

OK, enough about the mistakes other people make with their packing.  This is what I take when I’m travelling.  This list is my basic do all, go anywhere packing list that lasts for a week plus, and can be adapted to any situation from a winter trek through Europe to a 10 day tropical resort chill out.

Add in my coat and I’m good to go for at least 2 weeks on this little pile…..

First, a few ground rules I stick to

1.  I don’t do shorts.  I just don’t like them, and prefer to wear a skirt or dress if I want to have my legs out.  In Europe they are only ever worn on the beach, so have limited use, and even in other parts of the world are too limiting.

2.  Two pairs of shoes – I know everyone is going to groan on this one, but really, if you can discipline yourself to do it, your life will never be the same again.  They take up so much space in my bag – space I would rather fill with shopping, or increasing my choice of clothing…..Only exception – thongs/flipflops/jandals for resorts and if you are using shared bathrooms.  Then it is a health and hygiene necessity.

3.  Accessorise, accessorise, accessorise.  I take costume jewelery, scarves, and a couple of belts to make my outfits look and feel different.

4.  Consistent colour palette so any article of clothing goes with anything else.  Think black, grey, white, purple, livened up with red, blue and any other colour of your choosing!

5.  More tops than bottoms.  You can get away with fewer bottoms (pants/skirts/shorts) as the basis for your wardrobe, and make room for more top items.  This will make it seem like you’ve got more choice!

Microfibre towels and thermals are great multitasking additions to my bag

So, here is the frugalfirstclasstravel guaranteed to fit in one bag clothes list:

(Including what I wear on the plane……)

3-4 singlet tops or Tshirts

3-4 long sleeved tops suitable for the climate – can be cut down to 1-2 for guaranteed hot weather

2-3 bottoms – skirts and pants.  Shorts if you insist……

1 dress – for dressing up or down as required

3-4 sets underwear and tights (again, forget the tights in guaranteed hot weather)

A couple of scarves and a couple of costume necklaces (personally I leave all my good stuff at home, but feel free to pack the tiara if you want to)

2 pairs of shoes, appropriate for the climate and what I’m doing.  In reality, this means ankle boots for winter, a pair of really comfy flats for almost all the rest of the time, and a pair of sandals for the heat.  And the thongs/flipflops/jandals for when I need them.

A coat – except for the tropics.  I take a leather jacket or trench most of the year round, and a down coat for the winter.  To be worn rather than packed.

Thermals – a necessity for many winter locations, but I often take a thermal top for extra laying without bulk if the weather is perhaps unpredictable (like going to Europe in Spring and late Autumn).

Night attire for bed, but leave the dressing gown and slippers at home…….

Swimming costume – only if it is likely I am going to need it.  I don’t do “just in case”.

A microfibre towel – to be used as an extra towel if needed in the hotel, a picnic rug, a wrap for draughts.

Toiletries.  I put them into a plastic ziploc bag even if I am planning on checking luggage.  It’s just a good discipline to be in, and it means you don’t waste space on stuff you won’t need – you do not need a whole bottle of shampoo………they do have shops you know.  If you are off somewhere where they don’t, you probably still don’t need it!

A folding umbrella.  The smallest, lightest one you can find.

Add in your guide book, copies of documents and you’re good to go – in just one carry on bag!

Related Posts:

Winter packing list

Tropical packing list

Transeasonal packing list

Man’s packing list


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20 Comments on “Real life one bag travel: My Packing List”

  1. Engelsman in Afrika 30/05/2012 at 7:12 pm #

    I’ll pass this along to my wife! She is terrible when it comes to packing for a short vacation

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 30/05/2012 at 7:17 pm #

      Please do! And feel free to tell her this is how I pack for even the longest trip….thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment

  2. Vivien L. 15/06/2012 at 11:44 am #

    This is how I like to pack too… 🙂

  3. Geek Goddess 07/08/2012 at 1:28 am #

    I’m going on a trip in March that will be two days in Quito, 5 days on a tiny boat (38 passengers) exploring the Galapagos Islands, then 3 days at a lodge on the Amazon that is reached by canoe. I’m scratching my head at what to pack. No formal night on cruise, of course. I do like to dress nice for the plane trip down and back.

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 07/08/2012 at 6:24 am #

      I would just go for a classic pair of black trousers and top for the plane. That will also give you something “nice” if you do feel like you want to dress up a little. You can wear that outfit anywhere around town or on the cruise in the evenings even if you don’t need to “dress”

  4. BlondeBrunetteTravel 10/03/2013 at 5:19 am #

    I’m packing this weekend for a trip to Dubai and then Phuket and am stressing over the mountains of clothes I’ve ironed. Some of them are going to be disappointed not to make the cut! I haven’t yet been able to do a trip with 2 pairs of shoes if I’m doing a lot of walking. My feet need some variety and we tend to do a lot of water things so I need special shoes for that too. For me electronics – camera, extra lens, Mac, iPhone, etc. are the things I’m least successful at limiting. Thanks for giving me a reference point to curb my excess!

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 10/03/2013 at 7:26 am #

      Check out my latest post – an interview with Alex from Travel Fashion Girl – she goes for 3 pairs. And I must admit when I’m off to hot climes I do throw a pair of flip flops in as well. Obviously if you have particular issues with your feet it’s more important to do what’s going to work for you rather than slavishly follow someone else’s rules.

      Have a great trip!


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