Intro - My story with one bag travel

I’ve been travelling regularly as a nomad since 2020.

When I plan my trips, there’s one step I love to spend time on: preparing my backpack for the best travel experience.

Over time, I've spent many hours and dollars researching and testing various bags and packing lists. Finally, I've developed the ultimate one bag travel packing list that I'll share with you.

At least the one bag packing list that works best for me.

This one bag packing list is the result of extensive research and multiple iterations, fine-tuned to include the best items, organization techniques, and systems.

In short, creating this packing list took me a lot of work. And I’m pretty picky :)

I've used this one bag packing list for south east Asia, Canada, North Africa and Europe during summer and spring.

That means the clothes of this packing list are light (which, of course, helps packing light).

That being said, it’s 100% possible to travel during winter with this one bag packing list. You’ll just have to wear the bulkier items on you when moving.

Let’s get started with the packing list.

The One Bag Travel practice

Maximalist, Multi Noisy Suitcases VS One Bag Travel: make your choice :)

What is one bag travel?

One bag travel is the practice of traveling with just one, carry-on-sized bag, that contains all of your essential items for the trip. The goal is to create the best travel experience with maximum mobility, flexibility and freedom by packing only what you truly need.

Doug Dyment, the founder of OneBag.com, puts it well:

You will at some point reach a transcendent moment, in which your (one) bag will be small and light enough to carry without consequence, no longer of any meaningful concern. And—from that instant—your travel experiences will be forever changed, with an unfettered freedom that is quite simply beyond the understanding of those who remain bound to their baggage.

Below is the official description of the r/onebag subreddit:

"A minimalist urban travel community devoted to the idea of lugging around less crap; onebag travel. Fewer items, packed into a single bag for ease of transport to make travelling simpler with more focus on the experience than the logistics."

The incredible benefits of travelling with just one carry-on bag

  1. Lighter weight by packing light
  2. Mobility: ease of movement, quick transfers
  3. Peace of mind: no stress of losing your bag
  4. No waiting at the luggage carousel
  5. No baggage extra cost
  6. Easier packaging thanks to fewer items
  7. Less decision fatigue thanks to fewer items
  8. Discrete compared to a huge bag
  9. Greater enjoyment: fewer things to worry about

And it helps your bag avoid that treatment:

Enjoy the whole video here, nice right? :)

The main characteristics of one bag travel

  • The bag has to be carry on compliant. See below for the best bags to travel carry on
  • To fit all your stuff into a carry on bag, you'll have to save space (and save weight) by cutting all the unnecessary stuff. This packing list will help you on that
  • You'll bring fewer clothes and items but well picked and versatile
  • Regularly washing your clothes makes it possible to travel indefinitely

The simple hack that helps packing light while traveling indefinitely

Laundry sheets + Sink is the Ultimate Combo to travel indefinitely

Travelling during weeks, months or years with just one bag and only a few clothes is possible thanks to one key practice: washing your clothes every couple of days.

The most convenient strategy is using the combo laundry sheets + sink. You can use regular sinks or bring a collapsible sink depending on where you travel.

If you know you'll have a washing machine, then you don't need that. You can also use laundromats, but you'll spend money for only a couple of clothes. 

Washing my clothes by hand usually takes me 15 minutes max. Easy and relaxing. Time without technology, pretty rare these days.

This simple hack allows you to save space and travel with a 35L backpack indefinitely, anywhere in the world.

Now, let's continue to the packing list.

The One Bag Packing List

To introduce this packing list, let me tell you one important thing.

When I buy something that I consider "strategic", I can benchmark during weeks to pick the best item ever. I like doing that, that's my geek side.

I don't want to buy many things so when I buy a new thing, I want it to be the best-in-class item in its category. I don't want another average item that will need to be replaced soon.

Finally, let's move to the packing list.

The Best Carry On Bags

Aer Travel Pack 3: The Rolls-Royce of Carry On Bags

The Aer Travel Pack 3 is fantastic.

After weeks of research and comparison, I chose the Aer Travel Pack 3.

Now that I used it for 1.5 years, I can say this backpack is one of my best purchases ever.

Why the Aer Travel Pack 3 is the supreme carry on travel backpack

  • Outstanding conception: they really care about designing the absolute best backpack. That’s their 3rd iteration. I love brands who iterate to deliver the best product
  • Carry on size: the Aer Travel Pack 3 is a 35L backpack that fits for most airlines if you travel by plane.
  • Very confortable
  • Super strong and durable: ballistic nylon and all that
  • Great built-in organization
  • Not too bulky and relatively elegant
  • As great for a weekend trip as for a 3-month trip
  • Many “one baggers” use this bag and are really happy with it
  • Ranked number one best travel backpack by PackHacker.

Other Great Carry On Travel Bags

Clothes

T shirts

I fully recommend Merino wool t shirts as Merino wool is:

  • Odor resistant (wearable multiple days without smelling, no joke)
  • Thermo regulating (cooling when it's hot, warming when it's cold)
  • Quick drying (very useful if you wash your clothes and keep moving between places)
  • Durable (I love durable things, who doesn't?)
  • And many more.

I pack them in the one packing cube to save space and organize my bag.

The best brands for great Merino T shirts: Wool and Prince, Icebreaker, Seagale.

Quantity

  • Short trip (2-3 days) 2
  • Mid trip (2 weeks or less) At least 3
  • Indefinite (2 weeks+) At least 5

Shirts

I personally take only one shirt when I need to get dressed up.

I love lino but it usually need to be ironed to look good. And I'm not a fan of ironing my clothes.

I just take a cotton shirt with a nice look.

Brands: take whatever you like.

Quantity

  • Short trip (2-3 days) 0-1
  • Mid trip (2 weeks or less) 1
  • Indefinite (2 weeks+) 1-2

Underwear

Like for the T shirts, I recommend Merino wool underwear for the same reasons: odor resistant, wearable multiple days without smelling, etc).

The best brands for great Merino underwear: Wool and Prince, Icebreaker, Seagale (same brands as for T shirts).

Quantity

  • Short trip (2-3 days) 2
  • Mid trip (2 weeks or less) 3-6
  • Indefinite (2 weeks+) At least 5

Relax, you'll wash them. 

Pants

For warm weather, lino pants are great as lino is breathable. I love the ones from MUJI.

For cold or normal weather: chinos, jeans or anything that you feel confortable with.

Brands or type: take whatever you like, but prefer lighter options. If you want great versatile, quality pants, check the brands Outlier and Seagale.

Quantity

  • Short trip (2-3 days) 1
  • Mid trip (2 weeks or less) 2
  • Indefinite (2 weeks+) 2

Shorts

Brands or type: take whatever you like, but prefer lighter options. If you want great versatile, quality pants, check the brands Outlier and Seagale.

My personal favorites are:

  • Patagonia Baggies Long 7" : they're just fantastic. You can also use as swimwear. Love them.
  • Carhartt Cargo Shorts: not the lightest but I like the look.

Quantity

  • Short trip (2-3 days) 0-1
  • Mid trip (2 weeks or less) 2
  • Indefinite (2 weeks+) 2-3

Socks

Again, I recommend merino wool for breathability, odor, quick drying, etc.

For warm weather I only take 2 pairs as I don't wear socks every day. And as they're Merino, I can wear them multiple days without odor.

The best brands for great Merino socks: Seagale, Wool and Prince.

Quantity

  • Short trip (2-3 days) 2-3
  • Mid trip (2 weeks or less) 5
  • Indefinite (2 weeks+) 5

Packable Down Jacket

I love the Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody. Light, packable, fantastic.

Quantity (for any trip length): 0-1 (depending the weather)

Shoes

You need comfy shoes to be at-ease and explore. Personally, I only bring one pair, the New Balance 574 because I love the look and they're very durable.

You can also take running shoes that are versatile and can be used to go out if you prefer.

Quantity

  • Short trip (2-3 days) 1
  • Mid trip (2 weeks or less) 1-2
  • Indefinite (2 weeks+) 1-2

Light footwear

What I call light footwear can be minimalist sandals, flip flops, Birkenstock, Tropicfeel, you name it.

I prefer Birkenstocks, it's bulkier and heavier than flip flops, but I hate flip flops. I prefer 10x the look of Birkenstock and it feels much more comfy. That's important, you walk with these during hours.

Quantity (for any trip length): 0-1 (depending the weather)

Packable daypack

The Matador Freerain22 is slick, and packable

Bringing a packable daypack is a game changer for several reasons. I always bring one with me and I love it.

Here are the benefits of having a packable daypack in your carry on travel bag.

  • It's a more convenient and lighter bag, more suited for quick day trips than your main bag
  • Reduced risk: by leaving your main bag at your airbnb or hotel, you reduce the risk of losing all your belongings
  • It's more discrete than your main travel bag to feel more at ease
  • Extra storage: provides additional space for items picked up during your trip.

The packable daypack I love and recommend: Matador Freerain 22

The Matador Freerain22 is great, it's so packable and can store many things.

Packing cubes

I can't publish a packing list without including packing cubes.

Packing cubes are great to organize your travel bag, they help save space by compressing the clothes.

There are many brands of packing cubes but the ones I use are the ones from Gonex. The Osprey Ultra Light packing cubes look great if I had to change.

Packing cubes are worth it, I recommend 100%.

Electronics

Here's the packing list of the electronics items I bring:

  • MacBook Pro 13"
  • MacBook Pro Charger
  • Kindle Paperwhite (to read the best non fiction books :)
  • Earbuds
  • Phone
  • Phone charger
  • Universal adapter
  • External battery pack: Nitecore NB10000 (great ratio weight/energy)

Toiletry Bag

My toiletry bag packing list:

Miscellaneous

Other elements of my packing list:

  • Passport
  • Notebook and pen
  • Detergent sheets
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Buff
  • Simple water bottle
  • Earplugs
  • Optional: collapsible sink if I travel in a place where I won't find a normal sink
  • Optional: sling bag (I'm not a sling bag fanboy so I don't take one)

What I don’t put in my bag anymore

These things are not in my packing list anymore:

  • Deodorant: I don’t use deodorant anymore as that’s not healthy for the body (but stay calm, I don't smell :)
  • Fancy water bottles: they're usually heavier than classic water bottles
  • Cotton clothes: cotton takes much longer to dry and makes you sweat more
  • Headset: too heavy, takes too much space for the value
  • Bluetooth speaker: too heavy, takes too much space for the value