6 months’ travel with 5kgs of hand luggage? Challenge accepted.

When we started the Kibton Klearout last year, our aim was twofold – to save as much money as possible for this trip, and to take the opportunity to rid ourselves of a serious amount of stuff. We were overwhelmed with support, and not only did we manage to save more than we expected, but we also had the realisation that stuff really does weigh you down.

As we thought about it more and more, it became obvious that if we didn’t need a ton of stuff to live day to day, we certainly didn’t need it to travel the world. A quick search online showed a wealth of blogs on how to travel light, and we decided to buy the smallest backpacks that could reasonably carry our stuff, and embark on this trip with hand luggage only.

The obvious benefits of this are not only space- and spine-saving, but money saving too, given that the majority of airlines charge you for every bag you want to take. Our airline was twice as stingy on hand luggage for just this reason (naming no names, Fly Thomas Cook) with a paltry allowance of just 5kg. Not only that, but the measurements were smaller than average, so we planned very carefully, taking an entire afternoon to pack and re-pack, weighing, measuring, and hoping to God that the check-in staff would be in a good mood.

We followed the advice of Erin and Simon at Never Ending Voyage and invested in roller vacuum bags which squish your clothes down and protect them from water. These are real space savers and come in different sizes. As for smellies and beauty products, everything had to be under 50ml. Not 100ml, 50ml. This led to some downsizing and deciding on what was vital – we basically bought or decanted enough stuff to last us for the first little bit in Mexico, after which, we would buy on the road.

Finally, we recommend using small zip up bags to store your various bits and pieces. You can buy expensive packing cubes for the purpose, but we have found that little washbags are just as good. We had one each for the wet and dry smellies, and also use them for things like underwear and small bits – USBs, headphone cables, malaria tablets, packs of cards…things that tend to get lost in the bottom of your bag when it all goes in together. This has enabled us to be super organised and save time unpacking, and if we ever have to disembowel our bags at a checkpoint, we won’t end up with earplugs, pants and plasters all over the place.

Our top buys for travelling light:

Lush shampoo bars. We first came across these over ten years ago, and they never let you down. They don’t count towards your liquid allowance, they last for ages, they can double up as shower soap and you can even use them to wash clothes. Keep them in their handy tin and they will be a faithful travel companion for many months. At £6 a pop, you can’t argue with that.

– Roller vacuum bags. As mentioned above, a total space-saver and has the added benefit of keeping your clothes dry in the event of a downpour. Like a small version of those big bags you get in the 99p shop, we decided to go online and buy ours from a traveller store, not because we are snobby but because we thought it best not to take the risk of them breaking halfway through the trip leaving us with too many clothes and not enough bag space. You put the clothes in, zip it up like a big sandwich bag, and squash the air out of the valve at the other end, by kneeling on it or rolling it up. Literally halves the amount of space needed for clothes.

– The Foyle utility pack. Not the high-end, camping shop boutique-y item it sounds, but rather a jiffy bag presented to us by friends at our leaving party, which included a stash of vital things that had previously been needed by their own globetrotting daughter, such as large black bin bags, rubber bands, sticky tape, safety pins, sticking plasters, string, and sandwich bags. We urge you to make a pack like this before you go and stick it in a side pocket. We have used every one of these items so far!

We’ll be following this post with our complete packing list, as well as a post on how we saved for our trip away. In the meantime, what are your top tips for easy, cheap, or lightweight travel? Do you breeze through with hand luggage only or can you not live without your creature comforts? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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One thought on “6 months’ travel with 5kgs of hand luggage? Challenge accepted.

  1. Pingback: 6 month packing list: what to take for long-term travel | The Kibtons Have Kleared Off...

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