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 bottomsPants, shorts, or skirts; in neutral colors
4-6 topsIn colors that make a capsule wardrobe
1 jacket or cardiganFor dressy occasions + 1 neck tie or 1-2 scarves
1 coat or jacket + travel umbrella ?
1 pashmina or shawlDoubles as lightweight throw or swimsuit cover
1 swimsuitOr thermal underwear (depending on season)
2 pair shoesChoose shoes that double as slippers
3 pair socks1 to wear, 1 to wash, 1 clean + 1 pr. pantyhose
3 pair underwear1 to wear, 1 to wash, 1 clean + bras and slip
1-2 sets pajamasOr use sweatsuits or swimsuit coverups
1 beltUse as emergency tourniquet or suitcase handle
Hat, gloves, scarfFor wind, rain, sun, cold, heat
2 bandanasScarf, headband, hair tie, neck tie, and many uses!
2 hankiesUse as washcloth or emergency sanitary pad

Laundry Supplies

1 bar of Laundry soapNo liquids to spill or get through customs
1 universal sink stopperFits any sink
1 laundry bagFor keeping dirty clothes separate
1 homemade travel clothesline or buy one here. No clothespins needed; but safety pins double as clothespins

Tools and Repairs

The advent of smartphones makes this list considerably shorter!!

Read | Why I Got a Smartphone (Finally)

Smartphone + chargerGPS, weather, agenda, flashlight, compass, alarm, calculator, notepad, mirror!
Door lockLike this travel door lock; hotels, on trains, etc.
WhistleFor calling taxis, self-defense, or emergencies.
Suitcase locks
Also lock bags in overhead bins too to prevent pilfering.
Caribiner clipsClip things to bags, keep bags together, or carry things.
Sewing kitButtons, needles/threader, scissors (less than 4″ from pivot point), thread braid.
Eyeglass repair kitNote: screwdrivers less than 7″ long are allowed.
Extra shoe lacesAlso use to tie things, as carry cords, or make-shift suitcase handle.
Tiny repair kit Use as zipper pulls, fastening luggage tags, for holding things together, tying pant legs shut for biking or against insects.

Note: Tiny repair kit should contain: Safety pins, Rubber bands/elastics, Twist ties, Binder clips, Lengths of cord/twine.

Documents, etc.

DocumentsPassports, visas, IDs, licenses, tickets, reservations, vaccinations, money, bank/credit cards, checks, insurance paperwork. Plus copies/ scans of documents.
Security pouchTo hide documents & valuables under your clothes.
Tablet or laptop+ charger and adapter. Always have reading material!
SD cardPlus computer key for data storage or transfer.


Soap + shampooBoth in bars (no liquids)
Deodorant Stick or chrystal (no liquids)
Toothbrush + powderno liquids
Dental floss + needleUse as thread, shoe laces, clothesline.
Hand/face cream + lip balmFor dry skin on airplane
Comb/brush + mirrorMirror = emergency reflector
Nail clipper + file + razorUse as thread snipper & sweater shaver.
1 towelPeshtemals, compact, lightweight, but huge!
Bandanas (from clothing)Use as wash cloth, shower cap, hair towel.
Hair dryerTravel-size, dual voltage

Travel Aids

Small handbag or day back for everydaySmall & flat for easy packing
Travel pillowInflatible
Travel blanketLightweight viscose
Bandana (from clothing)Use as sleeping mask, sit-upon cloth, or window shade on car/train/bus.
Sleep mask + ear budsOr use bandana as a sleep mask.
Reading materialSmall, lightweight
Mini playing cards Less than 1 x 2.5 inches (2.5 x 6.35 cm).

Health and First Aid

MedicalPrescriptions + medications; For headache, fever, intestinal & tummy problems, nausea, etc.
1st aid suppliesBandaids, Antiseptic wipes, Tweezers, Tissues.
BandanaUse as bandage, ice pack, tourniquet, breathing mask.
Woman’s sanitary suppliesEnough for trip; buy more later.
3rd worl sanitary suppliesSee’s suggestions.


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

From home: granola or candy bars. Keep well, don’t crumble, and boost energy.
Buy at airport: cheese, bagels, fruit, sandwiches. Keep well out of fridge and are nourishing.
Empty water bottleFill after airport checkpoints.
Bandana (from clothing)Use as napkin or placemat.

My 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, I wish you a Buon Viaggio!

7 thoughts on “One-Bag Travel: Packing List

Add yours

    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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