Luggage, Travel, Vacation

The Carry-On Challenge: How to Pack Light Every Time (PT 1)

Challenge No. 1: A Long Trip Through Multiple Climates

Not sure how to pack for your epic South American journey from the chilly mountains of Patagonia to the sunny beaches of Rio de Janeiro? Worry not. Even this can be done solely with a carry-on — take inspiration from this guy, who managed an around-the-world trip with no bags at all!

First off, if you’re going for much longer than a week, resign yourself to doing a little laundry. (Your shoulders and back will thank you when you’re not lugging 17 days’ worth of clothes.) You can pay your hotel to do it for you, look for a nearby laundromat — think of it as a glimpse into the local culture! — or simply wash your dirty duds in your bathroom sink.

Second, get creative. This is the time when all those clever dual-purpose travel garments are actually worth the money, like pants that can be turned into shorts by zipping off the legs or jackets that have a gazillion pockets for all your odds and ends. It’s also important to choose your carry-on wisely. Make sure that it has enough pockets and compartments to help keep you organized, and that it’s as roomy as possible without exceeding your airline’s size requirements.

The secret to dealing with multiple climates is layering. The same lightweight T-shirt that you’d wear when strolling around the humid streets of Buenos Aires can serve as a base layer during your hike in the snowy Andes. Keep your heavy layers to a minimum — you can wear the same sweater or fleece every day as long as you keep changing the lighter shirt closest to your skin. And be sure to bring your jacket on the plane with you so you don’t have to stuff it into your suitcase.

Two Weeks, One Carry-On

If your trip starts in a wintry climate and ends in a tropical one, consider mailing your cold-weather gear home so you don’t have to lug it around for the rest of the trip. This can get expensive depending on where you are in the world, but if you have several weeks left in your trip, the lightening of your load could be worth the price. An alternative is to bring along older clothes that you don’t mind donating or leaving behind along the way.