Why You Should Be Packing One Bag on Your Next Trip

Last updated on: May 8, 2020

(Last Updated On: May 8, 2020)

You are tired of lugging two 50-pound, wheeled suitcases over Italian cobblestones, but what is the alternative? Packing one bag on your next trip!

Related post: Must-Have Travel Accessories for Any Trip

What is one bag travel?

One bag travel, or one bagging, is as much a philosophy as anything else.  It involves carrying less so that you can experience more.  For most trips, you can easily fit more than you need into just one bag.  While this might be hard to believe, if you are used to traveling with multiple checked bags, packing for your first one bag trip is easier than you might think!  And I  don’t think I really need to say it, but of course, your one bag is a carry-on!

What are the benefits of one bag travel?

For starters, you never have to wait for your luggage at the baggage claim.  There is nothing like cruising past the baggage carousel with your one bag over your shoulder, while others fight the masses to retrieve their bulky suitcases!

Furthermore, with the state of airlines today, there are two types of luggage: carry-on luggage and mishandled luggage.  I don’t know about you, but nothing would ruin my trip faster than landing in Istanbul for a week, only to find that my baggage has just landed in Paris for a week, or worse yet, has been lost forever!

One Bag Packing 2

How much can you actually bring in one bag?

Well, currently, we are traveling in Europe for three months with only one bag each. Here is what I was able to fit into my one bag:

One Bag Packing List

  • Clothing
  • One pair of blue jeans
  • One pair of nylon pants
  • Two pairs of gym shorts
  • One pair of sweatpants
  • Three T-shirts
  • Two dress shirts
  • Five pairs of socks
  • Five pairs of underwear
  • One full base layer for cold weather
  • Gloves
  • Cold Weather Hat
  • Shoes
  • One pair of hiking boots
  • One pair of Vans
  • One pair of flip flops
  • Electronics
  • Laptop
  • Kindle
  • Earbuds
  • Various chargers and power banks
  • Standard toiletries and over the counter medication for aches and pains of all shapes and sizes.

And you know what? I vastly overpacked!

Tips for one bag packing:

  1. Try to pack a “capsule wardrobe,” meaning that anything you bring can be worn with everything you bring.
  2. Cotton is not your friend. Wool and synthetics can usually be worn a couple of times before they need a washing. Cotton? Not so much.
  3. And my biggest tip for one bagging? Bring two bags! One bag purists will hate this, but I am all for bringing a second, smaller bag along. You can use it as a personal item on your flight, so you don’t have to dig through your main pack everytime you need something. Furthermore, nothing replaces having a small bag to carry as a daypack while you explore new cities. And finally, it will give you a bit of extra room to bring home a souvenir or two!

If you are sold on going carry-on only for your next trip, check out this comprehensive carry on backpack roundup (https://www.unworktotravel.com/travel-backpack/) to find the perfect pack for you.

Have you been packing one bag on all of your trips? What are your tips?

Author Profile

Logan & Michole
Logan and Michole are passionate travelers and outdoor adventure junkies. They blog their own adventures, travel, location independence, and lifestyle design at https://www.unworktotravel.com.

22 thoughts on “Why You Should Be Packing One Bag on Your Next Trip”

  1. Yes!! One bagging is the way to go! It also reminds me of “one-tripping”, whereby one does not take more than one trip from the car to the home when hauling groceries or other items. I also love the idea of a “capsule wardrobe”. I had never really labeled this before, and completely agree!

  2. Impressive! One day walking between two borders we came across a guy from Brazil who was only carrying a small bag for his 3 month trip. Even though we try to get light we always have two bags, maybe because we carry heavy canon camera’s with big lenses for professional photography… Really a killer when running to catch a bus 😉 Will keep your list in mind though for our next adventure! Marcella

  3. This is great!! I do the one bag traveling and only have done that- I love it!! But I love all these tips with the clothes and things I didn’t get actually think of!

  4. I always over-pack and am really trying to downsize for trips. I am currently in Canada for 2 years on a working holiday and just couldn’t manage getting clothes for all the seasons into even a small suitcase! But will definitely be using these tips for my next shorter adventure. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. Great tips. I had never thought about cotton needing to be washed after one wear. As a family of four, we do our best to get all four of us packed into one bag. It usually works well on shorter trips, but we sometimes have to pack a couple bags on longer trips. Of course, our kids need an extra, empty bag to carry home all of their souvenirs.

  6. I am more than convinced, Logan and Michole! I should definitely try to pack more lightly as I can never stop packing things which I don’t usually wear. This post was truly inspiring and educative. I will definitely travel with one dag next time!

  7. I always travel with carry-on bag only – it’s amazing, especially if you move a lot (I never take dresses etc, or just one – it’s usually to hot to dress up!). I hope that after reading your blog post more people will be tempted to travel light!

  8. Every time I travel, I say I’m going to pack light but of course I never do! I always try and take things that match together so I can mix and match.

  9. one bagging is so difficult especially when you have kids on board. but yeah if you’re a solo traveler, this is really much to work. thanks for putting suggestion on what to bring in one bagging travel.

  10. I always try to travel light, but I’ve never managed to just take carry on luggage for an extended trip. I’d love to know what bag and daypack you actually use, as I can’t see how you’d fit your list in to the majority of carry on bags on the market, without taking a fairly significant daypack as well. I’m currently using the Ospray Farpoint 70l backpack and combined daypack and only just about manage to fit everything in to that, especially when trying to manage things like dirty washing. I wonder if it’s slightly easier for men than women, or is that opening up a whole can of worms…

    1. Hi Hayley,

      We actually use the Tortuga Setout as our one bag for virtually all of our trips that don’t require special gear ie snowboards, climbing equipment, etc. As for daypacks, I love the GoRuck GR1, but it is pricey. We don’t always even carry daypacks, as our entire loadout goes in the Setout. When we do use daypacks, it just depends on what we will be using them for at our final destination. Here is our article about edc packs, so hopefully that can be of some use to you! http://www.unworktotravel.com/best-edc-backpack/

  11. So agree with you on this. I love packing small. If travel is on your mind you must get rid of excess baggage to make the most of it. Some great tips there to incorporate in my next travels.

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