Earlier this week, I returned from a 12-day trip to China. There I met with our suppliers and attended the Canton Fair, a massive import/export trade show.
As a personal challenge, I packed for my trip in only the Tortuga Air. We usually recommend the Air for short trips, from one to three nights. I wanted to show an example of extreme light packing and to demonstrate that you can travel indefinitely even in a small bag. This approach isn’t for everyone, but perhaps you can find a more sensible middle ground for yourself.
Today’s post will outline what I packed for the 12 day trip and how I made it work. My bag weighed 8.8 kgs (19 lbs) when I checked in with Asiana Airlines for my departing flight.
My bag weighed 10 kgs on my return flight, including a few gifts and everything I had collected at the Canton Fair. The Air was packed to bursting because I wanted to travel without using the expansion panel.
The packing list below is for the departing flight.
What I Packed
- Tortuga Air Backpack
- 2 books
- Laptop charger, phone charger, plug adapter
- 1 pair of gym shorts
- 1 swimsuit (the building had a pool!)
- 1 pair of chino shorts
- 1 pair of boat shoes
- 1 polo shirt
- 4 t-shirts
- 5 pairs of underwear
- 2 toiletry bags (1 for liquids, 1 for solids)
- Tortuga Travel Daypack (packed into itself for convenient carrying)
- 1 travel towel
- Not pictured: 1 pair of socks (in the shoes), passport photos, SIM card, earbuds, pens, business cards, keys
I wore a t-shirt, hoodie, jeans, socks, and sneakers on the plane.
In total, I had 6 shirts, 6 pairs of underwear, 3 pairs of pants/shorts, and 2 pairs of socks. This wardrobe added up to 6 days worth of “outfits” with minimal re-wearing of pants/shorts. I primarily wore my boat shoes except when I was walking the floors of the Fair, which required sneakers and socks.
How I Made It Work
Most importantly, I wore my bulkiest clothes (hoodie, jeans, sneakers) on the plane instead of packing them. Wearing that outfit in-flight saved space in my backpack for lighter clothes and shoes.
Our Airbnb apartment came with a washer, so I did a load of laundry mid-way through the trip. Since the machine was in the apartment, it was free. I hung my clothes on the balcony to dry overnight.
On past trips, when I didn’t have a washer, I’ve taken my laundry to a wash-and-fold which is usually cheap.
I washed everything one more time before leaving so that I wouldn’t have to do laundry at home. The extra wash was helpful but not necessary.
I traveled for 12 days with just one (relatively small) backpack. I packed light, wore my heaviest clothes on the flight, and did one (free) load of laundry. The full-sized Tortuga has ~40% more space than the Air. Remind me again why you can’t pack for a one-week trip (or longer) in a carry on?
What’s the longest you’ve traveled with the smallest bag?