How to Pack for a Five-Day International Trip
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I was sent an A2A question over at as to whether going on a five-day international trip with just a carry-on bag is possible.

  • FASHION – this is good for the two shoulder seasons, spring and fall. When traveling during the winter or the summer, adjust accordingly. The most important thing is that anything that’s bulky or heavy is worn and not placed in your luggage.
    • 2 sweaters (one is worn)
    • 3 tops (one is worn)
    • 2 pants (one is worn)
    • 1 jacket or any piece of outerwear (worn)
    • 4 pairs of underwear (one pair is worn)
    • 3 pairs of socks (one pair is worn)
    • 1 pair of shoes (worn)
    • 1 foldable hanger
    • Any grooming item that you can’t buy in a travel size or is specific to your needs.
    • A multi-port USB hub with the proper power adapters
    • A power bank
    • Charging cables for your phone, camera, and power bank
    • A micro-four-thirds camera with a GorillaPod (optional) and an LED light source (optional)
    • A packable bag for either soiled laundry or for bringing things from point A to B
    • Dryer sheets (not shown)
    • Your passport and any other important documents that you need on your first day in case you do not get any internet connectivity
  • Bring your medications with you. Even something as normal as acetaminophen can cost an arm and a leg elsewhere.
  • No one cares what you’re wearing. People want to see where you’ve been.
  • Neutrals and darks are the name of the game. Think black, blue, and gray when picking out clothes to pack. I throw in a khaki trench as my outerwear only because it complements everything else.
  • Buy your toiletries at your destination. If you’re staying at a hotel or at a well-reviewed Airbnb, you can reasonably expect that you will have shampoo and a bar of soap, as well as towels. Hotels will also have a toothbrush/toothpaste set, razor/shaving cream, and body lotion. Walk up to one of the housekeeping staff, offer them a few dollars’ equivalents in local currency, and ask for them. The only thing I always bring is a hair styling product, only because it’s the only one that I use to tame my hair. Obviously, if you are going to a country where anything and everything is expensive (I’m looking at you, Iceland), go with your standard 3-1-1; there’s going to be enough room for them in your carry-on luggage.
  • You will, at the very least, wash your underwear and socks halfway through your trip. Fill a sink with slightly-above-tepid water, add in laundry detergent (they’re available in travel-size sachets at the airport or at the local 7-11), and start washing. Hang them up and go about your day. When you return, they’ll be good to wear.
  • You’ll sleep in your birthday suit. Staying in a hostel with strangers? Bring another undershirt and sleeping shorts. A pair of flip-flops that you don’t mind leaving (get them for a buck at your local dollar store) will also be beneficial if you do not want to—or should not—go barefoot.

I’m neither a minimalist traveler nor an extravagant one. The checklist above strikes a nice middle ground between the two tendencies. Just remember that you do not need to bring everything. You’re not going to a deserted island.

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