Hand Luggage Update – Nine Months In

Back in March, while planning our trip, we had no idea what size bag to get. We knew we really wanted to only ever need to take hand luggage on planes, but then we got stuck. We googled a bit, and looked in shops and ended up getting C’s 30L backpack and D’s 35L backpack.

After publishing a post a few days before we left about what we’d packed, which you can read here and laugh at my poor html tabling skills. I’d always thought I would do a follow up at the 6 months mark, just to let everyone know how we were getting on.

Somehow though, time passes much faster when you’re not posting blogs than it does when you are! But, only 3 months later than originally planned, here is an update on what we carry in our two carry-on bags.

C’s clothes

Almost everything I own is black or blue, which makes it so much easier to choose what to wear in the mornings because everything goes with everything else.

Hand luggage - C's clothes

  • T-shirts x 2 – Just two that I had lying around before we came.
  • Tank Tops x 4 – Including a nice, sparkly one & two I’ve picked up along the way.
  • Strap Top – Originally black, now gray.
  • Cardigan – I don’t use this that often, but I wouldn’t get rid of it.
  • Dress x 2 – Both suitable for day and night wear.
  • Bikini – Replaced the one piece I started with.
  • Scarf – Exclusively used as a cover up for modesty or sun.
  • Underwear – 10 underwear, 2 non-underwire, non-padded bras and a sports bra.
  • Socks x 3
  • Trousers – Wide – legged & cotton
  • Shorts x 2 – Tiny sports shorts and some slightly more modest ones.
  • Towel – One of my favourite things
  • Foldable Ballet Flats – These are so useful when you need to be smart.
  • Trainers – I almost only wear these when I run, and often wish I didn’t need them.
  • Flip Flops – We bought Havaianas in Rio, and they are so comfy.

Since we started, I have ditched a plaid shirt and a hoodie, jeans and jean shorts. I replaced my minging flip flops and swapped a swimming costume for a bikini. I’ve also picked up two extra tank tops and some trousers.

D’s clothes

Hand Luggage - D's clothes

  • 2x shirts  – these are handy for slightly “smarter” occasions.
  • 7x t-shirts – this includes 1 long sleeved and two football tops.  1 of these was a new addition but has since been replaced and I ditched 1 t-shirt because it was manky.
  • 3x shorts – 2 pairs of regular shorts and 1 sport shorts.
  • 3x socks – I began with 4 but one pair had to be ditched due to holes.
  • Hats – Neither of these were originally packed and I don’t really use them.
  • Trousers – I packed two but recently had to throw 1 away
  • Flip flops – definitely not the pair I originally packed.
  • Trainers – trusty walking shoes.
  • 2x jumpers – A zip up hoodie and a thin llama wool hoodie.
  • Boxer shorts – loads!

My travel wardrobe has changed more than we’ve changed country.  Havaianas purchased in Rio have broken and been replaced by Fippers. A football shirt from Chiang Mai, ruined by a Vietnamese laundry and replaced by a new Pompey shirt (early Christmas present).In addition I’ve had to buy new glasses, new shorts, new pants and gained some hats – which I don’t use .


These pictures were taken in Kuala Lumpur, so a lot of our toiletries were geared towards being in Malaysia. Instead of always having travel sized bottles, we often buy big bottles of things when we settle for a while.

Hand Luggage Toiletries

  • Make-up – C has BB cream, eyeliner, nail polish and mascara – it’s all rarely used.
  • Sunscreen – Essential. Get a high SPF.
  • Foldable Toothbrushes and Toothpaste.
  • Jewellery – One necklace and a handful of stud earrings (nothing of value)
  • Mosquito Repellant – DEET is impossible to find in Malaysia!
  • Soap Tin – For carrying slimy soap in.
  • Hairbrush – Bags destroy hairbrushes, my next one will be a Tangle Teaser.
  • Shampoo/Conditioner
  • Washing Powder – Obviously not essential.
  • Deodorant – We share one.
  • Vaseline – It’s been useful, but this pot will last us years.
  • Anti-Bacterial Hand Gel
  • Mooncup – For waste free periods.
  • Tiger Balm – Works where it hurts!
  • Razor and Blades
  • First Aid Kit – a sterile needle kit, plus plasters, anti-septic wipes and pain medication.

A note about first aid kits – We’ve thankfully never needed to use the sterile needle kit, but we are glad we have it but it’s not necessary unless you’re going off grid. Some packing lists have huge first aid kits, but if you need something, you’ll be able to find it. This is all we’ve wanted in 9 months of travelling.


What electronics you want will obviously depend on what you need to do. We blog and work from the road, so need more than most travellers.

Hand Luggage Electronics

  • Kindle Fire x 2 – These are great for reading, games and surfing the net.
  • Mobile Phone x 2 – Used only on WiFi and for emergencies.
  • Portable Charger
  • Macbook Air
  • Camera – We have the discontinued TG-860.
  • USB leads
  • Plug Adaptor – Although I would get this one for next time.

Since taking this photo D has acquired a laptop so that we can both blog and work at the same time. It is a fairly basic model but perfect for typing and surfing the net.  We have both had to replace the earphones we originally came with too!


This is definitely the category you can overfill if you’re not careful. So much of the What-If stuff ends up in here. This is also the category that people will argue much more about what are essentials.

Hand Luggage Random

  • Padlocks – We use these almost every day.
  • Pens – Also very useful
  • Ziplock Bags – Essential for taking liquids on planes, can be useful otherwise.
  • Notebooks/Paper – C keeps a bullet journal, more on that in another post.
  • Duct Tape – Started with a whole roll, but only kept a tiny amount. Not essential.
  • Head torch – Not essential.
  • String – Not essential. In fact I think we’ve chucked it now.
  • Tea Towel – Not essential.
  • Handkerchief – Essential for us.
  • Glasses – Another essential for us.
  • Inflatable Pillow – Not an essential, but has been used a few times.
  • Passports (and Covers) – Essential.
  • Money Belt – Not essential, but we have used it a lot.
  • Suzie – Our little mascot. Essential for us.

Are you an overpacker or an underpacker? Any packing horror stories? What is your one essential? Let us know in the comments!

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