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Tomorrow I head back to the Southern Hemisphere to one of my favorite places in the world: South Africa. I’ll be away for 2.5 - 3 months (I don’t even have a return date set!) and I am packing as light as possible. In fact, as the title reveals, I’m not even checking a bag! Below are my reasons why and how.



  1. You Will Not Lose Your Bag

    When you check a bag there is always a chance it won’t make it to your destination when you do. It absolutely sucks when it happens no matter how rare. Starting a trip without a toothbrush or even a fresh pair of underwear is a sure way to put a damper on your time there. When you forego checking a bag, whatever you bring remains in your possession throughout your travels.

  2. It’s Easier

    Although the packing itself may take a bit more strategizing, travelling with only carry-ons simplifies travel in amazing ways. A carry-on bag is much easier to take on public transit if that’s how you choose to get to and from the airport. And, if you are going overnight to multiple places throughout your trip, a smaller bag is always easier to re-pack, load into cars, and bring with you.

  3. It Saves Time

    There are 3 key points during travel when not having a checked bag saves time. The first is check in. When you check in for your flight all you have to do is get your boarding passes and you are good to go. Second is baggage claim. Once you disembark you can walk straight out of the airport - no waiting for your bag to show up on the belt at baggage claim. And third, when travelling internationally you often have to pick up your checked bag before customs, take it through security, and re-check it when you enter a new country but are not yet at your final destination. [EX: When I arrive in Johannesburg, South Africa I have to go through security and customs before my flight to Durban, South Africa. Luckily I won’t have a checked bag to pick up and re-check!] Without a checked bag, just take your carry-on’s through security like normal (which we all know is a big enough task in itself).

  4. It Saves Money

    Depending on the airline and what class you are sitting in - a checked bag will cost an extra fee. A carry-on personal item and small roller bag is almost always free! (One exception: United’s cheapest option (United Basic) allows only for a personal item).




  1. Roll Your Clothes

    I’m a big fan of this for thinner t-shirts or scarves. 5 shirts rolled up can be packed more efficiently than 5 shirts folded and stacked.

  2. Budget For Buying Things Upon Arrival

    This is something I am doing for this trip to Africa seeing as it is so long. For shorter trips 1-2 weeks I would just go without a few of my favorite things for the sake of packing light. But, for a trip of 1 month+, it can be worth it to set aside $50 for some essential toiletries, a new sweater, a beach towel - you get the idea. And if you buy cheap stuff just treat it as disposable and feel free to leave it behind!

  3. Don’t Pack Toiletries

    This one relates to budgeting for longer trips. Bringing a toothbrush, toothpaste, contact solution, etc is never a bad idea to have in your carry-on for long international flights. But for extended travel, like what I’m about to do, it is not worth it to pack shampoo/conditioner, suntan lotion, makeup remover, etc. There are few places where you will be unable to find these types of basic items in a convenience store.

  4. Capsule Wardrobe

    The concept of a capsule wardrobe (which you can find more details about here) is one I have never been able to achieve in my day-to-day life in Los Angeles but embrace for trips! The key here is packing a limited assortment of clothes that can be matched or layered in various combinations so you can have the maximum outfits in the least amount of pieces. For South Africa I am packing 1 pair of pajamas, a few casual outfits, 1 sundress, 2 tops for going out and a sweater. In addition I have budgeted to buy some more essential items upon arrival since I will be there for so long.

  5. Wear Bulky Things on the Plane

    If you have a sweater, jacket, pair of shoes, shall, etc that is going to take up too much space if your luggage, then wear that item on the plane! As long as it doesn’t compromise your comfort, it is a great way to bring an extra coat or a set of hiking boots without worrying about squeezing more into your carry-on.

    Is anyone else with me in regards to packing light? What other hacks, tips, and tricks did I miss!?

*Photos from Pexels