What I pack as hand luggage & carry-on luggage

I don’t consider myself a minimalist but I learned to travel light over the years. Because I travel light, I can often skip checked-in luggage which allows you to skip the queues at check-in desks. It makes traveling through airports a breeze. Because let’s be honest, traveling and passing through train stations or airports is quite a stressful situation for most.

My packing list sort of remains the same for my hand luggage. The contents of my carry-on depends obviously on where I’m traveling, if I have checked-in luggage or not and the purpose of the trip.


This is my go to bag for anything during my travel. That means it contains everything I need immediate access the moment I leave my house, until I arrive at my destination.

The contents of my travel backpack:

  • Wallet
    • ID card
    • Driver’s license
    • Cash (domestic and foreign)
    • Debit card(s)
    • Credit card(s)
  • VISA (if applicable)
  • Tickets / boarding pass / necessary documents to travel
  • Booking confirmation(s)
    • Hotel(s)
    • Car rental
  • Phone
  • Battery pack
  • Earbuds (used at the airport)
  • Noise-Cancelling headphones (used on the plane / train)
  • Tablet and/or e-reader
  • Charger and cables for tablet, e-reader and phone
  • Pen & paper (notebook)
  • Sunglasses
  • Spare underwear (can be handy to change during very long flights)

Carry-on luggage

My carry-on luggage varies. I currently own two options:

  • A hardshell carry-on suitcase with wheels
  • A cabin zero bag

It usually depends on my mood, how far I have to walk with my luggage after exiting the airport, etc. which one I pick over the other.

Of course, it also depends on where I’m traveling what is included in my carry-on as this becomes my actual suitcase for shorter trips (up to two weeks).

Contents of my carry-on luggage

  • Camera insert (I use my phone at the airport)
    • Camera body
    • Additional lenses
    • Camera batteries
    • SD cards
  • International power plug / adapter
  • Laptop

Of course, if I’m on a business trip, the laptop for instance might shift towards my briefcase I carry (replaces the backpack).

All other items are directly related to my destination. So on a business trip the carry-on usually will contain a suit, something comfortable to wear at the evening when I’m in the hotel room, appropriate shoes, etc.

For personal travels, it contains all my clothes for up to two weeks of travel. Since I pack my clothes in the carry-on, I usually don’t have to worry about lost luggage. However make sure to also tag your carry-on luggage. Sometimes due to circumstances they might ask if it’s okay to move some carry-on luggage to the cargo bay of the airplane.

I’ll soon leave for a two week trip to Portugal. I’ll create a separate post on what I take during a hot summer period to Portugal and how it ideally will fit inside my carry-on luggage.