Daypacking: Travel without luggage

By Sean O'Neill
September 29, 2021
Courtesy <a href="">f_r_e/Flickr</a>

Budget Travel once profiled a man who has traveled for weeks

without anything but the (stinky) clothes on his back. It was a young man's thing to do. But, are there any ways to travel with an absolute minimum of weight?

Last year, travel writer Rolf Potts proved this point on a 30-day "no-bag" trip. He circled the globe with nothing more than a vest. He stuffed his spare clothes into its pockets, taking advantage of regular laundry washing services along the way.

But the most practical option is carrying a very light bag. Some bags are only the size of a "personal carry-on item" for a plane—not full carry-on size. These are often called "day packs."

Sixty-ish-year old Wired magazine contributing writer Kevin Kelly has traveled with just a daypack through places as varied as China and Guatemala.

In another example, Travel blogger Andrew Hyde will carry only 15 items in his sack for a trip through Latin America.

So, what about you?

Have you ever traveled without a suitcase or standard carry-on bag? Any lessons learned?


Should D.C.'s museums start charging fees?

Europe's biggest tourist traps?

Should we tip flight attendants?

Keep reading
Travel Tips

5 ways to keep your cords tidy and organized in your bag

Hear are five ways to contain all the little items roaming around in your bags for your next trip: One Budget Travel reader uses stretch hair bands instead of using rubber bands, which tend to break, for binding electronic cords together. (Find them at dollar stores.) Toilet-paper tubes can have a surprising second-life as storage tools for digital gear. Wrap cell phone and digital camera cords, chargers, and other cables inside the cardboard tube. (A pro trick: Secure each plug end in a notch cut at the tube's rim.) A fancier way to stay tangle-free is to buy the Grid-It system, from $9. It's essentially a set of elastic bands that are woven into a solid surface and protected by a neoprene sleeve. Many travelers swear by Eagle Creek's packing cubes and half-cubes, which are zippered mesh compartments. Each container lifts out of your bag and is "squishable" to fit into tight spaces. Prices start at $10. Last but not least, clear plastic bags, such as by Ziploc, make it easier for you and the TSA to find stuff, of course. Many of our readers stow their electronic accessories and cords inside of such bags. One clever reader marked each bag with masking tape, on which he wrote the name of what is supposed to go inside the bag. That way, when re-packing his luggage, if he sees one of the Ziploc bags without an item inside, he'll be prompted to remember to find it in the room where he accidentally left it. Now what about you? How do you pack gadgets without having the cords tangle up inside your bag? Please share your tips in the comments. SEE MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL Be a Packing Genius: Step-by-Step Photos Solve Packing Conundrums With These 9 Household Items How to Bring Wine Back from Overseas 6 Made-to-Squish Items That Are Perfect for Travel

Travel Tips

Summer is almost here! Share your best packing tips

As summer nears, vacationers are getting ready to pull out their wheeled luggage and begin the arduous task of packing. There are all the critical checklist items&mdash;Passport, check. Wallet, check. Bathing suit, check. Do you really need anything else? Well, unfortunately, yes. Here are some easy-to-overlook items and we invite you to add to the list with your suggestions of things to bring on a trip that travelers typically leave behind. Electronics/technology - Batteries, power cords and international power adaptors: Make sure you have everything you need to power your cameras, tablet devices, smartphones and whatever gadgets and gizmos you plan on bringing along - Storage/memory is always an issue, so either be prepared to download photos to a laptop or bring enough storage Toiletries/medication Don't forget the Transportation Security Authority's 3-1-1 rule for carry-on luggage! All liquids and gels must be in 3.4-ounce containers or smaller, placed in one clear, zip-lock bag and placed separately in its own container when heading through security. - Prescription medication: It might prove very difficult to get your prescription filled once you've left home - Vaccinations: Are there any required vaccines or preventative medication you need in the destination you're heading to? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has good advice on this front - Additional medications: Unfortunately, sickness happens on vacation, so be prepared for common ailments such as upset stomach, colds and the flu - Travel tissue packs: They serve a million purposes, from napkins, to toilet paper, to makeshift band-aids (and make sure to bring some of those as well) - Wet wipes - Smaller items such as cotton swabs and floss are easy to forget - Sunscreen (and aloe for overexposure, ouch!) - Specialty grooming products, such as hair brushes, electric shavers, curling/straightening irons, etc. Clothing There's nothing harder than packing for a different climate than the one you live in. Try to transport yourself there, to the beach, the rainforest, the mountains, wherever it is you're heading and think of all the things you'll need, all the climates you'll be encountering. - Hats: Will you be in the sun? Will it be cold or windy? - Inclement weather: If it might rain, rain jackets or umbrellas will be needed - Gear: Think about specialty activities you might partake in that require special clothing or footwear (and different types of footwear require different types of socks) - Accessories: The devil is in the details, details such as hair accessories (headbands, hair bands), jewelry, watches, scarves (great for protecting against the sun and the cold), belts, etc. Sleeping aids - Neck pillows, eye masks, ear plugs Random items to consider - Travel speakers or an auxiliary cord for the car for those who want to play music on their trip - A smaller backpack/fanny pack for day use, or a beach bag - An additional, folded up luggage bag for purchases - Some detergent for spills and stains or an emergency bathroom sink laundry load For the kids - You've got yourself packed, now think of whether you need any special items for the kids, ranging from baby food and formula, to games and activities that will keep them occupied. Lastly, if traveling by air, make sure to check with your carrier about luggage size and weight limitations. You don't want to get stuck paying extra or worse, being that person off to the side at the check-in counter, luggage thrown up, desperately ditching the family-sized shampoo and conditioner bottles. Always better to pack smart and light. More from Budget Travel: The Ultimate Packing Guide Be a Packing Genius: Step-by-Step Photos Solve Packing Conundrums With These 9 Household Items

Travel Tips

Evocative names, disappointing places

In his new book The Tao of Travel (which we recently touted), Paul Theroux has a list of places with names that sound better in one's imagination than in real life. Some of Theroux's examples and his descriptions: Timbuktu: "dust, hideous hotels, unreliable transport, freeloaders, pestering people, garbage heaps everywhere, poisonous food." Marseille: "just a short walk from the pretty harbour are sullen neighborhoods of public housing, tenements, refugees and bewildered immigrants, with no one saying, 'Bienvenue'." Mandalay: "an enormous grid of dusty streets occupied by dispirited and oppressed Burmese, and policed by a military tyranny." Personally, I found Bethlehem, Pa., and Mystic, Conn., to be disappointing, given the associations in my mind with those evocative names. What about with you? Where are the places that turned out to be better in your imagination than in real life? MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL 8 Common Air Travel Snafus (And How to Beat Them) New Budget Airline Vision Delivers Cheap Fares Quiz: Can You Spot the Travel Rip-off?

Travel Tips

Horror stories from airport security abroad

We spend a lot of time criticizing the TSA in our own country, but what about airport security outside of the U.S.? if (WIDGETBOX) WIDGETBOX.renderWidget('fa4a632d-5708-48a7-82d5-2abc3aa802d2');Get the Poll Creator Pro widget and many other great free widgets at Widgetbox! Not seeing a widget? (More info)We depend on other nations to keep us safe, but sometimes their airport officers can be maddeningly strict&mdash;or frighteningly lax. On the one hand, I don't want to criticize TOO much&mdash;we depend just as much on airport security abroad as at home to keep us safe. On the other hand, it's worth calling out when things go too far (or not far enough). This question came up in our office recently in response to an event at Heathrow Airport in which a woman was forced to get rid of the breast milk she was carrying before she was allowed through the security checkpoint. According to her blog, the Heathrow Airport specifies that you may carry baby milk if you "carry only what you need for the flight." When I checked the Heathrow Airport website, I found this statement: If you are travelling with an infant, these items can exceed 100ml and do not have to fit into the resealable bag. However, the amount must be sufficient for your trip only and you may be asked to open the containers and taste the contents. Since this woman was not traveling with an infant, whether or not the officers were in the right becomes a little more murky. Still, was it worth it to hassle a mother trying to transport food back to her child? It seems like determining whether or not the contents of the packages were breast milk should have been fairly simple. I've certainly had my share of frustration with airport security. I'll never forget the time I was denied boarding to a flight because I showed up&mdash;literally&mdash;thirty seconds too late. My traveling companion was just ahead of me and I saw him enter the plane just as I was turned away. I was furious, but no amount of complaining would convince the gatekeeper to change her mind. Then again, I've also been in airports where I was waived through security without so much as a second glance. It was fast and easy, but it didn't make feel particularly safe as I boarded that plane. All of this has me wondering&mdash;what's the most outrageous experience you've had with airport security OUTSIDE of the U.S.? SEE MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL: Should TSA Pat-Downs Be Outlawed? 7 Surprising Items That Trigger Airport Security Confessions of an Airline Agent