Long-Term Travel Hack #1: Don't Pack What You Can Buy

Long-Term Travel Hack #1: Don't Pack What You Can Buy

Who doesn’t want to travel with a smaller and lighter bag? And if you can get it down to a single carry-on travel bag, why not!? With years of traveling continuously and full time with just a 36L backpack apiece, we’ve come up with many ways to get our luggage as small and light as possible. Here’s one of our biggest pieces of advice!

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Through years of traveling and tons of learning through others, we’ve compiled several tips and hacks to make traveling a bit easier!

Don't Pack What You Can Buy

Within reason, if you can buy it when you get to your destination, why pack it?

The idea is pretty simple. You can prepare for every contingency and scenario and pack your cold weather gear, hot weather gear, umbrella, hat, etc., along with your toothpaste and shampoo. In the end, you’ll be caring a pretty hefty pack on your back and possibly having to check it in at the airport.

The OneBag (a Single Carry-On Bag) Alternative

If you’re looking to carry less volume and weight while traveling, we’re right there with you. We travel with a single 36 liter carry-on bag. This allows us to travel a bit easier by only have one bag that we don’t have to check at the airport and that we’re not weighed down by.

One of the ways we keep our bag small and light is buy packing as little as possible. This doesn’t mean we go without, it means that we don’t pack it if we can purchase it at our destination.

Here’s how we do it…


We have a fail-safe three to four week amount of dental supplies and four to five days of bath supplies. We know when we land in a new place we can spend a few bucks and replenish, as well as buy anything else we may need. Also, each hotel we stay at will have token toiletries we can use to replenish our fail-safes with.

Seasonal Clothing

We’re traveling with lightweight pants, shorts, and jackets. We each have one long-sleeve top and sport arm sleeves we can use for additional warmth as well as sun protection. As the weather changes to cold temps we purchase scarves, beanies, and gloves as needed from discount and second hand stores. When it warms back up, we donate the items.

See everything we pack (and what we don’t pack) on our Ultimate Gear and Packing Lists page.

Seasonal Gear

We don't pack umbrellas or rain jackets. These are easy enough to buy at most corner shops and you can donate when you no longer need them. Also, if we’re staying at a hotel, Airbnb, or are house sitting, we just ask if they have rain gear we can borrow for the day.

Personal and Medical Items

If we need sunscreen, over the counter pain medication, or other vanity items, we purchase them at a local pharmacy. 


We’re traveling with minimal food and what we do travel with is lightweight.

When we’re at a destination we generally prepare a vegetable medley that can be eaten on the road. When we’re traveling from one destination to another by plane, train, etc. we usually carry dry oats with us. We eat oats dry or cooked, as hot water is generally easy to get on a plane or at a coffee shop.

When we arrive in a place we’ll be staying at for a while, we purchase larger quantities of food that will last us a few days or the length of the stay.

Take Advantage of Free!

Know what your local accommodations provide for you. Hotels and Airbnbs (use our link to get $40 off your first stay!) will often provide essential toiletries along with some unexpected items for free! 

Among the standard lotion, shampoo, and conditioner travel bottles, we've also found mouthwash, q-tips, nail files, and sewing kits in our hotel room. Some hotels even provide outlet adapters, you may just need to ask at the front desk.

Getting these amenities for free is even better than buying when you get there, because borrowing avoids consumption. It's nice on keeping the backpack lightweight, nicer on the budget, even better on the environment!

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