Lough Leane as seen from Killarney National Park, Ireland.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Killarney National Park, Ireland.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Back to the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland!

Monday, September 5, 2022

How we travel long term with carry on luggage only

We belong to a facebook group called Senior Nomads. One of the discussions that often arises is how people travel long term using only carry on luggage. And there are lots of people who manage to do it, but there are still lots of people who travel with what we would consider to be too much stuff.

But of course it's a personal choice, and a lot depends on your travel style. Many people travel long term and stay for a month or more at each location. This means they are not often having to lug all of their stuff around. But when they do have to move, most of them will readily admit that it's a difficult and frustrating thing to do.

For people like us, who change locations four, five, or six times a month, it is certainly easier to travel light between accommodations. It's also easier when we have to take a bus or train. And it's far easier and also cheaper when we have to fly.

We like hard sided carry on size luggage. We've used soft sided in the past, and the problem is that it's too easy to get carried away and stuff it so full that it expands beyond what would be considered standard carry on size. We've seen people in airplanes struggling to stuff their over stuffed bag up into the overhead bins.

We are currently using a carry on bag made by Chester. Unfortunately, due to Covid supply chain issues the same bag is not available right now. A similar bag at a similar price point would be something like this TravelPro Maxlite 5.

Most flights allow you to have a carry on bag and a "personal item" like a small backpack. Ruth does have a small backpack, and I have my camera bag.

In fact, Ruth just bought a new backpack. We bought this Kailas 26l Backpack. It's currently got a 20% off coupon showing on the product page.

Many of the reviews compared it in quality to the much more expensive Osprey brand, and so far we would agree. It has a nice comfortable padded waist strap with zippered pockets and it has the back section that keeps the air flowing between the backpack and your back itself.

So far, we're impressed with it for the price.

So, what do we pack in our carry on bags to do us for months at a time?


I only bring two pairs of footwear with me when we are actively traveling between locations, I wear my hiking boots, and I pack a pair of walking sandals in the bag. When we are with our motorhome, I also have a pair of walking shoes. 

All of this goes into my carry on bag.

From left,

Combo rain/wind jacket. Some toiletries. Heavy sweater. Two jars of my favorite chicory coffee substitute that I can't seem to buy in Europe! Swimsuit. Sandals. Three t-shirts. Exercise band. Hiking pants. Two pair of shorts. Three pair of socks. Five underwear. 

And also my laptop. The bag is really full at this point.

Of course I am also wearing clothes on the airplane! Usually a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, a casual shirt on top of that, and possibly the heavy sweater depending on the weather where we are going to or coming from. And a pair of socks and 1 underwear! And if I am wearing the heavy sweater, the bag is not quite so full. And, I am also carrying the phone (we only have one phone between us), a charge cable, and the larger camera bag.

Everything that goes in the small backpack.

Sunglasses, business cards, earphones for the plane, a small bag containing sleeping masks and a small two way earphone adapter, memory drive, rechargeable battery pack, our liquid toiletries, epi pen, water bottle, first aid kit, foldable shopping bag, wet wipes, Ruth's laptop, Ruth's small purse. And a Keepgo Cellular MiFi device so that we can connect to the internet immediately in 120 different countries when we arrive at the airport.

And, here is what goes into Ruth's carry on bag...

Ruth's carry on.


I also travel with only two pairs of footwear, my hiking boots that I wear on travel day and my new Merrell hiking/walking sandals.

From left,

Combo rain/wind jacket. One light hoodie, a little black sweater, a light pullover sweater, 2 light long sleeved tops, swimsuit, 2 t-shirts, 2 sleeveless summer tops, head/neck scarf and a heavy sweater/jacket.  3 pairs of underwear, 1 bra and 2 pairs of socks. 1 pair of jeans (I wear these normally), 1 pair of hiking pants that can be unzipped and worn as shorts, 1 pair of capri pants, 1 skirt, 1 pair of shorts, sandals, cribbage board with includes a pack of cards, 5 Yahtzee dice, and 1 LCR dice game, mini binoculars, small makeup bag, small jewelry bag, little sewing/mending kit, small flashlight, travel adapter, brush and Canada pencils to give out to people throughout our travels.

I normally wear the jeans on travel days, an additional long sleeve top, as well as an additional pair of underwear, bra, socks and a belt.

And this does us for as many months as we need it to. If for any chance we need something else, we simply buy it, preferable at a used clothing store. We sometimes have to wash socks and underwear and t-shirts by hand and dry them overnight, but really it doesn't happen that often. 

So for us, we prefer to wear the same clothes week after week than the alternative, which would entail having to drag larger bags around with us. Of course, each to their own. But this is how we do it..

Record low deal on the 50 Pack of Walex RV Holding Tank Deodorizer Drop Ins. Never been this cheap! 

And in Canada...

Record low deal on Eco-Worthy RV Solar Panels.


  1. Hmmm I have a fabric carry on bag and one tactical back pack. I use those zip lock type bags that condenses and lets the air out. I usually pack for four days worth of clothing including underwear; two night sleep wear (travel clothing that are easily washed) Because my clothing are condensed, my bag usually has extra room. I carry three shoes - walking sandals, walking hiking tennis shoes, and shower flip flops that I can wipe dry after shower. And I pack a foldable duffel. In my tactical back pack, I pack my ipad, iphone, chargers, maybe my kindle, my medication, a bar of travel soap for washing hair and body (no liquids), a small bag of make up with hair brush, hygiene stuff i.e. tooth paste, lotion, and a small first aid kit. A small cross body tactical (with zippers & loops to attach items) bag for IDs, passport, credit cards, cash. Both the back pack and cross body bag have attachments for water bottles, shoes, and anything you want to attach with mesh and clip ons. The tactical bags are durable and extremely useful. I do carry binoculars and travel utensils, collapsible drinking cup and water purifier. The carry on fits nicely in over head bin and the back pack under the seat in front in airplane.

    1. When we had our soft sided carry-on bags we would use large zip lock bags to compress our clothing but we don't find a need to with these bags. If we were to put more into our bags it would just cause them to be heavier and some airlines have a weight limit for carry-on and we don't want to have our bags too heavy. Other than our jeans and heavier sweaters, all of our clothing is lightweight and easy to handwash and quick to dry.

  2. Yes, we have used our MiFi in Mexico but only as an emergency until we get a Mexican SIM card in our phone which we try to do at the airport. This MiFi is great but the data is also expensive so it is only used briefly so that we have access to the internet until we get that particular country's SIM card in our phone which is normally one of the first things that we try to do when we arrive into a new country.

    I think that I personally carry around a little too much in clothing but if it will fit in my bag then I will carry it, if it doesn't then I will eliminate something. When we were in Nova Scotia, I was in need of some :"new" tops so I went to Guy's Frenchys secondhand clothing store and picked up four tops, but I only eliminated three old tops from my bag, so now I am carrying around one extra top than what I would normally travel with. We like secondhand shops! :-)

  3. How have I missed the need for an epipen? Do you ever have to use it? Have you ever had to replace it? I know they are expensive here in the US.

    1. We bought Kevin's first EpiPen back in the summer of 2013 www.travelwithkevinandruth.com/2013/08/stung-by-wasp-and-dog-sitting.html No, Kevin has never had to use it and we had never replaced it until this year. It was good until Dec. 2014 after that it will still work but it losses it's effectiveness. Anyways, we decided to get a new one while we were back in Canada this year but then when we were in Calgary Kevin's friend's daughter has two Epipens for a nut allergy and was in the process of replacing them so they offered Kevin the one that was just a year old so we took them up on the offer. Yes, they are very expensive, I think they are around $120 to $150 CAD now.

  4. Some years ago you had a bunch of the rather expensive Tilly Endrable clothing. How did you find they held up? I just went to their website and all the clothing I saw was not especially "travel friendly." Just wondering if any of their products lasted.

    1. We have twice had a bunch of expensive Tilley clothing given to us. The first lot was back in the summer of 2014 and we really liked the clothing overall. Kevin only just got rid of the travel pants about a year ago that he got back then and I still have a pair of travel pants that I got back then and I still wear them. The second lot of clothing that we got was two years ago and Kevin likes his shorts and the two t-shirts but he wouldn't run out to by them again. I have a shirt and a skirt that I like and still wear. Having said that the company was sold between 2014 and 2020 and we aren't as impressed with the line of clothing that they have now and most likely would not go out and buy them. They really don't have much of a selection anymore compared to what they used to have and we don't find the quality to be the same. We still love their hats though!

    2. Thanks for the response. I thought the same about the clothing line when I checked it out this summer. Yes, the hats are great. Husband loves his...I'm planning on getting myself one soon as well. Happy travels! Love your blog. I learn so much.

  5. I'm curious about Keepgo. Have you used an e-sim?

    1. e-SIMs were only just becoming popular when I got the KeepGo MiFi, so no, I have no experience with an e-SIM.


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