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Pack It or Buy It? 9 Tips on Saving Space and Money When Traveling on a Budget

Do you enjoy packing for a forthcoming trip? Do you agonise time and time again on what to take or what not to take?

We have been on the road travelling as digital nomads since 2013 and have learned a thing or two about packing. At times, however, we still fall into the trap of taking too much.

These days we travel the world with a carry-on, and we would like to share our tips with you. The longest journey we undertook was 18 months travelling through Europe and Central America with our carry-on weighing in at 11 kilos and our day pack with our technology which weighs around 7 kg.

Know Airline Weight Restrictions

Although we travel with carry-ons, budget carriers have weight restrictions. They have become stricter lately with how much we can carry on board, and in most instances, we now have to check our carry-ons in.

Ensure that you know each airline’s weight restrictions and sizes for carry-ons when you book your flights. Fees at check-in are higher if you are above their regulations.

Compare Prices

When booking your flights compare prices of budget carriers and their add-ons such as luggage, meals, movies, etc. to a regular scheduled service. The regular scheduled services may be a better choice.

Use Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are a traveller’s best friend. They save packing time, and clothes are easier to locate in dedicated cubes. We travel with four each – two medium and two large sizes. They fit neatly into our Osprey carry-on.

Substitute Liquid for Bar Shampoo

If you are travelling with a carry-on there are size restrictions on lotions. If you are staying in hotels, they normally provide shampoo but most of the time they do not provide hair conditioner.

We travel with shampoo and conditioner bars as a backup in case the hotel does not provide them. Our favourite is from Lush! The bars last us for around 6 months, saving us $$ and space in our luggage.

Stock Up on Body Fragrance

We find deodorants to be quite expensive when purchasing overseas compared to prices here in Australia. We usually take two with us and if need be top up overseas.

Buy Your Body Lotion Locally

Hotels used to provide body lotion, but we are finding that this is a thing of the past. We like to support local businesses when we travel.

If we are staying in a country for a few months we will buy body lotion locally. Otherwise, we will buy a travel size or decant our favourite lotion in a carry-on travel size lotion container.

Never Forget to Care for Your Skin

Sunscreen is always expensive but a necessity these days. We bring our sunscreen with us ensuring that it is the right size for our carry-on.

Try Toothpaste Tablets

Regular size toothpaste tubes can be oversized for carry-on regulations. We usually purchase them once we arrive at our destination.

Another option is the Lush toothpaste tablets which weigh 0.6 grams and come in small carry-on bottles. You pop one in your mouth, chew for a few seconds, and then brush as normal.

Choose the Easy Seasons

We “chase the sun”! We escape the Australian winter and then return to escape the Northern Hemisphere winter and enjoy the Australian summer. Travelling with summer clothes makes it easier to travel with carry-ons.

If we do happen to travel during Spring or Autumn in cooler climes, we may have to purchase warmer clothes. In this instance, we will gift the clothes to those who need them in the streets or donate them to a thrift shop.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What items do you prefer to pack when you travel? Which ones do you buy locally? Please share any tips that come to mind!

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The Author

Jane and Duncan Dempster-Smith are nomadic semi-retirees, baby boomers, travellers, House Sitters and co-founders of To Travel Too Their motto is “Age is no barrier when it comes to travel.” Although not yet pensioners, their goal is to travel the world on what is currently the Australian Age Pension of approx. AUD 33,716 (USD 25,110) per year, or AUD 92 (USD 69) per day for two people.

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