A few weeks ago I made the seemingly rash decision to travel Thailand on a 25litre rucksack. Literally nothing but.
Camera gear, clothes, everything in a day sack!

My mother thought I was nuts, as did my colleagues at work – but was this a stroke of deluded genius or simply an epic fail waiting to happen?! I’ve managed nearly two weeks so far so I’m now in a position to give some feedback!

Strategic Packing

The first issue was obviously whittling down what I defiantly wanted to take and from that what I actually needed!

The final kit list was the following;

2 x boardies
3 x boxers
1 x socks
1 x flip flops
3 x tshirts
1 x shirt
1 x trousers
1 pair of shoes 20110922-073738.jpg

Plus my shorts, tshirts and flannel shirt I wore to the airport.

On top of those clothes I also decided the following was needed;

Canon 40d + 18-55 lens + 10-22 lens
Fuji point and shoot
Fuji XP30 waterproof compact (review coming soon)
chargers for all the above
Batteries for all the above
Card reader
Plug adaptor
Travel shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, suncream and insect repellant
Business cards (standard!)
Dive log book

I then proceeded to roll, squish and squeeze all of that into single, carry on sized bag! Luckily the Dakine Photo Missiom bag I’d chosen to do the job was well up for the task and it’s camera gear dividers worked wonders to keep my stuff manageable and tidy. I’m so impressed with it as a bag I’m doing a stand alone review for it!

Putting Theory Into Practice

Even at the airport people were very confused that this was my only piece of luggage, and since I’m staying at hostels people are confused and impressed in equal measure.
I’ve saved heaps of money on cab fares alone simply because and small 8kg bag is easy enough to walk places with. I walked along the coast on arriving on Koh Tao and got some amazing pics along the way!

My entire bag fits in most standard hostel lockers so everything is super safe and boarding ferries and jumping on mopeds is easy even with my bag in tow. 20110922-072643.jpg

Having such little stuff to route through also means everything is quickly to hand. I can grab a camera, my boardies or even a shirt to go out in in seconds. I don’t waste anytime rummaging aimlessly through my entire life’s possessions!

It’s made me realize how much we over pack as backpackers.

Sure I’ve had to wash tshirts and boxers in the shower, but I’ve saved money on laundry as it’s such an easy thing to do!
I’ve lived in the same two pairs of boardies (swooping them around occasionally for swimming or wearing) and it’s so blooming hot out here I hardly ever wear a tshirt.

I also feel like less of a target when wandering through a new place or where I’m not sure of my location. Big rucksacks and aimlessly sweaty wanderings are a recipe for pickpockets, overpriced taxis and stress.
I’ve not had any of this!

The Bottom Line

Sure there’s been times where I wished I had that little bit of extra room for maybe some new trinkets (although that’s saved me money too!) or I’ve had to struggle with a zip (but who hasn’t?!) but I’m loving this new minimalistic way of backpacking.

Admittedly I’m only away for 3 weeks, but I think if you were to say do Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia over a coupple months you could easily manage on the same as the climate is very similar and you’d pack almost identically for each.

It’s not for everyone thought I can tell, and every girl who I’ve chatted about it has instantly written it off (I’m not stereotyping ladies…I know alot of you could do it too!) but it’s certainly made everyone think about how much they really need to carry.

So next time your packing have a good hard look at your kit list and make your bag a little lighter and your life a little easier!

Have you got any packing tips or have you set yourself any obscure travel challenges?! Let me know if you have – I’m well game for experimenting some more before my next RTW trip in 2012!

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15 Responses

  1. Monica @ Total Travel Bug

    The next time I go away I’m definitely going to do this. I really struggled with my massive, heavy backpack and I don’t think it was worth the extra effort for the sake of an extra pair of shoes and loads of stuff I didn’t even use. And no matter how big your bag is, you’ll always struggle with the zips!

  2. Ian [EagerExistence]

    Lucky because its a warm climate. You can get away without much on. I left home with 80L for a 2 year trip. My advice to ANYONE who will listen is to keep it under 40L. Carry-on is awesome. I’m sick of paying $15 extra to check-in baggage. Plus, no baggage claim, no worrying if someone knicked your bag from the train or bus racks. Im gonna try this next time. Just means more frequent washing, or smelly clothes.

  3. curiouscheese

    i really enjoyed travelling that light…made me realise how much crap i’ve been lugging around!hahaha!
    although a lot of that is usually camera and surf gear!
    Jarmo you should definitely do it…let me know how you get on!
    ….maybe i should offer the 25litre challenge to all bloggers – see how everyone gets on?!

    Ian – the joys of carryon are so underestimated!everything is just quicker and simpler!

    • Chris

      it was a great eye opener Leah – but now i’m travelling more long term the litres have upped again!haha!

  4. Oceana | Barefoot Beach Blonde

    Awesome idea. I could have tried to start with 25L but I’ll work my way down :P I’ve heard really good things about that backpack though… Shame they’re such a hassle to get shipped to Aus. Might have to look for one next time I’m international…
    Oceana | Barefoot Beach Blonde recently posted..The Carry-On ChallengeMy Profile

  5. Stephanie

    I’m a girl and I gave myself the challenge to go backpacking through Europe for a month(september 2014) with a 28L backpack and nothing else. We will see how it goes :) Thanks for the info!

    • Chris

      I’m sure you’ll be fine Steph – most of my bag was camera and laptop kit so if you’re not travelling with heaps of tech you will have no worries!

  6. Wendy

    Been trying to decide for weeks on what size backpack to get. I have a big one but it’s just too big. I’m going to Sri Lanka for just one week – I”ll be traveling around plus have bad knees so a massive backpack, no thanks. I’m having trouble deciding between a 25l and a 30l bag. I might regret this, but I’m only taking my travel compact camera with me – not my DSLR (will save sooooooo much space and weight). AH! It’s so hard to decide! Your post is making me think a 25l isn’t the most insane idea ever haha (my friends think I’m crazy for even considering this).

    • Chris

      Hey Wendy,
      Great to hear you’re heading to Sri Lanka – I was there in April and absolutely loved it, in fact I’m heading back there again in a few weeks too!
      I went for 9 days and took my Slicks Carry On Pack which is about 30L and it was easily enough – and I had all my camera kit and laptop in there too so I don’t think you’ll have any worries!

  7. Julia

    I am going on a 7 month Asia trip with a 22L Deuter. Everyone thinks I am nuts, but I AM going to do it. :) I am sure it will be the best decision ever!


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