I’m not a light traveler. I pack too many “just-in-case” items. As a photographer, usually about half of my bag is dedicated to photography equipment. That’s right—half. With this in mind, I recently challenged myself to travel with just one carry-on bag (aka onebagging) for a four day photo shoot in San Francisco.
The onebag experiment went better than expected—less really is more. The promise of onebag travel was immediately apparent. I watched other passengers head to baggage claim as I walked straight out the door. A newfound secret had been unlocked and with it, the three main benefits of onebag travel:
-Save time: No more waiting at check-in or baggage claim
-Save money: Never pay extra baggage fees
-Avoid stress: Land with zero anxiety knowing everything you brought arrived safely. Travel nimbly throughout your trip without having to worry about leaving your bag behind.
The Tortuga 35L Outbreaker is a great option for Onebag Travel.
How to Pack Less
Onebag travel is about finding balance by eliminating the non-essential items. Don’t get caught up in buying the perfect gear for your first onebag trip. You’re going to learn so much on that first trip that you’ll be finding flaws in what you thought was the perfect setup. I recommend starting with what you currently own and if needed, acquire the optimal onebag items slowly over time. Once you find the sweet spot, onebag travel can make just about any trip a little bit more enjoyable.
Tip 1: Don’t pack an equal number of clothes to days traveled. Pack fewer clothes and plan on wearing them more often (this is why merino is so popular with onebaggers, as it doesn’t hold odor like other materials).
Tip 2: Pack sturdy clothing that ideally resists wrinkling so you don’t look like you’re living out of a backpack.
Tip 3: Take items that can be worn together so you can, for example, give a shirt a rest while re-wearing the same pants. My tops are more prone to smell before my pants, so if I need to rotate day-to-day, it’s my shirts.
Tip 4: Limit multiple bulky items like shoes. I like to travel with one pair of all-purpose footwear—something comfortable and durable for all the distance I cover during my shoots.
You Can Travel With One Bag
Since working at Wool&Prince, I’ve pared down my wardrobe to mostly merino wool clothing. I get more mileage between washes and my closet is full of simple, versatile items that go well together. The colors all match and I can layer pieces together for a variety of temperatures. My familiarity with the benefits of merino wool and my already pared down wardrobe prepared me for the San Francisco onebag trip. For your first onebag trip, my advice would be to use what you already own and take mental notes throughout the trip on how your setup could be improved for next trip.
It’s worth pointing out that as you experiment with onebag travel, you’ll likely start to reconsider each piece of clothing you own. And with a pared down wardrobe, one bag travel might just become your default travel option.
My San Francisco Packing List
• 2 merino wool t-shirts
• 2 long sleeve merino shirts (1 button down / 1 long sleeve tee)
• 2 pants (1 chinos / 1 jeans)
• 1 pair of shorts
• 4 merino underwear
• 4 pairs of merino socks
• 1 full-zip jacket (Travel photographer secret: opt for a light jacket with lots of big pockets)
• Camera Equipment
Words by the Wool&Prince brand director and photographer emeritus, Christopher Scott.
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