Packing a single carry on for a three week trip

Here i am in Petersburg with the pack that i thought i’d be using for the trip.

Packed in Petersburg

On the first day in Seattle i figured out that the zipper on the pack was going to drive me crazy. So i bought a new one at REI for about $100. I knew i needed a pack in the 45-60 liter range but didn’t want it too big and definitely not too small.

The old black pack sees off the new green one

So in Seattle i started to fill my black Lowe Alpine pack (that’s almost 15 years old) with the things i wouldn’t need to take with me – my jeans and other clothes from Seattle.

Then at Kevin’s place in Los Angeles i had collected everything i was planning on bringing on the trip so i set everything out in groups and took photos of it. Kevin kept a set of the pictures in case i needed to file a claim for things.

Toiletries fall into two categories now – those liquids, gels and aerosols that need to be through security separately, and those that can be packed in the bag out of sight and mind.

Toiletry kits

I use an Eagle Creek toiletry bag and a heavy duty clear zip bag that i got for free from Trip Advisor a while back.

Clear travel bag

In the clear bag going clockwise starting at the bag:

  • Trip Advisor toiletry bag
  • Purell hand sanitizer
  • Hair gel
  • Shaving cream
  • Shampoos
  • Woolite travel laundry soap (came with my sink kit)
  • All laundry detergent
  • Single use lotion packets
  • SPF 30 lotion tubes
  • Crest mint toothpaste
  • Travel size bodyspray
  • Prescription strength antibiotic ointment

In the non-TSA-regulated bag…

Toiletry kit

  • Eagle Creek toiletry bag
  • 30 feet of parachute cord and magnetic spring clips (clothesline)
  • Toothbrush
  • Razor
  • Golds powder
  • Bullfrog stick of SPF 35
  • Deodorant
  • Sewing kit
  • Kleenex
  • Bar soap
  • Wet wipes
  • Toilet paper (not kept in the kit)
  • Q-tips
  • Universal sink drain stopper
  • Part of a compact for shaving
  • Nail trimmers
  • Tweezers
  • Medications

The medications are sorted by type.  I have two compartments of altitude sickness medication.  Then a course of prescription antibiotics, then two prescription strength pain pills, Tums, cold medicine, and Immodium.  I’m mailing back my clothesline.  If i wash things i can find a place to hang them in the room without needing the cord.  Or i’ll pay to have my clothes cleaned.  I’ll need more toothpaste.  I left one of the SPF lotions with Kevin.  I bought a different powder because my feet, socks, and shoes needed a good sterilzation after rearing the same footwear for a week in the heat.

My computer setup is fairly small and lightweight.

Computer for travel

Starting with the computer…

  • Acer Aspire One
  • Aspire slip cover (included with computer)
  • Pad for between keys and screen (also came with the netbook)
  • Logitech laser mouse (see the receiver near the Control key on the left side?)
  • 2 and 16 gig thumb drives
  • Computer power cord
  • Power adapter for…
  • Coiling power cord
  • Surge protector and 3 way splitter

Then i have my cell phone/mp3 player/organizer/alarm clock set…

Phone kit

  • Palm Centro
  • Pelican 1010 case
  • Skull candy earphones
  • iGo universal charger (i”d like to get a tip for my camera)
  • iGo tip for Palm Centro

My “personal item”

Carry on

I got this small CamelBak pack at Interbike. It has a water reservoir. I usually carry my laptop, cell phone and passport in it along with these items.

  • Candy, candy bars
  • Pens and a Sharpie
  • Sunglasses (with earphones tucked in the case)
  • Lip balm
  • LED flashlight
  • Guide book

One of my pens had a catastrophic failure on one of the early flights.  That happens sometimes.  I keep a carabiner on it to clip things on the outside if necessary.  The function of this bag changes if i’m walking around town, hiking, or getting on a plane.



  • Trail running shoes
  • 2 pairs of shorts (one with pockets and one with only a back pocket)
  • 2 pairs of pants with legs that zip off
  • A hat
  • Rain/wind jacket
  • Long sleeve fleece jacket
  • Mesh bag for socks and underwear
  • Garbage bag for dirty laundry (not shown)
  • 3 t-shirts
  • 2 button up shirts
  • Belt with no metal

I have modified this list a bit.  Today i’m mailing the rain jacket and fleece back to Kevin.  I’m traveling toward the equator for the next few days and don’t plan on straying far.  I’m also sending the hat back too.  I don’t want the tan lines associated with a baseball hat.  If i need sun protection i’ll buy something later.  I have picked up one additional t-shirt so far.  I also finally got the sandals that i have needed.

Camera kit

Camera kit

  • Nikon P6000 camera (not shown because i’m using it!)
  • Pelican 1020 case (i’m mailing it back stuffed with receipts from the trip)
  • Battery charger that works with the coiled power cord shown with the computer kit.
  • Lowe Alpine soft case
  • Extra memory cards
  • Lens cleaner
  • 2 spare batteries
  • Flexible leg tripod

Other things not shown…

My wallet has my license (probably should have left it behind), one credit card, my debit card, and a bottle opener.  I wore some of the clothes shown and left everything i was wearing when taking these for Kevin to send back to me.

I had some help in developing this list.  Check out Packing for Tropical Travel or for the basis of my choices.  I’m sure my list will continue to change.  There are some luxuries – like the wireless mouse.  There are things i would change – like having a short USB charging cord for my phone instead of the wall plug.  But i’ll work those all out before the next trip!

zieak (2207 Posts)

Ryan "Zieak" McFarland dabbles. Beards. Making things. Travel. Genealogy. Frugality and excessiveness. Fitness and fatness. He's a PE teacher in India, usually calls Alaska home and is a happy father to two boys and the husband to a suddenly crafty wife.

4 thoughts on “Packing a single carry on for a three week trip”

  1. was googling around for ultralight toiletries configurations and came across this posting. Love the way you’ve pack and the amount of items makes ur pack superlight but your toiletries bag is a bit bulky to my liking =p awesome tho.

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