My travel gear & the best budget backpack for packing light

From carrying only my laptop bag to Thailand for 10 days to carrying a slightly larger cabin bag for 2 weeks in Europe (with NO check-in bags)… i’ve managed brilliantly well on my travels with some smart packing. Here, i’m going to share those secrets so you don’t overpack on your travels the next time!

The Minimalist Mindset

I’ve always believed in minimalism – cutting clutter and giving away / selling / donating things i don’t need and use regularly. Besides helping me focus on what really matters, this also allows me to be easily nomadic since i don’t have too much to pack anyway!

One of my key inspirations for traveling light came from a talk i attended by my friend Ansoo Gupta – a mother of two who travels with no check-in bags on most of her travels. If she could do it, it would be an absolute shame if i couldn’t.

10 Days in Thailand with 1 Laptop Bag

For my beach-hopping trip in Thailand, i knew i wouldn’t need very many things – and i still managed to pack my laptop, a couple of t-shirts, 2 shorts and 2 pairs of undies in my laptop bag. I figured i could just buy what i needed in Thailand, on a need-to-have basis. The only place i went wrong was not packing enough innerwear – which was surprisingly expensive to buy there, even though t-shirts were cheap.

The one awesome thing i picked up in Bangkok was a foldable waterproof sling bag which served me two purposes:
1. Storing my laundry
2. Keeping stuff dry when using water transport within Bangkok / shuttling islands.

At the end of my trip, i returned with just these 2 bags and had added innerwear and 3 tees to it.

2 Weeks in Europe with 1 Cabin Size Bag!

While i was researching for my 2-week Europe trip to Italy & San Marino, my buddy Dru recommended the bag he was using – the AmazonBasics Carry-On Travel Backpack. This changed everything for me! This nifty backpack is the most optimal size for carry-on (cabin sized) luggage which can be worn as a backpack or held like a briefcase with the side clutch.

This backpack allowed me to carry everything i needed for my trip. Here’s a video of what i packed…

The foldable day pack was for my day use within the city or even for day trips. I used this for storing my maps and brochures, chargers, battery pack, sunglasses, random things like shopping and a water bottle or two.

The foldable duffel bag was thrown in to make room for any excess stuff i may land up buying / carrying back home. This was opened literally on the last day of my trip, to organize my stuff better. Since i carried a bottle of alcohol back, i carried this along with my day pack as carry on baggage and sent my larger backpack as check-in baggage with the bottle of Limoncello!

All of these worked perfectly well, and i even managed to explore half of San Marino’s city center walking around with ALL my luggage for the entire day (stored in the carry-on backpack you see in the picture of me above)!


For my wires and gadgets, this ultra compact case worked brilliantly:

When i wanted to NOT carry my day pack and just step out with my point-and-shoot camera, i preferred this:

Exotic Gringo (Kaushal Karkhanis)

Leading an experimental life as a digital nomad, I started traveling in 2007 while choosing to shuttle between Goa and Mumbai as 'home'. An epic life-changing trip to South America an year later gave birth to this blog, Exotic Gringo.

Blog Comments

Great tips and gear to travel light and cool.