I’ve been travelling solo for the past 19 years and have been to many places and packed many bags! From my early travel days when I hauled a 75-litre backpack to my current 24-litre minimalist bag where I only have my travel essentials, I have slowly mastered the art of packing. I have come a long way!
And as a minimalist traveller, I am comfortable with one-bag travel and having very few essential travel items. And I typically have the same amount of items, whether I travel for two weeks or a few months.
In this post, I will show you how to pack 7kg carry on luggage, tips on packing light and what I pack in my 7kg carry on bag. If you want to pack light, save money and travel like a minimalist traveller, then keep reading!
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Table of Contents
Why you should travel with a 7kg hand carry bag
In the past few years, airlines have kept changing their carry on luggage size and regulations, where they continue to reduce the weight of hand luggage bags.
The majority of airlines allow between 7kg to 10kg luggage allowance. And you are allowed to have one cabin baggage and a personal bag (purse or laptop bag).
However, some low-cost carriers, like AirAsia and Jetstar, limit their passengers to a total of 7kg of carry on bag. And you may be wondering, how much is 7 kg? It’s not a lot at all!
There is a reason why low-cost carriers are called “low-cost.” They separate the airfare from the cost of checking in your luggage, making it seem cheaper than other airlines. If you travel with carry on suitcase only (i.e., no checked bags), it is cheaper to fly with low-cost carriers.
As a solo traveller, I travel on a budget. I try to save money whenever I can. So I fly with low-cost carriers because I can save a bit of money by not checking in my luggage.
Not only will you save money but you will also save time from waiting for your checked baggage. And by travelling light, you can move around easily and not worry about all your belongings.
And it is possible to pack all your belongings in one carry on luggage bag and a personal bag where the combined weight is less than 7 kg. And I will show you exactly how you can do that.
How to pack 7kg carry on luggage
Below are the steps on how you can pack a 7kg luggage bag:
- Select the lightest carry on suitcase or backpack and daypack
- Determine what you must bring
- Invest in a handheld luggage scale
- Weigh all your belongings
- If you’re over 7kg, remove non-essential items
1. Select the lightest carry on suitcase or backpack and daypack
First, choose a lightweight carry on suitcase or backpack as your primary travel bag.
It depends on your travel style; you may want to use a suitcase, so you don’t have to carry anything on your back.
But I like travelling with a backpack because it frees up my hands. And if my pack is less than 7 kg, it is not too heavy for my back, and I can still walk long distances with a backpack.
I use the Wanaka Adapt Backpack as my 7 kg cabin baggage because the size is perfect for the overhead bin. The bag is extremely light and has enough capacity for all my belongings.
As for the daypack, use either a small, lightweight backpack or a purse for your trip. I like to use my Fjallraven Re-Kanken backpack for everyday use. One of the most significant benefits of using a backpack is that the weight distributes evenly on your shoulders.
2. Determine what you must bring
These items are the non-negotiable things that you need for your trip. There are no if’s, and’s or but’s about it. You need it. So you have to bring it.
And if you are a digital nomad, you will have additional items like laptops, cameras, etc.
The best thing to do is to take out all the items you want to bring and lay them out so you can see exactly what you have.
Then neatly put all your belongings into your suitcase or backpack and your daypack.
If you have no idea what you should bring on your trip, take a look at my comprehensive packing list for a minimalist traveller. I detailed every single item and included photographs as well.
3. Invest in a handheld luggage scale
Purchase a handheld luggage scale. I bought mine a few years ago, which has been instrumental in how I pack. I never thought I’d use a hand-held luggage scale this much, but having one around has been super handy.
The handheld luggage scale is cheap, and you can buy it at any luggage store or Amazon.
You don’t need to bring a handheld scale while you travel. Weigh your bag at the beginning of your trip, and don’t buy anything to add to the weight of your backpack.
If you buy something during your travels, get rid of something equally big or bulky from your backpack.
I donate my old clothes to a local charity towards the end of my trip. It frees up a bit of space in my backpack, which I can fill with new purchases. It’s a win-win situation! Ha!
4. Weigh all your belongings
If you are wondering how heavy is 7kg is, well, it’s not a lot.
The best way to figure out exactly how much your bags weigh is to use a handheld luggage scale and weigh your main travel bag and your daypack, with all the contents inside both bags.
If your bag weighs less than 7 kg
Congratulations! It is quite an achievement to pack a 7kg bag on your first try. Seriously, you need to celebrate! It is a huge win! It took me years to perfect my minimalist packing!
And most of all, you understand the minimalist mindset when it comes to travelling and will enjoy all the benefits of a minimalist traveller.
If your bag weighs more than 7 kg
If your bag weighs more than 7kg, take out items from your bag until you only have a total weight of 7kg or less.
And don’t feel discouraged. I will be the first to admit that packing all my belongings in a 7kg luggage bag is pretty difficult. I often went over the limit and had to keep trimming my packing list. It takes a bit of practice for sure!
5. Remove non-essential items from your carry on bag
If there are items in your bag that you can easily purchase at your destination, take them out of your bag.
Or items you think you might need, take them out as well.
Some items that you might want to take out of your backpack include:
- Extra clothes or “just-in-case” clothes
- Hiking poles
- Flippers/snorkelling gears
- Sleeping bag
- Hairdryer/hair straightener
Other packing tips to keep your backpack weighing less than 7 kg
1. Choose a lightweight carry-on suitcase or backpack – the ultimate 7 kg cabin baggage size
There are many ultra-lightweight and durable carry-on suitcases with the perfect hand-carry luggage size that you can easily stow in the overhead cabin.
And if you want to use a carry on backpack, choose one between 20 to 30 litres with either a small frame or no frame. You will be tempted to pack more stuff if you have a bigger backpack. And if you have a smaller backpack, it may not have enough space. So a backpack of 20 to 30 litre is just perfect!
Both of these options is the ultimate 7 kg luggage bag size: they are not too big for stowing in the cabin and not too small for fitting all your belongings.
2. Wear your heaviest clothing on the plane
Wear the heaviest and the bulkiest items while you are travelling.
That means wear your jeans or a dress for the plane ride. Also, use the sarong as a scarf (because it might be chilly on the plane).
Wear your sneakers because it takes up the most room in your bag out of all your shoes. Or wear your casual shoes if they are heavier than your sneakers.
You want to minimize the weight of your bag by putting the heaviest items on you.
3. Bring the lightest version of everything
For example, if you have several daypacks, select the lightest version for your trip. I love using the Fjallraven Re-Kanken backpack because it is super lightweight.
Another example is a water bottle. There are many types of water bottles in the market. Select one that is lightweight and easy to use. I always bring my squeeze water bottle because it is one of the lightest water bottles I can find.
Sneakers can be big, bulky and heavy. I bought the lightest pair of sneakers I could find, the Nike Free RN Flyknit. It weighs next to nothing and is flexible, making it easy to pack in my small backpack.
Also, consider the weight of anything you are shopping for future purchases. I’ve been a minimalist traveller for a while and know the weight of every item I am interested in buying. I tend to consider the weight of the item before buying it. I know it all sounds nutty. But it has been helpful.
So if you can swap any of your must-bring items for a lighter version, do it!
4. Bring items that have multiple purposes
It is beneficial to bring travel items that have numerous purposes.
I love bringing a sarong because it can be used as a scarf, swimsuit cover-up, or beach towel.
And I always bring my Samsung Galaxy Note 10+. Not only do I use it as a traditional phone, but it is also my camera, navigator, kindle book reader, exchange rate calculator, etc. It has so many purposes that I would be lost without a smartphone.
5. Select 3 to 4 sets of clothing that you can mix and match
When you put together your travel capsule wardrobe, select clothing in solid colours that you can easily mix and match to create different outfits.
Avoid patterned clothing like plaid, flowers or anything like a pattern or a distinct graphic. It will look like you are always wearing the same thing in all your photos. But with solid colours, yes, you are always wearing the same thing, but it is less obvious.
6. Packing tips for digital nomads
If you work on the road, it might be difficult only to have 7kgs of belongings.
MacBooks, camera equipment, drones, power banks, and other equipment you need will take up a lot of weight and room.
It depends on your field; you may or may not be able to switch to lighter equipment.
I used to travel with a 15” MacBook Pro because I worked remotely as an Interior Designer. I needed a powerful laptop to do AutoCAD drawings. The MacBook Pro and adapter weigh over 2.5kg!! Woah – no wonder my backpack was always so heavy!
Since transiting to a travel blogger, I have kept my equipment simple. I travel with a 12″ MacBook Notebook, a Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ mobile phone and a selfie stick which also acts as a tripod. That’s it!
The switching of the laptop helped quite a bit with the weight limit. I went from a 2kg 15” MacBook Pro to a 0.92kg 12” MacBook Notebook. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but if I have only 7 kgs to work with, shedding a whole kilo is a big deal!
If possible, switch to a lighter version of the equipment you need while working on the road.
What I pack in my minimalist 7 kg cabin baggage
So, the goal is to pack all my belongings and weigh less than 7kg.
First, I start with a light minimalist backpack. My backpack has a capacity of 24 litres, and I can fully utilize every square inch in my backpack while my belongings stay organized.
And I also bring a daypack, which is excellent for everyday use. I love using my Fjallraven Re-Kanken backpack because it is lightweight and made of recycled material.
Next, I pack my belongings into the two bags. These four groups of travel items include:
I detailed every single item and how I pack each travel essential in my post on my perfect minimalist packing list.
My travel daypack has my technology items (laptop, mobile phone) and things I cannot live without. It weighs 1.97kg.
Then I weigh my travel backpack with all my clothing, toiletries and other necessities and it weighs 4.62kg.
Essentially, I already have less than 7kg as a combined weight. I am just right on target! Success!
And I like to keep it just under 7 kilo (then I have room if I buy something during the trip).
Are you ready to travel with carry on only and pack a 7kg cabin baggage?
Bringing only a cabin bag with 7kg worth of belongings is not a lot. And it is rather difficult to sort out the types of things you need on your trip. It is challenging, and I will be the first to admit it!
It takes a bit of practice, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it right away. It took me a while before I learned how to pack less for every trip.
Let me know in the comments if you have other tips and tricks for packing a carry-on that weighs less than 7kg.
And if you enjoyed reading this post about minimalist travelling, check out my packing list for minimalist hiking. Spoiler alert – it’s a short list.
Thank you for reading my 7kg cabin baggage post
You might also like these other posts on minimalist travel:
- My minimalist packing list for every trip
- How to create a minimalist travel wardrobe for every trip
- How to pack the perfect minimalist travel toiletry kit
- My 10 must-have essential travel items for every trip
- How to find the perfect minimalist travel backpack
- Minimalist backpacking: 10 packing tips to help you travel light
- Minimalist hiking: my minimalist hiking gear list
- 10 best gifts for minimalist travellers
- How having a minimalist mindset helped me save money to travel