Travel Light On Your Next Hostel Adventure

Why flying with carry-on only is the best way to travel and tips for lightweight packing.



Every time I arrive at the airport, I’m more nervous about what my bag might weigh rather than whether I’ve remembered to book my hostel or if I grabbed my toothbrush. Seriously, I’ve been seen (or not seen) shoving my Macbook under my hoodie, and stuffing heavy electronics into my pockets, just so my backpack will come under the weight allowance. That’s because I travel carry-on only (and usually on cheap airlines with low baggage limits). Depending on the destination and length of my trip, I’ll either choose a hiking pack of about 10-15kg weight, or choose a small wheelie suitcase that fits in the overhead bins in the airplane; but always only carry-on.


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If you’ve stayed at Samesun’s Vancouver hostel you’ll know the great workout for the buns and calves you get from heading up to the 3rd floor, and how lugging 2 suitcases up there is not so much fun (luckily the staff can give you a hand if it’s not too busy). Veteran backpackers know there’s a crucial difference between being prepared and packing light, or having to cart around a lot of last minute stuff. Traveling light can actually make a big difference in your overall holiday experience, so get it right!

PS. Backpackers that travel with carry-on only get huge props and high fives when they check into the hostel.


Photo by Thomas @

Photo by Thomas @

4 reasons why packing light is totally the way to go:


  1. Less Frustrating. Holidays are for relaxing and getting rid of the tension and stress, so don’t give yourself any unnecessary obstacles that could turn your adventure into a hassle or annoyance. Be ready to say yes to any moment with a light pack that you can carry up stairs, cobblestones or mountains.
  2. Less Time. Traveling with carry-on bags means you don’t have to wait for the luggage carousels. That means that it is quicker to get out of the airport therefore allowing more time for your adventures. With only a carry-on bag to worry about, you can easily hop off a plane, train, or bus and be on your way without having to stick around and wait to retrieve your baggage from the cargo hold. 
  1. Less Weight. Of course you’re not always going to be on transit and you may need to walk from the station to the hostel. Don’t kill your back after the first 15 minutes with a heavy pack, or stumbling over curbs with a large suitcase. Depending on your destination, a wheeling suitcase is not always possible with rugged surfaces like snow, sand, ice or cobblestones.
  1. Less to Lose. The less stuff you bring with you, the less you have to worry about. Simple. Less stuff to potentially lose.



And here are some of Jayne’s best tips to achieving a lightweight bag.


  1. Make a pile of all the clothes you want to pack and then walk away from it. Come back at a later time and take away as much as you can. Extra points if you manage to cut it in half! By taking a step away from your original haul you can think more critically about what you really need versus what you want.


Photo by Thomas @

Photo by Thomas @


  1. Pick your favourite articles of clothing and try to make as many possible outfit combinations with just those. You don’t need an endless amount of clothes to make different outfits. Remember you CAN do laundry on the road and here at Samesun we have laundry on site at all of our hostels.  Therefore you don’t need 15 shirts and pants, just pick your favourites and mix and match. As for shoes, you really shouldn’t need more than three pairs.  A sturdy pair of flip flops or sandals, a decent pair of running/walking shoes and a pair of shoes you can pass with for nights out should be enough. Props to you if you can get away with less than 3 pairs!




  1. Limit your toiletries. Ladies, you really don’t need to travel with you hair straightener or hair dryer. Most hostels will provide or lend hair dryers, and some even straighteners. These types of things will take up so much unnecessary space and you really won’t need them on the road. (Also they may not even work on other countries power outlets!) As for other toiletries, try to travel with carry-on friendly liquids and gels. If you haven’t travelled with only carry-on luggage, you will LOVE it.



Vancouver's best downtown central backpacker hostel

Samesun Vancouver is located just 3 blocks away from the main train stations in downtown Vancouver.


Samesun has some of the best hostel locations in the world so you won’t have to carry your bags very far. We also provide lockers for each of our dorm beds! Our Vancouver hostel is only 3 blocks from the airport train stop, and our Montreal hostel is central to trains, busses and downtown. Come find us and show us your light backpacking successes.

Contact us if you have any questions about our hostel facilities or need travel recommendations.