About Tools of Travel

Welcome to Tools of Travel – a blog about carry-on travel.

My name’s Barry and I initially created toolsoftravel.com while travelling around Asia using a second-hand laptop and free cafe wi-fi.

For the past few years my preferred method of travel is with a carry-on sized backpack only. No matter if I’m going away for a few days, or taking time out for a few months, that’s all I bring along for the journey.

Here’s a short little background on who I am, and what this blog’s all about. 

A Lesson in Life

Who am I?

Well, I’m just a traveller like you:  I like exploring different counties, I like the food, and I do something that resembles backpacking.

I grew up in sunny old England, but back in 2008 I sold most of my possessions on eBay and jumped on a flight to Australia for 12-month trip.

That 12-month trip changed my life; literally as I would end up moving to Australia permantly, but also because it taught me the importance of travelling light.

You see my cheap backpack from Aldi was stuffed to the brim hitting the maximum 20 KG check-in allowance. My carry-on bag wasn’t fairing any better either.

Endless clothing, footwear for different occasions, a bulky old laptop and external hard drive to match that was the size (and weight) of a small brick. Then there were many excellent books from my library.

I was chuffed to bits for maxing the weight limit, that was until the plastic buckle broke at the airport!

While putting together a temporary fix, I looked at the strap which was no longer attached to the backpack, and the realisation kicked in.

Why did I pack so much?

I didn’t have an answer.

After all, they would have shops in Queensland selling clothes more suited to the environment than I had ever packed. They would even have book stores!

The Turning Point

Travelling light is mythical art that only a few of us manage to truly master.

For the rest of us, it’s something that we struggle with every time our backpack or suitcase gets crammed full with our belongings.

On my first big travel adventure to Australia somehow nearly everything from home including eight books came with me.

It didn’t take many crowded train journeys and long city walks to convince me that I was packing way too much.

Months of research had gone into this trip so every situation and eventuality was covered, so it wasn’t easy when the final decision was made to start ditching things.

The truth is Australia taught me a valuable lesson about overpacking that is:

Generally, the heavier the backpack, the less distance you can walk in 30c+ heat before throwing it on the floor and swearing at it.

Soon or later accessories, spare clothes and everything else not being used regular basis started to disappear from my backpack.

Part of me should have been annoyed at the waste, after all, I had only purchase some of them recently. Yet surprising the opposite happened – I became relieved.  Free of the burden of carrying around things that weren’t needed.

Instead of picking up more souvenirs as the trip progressed, more and more items started to disappear from my backpack.

Removing the Complication

Travelling can sometimes appear very complicated.

So many places to go, not to mention connecting flights and different accommodation addresses to remember. Then there are the things you forgot – or the strain of lugging around those that should have been forgotten.

So, what gives?

The truth is travelling is only as complicated as you want it to be.

In fact, life can become much simpler when travelling slowly through different countries. Sometimes it has too.

On the road, without the distractions of work and home, I find it’s easier to embrace a more streamlined and less cluttered lifestyle.

Travelling can change your mindset not only about the world but the way you make choices in life. And for me it changed only because I allowed it too.

Having all your possessions for the next few weeks or months fit into overhead a storage locker or under a seat can be a strange but rewarding feeling.

Rewarding in the sense that is owning less means there are fewer things that need your attention and looking after.

Apart from the advantage of saving money by not checking in luggage there’s also no risk of losing it.

No delayed luggage. No stress

Only once the weight has been lifted can you gain the freedom to focus on enjoying what’s around you.

Carry-On Only Travel

Nowadays I try and eliminate clutter not only when travelling but also most areas of my life, whether that’s at work or at home.

Through trial and error, I’ve gone from travelling with 65 + 30-litre backpacks, down to a single carry-on sized backpack.

I experimented with various bags during my carry-on only adventures, ranging from 46 to 30 litres in size. But now find the 34-litre cycle pack suit my need perfectly.

When you travel with a backpack this small there’s not much, correction; there is no room for unnecessary extras that have little or no use in your travels. Travelling this light is not for everybody, and you can’t fit a lot in a backpack this size. Yet it’s all I need to get by.

But you can’t put a price on being able to walk everywhere, never having to worry delayed luggage or stress about losing valuable things.

Besides clothing and the Ultrabook for work, I bring along a few possessions that help to make my travel life a little more comfortable.

Some items which are worth their weight in gold and I wouldn’t compromise on are:

Downsides of Travelling This Way

One of the main downsides of travelling light is you have fewer clothes to wear. Fewer clothes, therefore, means washing them more frequently.

I combat this slight incoveince in a few ways.

If I’m staying in a location for more than a few days, I prefer to rent an apartment either direct with the building or through a website like Agoda Homes or Airbnb.

It doesn’t have to be big, or anything flash and a basic studio will do the job.

As well as the bonus of cooking facilities these apartments usually come with a washing machine located either in the room or somewhere in the building.

Even if there’s no washing machine available most built up towns or cities will have a laundry service available nearby. Some will do the washing for you, while others might be coin-operated self-serve establishments – which by the way are a great place to meet and chat with locals.

Who knew even mundane tasks like washing your pants can turn into mini adventures when you travel? I’ve met some memorable and slightly eccentric characters in local laundry’s half ways around the world.

If there are absolutely no facilities nearby or I’m staying at one of those hotels that charge something crazy to wash a t-shirt then I’ll use my large waterproof dry bag to hand wash my clothing.

While my clothing may not win any fashion awards, I pack items made from lightweight materials. That way they weigh less to carry and dry the fastest.

I pack a couple of lightweight t-shirts and shorts for warm days, and trousers plus a jumper for cooler days. I carry clothes with me so I can workout and semi-smart ones for if I go to a nice restaurant. Oh, and there are also some lounge clothes for sleeping in.

It’s a surprising simple wardrobe that covers most events while travelling.

I’ve just done finished another extended trip this time with my girlfriend. We visited Taiwan, The UK, France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Germany. Months away from home travelling by plane, train, car, boat and bike and that’s all I packed.

Laundry all done for $1 USD a KG in Cambodia

Keeping in Contact

If you want to keep updated with what’s going on with Tools of Travel I have a good old-fashioned email newsletter. You can join below:

Don’t worry as I only send emails out every now and again so you’re not going to get bombarded with junk or me trying to sell you something you don’t need. Also, your details are safe as I don’t sell or share them with anyone.

Secondly, if you are a social person you can find and follow me on:

Finally, for those who wish to support the website, you can do by donating to my coffee fund. There’s no requiremnt to do so but any amount, no matter how small, it will be appreciated.