Packing tips from the Pros: Michael Huxley

Michael Huxley is from Liverpool, England and the founder of Bemused Backpacker, the travel blog that aims to inspire and inform anyone how they can travel the world independently, safely and responsibly. He has been travelling the world for around 15 years now, most of which has been solo backpacking but he has also volunteered on numerous expeditions and in conflict and aid zones as a qualified nurse. Over the years he has evolved into travelling carry-on only for the majority of his trips, although he does occasionally pull out his old larger backpack for longer treks or specific expeditions.

Photo Credit: Bemused Backpacker

What's usually in your carry-on?

My carry on is often all I have, so I carry everything in it (You check out topic Travel Packing Checklist) ! On those trips where I do have my larger pack with me though my carry on serves as my bug out bag. It has all my essential documents, my passport, notepad and pen (yes I'm still an old-fashioned writer at heart), a novel to read, my electronics and chargers and of course an emergency pair of clothes. Essentially it has everything in it I don't want to lose and need to survive a day or two just in case my stowed pack decides to go on an extra trip without me.

Tell us about the usual type of clothes you bring when travelling? 

My plan really isn't that meticulous, and it can often vary depending on the terrain I will be in, the climate and if I will be doing any specific activities. In general terms for an extended trip of a couple of months or more, I carry about a week's worth of clothes with a couple of extras (because you can always pick up new stuff or do some washing on the road). That means a couple of pairs of shorts, some long trousers, a few T-Shirts, a couple of shirts and a long sleeved T-shirt too. Just enough to last me a week or so. I tend to wear neutral coloured clothing too, so any top I wear will go with any trouser or short, and the shirt can go with the long trousers and trainers for a smart casual look if I want to smarten up a bit. I usually always pack a pair of flip-flops (I wear my walking trainers when actually travelling) swim shorts (obviously) and a shemagh too, especially if I will be doing some desert or jungle trekking.

Photo Credit: Bemused Backpacker

What's the best packing tip anyone has given you? Who gave it?

You won't need half as much as you think you will. I don't know who actually gave it; I think it is just old backpacker lore that gets passed around.

What’s the best thing about packing light/heavy?

I pack light because it is easy. I can breeze through airports instead of waiting for luggage, I don't arrive anywhere a sweaty, heaving, hunched over mess from lugging a huge pack around, and I can keep my pack with me when I need to (for example if I am on an overnight bus or train it can stay right next to me where it is safe as opposed to in the hold with the rest of the luggage.

How does your packing for a travel routine look like?

I often have a bug out bag that is ready for travel at a moments notice, all I need to add to it are my passport, electric stuff and chargers. And a good book of course.

If I do need to pack it generally only takes me half an hour, so I always do it the day before. I grab the clothes I need from the wardrobe, roll them up, throw them in my pack, and I'm done. I really don't get how people can pack weeks before and get stressed about everything!

How do you deal with "excess baggage" situations? 

It's actually never happened to me! In over 15 years of travel, I've never had to pay excess charges, even on my very first gap year where I did - like everyone else - pack way too much!

The only time I have ever had a problem was heading to Sri Lanka, I was travelling carry-on only, and I was just really unlucky to get a real power hungry, tin pot woman at the check-in who must have been having a really bad day. She said my pack was too big and would need to be stowed, despite never having been too big on any of the previous hundred or so flights it had been on (even ones with the same airline) and others were carrying on hard cases far bigger and heavier than mine. So I just sighed, took out my smaller pack (which I keep rolled up inside as a daypack), stuffed all my essentials in and let her stow it. Then, of course, it was one of the last to come through the conveyor belt on the other side!

There was no point in arguing or stressing though, keep your cool, carry on and enjoy the destination on the other side.

What's your best-kept packing secret?

A good pack with secret pockets and lots of different sized waterproof stuff sacks! It helps organise all your kit which is really handy when you need to get to things quickly and adds that extra layer of protection from the elements. 

Quick Q's

  • Favourite region? Southeast Asia
  • Favourite country? Singapore
  • Favourite city? Cairo
  • Favourite beach? Juara Beach on Tioman Island, Malaysia
  • Favourite food? All of it
  • Favourite mode of transport? Water transport
  • Favourite book? The Sphinx Legacy
  • Window or aisle seat? Anywhere as long as the person in front doesn't recline!
  • Carry-on or check-in? Carry-on, of course!
  • Hostel or hotel? Both. Why limit yourself?
  • What's your favourite design from the Cabin Zero collection? The Ultra Light Cabin bag, mine is in Orange Chill, love it!

You can follow Michael's adventures on his blog, Bemused Backpacker.


Michael answered all your questions about his best-kept packing tips, and now it’s your time to answer his!

Michael asks: What is the one personal item you can never travel without?

Click this link to answer the question and get a chance to win a 28L Cabin bag!

The winner was announced on Wednesday, 31st. of May on the linked post on our Facebook Timeline.

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