Ultralight carry-on only: packing for wimpy arm strength

The challenge for packing:

  • travelling for 13 days
  • going to London, Rome, Naples, Sicily (the towns of Catania, Messina, Syracusa) and Valletta in Malta
  • spending part of a day in Ottawa
  • staying in 6 different hotels
  • travelling by airplane, train, bus and ferry
  • staying in some cities known for pick pockets
  • great deal of walking each day
  • predicted weather (including Ottawa, but not Calgary): highs between 20 and 7 Celsius, lows from 14 to -2, +50% chance of rain
  • travelling solo
  • carry-on weight limit 8 kg or 17.6 pounds
I have to pack much, much smaller and lighter than in 2007:

Because I did a lot of shopping, by the end of that trip, I could barely haul that pack on my shoulders, and I worried if I fell, I would never get up again!

I need to pack less weight–no more than 8 kg, the carry-on limit for the flight from Naples to Sicily. As will become apparent over the next 13 days, my itinerary includes 9 flights. I won’t have a husband or child to help lift my luggage into the overhead storage bins. In addition, I have to load my luggage onto a train, at least 3 buses and a ferry, to and from the 6 different hotel rooms as well as between airport terminals. On my last day, depending on whether I have time to store it, I might haul my bag with me all day.

The clothes will need to work for a range of temperatures and precipitation. They must also be acceptable for entering churches in Italy. And I want some pieces with secure pockets because people, especially Italians, keep telling me about the notorious pick pockets in Naples. No one wants to lose cash or credit cards, but I will be without any back up should that happen. In Paris, when thieves stole my wallet on the Metro, I relied on my family to cover my spending. This time, I’m on my own.

I’m taking a Tom Bihn Aeronaut 30–30 because it holds 30 litres. And a cross-body purse, which will function as my day bag.



Since the 8 kg limit will be from Naples to Sicily, I will pack, not wear, my raincoat. My packed purse weighs 4.5 lbs or 5.5 lbs (2 or 2.5 kgs) depending on whether it includes my iPad and keyboard, which weighs 1 lb. My trial run packing resulted in 16.5 pounds or 7.5 kgs with raincoat, iPad and keyboard inside. A lot smaller than my 2007 pack and light enough to make the Alitalia weight limit.


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