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Best Carry-On Packing List for a 3-Week Safari

Both men and women can pack for three weeks in a single carry-on bag and a small backpack if you follow this carry-on packing list for a 3-week safari.  

The advantage of taking carry-on luggage is that it saves time from standing in line to check your luggage and waiting at the luggage carousel after your flight. There is also the freedom of carrying only a single bag, especially when taking public transportation or walking long distances.

The disadvantage is that you will need to spend an hour at a laundromat on your trip, which is always an adventure in itself. On our three-week trip, we did laundry after the fifth day, then again at our AirBnB at the beach, which fortunately had a washing machine.

One trick to fitting your clothes into a small space is using compression packing cubes. These durable cubes have a second zipper that squeezes out the air. Another trick is knowing you can buy practically anything you need at your destination.

The packing list that follows filled a carry-on suitcase about three-quarters full, leaving room for souvenirs. This list includes the clothes I wear on the plane, leaving even less for the suitcase. It has everything needed for two three-day safaris in Samburu and the Masai Mara and a week at the beach in Watamu on the Indian Ocean. Since the suitcase is not easily accessible on the plane once it is in the overhead storage, there is a small daypack with items I want readily available on a long flight.

Camera

Bringing a 35 mm camera and lens might seem like a big decision. Kenya is a photographer’s dream. I took all of the photos in these blog posts with an iPhone 15 Pro Max. I am happy with the results and I didn’t have to worry about my more expensive camera getting damaged or stolen, plus it saved a lot of space in my luggage.

Clothes in rolls.
Plan to wash your clothes a couple of times when you are packing light.

Clothes

3 pairs of short pants 
2 pairs of long pants
1 swimming shorts
5 shirts
2 underwear
3 pairs of socks
1 waterproof jacket
1 crushable hat
1 pair of hiking shoes
1 pair of sandals

Toiletries all laid out.
You can fit a lot of toiletries if you take small quantities.

Toiletries 

Sunscreen, reef safe for snorkeling
Bug spray
Eye drops
Razor 
Soap
Dental floss
Nail clippers and file
Laundry wash
Matches
Mole skins
Sewing kit
Tape kit
Bandaids
Snore strips
Antibiotics
Tylenol 
Anti-diarrhea (Imodium)
Benadryl
Nyquil and Dayquil pills
Anti-itch cream
Apple AirTag to always know where your stuff is

Misc

Mask and snorkel
Travel towel
Copy of passport

A daypack with misc items laid out.

Keep handy the items you will need on the plane so you don’t need to go into your carry-on suitcase.

 

Small daypack on the plane

1 lightweight daypack
Eye covers
Neck pillow, inflatable
Ear plugs, wax
Foot pillow, inflatable
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Deodorant
Snacks
Earbuds
Back up battery
Neck gator
Cleansing cloths
Handkerchief
Water bottle
Sleeping pills
Money belt
Passport pouch
Mask for airport and plane

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Hi. We are Paul and Cindy, two biologists, fit and over 50, who enjoy exploring, photographing, and blogging about our outdoor travel. Our journey is to find outdoor activities that are away from crowds, kind to nature, and authentic. We carry backpacks, stay in clean accommodations, and feel that good food is as important as good friends.

The African savanna with three acacia trees.
Kenya
Amazon Jungle
Costa Rica
California
Italy

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