Travelling with only carry-on has plenty of pros: you never have to lug around loads of weight, you never have to pay extra for luggage, you don't have to wait around at the carousel for your luggage to arrive or wonder whether it was lost along the way. But, for me,  the best thing about travelling with carry-on is being able to pack in 15 minutes without the last-minute stress of having to jam everything back into my bag.

But of course, there are cons to travelling light as well; not being able to fit everything you want and need into a small bag is, I'd say, the primary downside. This is where it's awesome to have a few pieces you can use in various ways.

Here's my top list of nine genius items every female carry-on traveller should have... 

FYI: The items on this page contain affiliate links. 

1. The Travel Bra™

The Travel Bra™

The Travel Bra™ is one of the best inventions for female travellers. I think I can safely assume that most of us have stuffed valuables into our bras at one point or another, so having a bra which is specifically made with extra pockets built into it is fantastic.

Sometimes leaving your valuables in the hotel or hostel doesn't feel like a safer option to carrying them around; unfortunately, there are some dodgy places all over the world where you won't feel comfortable leaving your stuff. With this bra, you won't have to worry about being pickpocketed and you'll feel safe knowing all your most valuable possessions are close to your body.

You can also use the pockets in The Travel Bra™ to hold a key or a credit card when you exercise so you don't worry about losing them.

2. The Chrysalis Cardi

The Chrysalis Cardi - Encircled

If you could take one item of clothing travelling and wear it eight ways, would you do it? I bet you would. The Chrysalis Cardi by Encircled is designed to give you eight looks which you can choose from depending on the occasion. 

You may be visiting a country which has warm days but cool nights. In this case, you can wear the dress by day then create more of a cover for the evenings. And the important thing, which many backpackers forget when they're planning, is it's likely somewhere along your travels you'll be invited to an event you'll need to dress nicely for. Friendly people you meet may invite you to their home for dinner, to their birthday party or even to a wedding (my husband and I attended two weddings while travelling!), and you'll want to have something in your bag to present yourself nicely. The Chrysalis Cardi allows you to transform your everyday casual wear info a nice dress for a special occasion. Sure, it's not an evening gown, but with a piece of jewellry you'll certainly look sharper than the average backpacker. 😉

3. Dressy Sweatpants

The Dressy Sweatpant - Encircled

The one and only bad thing about sweatpants is - they're sweatpants. You want the comfort of a soft pair of pants without wasting precious space in your luggage on actual sweatpants. Another fab creation from Encircled, these pants give you the option of dressing them up for a day walking around the town or snuggling into while enjoying a movie night on a rainy day. 

4. Hidden Pocket Infinity Travel Scarf

Speakeasy Supply Co on Etsy

This travel scarf works in much the same way as The Travel Bra™ but it allows a bit more room for bulk. Not only is the pocket invisible, meaning it would be darn hard for someone to know you've got valuables in there, but the scarves are so beautiful. So even if you're not trying to hide your things, they would make the perfect addition to your packing list. The super soft fabric allows the scarves to fold up to almost nothing so you won't be taking up precious space with these. 

Just a little tip: although you can access everything in your scarf easily, remember the whole point is for people not to know what's in there 😉 So, by all means, if you're in an environment where theft isn't even crossing your mind, go for it. But perhaps you shouldn't open it up in the middle of the street in an unknown place, it wouldn't be difficult for someone to grab it and run if they knew what was inside.

This Hidden Pocket Infinity Scarf would also be great to take on a hike or outdoor activity if you don't have pockets for your belongings.

5. Durable Passport Holder and Travel Wallet

Wishbone Goods on Etsy

Durable travel wallets can be chunky and take up a lot of space, but regular wallets don't always fit a passport inside. A beautiful travel wallet will make life easy when you're at the airport and constantly have to pull out your documents. And when you're not moving around, you can place your passport in the hostel safe (or in your bra or scarf!) and use this as your regular wallet.

6. Pashmina/Scarf/Beach Cover-Up

Lotus and Luna Design on Etsy

Pashminas are (in my opinion) THE best travel items. There's so much that one simple piece of cloth can do. If you're in a conservative country during a hot season, a pashmina allows you to cover your shoulders and decolletage without overheating under heavy layers.

You can also use it to cover up at the beach, to protect your skin from too much sun exposure, bundled up as an extra warm scarf, as a sarong (depending on the size) or even to give yourself some privacy in a dorm by tucking it under the mattress of the top bunk. And if you can find one as beautiful as this one, even better!

9 Genius Items Every Female Traveller Should Have - feat. @mandukayoga @thetravelbra @rockytopsoap @BeersandBeans

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7. Super-Absorbent Towel (doubles as blanket)

equa® mat towel - Manduka

Taking a super absorbent, quick drying towel away with me was one of the best decisions. If you're backpacking, you'll notice some hostels don't provide towels for free. And some of the ones that are free, well, they look like they've been around for a few too many years. 

Taking your own microfibre towel means you'll never have to rely on your accommodation to provide one for you and you'll always have a clean one handy. Yep, because they're so quick to dry you can handwash them in the sink as you need and know it'll be dry by the morning.

And, best of all, while hiking you can stop at random beaches and swimming holes and know you can always head in for a dip because you have your towel on you.

8. Solid Toiletries

Rocky Top Soap Shop on Etsy

Having your facewash, shampoo and exfoliator in a gentle and natural bar of soap will save you in the extra weight of your usual liquids and their containers. And you'll never have to worry about them leaking into your bag. 

I'm not sure when this 100ml rule is going to end, but until it does, make use of these fantastic solid toiletries. To keep them lasting as long as possible, make sure to remove them from the shower after you use them to let them dry out after each use.

Keep in mind, even though this is a "bar of soap", it's not the usual bars we're used to. They're beautifully made to keep your skin healthy and hydrated so don't get to caught up in its appearance.

9. eko superlite™ travel mat

eko superlite™ travel mat - Manduka

And lastly, a yoga mat that you can take with you. After my husband and I spent a month in India doing yoga, we carried around our yoga mats for months afterwards. Like 7-8 months of lugging around an extra yoga bag and trying to casually hide it when checking in. One day as we were about to board a plane, we decided to just chuck them away. When you only have hand luggage, carrying any extra bag is a nightmare.

This is where the eko superlite travel mat is perfect. But know -- this mat is lightweight, it's thin, it's not like your standard yoga mat. But it's a unique alternative.

You can use the eko superlite™ for any yoga routine where you don't need to put a lot of pressure on your knees, like  Surya Namaskara or Sun Salutation. Or you can simply roll it out on carpet or on top of a towel if you prefer some extra cushioning. It's super grippy which makes it easy to practice on wherever you are and it folds up without creasing, ready to be used again next time.

If you're serious about your practice but don't want to carry around a big mat, this is for you! And if you're needing to lose an extra kilo at the check-in counter, pull it out and stuff it in your pants. There aren't many yoga mats that'll allow you to do that. 😉 

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What other items do you love to travel with that you could add to this list? Let me know in the comments below, I always love finding out about new travel items.