By Christine R.
Packing has become an art for me, and figuring out how to fit all of my travel gear into one carry-on-sized backpack is a challenge I’ve adopted for every single one of my vacations. I love the simplicity of carrying everything on my back (free hands!), and I’ve made it work for trips ranging from several days to five weeks. Fitting everything in a carry-on bag means that there’s no waiting around for the baggage carousel to start, no wondering if the airline misplaced my luggage, and no searching for trolleys to wheel out of the terminal. I’ve learned that it makes the journey far more manageable and enjoyable!
Note: I recognize that this is easier without children, who seem to make luggage multiply exponentially, but most of these suggestions can still be applied to them!
- The key to packing light is the luggage itself. Mine is the Osprey Porter 46 backpack. In May of this year, it will have been to all seven continents with me, and it has not failed me once! While I hate rifling through typical backpacks, looking for things that have fallen to the very bottom, the Osprey Porter solves that with a front panel that opens like a suitcase. I’ve raved about this bag so many times to my family, that several of them have purchased it for themselves!
- I carefully consider every single article of clothing that I pack, and I make sure every piece has several uses. Check out Brie’s capsule wardrobe suggestions to streamline your travel wardrobe!
- I use Flight 001 Packing Cubes and Packing Bags, which keep everything neatly organized throughout the entire trip. They have bags for clothes, shoes, toiletries, laundry, wet swimsuits, and more.
- Comfy shoes are a must. I am in love with my Allbirds, which feel like walking on air, can be worn with or without socks, are lightweight and breathable, come in various styles, and can be thrown in the washing machine. By wearing these on the plane, I have enough room for a pair of sandals and flip flops in my backpack.
- I never bring full-sized toiletries. They’re not allowed in carry-ons, plus, practically everything comes in mini sizes nowadays! If I’m not sure whether or not I’ll need a specific item, I rarely include it. Usually, I don’t end up needing it, and very few places are so remote that you can’t find the products that you need in case of emergency.
- I always bring a smaller backpack that serves as my personal item on the plane, my purse during the day, and my method of transporting the items that inevitably collect during a trip, such as my souvenirs. My favorite is my Fjällräven Kånken, which, incidentally, was a souvenir in itself!
- I always bring a book or two, but only ones I feel comfortable leaving behind, since space is precious, and new books seem to materialize quickly when I travel. Used books can be exchanged at many cafes, left on hotel lobby bookshelves, or donated to lucky strangers.
- I always ask myself if laundry will be available where I’m going. Generous family and friends will let me refresh my entire travel wardrobe, and oftentimes, hotels offer laundry services. It can seem expensive, but with airlines continuously raising prices, it can be cheaper to have a few items washed than to check a bag!
- While space is coveted, the newest addition to my packing list is my pair of Sony noise-cancelling headphones. They happen to be another useful souvenir from my travels, a purchase that was conveniently made in a currency where the amounts meant nothing to me, buffering me from thinking about their actual cost. If you’re ready for a splurge, I highly recommend them, but similar ones can be purchased for a more reasonable price. They are a lifesaver on a noisy plane or when you want to look busy and be left alone!
- Each time I travel, I take notice of the items that return home untouched. Over time, I’ve come to realize what constitutes the real essentials for me. It’s less than I used to think.
Good luck, happy packing, and have a wonderful trip!