I hadn’t travelled with a backpack, carry-on or not, for 10 years. The last time I had one it was too big, too heavy and not sized properly for me. As a result, I injured my lower back, making the rest of that particular trip somewhat painful.
When the time came to buy a backpack for a trip to Thailand, I wanted to force myself to pack light and was looking for the smallest bag I thought I could get away with.
I had only 4 criteria:
- It had to be small and fit my 5’1’’ body;
- It had to be a travel pack that opens completely (not a top loader);
- It would have to fit most airline carry-on limitations; and
- I had to be able to walk with it fully packed for a while without destroying my back.
After much research online, I set my eye on a 40 l. (small) Osprey Farpoint Travel Pack, just a nudge above a day pack. It seemed to be roomy enough and there was a flat pocket for a laptop.
There are two things that make travelling light possible: a good bag and the right amount of stuff in it. I had a small enough pack, now I had to learn to pack efficiently.
It took me years to start packing better, but there is still room for improvement and I’m constantly trying to get it right. I try to think of my packing as a capsule wardrobe, bringing articles that fit together mostly and that I can interchange and layer to be comfortable and look like I pulled my clothes from my closet and not a backpack. If you don’t know what a capsule wardrobe is, check out Project 333.
There is one more thing I use that makes packing easier, my Eagle Creek Packing Cubes. They keep everything neat and tidy and if I need to open my bag in public, an airport for example, my clothes are protected.
Over the years, I’ve made many packing and to-do-before-trip lists and I thought it was time to make a more permanent one … and share it with you of course. Click this link to download from our Printable Library.
This list will help you know what to pack and what to do before you leave, but ultimately you decide how much you bring. We all have a different idea of what “the right amount“ looks like, but challenge yourself, it’s worth it. I personally try to bring less than I think I need, knowing that if I’m missing something vital, I can always go shopping.
Maybe this will inspire you. As you read this post, we are on vacation for a little over a week and this is what I packed (mostly, there might be a few articles I swapped at the last minute). The list is below.
Not shown: rain jacket (there is rain in the forecast) flipflops and one other pair of shoes.
This will do for a week, but admittedly there would not be much more if we had left for 3 weeks.
Just plan for laundry.
I try to bring as little toiletries as I can and use travel size.
The Wild at Heart pouch is always in my purse, it’s my everyday emergencies kit.
Carry-On Packing List