Unless you are a complete homebody who hates going out occasionally, the chances are that you have traveled and will travel again at some point in your life. As such, you might want to learn how to pack a backpack for traveling. To some, the entire process itself might seem relatively easy. Just stuff things into it like a suitcase and be on your way to Hawaii, or wherever you’re going.
However, the manner you choose to pack a suitcase is worlds different from the method you should employ to pack a backpack. This is largely so because you can easily pull a briefcase behind you such that its weight isn’t much of a problem.
A backpack, however, requires more attention to this, among others, while packing. As such, we will be sharing with you a few easy tips on how to pack a backpack for traveling. Here, we will touch everything from making a minimalist travel backpack to how to pack light and everything else in between.
What you should consider before you start packing your backpack for your next trip
Before you start learning how to pack a backpack for traveling, you must consider a few things first. They will go a long way in helping you understand how to travel with just a backpack. Here are a few things you should definitely keep in mind before you start packing:
1. Bearable weight limits
Unlike a suitcase that has you dragging it behind you at virtually all times, you will have to carry a backpack on your shoulders. Essentially, your body will be bearing the full weight of whatever you choose to pack at every point in time. As such, your backpack must be within bearable and healthy limits for you.
As a matter of fact, your backpack should not weigh more than about 10-20 percent of your total body weight. That is, if you weigh 180 pounds, your backpack should weigh between 18-36 pounds in total. Taking note of this will not only be healthy but will help you determine two important things as you try to practice minimalist travel packing. The first is what kind of backpack you end up getting. It should be of the right size for the intended weight. The second is how much stuff you will be able to pack on your trip conveniently.
Now, we completely understand that it might be a bit challenging sticking to all of these. You might be very petite and wouldn’t have a choice but to carry something bigger than 20% of your weight. Under those circumstances, you must reduce weight as much as possible by including only the essential things to pack for traveling. It’s crucial to pay attention to these weight numbers because there are a couple of dangers associated with packing too heavily for a trip.
2. Duration of the trip
The second thing you should keep in mind before we delve into teaching you how to pack a backpack for traveling is the duration of the trip. Knowing this will go a long way in determining what and how much you take along with you. If you are using just a backpack for your trip, we’re assuming that you won’t be spending so much time there. After all, there’s only so much you can carry in a backpack at least before you hurt yourself under all the weight.
As such, you should only think of packing as much as you need for the estimated or exact trip duration. For example, if you will be spending a month at your destination, it would be entirely unnecessary to pack three months’ worth of supplies. Just a month’s worth will do.
3. Availability of laundry opportunities
Now, you could be planning a trip for several reasons. You might have a job interview that requires you to lodge in the nearest hotel so you can beat the traffic. You might have an entire month’s work in a different state, and the list goes on and on. However, in all these cases, your clothes will get stained or dirty in one way or the other. As long as you are wearing them, you will either need to wash and reuse or pick a different set entirely.
As such, while packing, you need to be sure that you’ll get the opportunity to wash your clothes at least once a week. If not, you might want to pack enough clothing items to last you till your next laundry. Underwear is particularly important in this case.
However, if you will be able to wash often, we’d advise that you pack only a week’s worth of clothes. That way, you won’t have too much luggage on you. If you’re worried about being seen in the same outfit too often, you can simply shuffle your clothing items every week. Besides, no one will judge you for not packing your entire closet because you want to spend a few weeks out. Believe us when we say that shuffling is a lot better than that regret that comes with packing too much.
Seven quick tips on how to pack a backpack for traveling
Now that you understand three of the significant things you should keep in mind before you start packing, it’s time to move to the few easy tips on how to pack a backpack for traveling that we have painstakingly prepared for you. Keep in mind that these tips also apply if you’re looking to learn how to pack a backpack for air travel or know how to pack a backpack for a weekend. With no more than slight adjustments, you can easily adapt these tips to any travel situation you find yourself. Without further ado, they are:
1. Get a good backpack
You cannot truly enjoy your trip if your backpack is not good enough to do its job properly. It would take a while to start going through the best backpacks for you. However, we can give you a few backpack tips that’ll be helpful for backpack shopping.
Firstly, pick the right size. If you’re going on a long trip, you might be tempted to get the biggest thing you can find. Better safe than sorry, eh? Well, that’s not exactly the best idea. Generally, you can easily get through a three-month journey with a 45-liter capacity backpack. It seems impossible, we know. However, people have been known to do it. Plus, do you really want to spend your entire trip dragging your suitcase up and down every flight of stairs you come across?
Secondly, your backpack should come with a few extra features. The first is some extra pockets. Above all, they help you to organize properly. For example, while getting through the airport, you really don’t want to keep everybody waiting in line because you’re trying to get out your boarding pass from the depths of your bag. A backpack with pockets on the side and waist-straps would help you get what you need faster.
2. Avoid all non-essentials
Our second tip on how to pack a backpack for traveling is to avoid every non-essential item. We’re willing to bet that you’ve said the “I wish I hadn’t brought this” statement in the past.
More often than not, your mind tells you that you’ll need this or that. Unfortunately, more often than not again, you’re merely being paranoid. You really don’t need that extra sweater in case the AC gets too cold. No, you don’t!
As such, you must avoid carrying anything you would not need. A great way to do this is by cutting your luggage in half. Not literally, though, Jimmy Neutron. Simply pack everything you need into your backpack at once. As soon as you’re done with it, reevaluate and take out everything that comes off as unnecessary to you.
A few other non-essential things include two extra tubes of toothpaste, five more pairs of boxers besides the five you picked already, and everything else that wouldn’t serve you on the trip. Also, if you keep bringing an item back after every trip without using it, it’s most likely not essential. It shouldn’t accompany you on the next trip.
Another way is packing multifunctional things. While packing one-time use items may seem necessary, they could become a burden really quickly. If you can rent any of them at your destination, there’s not much of a need carrying the item around.
When you’re done with all of these, put your backpack on and take a few steps around. If it’s too bulky to carry around, start shedding weight again. Also, those few steps will give you a chance to check the strength and durability of your backpack. If it doesn’t come up to par, you might have to cash in on the store’s return policy.
3. Compress your luggage
This is an underrated but essential tip on how to pack a backpack for traveling. Apart from halving your luggage to leave out non-essentials, you also need to save space. Stuffing everything into the bag might not put too much weight on you. However, it could take up a lot of much-needed space inside the backpack. As such, you need to find a way to distribute items to fill up the space you have properly.
A great way to do this is to try putting things into other things. For example, you might have a pair of socks that you want to bring along with you on the trip. A great way to save space would be to put those socks into your shoes. You’ll merely need to ensure that they are clean and that you don’t end up with a smell when you open it up. If you consider that insignificant, you can put your foodstuff into the pot(s). This helps to conserve quite an amount of space and will prove useful when hiking or camping.
4. Pack everything where it should be
Now, while you’re filling up your backpack, there is the temptation to do it haphazardly. Especially if all you’ll be packing is clothes. Admittedly, this is a bit freeing. You wouldn’t have to worry about much. Just pack, set out on your trip and experience the world. However, this isn’t always the best.
How many times have you had to reach down into your backpack for several minutes or seconds, trying to find something that was out of place? One too many times, right? Well, a well-organized backpack would help you to avoid all of that. With your keys in the right place and your passport right where it should be, you don’t have to empty out your backpack before you can get what you need.
As such, when packing your backpack, put things where they should be. Your water bottle should be in the side pocket. Your laptop should be in the laptop compartment. And your clothes should go into the main part of the bag. To achieve a bit more organization, you can separate them by color, type, and whatever else you want. For example, you can fold all your underwear neatly in one corner and your casual tees in another.
In addition to that, your in-flight items should go into the zippered pockets at the frontal part of the backpack.
If, however, you really don’t have that many compartments in your bag, you can use packing cubes. They are great organization tools and can help bring some order into your backpack. In addition, they are particularly useful if your backpack is larger than the average.
5. Distribute weight evenly
Even though you’ve reduced your backpack to the barest essentials, the chances are that it is still relatively heavy. As such, for your poor back, you must distribute your weight properly in that backpack.
The first step, which is the simplest, is to put your laptop in its compartment. Apart from being a great organizational move, it keeps it lying flat against the bag and your back. That is the most convenient place for it. If you were to put it somewhere else, it’s possible that it would tip awkwardly in your backpack and distribute the weight in an uncomfortable manner.
After putting the backpack in its place, proceed to put the heaviest things first. Doing it this way will ensure that the backpack stays as close to your body as possible. This makes for even weight distribution and keeps you stable while you move around.
Afterward, pick the medium weight items and put them in next. Only when you’re done with that should you put in the lightweight luggage. The primary aim of this system of arrangement is to get everything as close to your body as possible. If there’s a heavy item at the front of the backpack, it will tip the weight too much in that direction. You’ll lose balance, and your body will overcompensate by leaning forward. When that happens, you start warping your posture. While it is possible to correct your posture, avoiding the whole thing would be entirely better.
6. Pack at the right time
This part seems like a no-brainer, but some people still make the mistake of doing otherwise. Now, if you’re going on a weekend trip, you might be tempted to procrastinate till Friday evening. Maybe even Saturday morning.
That’s fine, but it becomes a problem when your hiking buddy starts calling you earlier than you expected. S/he is supposed to be your ride, but they’re saying if you don’t show up quickly enough, they’ll have to leave you behind and go with the others who showed interest. At that time, you’ll get into a frenzy and start packing everything you see. Sadly, that type of rush will make you forget the essentials.
As such, you need to overcome procrastination and pack as soon as possible for any trip. You’re only allowed to leave things out if you’ll be needing them just before going on the trip. Your toothbrush is a great example of such pre-trip essentials. Otherwise, put them in the back so you can get it off your mind.
7. Protect your luggage from the rain
Rain is a natural phenomenon. While there are a few ways to tell when it’s about to happen, we don’t always have the opportunity to escape it. Now, imagine you are caught in the rain, and your backpack has no protection against the elements. Your clothes will get drenched, and that’s even the good part. If your laptop gets caught under the downpour for a while, you might as well say goodbye to it.
As such, you must protect your backpack in the rain. Some backpacks come with a rain cover. You simply pull it out from underneath, and it shields your gear. However, if your backpack doesn’t have one, you can buy it separately.
Why you should pack light
For relatively obvious reasons, packing light is a great idea. It provides you with a lot of comfort as you don’t have to carry an uncomfortable weight around. However, there are a few others that you might not have thought of. They are:
1. It saves you trouble at the airport
Now, you might not be traveling by air for your next trip. However, we wager that you will at some point in your life. If you follow our backpack tips and travel light, there are a few things you don’t have to worry about at the airport.
For starters, you wouldn’t have to pay the extra couple of bucks for heavy luggage. Even if you don’t choose to admit it, those extra notes aren’t very convenient to spend just because you decided to pick a few more things on your journey. When you pack light, you can be sure that you won’t have to pay more. So, technically, it saves you money.
Apart from that, you won’t have to waste a moment at the carousel. With your backpack on your person, you have nothing to pick up at the carousel. As such, you can just get up and go about your business as swiftly as you want to.
Also, you are less likely to lose your luggage. Because you have that one backpack on you, you can easily carry it around by yourself without having to keep it anywhere else. Technically speaking, it is always in your sight. As such, you’re not likely to lose it.
2. Your hands are free
If you’re in a strange city, it is only logical for you to check your smartphone for directions occasionally. However, this simple task of pushing a few buttons on your phone can become difficult. This is especially so when you have extra luggage you need to pull with you using your hands.
Packing light leaves your hands free to do what you want them to do. You can purchase bus tickets with ease, hold a snack or your phone, hail a cab, and get right in when it stops. It’s small but relieving.
3. You are a lot more mobile and comfortable
With your backpack light and resting cozily on your back, you are more mobile than if the reverse was the case. Can you imagine how tiring it must be to go on a vacation and have to expend so much energy dragging your suitcase across cobblestones? Also, there’s the chance that the road is not paved correctly. If you’re going hiking, for example, you can’t expect the wilderness to be tarred.
A backpack saves you from that perturbance. Instead of dragging it around, simply place it on your back. Afterward, you can leave the rest of the movement to your feet and navigate whatever terrain you need to.
Having gone through the entire article, you must now have a pretty good idea of how to pack a backpack for traveling. Now, you must remember tip number six. You wouldn’t want to wait until it’s too late. If you have a trip coming up soon, there’s no better time than the present to start prepping and packing.