The Ultimate Guide to Your Travel Backpack

Talia Bootz

Published on
The Ultimate Guide to Your Travel Backpack

When you’re about to take off for a big trip and you’re only bringing a backpack (and okay, maybe oneee carry-on), it can be a little intimidating to know you have to fit your whole life, at least for the next while, into just one bag. Take a breather, friend. We’ve got you covered. Here’s a start to packing the perfect travel backpack:

The bag, itself.

Believe it or not, it all starts with the pack itself.

Nomatic, Osprey, Tortuga, REI — there are so many travel packs out there. Depending on where you’re going and how long you’ll be gone, there are many different variables in which will be right for you. Is it water resistant? Does it open at the top or is it front-facing? Locking zippers? Make sure you go into buying one knowing what questions to ask. Perhaps most importantly: try. it. on. Hip padding? Aside from all the cool tricks, is it actually comfortable?

Carrying backpack in Chicago airport

Photo by @travywild

Toothbrush and whatnot.

Toothbrush, paste, any hair care necessities, razor. Pack minimal liquids. They’re messy, they’ll weigh you down, and most importantly: airport security doesn’t mess around.

Waterproof bags (and laundry bags).

You’d be surprised how helpful these will be on the road. Throw your food in for the day to keep it dry along with any electronics or important paperwork.

Hiking with travel backpack

Photo by @joaoraimundomonteiro


This one’s pretty simple. Keep your things safe when you don’t want to carry everything around all day — and store it in a safe place, too.

Extra bank cards and cash.              

You’ll want to keep these in the safest place your pack can offer. Having extra cash and your bank cards on hand will not only provide a little feeling of ease, but could also end up keeping you safe in case something came up financially.

Don’t forget your chargers!

Ahh, a rookie mistake. Phone, laptop, cameras, tablets, e-readers, any adaptors you may need — forgetting to pack these is like forgetting to pack water. Speaking of which…

Water and snacks.

Ahh, a rookie mistake. Wait…

You should make sure to bring an empty reusable bottle so that you don’t have to throw it out through airport security.

 Portable snacks with low sodium and sugar levels such as fruit and nut bars, jerky, dried fruit, dried edamame, and other closer-to-nonperishable, portable foods are great travel snacks. Try to stay away from snacks with high sugar or salt levels, as they can make you crash and dehydrate you (extra reason to bring water). Pack in the protein where you can.

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Compress and compartmentalize.

So you want to bring your closet. Well, let’s rethink that for a second. Carrying around your closet is exactly that: carrying around your closet. Clothes are heavier than you’d expect. And when traveling, keeping it light is key. Pack only what you are sure to wear (we recommend about a week’s worth of clothing). There are a bunch of tricks our travelers rely on, but one of our favorites is rolling your clothes. Haven’t heard of it? YouTube is a beautiful thing.

The bottom line,

It’s complicated.

Sunscreen, mosquito repellent, umbrellas and rain gear — the variables all depend on where you’re going. Reliant on the season and types of activities you’re planning on, you’ll want to do research on what’s necessary to bring for the specific area of the world you’re heading to, too. Consider it your homework. Your grade is how well your pack ends up working for ya. No pressure, or anything.

Talia Bootz
Portland, United States
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