Smart packing ideas from a backpack lover

Smart packing ideas from a backpack lover

I get it. You’re tired of wasting money on extra luggage and ruining your vacation by having to carry around heavy suitcases. So you want to end the torment and learn how to travel light and smart. If you ask me, that’s a very subjective topic. There are many types of travellers, and for each type packing light can mean different things. For luxury travelers “light” can mean 2 medium sized suitcases and a large handbag, but for backpackers it means… well, just a small or medium backpack.

Personally, I am a big, big fan of the backpack. Especially when I go somewhere in the mountains or when I travel by plane. Yeah, I’m so skimpy that I never ever payed for a checked in baggage, sue me! Everything has to fit in the plane’s overhead compartment and sometimes making this happen requires some tricks that I perfected over the years.

Try to stick to the essentials

First things first. Make a list of things you would like to take with you. Then sit down, try to figure out what you can spare and cross them off the list. Leaving home has a weird effect on us, making us to think of an endless number of scenarios that might or might not happen while we’re on vacation. Don’t try to play the game of “what ifs” and “maybes” if it isn’t really necessary. Even if you try, you will never be prepared for everything. If it happens to rain, you can buy an umbrella along the way. If it doesn’t, then you spared a whole lot of room in your backpack by not taking one with you. Also, tone down the amount of jewellery, make up or accessories. If something takes too much space, be creative and try to find a practical replacement.

Fold and roll the clothes as much as you can

Clothes have the tendency to occupy all the space they have available. To solve the problem, you can roll them and put them next to each other in Ziploc bags. That will keep them in place so you can enjoy the extra space in your bag. Just be sure you don’t pack easily wrinkled clothes, if you don’t want to look like a walking crepe paper sheet on your holiday.

Don’t pack really thick clothes

We all know that packing clothes for your vacation in the cold season is no easy task. Put in your bag two thick, fluffy sweaters and you will probably won’t have room for anything else. Not even the Ziploc bags will help you too much with this one. Instead of doing this, take thinner clothes and wear them layered. Not only it will save a lot of space in your bag, but you’ll actually feel warmer wearing two or three layers of clothes. Pay extra attention to the base layer. I recommend an undershirt tight on the body, made of a nonhydrophilic material. Now you’ll be warm and dry like the summer Mediterranean climate. You’re welcome.

Take your favorite products with travel kits

Most hotels provide soap, shampoo and shower gel, but we usually want to use our favorite products. Many brands have travel-sized packages, but some don’t. In that case, just buy a travel kit with packages of various sized for different products. You can fill those packages with whatever you want and need. Enjoy the perks of having many different products with you without sacrificing a lot of space.

Go for multi-purpose items

When you’re short on space and you don’t know what to pack and what to leave home, choose what I call wild card items. Those are things that can have more than one use in situations that you’re likely to encounter. Let’s take two examples. First one: a sarong. You can use it as a dress, a scarf, a towel, a blanket and the list can go on. It can protect you from rain, wind, sand, sun, cold. Second example: wet wipes. Things can get dirty on the road, but that’s where wet wipes come up.. You can use them to remove make up, to clean a dirty-looking seat from a train or bus, to clean clothes, footwear, travel gear and you can even use them to clean your body when you need to freshen up but you don’t have access to a shower.


What do you think about these tips and tricks for packing light? Do you have any other advice that you think should be on this list? Comment below and help others improve their ways of travel!

Notify of

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

[…] booking a hotel room and I would take some food from home in my backpack. You know what they say, backpacks are traveler’s best friends. If you don’t already have one, you should check Backpackhack and you will find one no […]

Agness of e Tramping
6 years ago

Excellent and very practical tips! I can now pack like a pro, even when travelling in winter!

6 years ago

Yeah I am so with you on not packing thick clothes. For the ones I absolutely must have with me, I tie it around my waist before reaching the cold destination, and then the others are usually thermal wears that help layer my none bulky clothes. I do like 4-5 layers at a time, not a fan of the cold!

Tom @ Adventurous Travels

I always carry around a small backpack – even if I travel for a month. Last time when I went to SE Asia, I washed my clothes on the go. It’s easier this way for me – I just hate packing/repacking and carrying all the stuff. And I try to take the multi-purpose things with me. Great tips! :)

6 years ago

Great tips! Multi purpose items are a good idea. I often find that I stick to the old favourites instead of actually wearing everything I’ve packed. Getting better each time!

6 years ago

Nice packing tips. When it comes to hiking and backpacking your packing strategy is soo important!

My Travelogue by Bhushavali

Awesome tips indeed. I’ve been on quite a few long weekend trip with my 27l backpack! Its just the best!!! Wet wipes are indeed a blessing!

blair villanueva
blair villanueva
6 years ago

Thanks for sharing these tips! I need to master the art of packing because I always failed to this area. Thumbs up for your helpful post :D

6 years ago

I try to get around fluffy sweaters taking up space by wearing it on me during the way there! I totally agree on the multi-purpose item: I have this amazing scarf that has buttons on it so you can turn it into a circle scarf or a cardigan and like 10 different more styles that I’ve yet to master! It’s my favourite!

Veronica P.
6 years ago

I love all your tips!
I have this white poncho that is so multifunctional! I used it to cover my head and shoulders when needed, it was my scarf, my sweater, my blanket and my pillow.