best carry-on travel backpacks

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When I decided to go on my first adventure, I knew I needed to downsize. I didn’t want a ton of luggage slowing me down so I decided to travel with a backpack.

I regret nothing.

Travelling with just one backpack has helped in so many ways. While it means switching to a more minimalistic travel lifestyle, the pros are definitely worth it.

I should note that I’m specifically writing about carry-on backpacks, since they’re the most convenient to have.

Why? Well read on and I’ll tell ya.

how to travel with one backpack

Why Travel With One Backpack?

Travelling With Carryons Save Money on Airline Tickets

The charges that come with checking luggage can really add up. This is especially true for budget airlines.

By travelling with a backpack, you can save a lot of money and keep airline costs to a minimum.

Using a Backpack to Travel Saves Time at The Airport

If you’re not checking your luggage, then you’re not spending time in lines for pick-up and drop-off.

Let’s face it, sometimes these lines can take forever which can put a big delay in your plans.

When you’ve spent hours on a flight, it’s nice to have one less thing to deal with.

Lower Risk of Lost Luggage

Not having to do either of the above means you’re not at risk of the airline losing your luggage.

I’ve heard so many horror stories about lost luggage, but having a carryon backpack avoids this.

best carry-on travel backpacks

Travel Using a Backpack Means a Lighter Load

Downsizing to a backpack means you’ll be forced to reduce the items you take on your trip.

Fewer items on your trip means your overall load will be lighter. If you avoid the urge to bring a secondary pack you’ll have less to lug around during your travels.

A lot of people are basically mortified by this idea but I assure you, you will be fine.

Below are some of the things I do to survive travelling with one backpack.

How to Travel With One Backpack?

It’s not as scary as you think. If you do a bit of planning and practice a bit of organization it will all work out.

Organize with Mesh Bags

Organizing with mesh bags, packing cubes, or some other type of organizational system is super helpful. Mesh laundry bags, in particular, are my favourite.

Mesh fabric is more forgiving than packing cubes which helps me squeeze my items in when I need to.

I use the mesh bags to organize my clothes into a few categories. This includes one bag each for pants, shirts, sweaters, and socks.

Using mesh bags makes it easy to squeeze these items together, then I’ll squeeze them all in with my backpack’s compression straps.

These work best if you roll your clothes so your items are extra compressed.

Bring Just Enough Clothes for a Week

This is pretty key when it comes to the carry-on backpack lifestyle.

Don’t go overboard. Enough clothes for a week usually includes a few shirts, a couple pants, and underwear for each day. Ladies, a couple bras will suffice.

Depending on the weather of your destination, you’ll want to throw in a few other items on top of the basics. Try to pick items and colours that go well together all the time. I usually stick to black and neutrals.

Limit your toiletries to the necessities. You can probably buy everything else when you arrive at your destination so no worries!

Carefully Plan Your Footwear

Enough clothes for a week doesn’t mean a ton of footwear options. You’ll want to carefully pick your footwear depending on your itinerary.

A pair of flip-flops can easily be tucked into your backpack. The same goes for a light pair of flats or loafers that can be worn in more formal environments. Heels are so not required.

backpack luggage

If I require heavier footwear for hiking or cold weather, I tend to wear these on the plane.

Pick shoes that can go with a variety of outfits, and keep your footwear light. For example, a pair of lightweight runners will get you much further than heavier walking shoes.

Either way you’ll want to keep this all to a minimum. Try to stick to no more than two packed pairs of shoes.

Pack a Luggage Scale When Using a Backpack for Travel

To ensure you dodge those pesky baggage fees, pack a baggage scale with you. These are lightweight scales that you hang your bag on to check its weight.

I often pick up things as I travel, so I keep track of my backpack weight with the luggage scale to avoid any surprises.

They’re really small so they add nothing to your overall load.

Don’t Be Afraid to Lose Things

I don’t mean leave your bag in the middle of a train station. But don’t be afraid to toss things you don’t need as you travel.

I often gain things I need as I travel, but I toss just as much. If you notice that you’re not using something as much (that offers no sentimental value) chuck it.

This will save you both space and room in the long run.

How to Pick the Best Backpack for Travel?

I use an Osprey Farpoint 40 for travel but that doesn’t mean it would offer the same benefits for everyone.

Do your research and choose the best backpack for you. If the backpack that suits you best costs a bit more, it’s a good investment that will pay you back in the long run. This is especially true if you’re a frequent traveller.

The right backpack for you will depend on your preferences, as well as your size.

carryon luggage for travel

To Wrap It Up

Embracing the minimalist lifestyle and opting to travel with a backpack can be a great thing for travellers.

It’s freeing, saves money, and gives you less to worry about. Fewer things to worry about means more time embracing your destination.

Happy travels!


Did I convince you? Read my review on the travel backpack that I use.

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