This is a follow up article to my previous one, The Struggles of Finding the Perfect Travel Backpack.
After graduating from college I decided to do the stereotypical "see the world" thing. Luckily for me, I have a friend who lives in Madrid who was totally down to help me live out that dream. We planned to spend the majority of the week in Madrid, with a quick weekend trip to Amsterdam.
Unless you are some crazy fashionista or are a person who likes to majorly overpack, one single carry-on bag should suffice for one week of travel. If you've ever flown, you know that carry on bags come in all shapes and sizes. There are roller, mini suitcases, backpacks, duffle bags, and hybrids. Personally, I prefer backpacks because they distribute weight evenly and I like to have my hands free. For this trip, and future ones to come, I used the 35L Tortuga Outbreaker. The Outbreaker comes in two sizes, 35 and 45L. According to their website, the 35L is for those with shorter torsos or the minimalist packer. The 45L is bigger and is best suited for larger persons or those who pack more. I chose to purchase the 35L because I wanted a bag that would fit any airlines standards, I am a fairly light packer, and I typically do not purchase tons of items/souvenirs when I travel.
The day before my flight, I laid out everything that I wanted to pack and my backpack.
As you can see, it looks like a lot, and it is. In this picture I have;
Two nice blouses, two toiletry bags (one with shampoo and a smaller one for in-flight necessities), a towel, washcloth, camera, glasses, book, GoPro and stick, sunglasses, pajama shirt and bottom, a belt, two pairs of jeans, a maxi skirt, three tank tops, one t-shirt, one long sleeve shirt, an iPad, pen, notebook, headphones, jean jacket, Nike sneakers, and BANGS Shoes.
On my first try, I could (barely) fit everything in my bag with the exception of my camera. So, I decided to rethink my definition of necessity. I decided that I didn't need my bulky camera because I have a phone and a GoPro to take pictures with. Next to go was the maxi skirt, because let's be honest...was I really going to wear it anyway? I also got rid of my glasses (they are more for reading, night driving, and computer work), and a few non-essential items from my toiletry bag. I put the remaining items back in my bag, but I still wasn't satisfied.
Reevaluating what I had, I discovered that I had packed one shirt too many...so I removed it. Next, I reviewed what I was going to wear on the plane. I decided to swap out the long sleeve shirt and replace it with the lighter t-shirt that I was planning on wearing. I took my thicker jeans out and decided to wear those on the plane and completely nix my other pair, bringing my pant count down to two pairs instead of three.
These are the items I removed:
It's not much, but when you are pressed for space, every item must serve a purpose.
Finally, after spending an hour or so packing, unpacking and repacking my bag, I managed to fit everything in that I need with some room to spare. I'm confident that if I were to buy a shirt, jewelry, or even a small souvenir abroad, I would be able to fit it.
Packing light isn't for everyone, but I know that it is for me. Single bag travel is a cheaper and more efficient way to travel and it helps give perspective on what is actually important and needed.