As a small town girl from south central PA, I have always dreamed of traveling the world and the possibility of living somewhere else. The summer after I graduated high school I made that dream a reality when I went on a 12-day trip to Europe with some people from school through the program, Education First (EF). Ever since then, I've been hooked.
The travel bug has presented me with so many opportunities to travel to so many different places. Since I went on that fateful tour four years ago, I have traveled to Jacksonville, Dallas, Los Angeles (where I lived for 3 months one summer), Toronto, the Dominican Republic, and New Orleans on a week long road trip. In two weeks, I will be flying to Spain and then to Amsterdam for a week to visit a friend.
I never realized that I was a light packer until I went on a week long service trip to the Dominican Republic with my school. When we weighed our bags, we discovered that my duffle weighed a great deal less than any of the other females on the trip and that it could have been a carry-on...if not for the size of the duffle itself. Since then, I've tried my hardest to back as minimally as possible for any of my trips. Often, I try to condense my belongings into a singular backpack.
Why try to fit everything into a carry on?
Anyone who flies will tell you that traveling with just a carry on is the most convenient. First, you won't have to pay any outrageous baggage fees. Second, there is then no chance for the airline to loose your luggage. Third, you won't have to wait at the baggage claim for your stuff after your flight...it will already be in your hand.
I had never considered purchasing an actual travel backpack until it was brought up to me by a parent.
Why purchase a travel backpack when you could just use a school backpack?
Well, for starters, space. School backpacks just don't have enough space. They might be fine to use for quick weekend trips, but other than that, they won't be sufficient for anything longer than a day or two. Travel backpacks are larger, ranging from 35-45L. School backpacks are also a lot cheaper, meaning they are made from cheaper, less durable, material. School backpacks also usually do not have as much organization or lockable zippers.
Ok. So you've decided to get a travel backpack...what is next?
First you need to analyze your travel needs. Are you going to be hiking through the country or are you more of an urban traveler. Personally, I am more of an urban traveler so I am looking for a bag that is sleeker and less bulky and noticeable than the traditional hiking pack.
Hiking backpacks are top loading, which is nice because they are large and you can just trow everything in. On the downside, when you need to find something specific, you might end up taking everything out of the bag to get it. Front loading bags, the ones I am interested in, un-zipper on three sides and open like a suitcase. This makes them easier to pack and it easier to find your stuff.
After reading tons of articles and watching even more YouTube reviews, I am currently between two bags, The Tortuga Outbreaker and the Osprey Farpoint 40. Both of these bags are rated as two of the top travel backpacks and they are the two that align closely with my own travel needs. The Tortuga is the pricier and heavier option of the two and only comes in 35 and 45L, however, it is incredibly well built, has a secure laptop sleeve, is sleek, and is well organized. The Osprey is cheaper, is 40L, has compression straps and has storable backpack straps, but is not as sleek and has a laptop sleeve that is not as secure. Before I make my decision, I will be doing a lot more research.
How do you prefer to back for your travels? If you are into single bag travel, what pack do you use? Let me know in the comments below!