Okay, I’ve been pretty clear that the last six weeks have been nonstop travel. So much so that sometimes I’ve not even unpacked my bags before loading up a new one. I love to travel, but it has been a little much for me lately. Thankfully, I’m a light packer, otherwise it could really get out of hand. Regardless of where I’m headed, I tend to take about the same amount of things. Which means, my trip to Argentina, road trip across the South/Midwest and this trip to the West Coast all consisted of one carry-on sized bag for my clothes and belongings.
I know this sounds crazy, but it’s true. And you can do it, too. You learn to color coordinate, wear the same thing twice, and pack with intention. There’s other tricks I’ve used like rolling clothes or bringing laundry detergent to wash clothes in the sink, but I don’t even think it has to be that intense most of the time.
With more and more experience, I’ve found my go-to bags for such occasions and have gotten a lot of questions about them. So here’s my inventory of travel bags and suitcases that I use regularly.
Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack
This is my newest bag…the one I spent hours researching. Thankfully, it’s been a great bag to have. This was first purchased for our two-week trip to Argentina. This easily fit in buses, taxis, and overhead bins, so I was never worried that it would get lost somewhere. I would highly recommend it for anyone who will be traveling repeatedly in a short time. It suits my short size well and doesn’t allow me to overpack (which is a good thing when you’re walking around with this on your back all day). I use a packing cube, which helps keep my clothes contained and organized, but it isn’t a necessity since the bag has straps to go across it. This zips fully from top to bottom, so you have full use of the bag when packing. The sides are extremely flexible and lightweight, so it forms around what you pack without any extra bulkiness to it (the downside can be…you have to pack thoughtfully so you maintain a good balance within the bag). It has a great hip strap that gives a lot of support, but also has a cover that you can zip around the straps when you want to use it during transport (note: you have to have all straps out when you are carrying the bag on your back).
What’s the difference between this and a regular backpack? This would never be something you would want to take to school. This is not a book bag, it doesn’t have the proper structure or form for that. Likewise, a school backpack doesn’t have a structure that is incredibly conducive to great packing for travel. This is for clothes and toiletries and the essentials you need on a trip, while keeping it manageable to carry and small enough to fit on an airplane. For me, it has been the perfect travel backpack.
Dockers Carry-On Luggage
I’ve had this bag for awhile now. My mom may or may not originally claim it as hers, but I’ve been using it nonstop since college so it was soon mine for good. Now, why would I use this instead of a travel backpack? Convenience. Ease. Looks. There are plenty of good reasons to use a normal carry-on roller bag so don’t let some trendy travel site well you otherwise. This is the bag I pack when I don’t want to think as much about size constrictions and what goes in which pocket. I like that mine is a dark brown so it’s a bit easier to distinguish from all of the others out there, and the darker color keeps it from looking beat up too quickly like the lighter bags tend to do. It’s great for a trip to a hotel or one place where toting a roller bag around is easy. I wouldn’t recommend it for a trip that consists of multiple modes of travel or running through the streets to catch your next bus. But for a lot of trips, this works just fine, especially if you want to look a little more professional with your bag and have less wrinkles in your clothes. You don’t want to travel by backpack? Totally understandable. But in most cases I would still say you should be able to limit your items to a carry-on sized bag.
Osprey Porter 46 Travel Duffel Bag
Alright, in honesty this is not my first bag of choice, but it is my husband’s (as shown above). Let me be clear in saying this is a great bag! It is set up in a way that holds the sides a bit more structured so you get the same nice form that a roller bag might have but the lightweight and backpack advantage of a travel backpack. It zips open from top to bottom, so you can lay it on the ground and pack it like you would a regular suitcase. It’s still carry-on sized so it can fit anywhere and travel easily.
So what’s not to love? For me it was too boxy. I’m 5’2″ so I felt like a turtle with too big of a shell on my back. Because of that, it didn’t allow me to move easily (which is a problem when you plan to do a lot of walking) and the support straps did not help me out. For him, this bag has been awesome. He’s about 6′ tall and the straps work great. This bag was created for all forms of travel so this is his go-to bag in any situation since it provides the best of both worlds. If we’re going on a quick weekend trip together, this is the bag we’ll share (ha, that way he can do all of the heavy lifting!) since it packs easily and fits a lot in it.
That’s really ALL that you pack?
Yes and no. When we travel, we put everything in one carry-on, but we do each pack another bag inside. I use my Keen purse during the day as it has just enough room for everything from a water bottle to a light sweater, without lugging around a big backpack. This has great pockets for a variety of items to be tucked away safely. I use it in every day life, so it doesn’t feel too out of place for me to use during the day wherever I’m traveling to. While it has somewhat of a structure, I use all of those pockets for things like my travel documents, snacks, and music I want to easily access while on the plane/train/bus. I pack it on top so I can quickly remove it from my backpack while that is stored in the overhead bin.
He packs a Hikpro Daypack for anything he needs, from the camera to a rain jacket. The beauty of the Hikpro bag is that it really does fold up to sandwich size bag, so it’s easy to fit in the bigger bag until he needs it. Despite it’s portability, it has strong straps and a respectable size once it’s open…that way he doesn’t feel like he’s wearing a kid’s backpack or something when he does use it. By bringing these bags, we can leave our bigger bags at the hostel, hotel or couchsurfer’s house (and lock ’em up if we feel the need).
Ta-da! Once you have the right tools, it really can be simple to pack light. Admittedly, some of these bags were expensive, but when you think about the fact that we never pay a baggage fee (ever), it quickly pays for itself. Not to mention, the peace of mind of always knowing where your bag is and the lack of extra useless stuff to lug around on your journey.
Affiliate links were used above, which does provide me a small commission if you use them. All of these items were heavily researched and were purchased completely with our own money. In a few instances above I bought an item years ago, so the link goes to the version available.