The Freedom of a Small Backpack

Recently, I’ve been flooded with queries about how I manage my travel, so I thought it would be fitting to share my travel philosophy and tips.

I am a firm believer in travelling without a suitcase. I restrict myself to a backpack that’s carry-on sized, or even smaller. After some trial and error, I’ve come to find that a 35L backpack hits the sweet spot. It allows me to travel for an unlimited period within a particular season, regardless of whether I’m on a train or a plane.

Photo by Josiah Weiss on Unsplash

You may be wondering, why such a small backpack? Isn’t it restrictive? To answer that: yes, it is, but in a beneficial way. It prompts you to focus on necessities, leaving behind the non-essentials that tend to weigh you down. When you confine your belongings to fit inside a 35L backpack, you’re forced to really consider what you need. This minimalist approach brings a new degree of simplicity and clarity to your travels.

Moreover, a small backpack isn’t just about physical minimalism. It also brings with it a sense of flexibility and freedom that a suitcase simply can’t provide. Imagine landing in a new city and being able to start your exploration right away, rather than having to rush to a taxi because of bulky luggage. A small backpack means you can explore at your own pace, use public transportation, or even walk to your accommodation. Stairs, cobblestone streets, sandy beaches, bustling markets – nothing holds you back when you travel light. Plus, you don’t have to worry about airport check-ins or lost luggage, saving you precious time, especially on shorter trips.

But, won’t this mean a lot of laundry? Not necessarily. I’ve found that doing laundry once a week or every other week is quite manageable. It can even be part of the adventure! You can interact with locals at laundromats, get recommendations, and feel more like a local rather than a tourist. If it becomes a hassle, your hotel can usually handle it for you, which still works out cheaper than paying for checked-in luggage.

In conclusion, travelling with a small backpack has not only made my trips more convenient, but also more enjoyable. It has taught me to value experiences over possessions, be adaptable, and find joy in simplicity. So, the next time you plan a trip, consider packing light. It might just revolutionize your travel experience.

How do you fit a week’s worth of clothes in a 35L backpack?

To achieve this, there are two key principles.

Firstly, don’t pack anything that’s not absolutely necessary or that you could easily find at your destination. For instance, towels are usually provided at hotels, and toothpaste is easily accessible. Ask yourself: Is this item essential and difficult to find at my destination? If the answer isn’t a resounding “yes”, leave it behind. My only exception is a hardcover book – I relish the feeling of reading a physical book while travelling.

Secondly, opt for clothes that don’t retain odours and can be worn for several days. Stay clear of synthetic t-shirts or pants. For instance, a merino-tencel blend t-shirt can be worn for at least two days, works in both summer and winter, and is environmentally friendly. The same goes for socks.

And a final tip: wear your bulkiest and heaviest items while travelling, rather than packing them in your bag.

Isn’t it heavy to carry around ?

Not at all. By keeping the size manageable, I can comfortably carry it around all day. Once at my accommodation, I unload most of it and venture out with a smaller bag or tote. And when it comes to stairs, aren’t suitcases just as burdensome?

And if you have a fancy dinner ? Or I want to go to X ?

Packing versatile clothes that are accepted universally isn’t difficult. I’ve never needed a suit while travelling for leisure. For business trips, I simply wear the suit on the plane.

I am going to a place where the weather is uncertain. I am expecting cold and hot days.

The key is to pack layers. Pack as if it’s late summer, then modify accordingly: