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Saturday, March 30, 2024

Pack with Me: One Week In a Backpack

It's been a while since I did a pack with me post. Earlier this month, I flew to Las Vegas for the Travel Goods Show and I packed everything I needed in a backpack, because I'm a short, weak person, and I don't like to struggle to get my bag into the overhead on the plane. Now, I also brought a roller bag with me, because I knew that I would be bringing quite a bit of stuff back, but it literally only had a rain jacket in it. 

Earlier this month, I flew to Las Vegas and I packed everything I needed in a backpack. Here's how I did it if you need help packing smaller.

I posted this video on my IG and had people asking me how I do it, so I decided to do a whole post on it. I know a lot of people struggle with packing light, so I'm here to show you how I pack when I travel alone. This backpack fits under the seat and has a lot of organization. In fact, the bag I took (similar) is bigger than the one I am packing the same items in in this post. 

Here are some of my outfit of the day pics, because I like to see what I wore and what I didn't, but also I like to show you how to use your small wardrobe to mix and match options. As I said in my IG post, I packed more than I usually do on this trip, because I had a fancy dinner planned, but I also wasn't sure of the weather or what I might end up doing last minute, so I definitely didn't need a dress or one of my extra pairs of pants. I debated not bringing a rain jacket, but I'm glad I took it, because it rained 2 of the 5 days I was there and it barely took up any room. 

So, I brought 2 pair of pants and wore one. I am showing you all the tops I have (I substituted a 3/4 sleeve striped shirt for my Barbie/Harry Potter shirt here, because it goes with more and is something I normally take with me.

Here is everything with the jeans and then my miscellaneous items: a dress that looks like two pieces, a lightweight hoody, and an athletic jacket that looks good with everything. You should always bring along a few pieces that can layer, because sometimes the weather is colder than you expect. My jacket could go over all my tops and even my dress, but I could even layer a tee over the dress to give it a different look.

Here is my pajama set and then my plane outfit: jeans, 3/4 sleeve shirt, hoody, and not pictured is the athletic jacket that I left out in case the plane was chilly.

I only had two pairs of shoes with me and they went with everything. I wore the sneakers on the plane and the flats were easy to shove in any open space in my bag. Now, let's talk actual packing:

I'm a big user of packing cubes and I really love compression ones. There are a lot with breathable mesh sides, which are fine, but I don't think they do as great of a job as ones without the mesh. If you're just looking to be more organized, then any cube will work for you if it's the right size. I bought this set, because it came with a ton of pieces, but also a range of sizes. You never know what might work and these were cheap, but surprisingly well made, and had a fun design. Start with your packing cube completely expanded before your start packing it.

Then roll each item and do a layer of the bigger pieces on the bottom, the smaller ones on a second layer, remembering to use all the available space, and then I just folded my pajamas and laid them on top. You don't need to do that part if you don't want. These would have made my layers uneven, so I just wanted to keep it even. Also, nobody cares if my pajamas are wrinkly, especially since I was traveling alone.

Now, the exciting part: zipping it up and then zipping the compression part. You end up with a nice brick of clothing that's easier to manage and much easier to pack (passport for scale). 

I had a second, smaller, packing cube for my underwear, socks (including a pair of compression socks), and I put my makeup mirror on top before zipping it all up.

Here's what I ended up with for clothes and the smaller bag above them is for my charging cords. 

Here's a small sampling of my toiletries. This is my entire makeup palette though. Everything else in the bag is haircare, toothpaste/brush, contact solution, glasses, and shower needs. This Nomatic one that I picked up at the show is actually bigger than the Travelon one I took with me, so it takes up more space in a smaller bag. And now we move on to actually packing our backpack:

This backpack has a lot of fun pockets. I used them to organize all the things I usually take with me: a power bank and cord for use in the airport or on the plane, a pair of sunglasses, my Flint lint roller, and my mini flat iron.

Here I've placed the bigger packing cube in the bottom lengthwise, then the smaller on standing up, so then I've made a space for my shoes. My toiletry bag goes on top of the big cube, then I added my electronics bag on top and a spare tote in case I need more room to bring things back with me.

Last, but not least, I put snacks in the outer front pocket, my laptop in the laptop compartment in the back, and then I used the removable straps on the bag to cinch down my rain jacket (because I normally wouldn't bring a second, totally empty, carry on with me. My everyday essentials go in a small handbag. I like this Travelon convertible bag, because it can be worn 3 ways: a crossbody, a shoulder bag, or a belt bag. My reusable water bottle goes in the side pocket and I'm ready to go.

That's it. I was able to take everything I needed, plus some extra pieces, and kept all my belongings with me from home, to car, to airport, to plane, to destination. My bag (minus the water bottle, which I put in the seat pocket, because I had a smaller leg space in the aisle) fit under the seat in front of me and I was able to easily get off the plane once we arrived. 

on my way home

I'll be doing another post soon on just toiletries and a whole review of this backpack and the toiletry bag. So, if you want to learn how to pare down your cosmetics and other essentials, it's coming in the next couple of weeks. And if you're looking for a new bag, this might be the one for you. I've also packed small for two people in a similar sized roller bag and personal item. If you can't carry a backpack for whatever reason, go check out that post.

What challenges do you face when trying to pack lighter?

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