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  • Writer's pictureJoLene

How to Pack Light | Backpacking Travel in 2019

Updated: Mar 8, 2019

Learn how to pack like a pro in under 25 lbs (12kg) for months of travel.

I'm smiling with my 65L Osprey pack on walking around in a mall in Bangkok (it weighed more than 25 lbs leaving Thailand haha).

Packing Light

Have you ever wondered how people travel with just a backpack or carry-on? Learning what you need to take traveling really changes the way you pack and teaches you what you really need.

I remember before I had started traveling I would see friends and family on backpacking trips or hear about people backpacking Europe and I was always intrigued to know the things that they would take. After taking a backpacking class for PE credit in college, I learned how to pack like a minimalist while maintaining enough belongings in my pack to stay comfortable.


  • Research the temperature for the time and places you will be traveling (packing for a summer trip to Thailand is very different than packing for a winter in Switzerland)

  • Consider the activities you plan for (if you plan to attend a fancy restaurant, or go hiking, spending days on the beach, etc).

  • Only take high quality clothing that matches and layers well.

Make sure to take a good medium-weight jacket that would keep you warm and dry in the rain to wear on the plane (doubles as a blanket) as well as a neck-pillow.

When I was in Japan, my friend's dad insisted on carrying my bag for me. He complained that it was heavy, and believed it was well over the 60lbs weight limit. He was incredibly shocked when he saw on the scale it only weighed 25lbs! (I thanked him for carrying my bag and told him he should start hitting the gym haha).

What I take in my airplane bag:

  • Neck pillow (highly recommend taking a comfortable one! It will help you sleep anywhere)

  • Laptop (Optional)

  • Camera

  • Book

  • Pen (to sign documents to go through customs)

  • Passport

  • Copy of passport

  • Wallet

  • Phone charger

  • Extra battery pack for phone

  • Deodorant (on longer flights)

  • Chapstick

  • 32oz waterbottle

  • I like to wear comfortable yoga pants with a t-shirt with hiking boots (because they're the biggest shoes I take) and my heaviest jacket I take

What I take in a checked bag/carry-on:

  • 5 comfortable t-shirts

  • 2 nice shirts

  • 1 sweater

  • 1 scarf

  • 1 swimsuit

  • 1 jean pants

  • 2 yoga pants

  • 1 hiking pants

  • 1 short pants

  • 1 wrap

  • 10-12 pairs of hiking socks (double lined are the best!)

  • 10-12 underwear

  • 1 flip flops

  • 1 nice sandals

  • 1 compact air pillow

  • 1 compact air mattress

  • 1 compact travel towel

  • Compact 15L backpack

  • Mini first aid kit

  • Toiletries: travel size shampoo, soap, lotion, toothbrush & paste, sunscreen

  • Travel size laundry soap packets

  • Small bag for laundry

  • Copy of my passport

How to pack

I love to use stuff sacks to compartmentalize my belongings into categories such as pants, toiletries, etc. Keeping things organized helps you save time while traveling. Make sure to have a few copies of your passport in different locations in case it gets lost. If you're not checking a bag, make sure that all liquids are in smaller quantities that are allowed at airports.

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