How to Pack for a Week-Long Trip Using Only a Backpack

With the cost of flights being as steep as they are, spending extra money on baggage can often be an unnecessary strain on your wallet. Why waste that money when everything you need for a trip can be packed into a book bag, which counts as a personal item on a flight? And personal items are free of charge!

So how is it done? How can you pack everything you need for a week into a book bag?

1. Pack versatile clothes.

Ask yourself, can you wear anything twice? Can tomorrow’s clothes double as pajamas? Figure out if there are a washer and dryer available to use where you are staying. Paying a couple dollars on wash is so much cheaper than paying for baggage. Pack bottoms that can be worn multiple times and pack a few different tops that can be easily squished into the bottom of a book bag. Start with the basics, and if you have room at the end of your packing, you can throw in extra non-necessary clothes.

2. Limit your toiletries.

Pick out only exactly what you will need out of your makeup bag and toiletries and zip them up into a gallon sized bag. Consider purchasing any wet items such as shampoo and soap once you arrive at your destination. Typically, most hotels offer shampoo, conditioner, and soap in the room. If you’re traveling with a group, then simply purchase a regular sized shampoo or toothpaste container once you arrive. If your traveling with a spouse, pack toiletries for two so one of you will have some extra room in your bag.

3. Wear or hold large items.

If jeans are having trouble fitting into your pack, simply wear them on the plane. Same goes for sneakers, sweatshirts, and hats. If your book or electronics won't fit, carry them on. I promise you won’t get charged for having a book or tablet in your hands as you board the plane.

4. Utilize every nook and cranny of your bag.

Whether you’re using a book bag, a beach bag, or an oversized purse, make sure to use every zipper and compartment you can find. If everything doesn't fit the first time you pack it, simply start over and repack. It’d be a lie if I said packing a personal item with a weeks-worth of clothes wasn't a bit of a challenge, but it's doable. There are always things you don't need to pack. Worst case scenario, you can simply purchase what you need at your destination, and it will probably be way cheaper than baggage fair.

5. Use a sturdy, roomy backpack.

Choose a large 15-17-inch bag that is both sturdy and has ample space. Look for one with lots of pockets, zippers, and good quality material. With as much as you’ll be packing into your bag, you want to make sure it doesn’t rip or tear after just one flight. By choosing a sturdy bag, such a Swiss Gear backpack, you will be able to utilize it for years to come.

Using this method, you simply carry your bag on and off the plan. There’s no need to worry about checking your bags, weighing your suitcases, or searching for lost luggage. As you prepare to return, see if there is anything you can leave behind, such as used up toiletries, and this will allow you room for souvenirs. And don’t forget to throw in a couple of Fit Joy protein bars to keep you nourished and satisfied on your flight.

Happy travels! 


Courtney Livingston

Courtney Livingston is a Florida-born gal learning to live in East Asia. You can find travel tips and read about her daily adventures on her blog, CourtneyLivin.com. Make sure to check out her book, The Smart Girl's Guide to Surviving Her Twenties, for more tips on how to survive, and thrive, throughout your twenties.


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