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Backpacking Abroad? Here’s How to Pack for Your Trip!

woman backpacking
Written by Shannon Durso

This blog post was updated on May 5, 2020.

Believe it or not, packing your bags and heading to the airport isn’t always as easy as it may seem. Many travelers tend to overpack, and when they arrive at the airport to check their baggage, they wind up stuffing things into carry-on bags to avoid the overweight luggage fees (been there done that!). If you plan on catching cheap international flights and bringing only a carry-on bag to go backpacking abroad, you should know which essentials you’ll need and how to pack correctly. If you’re not backpacking but still interested in how to pack light by taking only one bag, this one’s for you too!

Seriously, Use a Backpack

traveler backpacking

The term ‘backpacking’ can mean different things to different travelers. Some may want to pack a duffel bag, others may pack a backpack with an additional small-sized bag, and some, well, they pack smart with a just a travel backpack. Remember, you’re “backpacking abroad” which means you’ll be carrying this bag around with you from place to place. Find the right backpack to fit everything you’ll need with lots of pockets to stay organized — you’ll be comfortable and ready to go!

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Make a List of What to Bring

packing list with a cup of coffee

First, make a mental list of what you think you’ll need. Then, write it all down and eliminate the items you think are unnecessary; like that pair of shoes you’ll never wear — leave those at home. Start packing the items on your list and continue to eliminate the things you can live without. Then repack. Think necessities: undergarments, socks, shoes (one or two pairs), shirts, pants, toiletries; we’ll leave the rest up to you.

Pack Light, Buy the Rest as You Go


Leave your big bottles of soap at home! Instead, think small. For example, pack one travel size bottle of a 2-in-1 hair and body wash, toothpaste, and purchase the rest as you go. Toiletries are likely to be cheaper abroad, and they take up the most space and weight, so consider this a win-win! If you’re traveling through a city, you can most likely purchase most of your toiletries there. Think light — who wants to be trekking with heavy toiletries anyways!

RELATED: Be prepared in case of an emergency! Here’s what to do when you get sick while traveling abroad

Take Only What You Need

packing a backpack

This may be pointing out the obvious, but when packing do you ever feel the need to bring your entire wardrobe, most of which you haven’t taken out of the closet in years? It’s an odd thing that most travelers feel the urge to do, and we get it. Use your list and pack accordingly for what you will need. To fit all your things into one bag, roll your clothes! Not only will rolling your clothing save you space, but it will also keep your clothes from getting wrinkled. If you’re traveling for a long period of time, you may want to consider washing your things to re-wear them and conserve space. For laundry, bring travel-sized detergent to wash your clothing in a machine or by hand in a sink.

Be Strategic to Avoid Back Pain

man with back pain

Don’t just gather your things and stuff them into your travel backpack. If you’ll be walking around with your bag strapped to your back for long periods of time, there’s a certain way to pack. For your heavy items like shoes, place them in the middle section of your bag against your back. This will take the weight off your shoulders avoiding any painful back strain.


And there you have it. Now, grab your cheap international flights and start packing for your next adventure!


About the author

Shannon Durso

If she’s not searching for the world's coolest destinations she has yet to explore, you can find her writing content at Fareportal or maybe even drooling over a foodies latest post. Shannon’s a Brooklyn native who enjoys good company, new adventures, and a great laugh!

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