Choosing The Right Backpack For Travel

How To Pack Backpack For Travel? Packing Guide For Travel Backpackers

For Travel Backpackers, your backpack stands as an emblem of freedom, adventure, and mobility. It’s not just something for carrying your belongings; it’s legit your best friend on backpacking travels. Yet, the art of packing a backpack for travel isn’t merely about throwing items inside a backpack and zipping it up. It's about organization, efficiency, and ensuring that everything you need is accessible when you need it. So, whether you're a seasoned backpacker traveller or setting out on your first backpacking expedition, here's a comprehensive guide on how to pack your backpack for travelling.

Choose The Right Travel Backpack

Before you start packing, it's crucial to select the perfect backpack to meet your specific requirements. Travel backpacks seamlessly blend the convenience of traditional luggage with the mobility of backpacks, making them the ideal choice for navigating airports, train stations, and the bustling streets of foreign cities.

TIP: When it comes to backpack travel, Travel Backpackers aim for a volume ranging from 40 to 70 liters to accommodate all your essentials comfortably. Whether you opt for one large backpack or prefer the versatility of two smaller ones ultimately boils down to personal preference, primarily influenced by your comfort level and whether you intend to carry your bags on flights. Many travelers gravitate towards front-loading backpacks over top-loading ones for their convenience in accessing belongings.

For a more details on selecting the perfect backpack, we have an informative blog article that delves deeper into the topic. You can explore it further by clicking our journal entry here: What Size Backpack For Travel? What's The Best Backpack For Travel?

Make a Packing List

Organization is key to successful backpack packing. Begin by creating a packing list tailored to your destination, the duration of your trip, and the activities you have planned. Divide your list into categories such as clothing, toiletries, electronics, documents, and miscellaneous items. This will help ensure you don't forget anything essential.

We have an awesome Travel Backpacker Packing Checklist to assist you.

Also when it comes to travel documents. Definitely read over our journal entry: Travel Documents - Tips To Keeping Organized While Travelling.

Roll, Fold, and Compress

Maximize space and minimize wrinkles by rolling your clothes instead of folding them. This technique not only saves space but also allows for easier identification of items. For bulkier items like sweaters or jackets, consider compressing them packing cubes. This will further optimize space and keep your backpack organized.

Compression Packing Cubes are a traveler's best friend when it comes to organization. These lightweight, zippered containers help compartmentalize your belongings in an open backpack. Use them to separate different types of clothing or to group items based on their purpose. Not only do packing cubes keep your backpack tidy, but they also make it easier to locate specific items without unpacking everything.

The TOP REASONS to invest in compression packing cubes are because they

1. Optimize Backpack Space
2. Maintain Organization
3. Reduce Wrinkles
4. Mitigate Movement Of Items While Traveling
5. Add An Odor & Water Resistant Layer To Packed Clothes
6. Make For Easier Packing & Unpacking
After your backpack, compression packing cubes will be the most important item you invest in. Learn more about them in our journal entry: Compression Packing Cubes - Everything You Need To Know About Compression Packing Cubes. Are Compression Packing Cubes Worth It?

Prioritize Essentials

Place frequently used items or those you may need during transit in easily accessible compartments. This includes items like passports, wallets, smartphones, chargers, and travel documents. Use designated pockets or pouches within your backpack to keep these essentials within reach, saving you from rummaging through your bag at every checkpoint.

Consider a handy Travel Document Holder Pouch to help prioritize the paper essentials and a Cable Charger Organiser Pouch to help organize your electronics. 

Distribute Weight Evenly

Prevent strain on your back by distributing weight evenly throughout your backpack. Place heavier items closer to your back and towards the bottom of the bag to maintain balance and stability. This will also prevent your backpack from tipping over when you set it down or leaning uncomfortably against your back during long periods of wear.

Personally I travel with two backpacks to help distribute the weight. A 40L Backpack and a 20L Daypack. In the 40L Backpack, I use 4 compression packing cubes and I seperate my clothing into the cubes like this:

1. Tops (T-shirts, Tank Tops, Long Sleeve Shirts)
2. Bottoms (Shorts & Pants)
3. Outerwear (Sweatshirts & Rain Coat)
4. Misc. (Socks, Underwear, Bathing Suit, Neck Gaiter etc.)

Since the packing cubes for the Bottoms and Tops usually weigh the most, I will put those two on the bottom (if looking at the backpack on my back). Followed by the packing cubes for Outerwear and Misc on the top. Then I place my toiletry bag on top of that.

I also put my laptop in my main 40L backpack as well. Which means my 20L daypack will have any other random things. Usually sandals, a travel journal, a travel water bottle, travel sunglasses, and snacks are in this bag.

Don't forget to leave a little extra space. Your backpack(s) shouldn't be full to the gills before you even start your trip. Think about things you may want to buy at your destination such as a t-shirt or a large bottle of sunscreen. 

Secure Loose Items

Ensure that loose items such as toiletries or electronics are securely packed to prevent spills or damage. Use waterproof pouches or resealable bags to contain liquids and protect sensitive items from moisture. Additionally, consider investing in a cable combination lock for added security, especially when navigating crowded tourist areas or using public transportation.

Test Your Backpack

Once you've packed your backpack, take a moment to test its weight and comfort. Put it on and walk around to see how it feels on your back. Make any necessary adjustments to the straps or weight distribution until you find the optimal fit. Your backpack should feel comfortable enough to wear for extended periods without causing strain or discomfort.

Remember, the goal is not just to pack efficiently but to enhance your travel experience by ensuring that everything you need is readily available whenever and wherever you roam. So, pack smart, travel light, and embrace the journey ahead.

How To Wear A Travel Backpack?

Quick Tips On How To Wear A Travel Backpack

Choose the Right Backpack:

Ensure your backpack fits your body size and travel needs. Look for features like padded shoulder straps, a hip belt, and adjustable straps for a personalized fit.

Pack Smartly:

Distribute weight evenly in your backpack. Heavier items should be placed closer to your back and centered vertically. Keep frequently used items easily accessible (such as in smaller pockets).

Adjust Shoulder Straps:

Put on the travel backpack and adjust the shoulder straps so they rest comfortably on your shoulders without digging in. The straps should be snug but not too tight.

Secure the Hip Belt:

Buckle the hip belt around your waist and adjust it so it sits comfortably on your hips. The hip belt should transfer most of the weight from your shoulders to your hips.

Tighten the Load Lifters:

Many backpacks have load lifter straps near the top. Adjust these straps so they angle slightly upward, pulling the top of the backpack closer to your body. This helps distribute the weight and stabilize the pack.

Adjust Chest Strap:

Connect the chest strap across your chest and adjust it so it sits comfortably. This strap helps distribute weight and prevents the shoulder straps from slipping off your shoulders.

Check The Fit:

Once everything is adjusted, walk around and make sure the backpack feels stable and comfortable. If it feels off-balance or uncomfortable, readjust the straps as needed.


Everyone's body is different, so don't hesitate to experiment with different adjustments until you find what works best for you. Comfort is key when carrying a backpack for travel.




I’m Mark, the Founder of Generation Nomad, Avid Travel Backpacker & Digital Nomad. I am passionate about helping others discover the world through my experiences. I solo backpacked for months at a time, lived abroad, and even speak two foreign languages. Besides collaborating on the best lightweight travel accessories for Travel Backpackers, I also love sharing my travel photography.
Favorite Trips: Spain, Egypt & Vietnam 
Favorite Cuisines: Italian, Peruvian & Japanese
Quote: “Be a circle and just roll with it” 
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