Mountain Top Goat

How to Travel the World with only a Backpack

by Mountain Top Goat

Traveling with just a backpack is a talent that must be mastered. Even the most experienced travelers struggle with the temptation to overpack, and most would confess to packing additional items into their luggage at the last minute.

Given my extensive travel experience, I can certainly state that you would be surprised at how much can be packed into a backpack. It’s both freeing and exhilarating to travel with just one piece of baggage.

The optimal volume of a backpack is determined by its dimensions. Most airlines allow 22″ x 14″ x 9″ (56x36x23cm) carry-on luggage. Cabin baggage is normally restricted to roughly 10 kilograms if you fly economy. Your backpack should not exceed these dimensions to avoid any issues at the airport. Read this guide here for more about cabin bag sizes and weight restrictions.

That being stated, let me explain to you how I travel the world with just a backpack.

essentials for travels with a backpack

Why Did I Decide to Travel with Only a Backpack?

The short answer is that I’ve discovered that traveling light has a lot of benefits for me.

It is simpler to travel with just a few belongings. No matter how far you’re traveling, lighter luggage will provide you with more mobility. And more mobility makes traveling more pleasant.

But since I’ve got more cool stuff to tell you, here are the top advantages of traveling with only a backpack:

  • No Delays at the Airport

Some airport systems can be utterly frustrating. People wait for their luggage for hours sometimes and may miss connecting flights or pre-booked taxis. You won’t ever have such a painful experience with a carry-on backpack. Instead, you’ll waltz through the airport exit and out to the new city.

  • No Losses

You have no worries about losing your stuff since it is with you throughout the flight or train ride. And you won’t have to deal with the stress and trouble of keeping track of your bags since you’ll only have one bag.

  • Pack and Unpack in Minutes

With a backpack, there isn’t much room for any confusion. You know the stuff can go in or not, so packing for a trip is stress-free. It makes my life so much easier.

  • Backpacks Compartments are Organized

There’s a pouch for everything, so you stay organized. You can neatly keep your passport, travel documents, clothes, laptop, water bottle, and chargers for electronic devices. 

Are There Downsides Of Traveling Light?

So far, I haven’t experienced any disadvantages of traveling with a backpack. Yeah, you may not be able to travel with as many toiletries as you want. But, you can find any item you need in regular convenience shops scattered around the big and small cities you plan to visit.

How To Travel With Only A Backpack

Let’s now discuss how you can pull off this seemingly incredible circus trick. It is easier than you think.

It would be best if you came up with a plan first. So I have done the hard part for you by testing a plan that works, and I am about to share it with you.

Start with a Checklist

Before you start to pack your backpack, make a checklist. Make a list of all the things you’ll need for the trip.

It is such a crucial step that makes the whole experience much more straightforward. For example, having a checklist for packing your backpack helps you ensure that everything that should be in the bag goes in. 

Decide What Goes into Where

Check out the different compartments in the bag. There is a purpose behind the addition of each compartment. Try to find out what it is. You will notice spaces for laptops, clothes, toiletries, quick access stuff, and other essentials.

Choosing Your Clothes

Here’s what works for me. I travel with only a few pieces of clothing in my backpack. But it never seems that way because I choose clothes I can mix and match perfectly. So, you’d never guess I have only a few clothes in my bag.

For starters, pick the clothes you like wearing the most. Also, consider choosing darker colors, like black, navy blue, or dark grey, since you can mix and match them more easily.

Furthermore, it is a great idea to consider layering. Layering means choosing clothes you can wear over each other. This allows you to leave those bulky winter shirts behind.

Regarding shoes, I wear heavy shoes and pack an extra pair of sneakers or a slip-on as an alternative. A bright idea that always helps me is taking shoes you can wear with all types of clothes. Trust me that will save you a lot of stress.

Packing Your Stuff

Layout everything you want to pack on the bed and go through your checklist. If there’s a “maybe I will need this” item on that list, you should leave that one at home. Now it is time to load up.

It would be best to roll your clothes to make more space in your bag. If you have packing cubes, pack your rolled clothes inside them for even more organization in your pack.

Place your laptop in its compartment and start putting clothes in.

Start with fluffy or soft clothing at the base to make a cushion. If you’re bringing shoes, put them in after the soft clothing. Then, in layers, comes the rest of the garments.

Keep liquid toiletries securely in a zip lock bag. However, I prefer to travel with solid toiletries, such as soap bars, deodorant sticks, etc. That way, I have no worries about spills.

Weigh Your Backpack

Weigh your bag to ensure you have not exceeded the airline’s limit, and afterward, you are good to go.

Backpacks Specifications I Recommend

I always travel with a 40L backpack. You can read my review of the best 40L backpack here.

Look for backpacks that unzip like a suitcase. Additionally, it is best to use a pack with a dark solid color outside and a light-colored interior. These features will help make it easier to access and find your belongings.

You’ll need a comfortable backpack with good padding and easy-to-use straps. Please read the reviews to know what other people think about your choice of a travel backpack before you purchase it.

Travel Tips While Backpacking

Here’s how you can survive on a trip with only a backpack.

  1. Make Careful Purchases

Don’t buy anything that will increase your pack’s weight. Instead, shop at retail stores and stock up on consumables. You discard such items when they finish.

  1. Use a Laundromat

You can search for a laundromat nearby or wash your clothes manually. For longer journeys, find out which of your lodgings offer laundry facilities ahead of time and plan on washing stuff halfway through the trip.

  1. Keep Valuables Hidden

Money, jewelry, and backup bank cards must go into difficult-to-reach pockets for safety. So only keep the regular spending card in your wallet. 

For additional security, get locks to fasten the zippers.

  1. Read the Airline’s Policy on Carry-on Luggage

It is best to know what the airline allows instead of making a wrong guess. You should have no problem at the airport if the weight of your backpack is acceptable. Also, avoid putting metal objects in your bag.


You will find it easier to travel with a backpack. I hardly lose stuff because I can do a quick check to ensure everything is in order before leaving a location for another place.

Finally, the goal is to pack only the items you need. Feel free to give it a try; traveling with only a backpack may work for you just like it does for me. For more encouragement, check out how I traveled for two months in New Zealand, living out of a backpack here. I hope you enjoy the experience.

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