How to Pack a Backpack for a Week’s Vacation

Picture of camper van. Learn how to pack a backpack for a week's vacation

Trying to pack light? Follow these minimal packing tips to cut down on your luggage the next time you travel.


Hate lugging a ton of suitcases on a trip? Dread checking your bags? We feel you. The next time you travel to visit friends or family, use these minimal packing tips to fit everything you need for up to a week away in just one backpack.


Choose the Right Bag

Before you begin planning what to take on your trip, make sure you have the right backpack for the job. If you’re going away for a full week, consider the Big Student. Not only is it large, but it also has two roomy compartments—plus a built-in laptop sleeve and front pocket—to organize your things. The Right Pack is slightly smaller and has fewer compartments, which you may prefer if you’re traveling for less time or prefer using accessory pouches to organize your things. For just a weekend away, try the SuperBreak, which is smaller still, while being spacious enough to carry a couple of days’ worth of clothing. Or, if you’re more of a duffel bag fan, the Good Vibes Gear Hauler 45 comes with both a single carry strap and padded shoulder straps, so you can adjust depending on how much stuff you need to lug with you.


But size isn’t the only criteria to consider. It’s also important to pack a bag that’s durable since you’re depending on it to hold all of your essentials. And once you find a backpack that works, you may want to personalize it so that it’s easy to keep track of while going through airport security.


Bring Items That Do Double—or Triple—Duty

Only pack clothing and accessories that you’re planning to wear multiple times during your trip. You may want to stick to one color scheme so that you can mix and match; that way, you can rewear a top multiple times without repeating an outfit, and you’ll get more versatility out of your clothing. You could pair a T-shirt with jeans during the day, but swap your pants for a nice skirt in the evening to dress it up. Or use your T-shirt as an undershirt and add a button-down when going out for dinner.


As for accessories, bring items that are effective and adaptable. You can tie a silk scarf around your bag or your neck, drape it over your shoulders, or fold it into a strip to make a headband or a belt. A long strand necklace can be looped multiple times around your neck, have a knot tied in it to create a pendant effect, or wrapped around your wrist so that it looks like a stack of bracelets.


Perfect Your Ranger Roll

Once you’ve narrowed down your packing list to only the essentials, carefully roll each item of clothing. Rolling not only takes up less room than folding but also prevents wrinkles—and rolled items will fit more easily into your backpack than a folded stack would. Try using a technique called Ranger Rolling. First, lay the item of clothing down on a flat surface and smooth out any wrinkles. Next, create a two-inch cuff on one end. Then fold in the sleeves or anything else you need to so that you have a rectangle. Tightly roll the item, starting from the end opposite of the cuff. Once it’s rolled up, flip the cuff inside-out so that it acts like a sleeve, holding the roll in place.


Use Space Wisely

Wear your bulkiest items on the days you're traveling so that they don’t take up valuable room in your bag. Pack your heaviest items first; this will make your backpack more stable when you’re not carrying it. If you need to pack a pair of shoes, put smaller items such as socks and underwear inside them to reduce the amount of unused space in your bag. Opt for travel-sized toiletries instead of full-sized ones. And be sure to bring a stain remover pen—or even a travel-sized bottle of detergent—so you can rewear clothing even if you spill on it.


Do you have other tips for traveling with your backpack? Let us know! Share them online with #LifeUnzipped.


By: Jessen O’Brien