Many of us tend to overpack when traveling, and then regret carrying around so. much. stuff! Here at Dragon in Your Pocket, we frequently see our clients lugging huge cases, bags, and backpacks, and missing the sights for worry over big bags.
But help is here! Our seasoned travelers and guides have put together this handy series of 3 posts to show you how to pack sparingly but comprehensively for trips lasting from one night to a month.
In our first post, we’ll cover the essentials including a good, sturdy travel case or pack, and a day pack, plus a few more optional items that can make your travel much more pleasant, whether traveling alone or with a group tour.
Start with a good, sturdy, and unusually colored piece of luggage
- We like the 38-liter Gregory backpack, because it allows quick travel from place to place.
The backpack has pockets on the waist belt for easy-to-reach snacks or equipment, two fine-mesh large pockets on the base sides (large enough for bottles & umbrellas), two smaller pockets on the top (for toiletries and papers), a sleeve inside laptop, and a zipper opening mid-pack, perfect for finding something at the bottom of the bag without emptying it. A rainhood is included.
- Several rolling suitcases are equally good, including any from Nomatic’s line.
- Why colorful? If your luggage is unusually or brightly colored, it is easier to recognize in a hurry. We’ve seen too many people grabbing the ubiquitous black suitcase off the conveyor belt, then returning it in a hot hurry because it wasn’t their case. If you do use black, be sure to add a dash of something colorful or unique to easily identify it – think stickers, tags, and more.
Bring a carry-on bag that’s light but versatile
- For your carry on bag, we recommend Will’s Original Goods Silas backpacks.
Mine contains two zippered compartments (one interior, one exterior), a generously sized snap pocket outside, and four slots for two pens, cards, and a phone or other device, a laptop slot with a velcro closure, as well as a pillow. Though marketed to males, this female loves her Will bag—roomy enough to carry an entire weekend’s worth of goods, it works equally well as a carry on for books, documents, and more. The opening is angled, making it easier to quickly get your laptop and other devices out and on to the security line—a bonus when traveling light and quickly.
- If the Will’s bag seems too pricey, take a look at High Sierra’s Swerve, or backpacks from Herschel’s.
Include these essentials to bring along with your luggage
- Osprey’s Airporter: a handy self-storing bag that you can hang on your backpack, whip out and open easily to enclose your backpack to save all the straps, hangtags, and drooping pieces from the manhandling by the baggage handlers and conveyor belts at airports, ports, and stations.
- Umbrella/wet wear gear: Whether you choose a jacket or an umbrella, it’s always a good idea to have some sort of wet weather plan. We like a sturdy umbrella, like any of these excellent umbrellas, as well as this Marmot rain jacket. Be sure you get the level of waterproof that you need for the weather you’re expecting. Brief downpours can withstand water resistant, but for more consistent rain, you may want to pay extra for a serious waterproof/Goretex jacket. And note that it is also worth paying extra for a serious umbrella—the inexpensive ones available on European streets, though 10-20% of the price of a good umbrella, can often within a day or two.
- Water bottle: A reusable water bottle (either rigid or collapsible) is helpful on adventures. You can carry rigid or collapsible – here’s a review of loads of bottles to choose from, if you don’t already have one at home. Realize that in Europe (and other parts of the world), bottled water is much more expensive and difficult to come by. And tap water is great and safe all over Europe (although it’s a great idea to check your local destination beforehand). Make sure your bottle is empty for airport security, and you’ll be set. Pro tip: if you enjoy carrying hot beverages (tea or coffee), make sure your bottle can handle all temperatures safely.
Start planning your trip