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Backpack Packing List

When you're taking a trip that involves frequent changes between planes, trains, automobiles and ferries, it's extremely useful if you can pack in just a backpack. And when I say backpack, I don't mean a giant backpack across Europe backpack. I'm talking about just a normal carryon size backpack that you can take with you in a plane cabin. Having traveled to Europe many times now in just a backpack, I decided to finally create a backpack packing list and give you some of my best tips for packing light.

Moving locations frequently and often traveling cobblestone streets becomes much easier when you only have to deal with a backpack rather than large, wheeled luggage. Someday we'll go somewhere to actually stay put more than a few days where it's easy to use a standard suitcase. Until that time, knowing how to pack in just a backpack is extremely useful.

A good backpack packing list keeps things minimal. After all, you're going to be carrying this around on your back, possibly for hours at a time depending on your travel style. My best light packing tips include using packing cubes, rolling your clothes, picking lightweight fabrics when possible and utilizing travel-sized containers.

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Making Travel Easier

Don't forget this other travel essential…being able to hang out in an airport lounge makes layovers a lot more enjoyable, especially when you have a heavy backpack to lug around. While light packing tips will make your backpack lighter than it may have been, you'll still have a lot of stuff to carry around. Taking a nice leisurely rest in the lounge and maybe even a shower, can make all the difference in making your travel more enjoyable.

Backpack Packing List
Backpack Only Trip to Italy 2019

I have the Delta Skymiles card that gives me access to the Delta and Centurian lounges. You can also the Priority pass to get into various lounges as an extra perk with a Chase travel card.

Using these links will get you 50,000 bonus miles, enough to book your next backpack-only adventure. Be sure to comment below whether you used this backpack packing list for your award trip!

Traveling with Appliances and Electronics

Make sure any appliances and electronics you bring on a trip are dual voltage. Otherwise, you'll need a converter. This use to be more of an issue, but most modern appliances are dual voltage or range from 110-240v for worldwide voltages. It's always good to check so you don't fry your electronics.

The simple difference between an adapter and a converter is voltage. An adapter will ensure your plug fits into the various outlets around the world while a converter's job is to change the voltage found in the outlet to fit your device.

Packing List Greece

The trip I finally decided to write this, we're off to Greece for our five-year wedding anniversary. We went to Greece on our honeymoon and it was the only time either of us had ever been there. We absolutely loved it and couldn't wait to get back.

For a packing list for Greece, you really don't need anything significantly different. About the only thing you might leave out from this list depending on where you're going is the swimwear and sunblock.

Other than that, a packing list Greece style is just about the same as any other destination.


Can Backpack Be Personal Item?

If you're wondering if a backpack can be a personal item while flying, the answer is that it varies by airline. Always check with the carrier you're using for your flight for restrictions on personal item size as well as carry-on size.

In general, low-cost airlines are the most strict with sizing. I've traveled with my Peak Design backpack everywhere as a carry-on personal item and never had an issue until flying with Frontier. Their personal item size is currently 14x18x8. While my backpack should have worked for this, they're very strict and if your pack is fat and won't fit in the size-wise box, you'll pay at least $99 at the gate. Ask me how I know this! 🙄

I immediately got on Amazon after that experience and got an inexpensive carry-on that is Frontier approved.

Favorite Travel Items

All of the travel items linked here have been tested personally by me over the last 30 years that I've been fortunate enough to travel for both work and fun. This particular list really covers spring/fall in the Mediterranean very well. April to May and September to October are amazing times to visit Europe. I've only gone to Europe once in the summer and it was far busier and more expensive than any other time.

Obviously, the climate you're traveling to makes a lot of difference. You may need to adjust this based on the weather in your destination.

Is there anything not on this list that you consider essential? Let me know in the comments below! This is not a theoretical list, this is actually exactly what I fit into my 45L Peak Design backpack for our April 2023 trip to Greece.

Backpack Packing List: Clothing

  • 2 Lightweight Sweaters
  • 3 Long Sleeve Shirts
  • 3 Short Sleeve Shirts
  • 1 Swimsuit
  • 1 Swim Coverup
  • 1 Long Sleeve SPF Shirt
  • 2 Dresses
  • 2 Stretchy Lightweight Pants Awesome Amazon find! These are lightweight and super comfy. I also use them for work trips since they're styled like a “real” pant despite being stretchy pull on style.
  • 5 Pair Socks
  • 7 Thong Underwear If you can get use to these (I know some people avoid thongs like the plague), they are extremely comfortable and extra lightweight for travel. I usually get the ones from Victoria's Secret, but I'm planning to try out these dupes from Amazon soon.
  • 1 Short Satin Robe
  • 1 Bralette
  • 2 Bras (one nude, one black)
  • 1 Pair Walking Sandals
  • 2 Pair Flat Sandals

Wear heavier items on the plane: dressy black jeans, white short sleeve top, lightweight athletic jacket, heavier jacket, nude bra and undies

Backpack Packing List: Toiletries

I switched over to all clean, toxin-free, beauty products quite a while back. While they don't always have the variety of travel sizes drug store brands have, you can easily put them into the bottles I have linked in the space savers section below.

Light Packing Tips: Chargers

  • Phone
  • Fitbit
  • Oura Ring
  • Laptop Pro tip, ditch the heavy macbook charger block. You can use the 45w super fast USB 3 phone charger above instead. I've tested it with my mac cord and it charges surprisingly fast!

Light Packing Tips: Miscellaneous Accessories

  • Curling Iron
  • Brush
  • Detangle Brush
  • Wide Tooth Comb
  • Eye Mask If you have extensions or wear falsies, the deep cup Manta mask is a must-have! I tried several deep cup masks from Amazon first and none of them worked. Not only does this one have cups that are deep enough to protect your lashes, it's also a real blackout mask.
  • Sunglasses
  • Extra Eyelashes and Bond I've never been one that has to wear makeup all the time. However, I've been using Lashify for almost three years now and have a lot of fun with them. They last for up to 10 days, perfect for vacation use! There is a bit of a learning curve, but I love them. You can check out my YouTube video here, I had them for almost a year before I got my free lesson and started wearing them more regularly.
  • Contacts
  • Traveltonin
  • Collapsible Water Bottle
  • Foldable Tote
  • Foldable Day Pack
  • Shower Cap
  • Tweezers
  • Cuticle Nippers This may seem crazy as a travel necessity, but I can't tell you how many trips I've taken without them and been sorry. Carrying luggage, moving from place to place and being active can really dry out your hands and create hangnails. If you're like me and can't leave a hangnail alone once you see it, these are there to save the day and prevent you from picking and bleeding.
  • Vitamins
  • Hair Clips
  • Cotton Swabs and Pads
  • Travel Pillow I find this style way more comfortable than the traditional style, reduced head bob!
  • Bluetooth Speaker I have a Jabra as well that I've owned for years, but I upgraded to this because it's much lighter, has great sound and conveniently clips onto your bag. Water and dust proof so great for the beach.
  • Travel Purse Nowadays when you're not carrying a camera or maps, a small purse to hold your phone is all you really need. I love a cross-body style for travel for extra security.
  • International Plug Adapters This is another upgrade I intend to make. I've had my adapters for years but this one includes USB ports for easy charging.
  • Ketones/Keto Kreme I take these everywhere all the time, but vacation is definitely a time you can use the extra energy…not negotiable for me!
  • Sun Hat/Visor
  • Hair Towel This isn't a necessity, but hotel hair dryers tend to be pretty weak. If you have long or thick hair, an Aquis towel can help get most of the moisture out while you get ready so you don't spend nearly as long drying your hair.

Backpack Packing List: Space Savers

  • TSA Approved Quart Toiletry Bags
  • Small Toiletry Bottles, I also have these Silicone rather than hard bottles are nice because they take up less space as you use your product. Pro-tip, don't fill them up all the way either (unless you need to) to save more space and product.
  • Small Cream Jars
  • 1 Ounce Spray Bottles
  • Travel Backpack I absolutely love my award-winning Peak Design 45L backpack. I bought it back in 2019 and have used it on multiple trips where it was my only piece of luggage and on countless other trips as my laptop carry-on bag. It has a lifetime warranty and you can get packing cubes specifically sized for this backpack.
  • Packing Cubes I've used many different types over the years, but now I have a set of three that are specifically sized for my backpack. If you're looking for generic ones to fit any luggage, I've had my Eagle Creek cubes for many years and still use them when I pack in regular luggage.
  • Travel Powerstrip With so many things to charge these days, a travel power strip is an absolute necessity. You'll only need one travel adapter to plug this into, then you can charge everything at once. I've owned the one I have for about 20 years, but I plan to upgrade to this version with USB ports before my next trip.