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  • Writer's pictureBrooke Radi

it's backpacking, not suitcasing

Traveling forced me to grudgingly embrace minimalism and pare down on the bags that I brought with me. Now, I'm not going to lie to you guys. Since I was certain I would have a consistent home base for the time I was gone, I opted for a suitcase, but even that was a challenge. That being said, I unpacked, shoved the suitcase under my bed and forgot about it until I was packing up to move home. For every trip, I didn't pack in anything larger than a backpack.

This may scare some of you, but I promise, it's not awful, especially if you're only going for a week at a time. If you're flying, liquids can get a little dicey, but I'd recommend you look at my previous blog about TSA liquid limits to live your best life, sans liquid moisturizer. There are several bags that I've incorporated into my mobile lifestyle that make both the daily or weekend carry a breeze.

First and foremost, a solid backpack will change your life. I'm not talking about the one that you've dragged around since middle school in all its beat-up, patched glory. Invest in a high-quality camping style backpack. Go to REI or another camping store and actually get fitted for a backpack that will suit your lifestyle. It will save your back. I love my big purple Deuter and can't imagine traveling without it anymore. Also know that your height will impact what kind of backpack you buy. As a relatively small, solo traveler, I felt like it was important to be able to see behind me. Some backpacks didn't allow me to do that because they were too tall. Work with a salesperson to make sure your needs are met and don't be afraid to take a practice hike around the store with weights in the back to make sure it really fits.

A crossbody bag in a dark, neutral color is essential for your day-to-day needs. With your big backpack safely locked away at your AirBnb, you need to make sure you have a bag big enough to hold your essentials for the daily carry. Do a trial run before you leave and make sure you can hold your wallet, ID, phone, passport, and other essentials such as sunglasses, medications or lipstick. If it doesn't all fit, don't bring the bag. Wait it out and buy one that is everything you need, even if you have to spend more money. I ended up buying a pretty sizable Fossil bag that had a reinforced strap and zippered pockets in the main compartment to deter pickpockets.

Quick tip: NEVER CARRY ANYTHING IN THE OUTSIDE POCKETS OF ANY BAG. EVER. If you do, you run the risk of losing something very valuable like your wallet, phone or passport. The same goes for carrying anything in your pockets. Phones in back pockets disappear quickly. Take the extra ten seconds to pull it out of your bag. You'll thank yourself later. This goes for our male travelers too. It's not weird in Europe for men to carry some sort of bag. Not only will you be able to travel in comfort with your sunglasses, wallet, sunscreen, etc., but you will also prevent unnecessary theft, which could be trip-destroying.

Never underestimate the power of anything equipped with RFID technology, as it can help you prevent your identity or credit card information from being stolen. Purchase a wallet and passport cover that boasts RFID protection to walk through crowds with the confidence that your information is protected and criminals with scanners aren't going to affect your awesome adventure. I know there are also awesome little credit card sleeves that you can get instead of springing for a whole new wallet. I have friends that swear by these.

You might not believe me, but packing cubes will change the way you pack. I took these for a test drive over Christmas, and I was shocked by how much more I could fit in my bags. They come in a variety of sizes and colors and are perfect for compartmentalizing your suitcase so you stay organized on even the craziest trips. Would definitely recommend using these in conjunction with vacuum-less space bags to save you significant room on the way over. Just be mindful about weight.

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