Packing Strategy 5: Luggage Minimization

Updated June 22, 2020.

Welcome to our next installment of Packing Strategies! This time we’re addressing the fashion staple of the travel world… Luggage!¬†*Some of the photos below contain affiliate links via Amazon. This means if you purchase a product from one of these links, you will be helping me grow my business at no additional cost to you!

When packing for a trip of any length, to any destination, it’s very important to choose the right luggage. You want one that’s easy to pack, easy to access, easy to tote, and easy to heft into those overhead bins! Journey through time with me to the suitcases of yesteryear… Who remembers these beauties?

Found in my grandparents’ old house! They got these to go on their honeymoon in 1954!

Totally cool, right? These suitcases were the best of the best in their day. Today we think we have it all figured out, but just remember, so did your parents and grandparents! To be honest, the right luggage for you really depends on your preference. I like to travel light and keep my hands free, so I do not like to drag anything behind me. Other people prefer to roll their luggage instead of carry it. Here’s a look at the things we use to lug our stuff from town to town, state to state, coast to coast, country to country, and continent to continent. Which would you choose?

Packing Strategy 5: Luggage Minimization


This is my preferred packing pal. Backpacks are usually flexible, stuffable, and expandable, and more importantly, contractable! You can also wear one on the front and one on the back, like Steve and I usually do when what we need can’t fit into just one bag. You can move a lot faster this way than if you’re dragging a roll-aboard, and your hands are free to juggle your passport, boarding passes, coffee, ID, phone, and whatever else you need to have in your hands while traveling. Here are the criteria for choosing the right backpack luggage:

  • Straps that adjust the back pack to your height and body type
  • Straps that buckle around your chest and around your hips
  • A snug fit; stabilization is the key to preventing back injury or unnecessary strain

Want suggestions? Here are some links to the packs I use, or similar if my model is no longer available.

Small: Samsonite Backpack

The backpack I use is 15 years old, and I have not seen the same one in several years, but if I was to buy a new one, I would get this one. It’s a great size to use as a personal item for your flights or a day pack for hikes or a day at the beach. And remember: pockets, pockets, pockets! Click the photo below to get yours!

Meduim: Osprey Kyte 36

This is my medium size backpack. I love that it opens from the top and bottom, and the zippered pockets both on the outside of the top flap and on the inside of the top flap come in very handy for items I need to access easily and quickly. Click the photo below to get yours!

Large: Osprey Porter 46

This is my largest backpack, and while it’s larger than I usually need, it still fits the typical carry-on dimensions, and I was glad to have a larger bag for our trip to Switzerland and Liechtenstein in January! It comes in smaller sizes, and the best features, in my opinion, are the padded laptop compartment, ability to stow away the straps and use it as a duffle, and the many pockets and various compartments. Click the photo below to get yours!


This is the next best thing to a backpack because you can still wear it on your back, even without the straps around your waist and chest. You can put a duffle on your back, a backpack on your front, and you still have full use of your hands! It’s also nice to be able to distribute the weight on both the front and the back. No one likes to fall backward!

Added bonus: duffles and backpacks can squeeze into some small overhead bins on planes, trains, and automobiles. I’ve been permitted to keep my bags with me (always the goal) instead of surrendering them to many a flight crew! I’m not a fan of checking my bags, even plane side, because it slows me down, especially for tight connections! It’s easier to be flexible if your luggage is with you.


It is my own opinion that roll-aboards are the worst. I always kick them when I roll them behind me, they are not flexible because of the hard frame (and thus cannot fit into overhead bins on small planes), you have to be holding it with one hand at all times, and they are always heavier before you even pack them than any other luggage option. Some people need to be able to roll their bag instead of carry it, sure, but if you’re physically able to carry your luggage, I recommend doing that.

That said, if you want to check a bag or have to check it because of unallowable items (like liquids more than 3 ounces or that Swiss army knife you picked up as a souvenir in Zurich), this is definitely your best bet. Because they are more solid than a backpack or duffle bag, they will keep your luggage safe and secure. Have you seen the way luggage gets man-handled going to and from the plane? What if your bag gets stuck on the bottom of a stack of 10? The harder bag will keep your valuables from getting smushed.

So what are your luggage tips and tricks? What do you use to tote your stuff from one continent to the next? Find all my packing tips and strategies on my Packing Page, and stay tuned for more to come soon!

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