“Manouk, is that all you have with you”? I get that question a lot. Compared to friends I’m a light packer. Especially when it comes to clothes and toiletries. My rule: select all clothes you plan to take with you and then remove about one fourth. You won’t miss the clothes, but you will miss extra weight and a bulky pack.

He who would travel happily must travel light – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Even though I’m quite sure Antoine, born in 1900 wasn’t referring to a backpack, it’s still a fitting quote. Besides packing light I have a few other tips for packing your backpack to share with you!

Top tips for packing your backpack

1. Pack according to your destination

Quite self-evident, but this means checking the weather (cold, hot, rain, dry) and the dress code. When I traveled to India I only packed long pants and shirts which covered my shoulders.

2. Roll!

Rolling your clothes (especially shirts) keep them wrinkle free and avoid taking up too much of your space.

3. Separate different types of clothes in washing bags

You could also use plastic bags to do this, but I prefer netted washing bags, because these are more ‘breathable’. I use washing bags to separate my underwear, socks and dirty laundry.

Packing my backpack.

4. Fill up the empty spaces in your backpack

If you want to keep your backpack as compressed as possible, try to fill all empty spaces in your backpack (e.g. shoes, cups etc.). A small backpack is truly handy in buses etc.

5. Place heavy stuff close to your back

When packing my bag I place heavy stuff in the large compartment close to my back (such as electronics) and lighter stuff in the upper and lower compartments. This is the best way to spread out the weight.

6. Keep some space for souvenirs

Even though I’m not a big souvenir buyer, I always keep some space for extra stuff. You never know whether you come across that perfect scarf or interesting book.

In case you wonder, I never used or tried packing cubes or compression bags. If you have you used them, what is your experience? Or do you have additional tips?

Recommended further reading
Packing list for 7 months of backpacking
The ultimate guide to backpacker jargon
6 Ethical travel dilemma’s I encountered as a traveler



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