Travel / Travel Tips

A Weekend Away with One Backpack: Everything you Need and Nothing that You Don’t

One Backpack, One Weekend

Our weekend getaways have taken on a new level as we visited our first European city this weekend, Amsterdam. Travelling outside of the country however requires a bit more planning, and definitely much better packing. We’ve tried it before, but on our Amsterdam trip we finally perfected the one backpack per person weekend getaway packing, and here’s how…

Why Choose the Backpack Travel Life?

In our numerous short trips, we have tried it all, one big bag, small roller bags, many different small bags, but ultimately investing in one proper backpack has allowed us to travel with much more ease and simplified our trips greatly.

Here are a few more reasons why you should choose the backpack life:

  • If you choose the right one (see below what is the right one), it can fit in the airplane cabin hold – This means no baggage check-in and no waiting for your bags after the flight, you are that person just walking off the plane and on to your holiday.
  • Easy to jump on and off public transport in any city – No roller bags getting stuck in the gap at the tube and you missing your train.
  • No loud roller bag noises following you down the street, waking up half the neighbourhood, when you book into your Air BnB late on a Friday night – This also means less unwanted attention that being tourist inevitably attracts and could cause trouble on your trip.
  • You will never overpack – Because you literally don’t have the space (which also means way less washing when you get back home).
  • Having to book out of your accommodation by lunch time, and take your bags with you, is no problem – No needing to find somewhere to store your suitcase, and maybe even pay to do it, because it’s on your back!
One Backpack, One Weekend at the I Amsterdam sign
With the right backpack you can still get the perfect tourist pic!

How do you Pack your Backpack for a Weekend Away?

Weekends to new cities are not relaxing weekends and means a lot of exploring. We love nothing more than discovering new cities and places, and we hate being held back by our luggage, so we’ve optimised packing only the essentials for an adventure weekend away (naturally this only works for weekends where you are either planning on eating out or will be buying food to cook once at your destination).

Here’s some tips on what and how to pack your backpack (yes, this might be the perfect travel checklist):

  • Clothes: You really only need maximum the following: 2 pairs of pants (one that you wear travelling there on the Friday), 2 shirts (one that you wear travelling thereon the Friday), a pair of underwear for each day (girls one bra really is enough), 2 pairs of socks, 1 jacket (that you wear when travelling) and one extra jersey (which you can also wear or carry when travelling).
  • Shoes: Look at the weather before packing. If it’s going to be cold and rainy, takeleather boots to keep your toes warm and dry. If it’s going to be dry andyou’re going to do lots of walking, take comfy sneakers. If you’re going to a very warm beachy destination, take good quality leather sandals that tie around your whole foot. You really don’t need more than one pair of shoes, no one islooking at your shoes and comfort really is key for exploring.
  • Umbrella/SunHat: Once again check the weather before your trip and make sure you haveyour umbrella or sun hat packed depending on your destination. Get a sun hatthat can fold up and doesn’t mind being squashed. Get a proper umbrella with ahook handle. This helps with carrying and if it’s wet to hang somewhere. Alsogetting a proper one saves you money and the first breeze won’t destroy yourumbrella.
  • Toiletries: If you’re flying you need to have all your toiletries fit in that see through plastic zip bag with only 100ml of each item. Best to get in the habit of doingthis for every trip, whether you’re flying or not. See my eco-friendly travel tips post for your toiletry needs.
  • Accessories: Let’s face it girls, we want to look good, especially for that perfect Instagram moment, and accessories can make a photo. I like choosing 2 jewelleryitems that are easy to add to a little string bag, won’t bend in your bag, andcan go with any outfit.
  • Chargers & Adapters: Chargers are super important, and even more so the correct adapter for the country you are visiting. If you can, get one of those multiplugs where you can plug all your chargers into one socket, you never know how many will be available at your accommodation. We’ve been looking at this one from Amazon.
  • Kindle/Kobo vs Print Book: Reading is our go-to way to kill travel time, but I’ll always opt for my eReader over a print book when travelling. It’s lighter, youcan read in any light (if you can’t sleep on the plane you have your eReaderlight to still read by) and if you finish one book you have another one rightthere with you. Embrace technology.
  • Headphones: Another essential for travelling, especially train journeys and for when you want to catch up on your sleep before or after a trip. Wireless ones that are noisecancelling are a bonus if you have those.
  • Powerbank: Probably one of the most important items to pack. Discovering a new city meansusing Google Maps a lot and if you’re roaming or looking for WIFI that willdrain your battery. A good quality powerbank with at least 2 charging ports, and maybe even a torch, is a must. Amazon has a wide variety of really nice ones.
  • WaterBottle: Your backpack will most likely have a water bottle holder space. Ifyou don’t want to contribute to the single use plastic epidemic we are facing, and just want to save some money as well by not buying water, then a waterbottle will be a great addition to your backpack. Nothing ruins your holidaylike dehydration.
  • Reusable Coffee Cup: This is something the eco warrior in me is very passionate about and just because you’re on holiday doesn’t mean you can forget abouthelping keep the planet clean. Also, travel mugs are great for drinking while exploring and you can get a discount on your warm drinks at most coffee shops.
  • Reusable Straws: This one really is just because you care about the environment and you want to do the right thing. In the end, 2 metal straws take up so little space in your backpack (you can literally slot it into the pen holders) that it’s a no brainer.
  • Medicine: You’re travelling to a strange city (maybe where they even speak a language you don’t understand), eating strange food and getting little sleep. It’s very likely that your immune system could take a knock. Pack a small bag with the essentials: Headache tablets, nausea tablets, flu medicine (especially the one you can drink as a hot drink), plasters, multi-purpose ointment for cuts and stings and cotton wool.
  • A Smaller Backpack for those Non-Backpack Days:  For those days you can leave you backpack at your accommodation you still need something to put all your daily exploring essentials in. A small leather backpack that can roll up into a ball is a great choice.
One Backpage, One Weekend in Amsterdam
We were able to explore all day long

What Backpack to Take

Ok so let’s be clear, when I say backpack I don’t mean your little fashion backpack from Primark, that’s way too small and not comfy at allover long hauls. I’m also not referring to your “let’s go climb that mountain”backpackers backpack, it’ll never fit as airplane hand luggage.

It’s worth investing in a good backpack when choosing to travel the backpack way. You want your backpack to last you more than one trip, but you also want it to be comfy and support your back, even after a whole day of walking.

Here are two options to go for:

North Face Backpack

North Face has a wide range of backpacks to choose from in a wide variety of sizes and even colours. It’s best to go online and see what catches your eye. The ones we have is the Borealis Men’s Outdoor Backpack. Don’t let the name put you off, there are so many cool colours this one is definitely not only for the guys.

What’s great about these bags is that it has a number of pockets for all those small things, including easy access to your passport and wallet, and has a hard back that curves with the natural shape of your back. It also has cup holders on both sized. You can really pack it to the brim and because of the special technology in the bag, it distributes the weight evenly across your shoulders, so you never get that pinching feeling.

Airplane Cabin Size Certified Backpack

When travelling the backpack way, you want to be able to fit as much in as possible and with airlines becoming more and more strict with the hand luggage bag allowance, now’s the perfect time to invest in a certified cabin size backpack. We bought the Uppsala Expandable Cabin Backpack from Cabin Max. It’s certified by Ryan Air, Easy Jet, Jet2, British Airways, Lufthansa and more.

These backpacks are about just as big as a small roller bag and can expand even further. The nice thing about these bags are that you can open them up completely and pack the way you would in a roller bag. This means no squashed clothes and no needing to unpack everything at your destination because you can live out of this backpack. It’s just as comfy as a North Face backpack with the only drawback being there are no cupholders as it needs to keep the box like shape.

If you are two people travelling together then I’d recommend one of you take a North Face, or similar, backpack so you have all your pockets with essential travel documents, and the other take one of the cabin size backpacks. This way you have the best of both worlds. It’s been what’s worked best for us.

One Backpack, One Weekend in Amsterdam
Exploring all weekend long in comfort with our backpacks

In the end backpack travelling doesn’t need to mean compromise, simply investing in a good backpack and learning to pack smart .Once you’ve let go of all those unnecessary extras like hairdryers and too many outfits, that literally just way you down, you’ll realise the freedom the backpack gives you as a traveller. The freedom to discover and adventure without being weighed down by your luggage.

Hi, I'm Andri. A 20-something creative, content creator, writer, reader, traveler, healthy living enthusiast and eco warrior! My day job is in digital publishing, but just like The Loud Library, I am full of contradictions. I love my bunny rabbit Olive, cows and sharing my journey to rediscover my spark.

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