Packing For a Year of Travel in a 35L Backpack

I love clothes. Love them. Think about them, stress about them, dream about them all the time. It’s an obsession.

So when I told my friends and family I was packing for my year of travel in one backpack only, they were agog. Even more so when I got a little 35 liter Tortuga Outbreaker backpack.

*Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which means that if you buy through the link I may earn a commission. All reviews and suggested items are what I use myself and love. 

Long term travel packing tips
The iPad mini in front is for scale: this is not a big bag.
Packing for a long trip
Yes, I got this to zip after I took this!

How did I do it?

How did lil clotheshorse me fit enough clothes for long-term travel into my lil bag? A couple of things helped:

  • Packing cubes (I live and die by these guys, and have for years) are the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s gift to all travelers. They keep you super organized, which my neurotic heart loves. Also if you roll your clothes and pop them in a cube, you can fit lots more in.
  • This video on how to pack light from the very fashionable Be My Travel Muse, who also travels carry-on only on her long trips.
  • Use loads of multi-purpose things, and buy all the packable coats Uniqlo sells.
  • Do laundry all the time, everywhere, every day.
Travel packing list for women
Everything I own, in one little bag.

Also the biggest way this works for me: I have almost no fucking clothes. Here’s the full current packing list:

As you can see from my pictures, I wear a variation of the same outfit every single day. #glamour (peep the Fendi!)

Why did I do it?

I am already terribly, terribly bored of my clothes *dramatic sigh*. Especially being in Paris during fashion week, where the whole city is a glamorous catwalk and I’m sitting in the Ritz in a second-hand Athleta sweater (at least it’s cashmere!). Yes, I packed a few of my insecurities too.

But this trip isn’t about what I’m wearing. It’s about having the freedom as a solo traveler to do whatever I want, whenever I want to.

Minimal stuff, maximal freedom

Traveling this light saves me baggage fees, backaches, and those awkward moments where you can’t stuff your bag in the overhead compartment on a plane and the flight attendant glares at you like you’re going to single-handedly bring the whole thing down mid-flight.

And having more stuff just weighs you down on the road. Every time I haul my tired, sweaty body with all my possessions strapped to it onto a small bus in rural Ireland or a packed train in Paris, I am so happy to have so little.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Mary ODonnell

    I am still amazed by your suitcase!

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