Infographic: How to pack your backpack for international travel
“Ok Backpack” I said as I fastened the clips and tightened the straps on my 65 liter bag “I’ll see you on the other side. Be safe” With a final check and one last pull to tighten the straps, I kissed the tips of my fingers, rested them on the top of my bag and let out a deep breath before turning from the counter. As I headed for security, I chanced one last look over my shoulder, and felt my stomach drop as I watched my backpack disappear into the great unknown. Maybe it was the sleep deprivation, but I could swear my backpack was frowning at me as it slipped behind the heavy rubber tassles.
Shifting my weight uneasily from side to side, I watched the monitors intently, waiting for the baggage crew to arrive with their piles of luggage. I had never been in an airport that offered outside views of the baggage claim – this particular carousel had a live feed of the area behind it, so expectant travelers would know when their baggage was ready. Even with visual confirmation, I was uneasy and nervous, sure that my bag had been sent not to my final destination, but probably lost in the ocean somewhere along the way. As I tried and failed to connect to wifi, my frustration grew; Is it so much to ask for the sweet distraction of Instagram? Some Pokemon GO would really take the edge off right now… where the heck is my backpack?!
Of course, my fears were unfounded. My backpack arrived safe and sound just like all the other luggage, but as I lifted it off the carousel and hugged it close to my chest, all I could feel was relief. Strapping it to my back and walking out into the humid Indonesian air, I breathed in, smiled, and headed off to find a taxi.
. . . . .
Until my recent trip to Indonesia, I thought I had a normal relationship with my backpack. We’ve had some really great times together; climbed some mountains, crossed some rivers, the usual outdoor adventure stuff. It wasn’t until I boarded a plane that I realized how much that bag means to me and how I would feel if I lost it. After that nerve-wracking flight, I made a vow that I would keep my backpack with me on flights, to avoid the mental agony of worry I had just submitted myself to.
Airport travel isn’t always stressful, but it can be frustrating if you’re not prepared. The following is how I pack my backpack to make getting through security and onto the plane as easy as possible.
Important things to remember:
- Liquids need to be in clear bags and small containers. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has a great guide to liquids if you’re unsure of sizing.
- Packing electronics, (including cords, headphones and extra batteries) into one bag is really helpful for keeping everything together and easily accessible. I use a canvas drawstring bag for my tablet and keyboard, and keep my cords tidy with a smaller zippered bag.
- International flights are long and exhausting! Having things like a toothbrush, toothpaste, body wipes, deodorant, and a change of clothes handy on the plane can make all the difference in feeling semi-human when you’re on a 16-hour flight.
- Bring an empty water bottle you can fill up once you’re through security. Airplanes use recycled air throughout the flight, so it can be extremely dry on long flights; having your own water helps you stay hydrated even after the drink carts have stopped rolling.
- Pay attention to bag weight! I bought some beautiful souvenirs while on vacation, but the added weight put my bag over the airline weight limit and I ended up having to check it anyways. If you are intent on bringing your backpack as a carry-on, make sure you know the size and weight restrictions before you get to the airport.