Travel Packing List

Bring everything you need without checking a bag. 

A travel backpack can house your capsule wardrobe and all the electronics you need for a trip of one week, or more—if you use the right packing list.

No matter what type of trip you’re taking, you can also find a specialized packing list online—we'll link to our favorites below. The purpose of this list is to provide an all-purpose, carry on packing list that anyone can use. Adapt it based on your style, trip activities, and the weather.

Carry on Packing List





Context-Specific Packing Tips

Particularly cold, wet, or hot weather can totally change your packing list. Here's how to pack for:

When it comes to packing, most trips are the same. At least in the essentials. If you need help packing for a specific destination, we have packing lists for most places here. Here are some popular destinations to get you started:

Tips for Packing Light

Like many travelers, you may find yourself stumped on whether you need to pack clothes for every possibility or whether minimalist traveling is the best way to go. 

If you’re like most travelers, we find that the best route is somewhere between the two. 

When constructing your packing list, think about the essentials you need to pack. Don’t think about packing for every occasion, but rather the basics you can’t live without. Try to choose clothing items as if creating a capsule wardrobe, i.e. a wardrobe where all items work well together and can be easily mixed and matched. 

When packing shoes, look for light, easily packable shoes that will serve you well in most weather at your destination. Keep the capsule wardrobe concept in mind, and make sure you pack shoes that are comfortable enough to wear for most of the trip. 

Tips to Save Space and Stay Organized

As an experienced traveler, you likely know the pain of opening your luggage to discover all your packing work in disarray. New and experienced travelers alike can avoid the hassle of repacking by organizing inside the bag. 

We find packing cubes are the best option to segment your essentials. Toiletries, for example, can be stored in one cube, while electronics can be stored in another. 

For smaller essentials, like your phone, passport, and cards, you can avoid a headache while traveling if you have a pocket for every important item. The Tortuga Outbreaker, Setout, and Prelude backpacks are all designed on this premise—an accessible front compartment with a slot for everything, with your credit cards and phone protected by lockable zippers. 

Travel Backpack vs. Carry On Bag

As a seasoned traveler, you know the pain of fighting with a carry on. The moment when you realize your carry on doesn’t fit in the overhead compartment and you have to pay up to $50 to check it. Or the moment when you’re fighting to get your carry on across those beautiful cobblestone streets of Europe or up a narrow flight of stairs. 

The truth is, a carry on just isn’t practical. 

A smarter option is a travel backpack. Instead of dragging a carry on, you can simply pick up your bag and carry everything you need on your back. Then your feet can take you, well, whatever way the wind may blow. 

How to Choose the Right Travel Backpack

Not all travel backpacks are created equal. In fact, most people are carrying the wrong bag for their type of travel. If you’re not hiking miles through backcountry, a hiking pack is the wrong bag for the job. 

While hiking backpacks are ergonomic, most feature a garbage bag-style top-loading design. This becomes a headache the moment you need to find something at the bottom of the bag. On the other hand, a carry on suitcase is often unwieldy and difficult to navigate. 

When looking for a travel backpack, look for something that brings together the best features of both. This usually boils down to three features: 

The perfect travel backpack affords you as much storage space as a carry on with the same carry on accessibility. Instead of a typical top-loading backpack, look for a front-loading backpack that opens like a suitcase so you can easily find everything you packed. 

It should also offer the same ergonomic design as a hiking backpack, which distributes weight in your legs and hips instead of your shoulders. Look for a backpack with a padded hip belt as the primary load bearer, with secondary support from the shoulder straps. 

You should also keep an eye out for a bag that’s discreet. Unfortunately, tourists are popular targets for thieves, since you have to carry important documents on your person. Look for a travel backpack that fits everything you need while still blending in with other commuter backpacks. Muted colors and a low profile are critical. 

The Perfect Travel Backpack for Your Next Trip

Experienced travelers know that a packing checklist is just one part of the equation. Beyond packing lists or travel tips, you need the right bag for your trip. Finding one shouldn’t be a headache. 

At Tortuga, our travel backpacks are made to answer the needs and experiences of real travelers like you. Whether you’re a daily commuter, a student, or a veteran nomad, there’s a backpack out there that’s perfect for your wanderlust and your packing needs. 

Compare travel backpacks here and find the right bag for you.