Don’t Become A Pack Horse While Traveling

What you need to pack when traveling is a topic that generates a lot of discussion and there are a number of extreme positions. Ever seen that couple at airport baggage check-in with seven or more suitcases? What’s in those suitcases? There’s also the person that comes to the international air terminal carrying only a small backpack??

Over the years we have taken month long international trips several times a year and have developed an approach to what to carry and how to pack that we think works really well.

The first approach involves picking the right wardrobe. Be careful and select only clothes that travel well. The new moisture wicking fabrics are a real miracle. They resist wrinkles and rinse out and dry quickly. Taking the time every few days to rinse out a few things and have them dry overnight is a small price to pay in traveling light. More information HERE.


Most importantly select luggage that is easy to handle and that you can carry yourself.

22″ carry on suitcases are our first choice. First they can be carried even though we usually do check them. With the two of us traveling together and each carrying the 22″ suitcase along with a backpack, we can carry everything we need and that includes a blazer and a nice dress. More importantly we can strap the backpack to the extended suitcase handle and we’re ready to walk for blocks, navigate train stations and port facilities.

Two Wheels Or Four?

Today the most popular suitcases are the newer four wheel versions. While it’s true they require less effort moving through the smooth floors of terminals they’re not good for rougher terrain and become awkward with a backpack attached. Those extra two wheel also tend to cost you a not insignificant amount of interior space. Every inch counts.

Packing Cubes Help Organize Your Suitcase

I’m not sure what we did before they showed up in the marketplace. If you’re concerned that these might take up room when packing, stop worrying. They’re lightweight and take up very little room. What they do though is greatly improve organization.

First, when we pack we split our clothes between the suitcases – especially if we’re going to be checking them. The cubes are also a great way to segregate hers and mine. No more me rummaging around in a suitcase looking for something of mine while messing up her stuff.

We also pack a cube as an overnighter. Just one change each for that night in transit in a hotel. Planning and packing ahead make that night or two so much easier.

Backpacks Are Popular For A Reason

We each have our own style in backpacks and we carry our own assortment of necessities so deciding on which to carry becomes an individual decision. Our backpacks are always our carry-on and are loaded with those items that we don’t trust out of our sight and that means those medications and TSA approved liquids.


I’m old school ex-military and I’m used to hauling a big field pack. I also travel with maybe too much gear. Cameras, laptop, tablet and charging accessories. I also carry a small first aid kit and a miniature tool kit. My choice is a “mil-spec” backpack with lots of molle pouches as add ons. They’re those a small extra cases that are designed to be attached to the outside of the backpack. There are three large compartments that when empty can be cinched down to flat.

As a carry-on I’ve never been challenged and even in South America when I realized I was 12 pounds over weight for a carry-on nobody seemed to care.


My wife has a few backpacks but she’s partial to those with a bottle carrying net pocket and two larger pockets. She’s down to traveling with just a tablet, a folder full of those travel documents and those TSA approved meds and stuff. Maybe a change of cloths and a light jacket.


We also always carry a lightweight compact backpack in a travel pouch. It’s great for days out and about and some shopping trips and it’s become a necessity. Look for one that’s in a pouch and is water proof.

Our Curated Collection

Carry-On Combo

A good choice in a 22″ 2 wheel carry-on. Soft side with two outside pockets and a nice matching carry-on.

Under $60 from Amazon with Prime

Economical Packing Cubes

  • A lightweight set of six packing cubes in three sizes. Large(15.75’’x11.61’’x3.54’’)x2
  • Meduim(12.99’’x9.65’’x3.54’’)x2
  • Small(10.24’’x7.87’’x3.54’’)x2.

About $25 on Amazon with Prime

My Mil-Spec Pack

A really good quality, heavy duty backpack that can be easily reconfigured. Includes a ton of extra straps and a molle attachment system.

Under $60 on Amazon with Prime

Travel Pouch & Pack

A handy carry along 20 L backpack that fits into its 5″x4″ pouch and weighs only about a third of a pound.

Around $10 on Amazon with Prime

Our Disclaimer: We need to let you know that many of these items are linked to Amazon, and should you click and purchase it could provide us with a small commission. It will have no impact on the price you’ll pay with Amazon and we would greatly appreciate it.

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