We prefer to carry our luggage like pack mules. Why?

Spain. Spain was our first international trip completely on our own. No one to drive us around in vans, no one to load up our luggage while we ate breakfast. Just us. And one of us does not possess the strength/patience/endurance to lug a suitcase up three flights of subway stairs. (Me)

backpack-2On our trip to Spain, we packed an old backpacking backpack of Jared’s, one regular backpack, and a rolling carry-on suitcase. We knew within the first hour of that vacation that 1) we would never again travel with a suitcase 2) we both needed new travel backpacks. We realized that it was important to us to be mobile, nimble, and have our hands free. We have used only backpacks for our trips to Italy, Japan, Cambodia, and currently Thailand. Japan and Cambodia were easy to manage because they were just weekend trips. Italy, however, was a two week adventure. I couldn’t have done it without my backpack. We were constantly boarding trains and walking down cobblestone alleys. Though I had to carry all my luggage on my back, I was significantly faster and less frustrated than the tourists who were struggling with overturned suitcases. I have a Deuter 60 liter bag, and it can get heavy. However, we are never walking miles without our packs, so I can always manage. (Ok, once we did a backpack hiking trip up a mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains. That was miles, and I was not happy about carrying my pack. I’m pretty sure the 30 degree temperatures and 6 inches of snow contributed to my grumpiness!)

Our backpacks encourage us to pack less, and, honestly, I never needed my multiple handbags. For our 11 day Thailand trip, I packed 5 bottoms (jeans, leggings, one skirt, and two pairs of shorts), 7 tops (a tank top, three tshirts, two three quarter length shirts, and one button up), two swimsuits, a set of beach shorts and a tank to double as pajamas, and two pairs of shoes. I plan to wear many of the items twice, and accept that I may need to do laundry if things get too dirty. It’s really impractical to bring 11 outfits when you are trying to get it all in one bag. Could I take less? Probably, but I slim down my packing list with each trip, so maybe for the next vacation!

Clothing packed
All of my clothes for an 11 day vacation, neatly organized into two packing bags.

As we carry only backpacks when we travel, we have learned the best way to pack our bags to keep them light and organized. We are complete converts to packing envelopes and packing bags. The envelopes come with a folding board that helps ensure all your clothes are folded to the same size, and helps reduce wrinkling. You stack your clothes in the envelopes, fold the pack close and velcro it. Now, all your clothes are in one easy to grab pack. We usually manage with one envelope for Jared and one for me. It makes a huge difference. Our clothes are protected and contained; we don’t have to worry about a shirt or pair of underwear falling out while we rummage through out packs in the airport. Jared has really started preferring packing bags; ours are incredibly lightweight and make it easy to compress items. We usually each have a packing bag for socks/underwear/bathing suits, and a shared bag for our electronics. Keeping our belongings organized makes the packing process much easier and we are less likely to leave things behind.

We have found our packing supplies at various places. Packing bags are becoming very popular and you can find them at REI, Target, a military PX/BX, and Emart (in Korea). Organized travel is the best way to travel!

*This is not a sponsored post. I was not paid or compensated in any way. All opinions are my own.



  1. Reply
    knitwgrace 23 November, 2013

    Wow! This is IMPRESSIVE packing!

    • Reply
      Bethany 25 November, 2013

      The smell from our clothes that we wore three times was pretty impressive too!

  2. Reply
    Kelly 8 December, 2013

    I have never seen these (packing envelopes) before and love this idea. Even to put in suitcases (multiple family members, one suitcase.) I’m buying some, like, now. PS Highly impressive packing.

    • Reply
      Bethany 9 December, 2013

      Thanks! I definitely recommend getting various colors. That way you can just pull the color that you are assigned. It will change your (travel) life!

  3. Reply
    Kelly 5 March, 2014

    Okay, just a little epilogue here. I got a packing cube and envelope for my husband (okay, me) for Christmas and these things are the bomb. Our suitcase felt so tidy and neat and I felt so organized (and I am a decidedly disorganized person). Thank you for changing my life!

    • Reply
      Bethany 6 March, 2014

      Yay for organization! I’m glad you like them :)

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