5 Must Have Accessories for Traveling With a Backpack

traveler-with-a-backpackI recently put together a quick guide for selecting the perfect travel backpack, and it dawned on me that picking out your bag is really just the first step of the process. The next step is trying to figure out what to put into that backpack. Traveling with non-traditional luggage does present some different challenges, like having nothing but wrinkled clothes, but they can be easily overcome with a few simple (and inexpensive) accessories–each one designed to make traveling a little easier.

Here are the top 5 items you won’t find me without if I’m carrying my backpack on a trip:

1. A Luggage Tag


Yup, a luggage tag. That’s number one on the list. Seriously, don’t forget it. Just because you’re carrying a backpack that is attached do you when in your possession doesn’t mean it can’t get lost while in trusted care of an airline. Put a luggage tag on it that contains multiple ways to get in touch with you. I prefer to offer up my phone number (don’t forget country code, +1 for the US) and email address. I see no reason why you should tell your potential bag finder where you actually live. Getting in contact with you should be enough. Besides, the airlines would never blindly ship a bag somewhere without talking to you first.

I like Tufftaags, but any will do.

2. A Garment Sleeve

OK, now we’re getting to the good stuff. Consider picking up a garment sleeve for your clothing items you would prefer don’t get super wrinkled. Travel backpacks often have many external straps to compress the content and make the bag smaller. This will likely wrinkle your clothes a bit more than your traditional rolling luggage. I’ve transitioned into bringing a garment sleeve with me whenever I travel, but it becomes even more important when carrying a backpack.

These wonderful little devices will allow you to fold a few shirts or pairs of pants (or dresses or the ladies!) around a rigid plastic folding board. This will keep them from getting crumpled in the bag and results in little to no wrinkling once you arrive to your final destination. If your shirts are iron free any creases from the fold will fall out quickly once you hang them up at your final destination.

Although these work great for shirts, pants, and dresses, I have had mixed results with suites.

I use the Eagle Creek Pack-It Garment Folder

3. A Bag for your Bag

If you’re planning on checking your backpack, consider getting a bag for it. Airlines will not allow you to just throw your backpack onto the conveyor belt that magically takes it to your plane. They are fearful that all of the straps on your bag will get caught up in their machines and wreak havoc on a finely tuned system. As a result, you have a few options. The airlines will be happy to give you a garbage bag or some shrink-wrap to encapsulate your backpack, or you can come prepared with your own travel cover.

Travel covers really do three things. They make the airlines happy and speed up the bag check process. They offer a bit of protection to your bag from wear and tear as baggage handlers are throwing it around. And finally, and perhaps most importantly, make sure you don’t look like you checked a bag of garbage when you collect your possessions from the carousel.

These are relatively inexpensive and there are a few options out on the market. These are the two I would recommend:

Osprey Airporter LZ Duffle

Sea to Summit Pack Converter

4. A Compression Sack

Maybe I’m just over organized, but I like to keep my dirties separate from my cleans. When I’m traveling with a backpack I do this with a lightweight compression sack. The sack itself takes up almost no room and can actually give you extra room for souvenirs as you near the end of your trip.

As my clothes get worn I will place them in my compression sack and synch it down. This then goes in the bottom of my backpack making it easier to pull out something fresh without digging through my dirty laundry. Double down on this one if you like to exercise while you travel. No one wants to smell your Friday morning run on your Saturday night shirt.

Sea to Summit makes great lightweight and waterproof compression sack:

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Compression Sack

5. A Smaller Bag for Day Trips

Detecting a theme? Why not throw one more bag into your bag? When you’re traveling with traditional luggage you might have a small daypack as your carry on. This becomes a bit harder when carrying a full backpack as your luggage.

Many travel backpacks come with a detachable daypack that is integrated into the bag. But if your bag doesn’t have one of those, consider a small backpack for while you are at your destination.

Check out the HIKPRO 20L Travel Backpack or the Outlander 30L if you are looking for a larger model.

If your adding a small packable bag like these to your travel arsenal, skip the name brands. You’re not going to get any extra quality out of them.

What’s in your pack?

Is there something that helps make traveling with a large backpack easier that I missed? Let us know in the comments what you always stuff into your pack before heading out on an adventure.

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