Konmari packing for traveling with one backpack

September 03, 2018

Packing a Backpack

I love to travel but I hate waiting for luggage carousels and fumbling with multiple bags in airports and train stations. Applying the Konmari method of filtering down to things that spark joy to your travel packing list and you’ll find that you can travel with just one backpack for everything. Keep your hands free to hold onto subway straps while you’re getting where you’re going, and stay agile enough to run for that last train.

Check out what many other travel bloggers such as @jamesturnerux and have to say on the matter.

My Recommended backpack

I’ve done a ton of comparison research and these are my favorite backpacks for traveling, depending on the duration you need to travel for. All of these open up flat to make it easy to pack and keep your clothes organized while you’re on the road. The inside of each backpack is like a packing cube so you don’t need any separate internal bags. They also all have a dedicated laptop pouch on the back close to the body to keep the weight distributed properly and the laptop protected. Most importantly, all of these bags are small enough that they don’t need to be checked, even on international flights where the carryon limits are more strict.

I’ve traveled over the world and tried various methods of packing light. My favorite method I’ve found is to travel with one backpack- no separate laptop bag or carry-on, just everything packed into one backpack that you can wear around a city or airport with your hands free. While it is on the limited side in terms of capacity, the Cotopaxi Nazca 24L is the best bag I’ve found for this purpose.

The major types of travel I do are:

  • Business travel
  • Travel for family occassions like weddings
  • Recreational travel to other cities

My recommendations are based upon those types of trips- and not a more rugged backpacking trip.

There are several facets of the konmari method that I specifically find relevant for traveling.

  • Vertical Storage - if I’m living out of my backpack for a few weeks, it’s extremely helpful if I can open up my bag and see every single article of clothing I’ve packed.
  • Spark Joy - When packing for a trip, it’s easy to overpack and try to pack for every bizarre contingency. I’ve traveled a lot, and these contingencies definitely do come up, but I’ve also found that it’s impossible to plan for all of them, and you can find the supplies you need where you’re going. You might trick yourself into packing stuff thinking that if you need it, it will be cheaper bringing it from home than buying it on the road, but I feel that the actual cost of bringing stuff you don’t need is actually much higher.


Written by Will who lives and works in New York. You should follow him on Twitter.