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[012] Feeling Like a Backpacker Fraud

Episode 012 Feeling Like a Backpacker Fraud

Can you wear a backpack on your travels if you’re not doing stereotypical backpacker things? We had a reader voice her concerns a while back, and it got me to thinking that others might be in the same boat of apprehension and worry.

I wanted to take this episode to have a quick chat about what’s really important when choosing your luggage when you travel.

In this episode, we talk about the following:

  • Why a backpack is a valid form of luggage for any type of trip
  • What you should be considering when choosing your luggage
  • A bit about the psychology behind this worry of being a “fraud”

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Written by Brooke

I run the show at Her Packing List and love packing ultralight. In fact, I once traveled for 3 entire weeks with just the contents of a well-packed 12L handbag. When I'm not obsessing over luggage weight, I'm producing episodes of The UnPacking List or just snuggling with my pet rabbit, Sherlock Bunz.

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Gear We Use


Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.

Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.

Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking! – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions


  1. Sofia says

    What I only dislike about backpacks is it kinda hurts my back.. so I tend to lessen what I pack, but then it’s quite hard what not to bring especially when you’re on a 3 week trip. Packing is always a challenge! 😀

  2. Tracy says

    Recently, my husband and I traveled to Boston for a long weekend with only a backpack. My husband wasn’t crazy about the idea at first. We’re both in our early thirties and we usually travel with suitcases. But he defiantly changed his mind after a bus ride from the Logan airport to Boston’s city center. The bus was jammed packed and it was over Labor Day weekend, so it was really hot and humid. It seemed like everyone had these large, massive suitcases. I watched as these individuals try to maneuver those suitcases on and off the bus while trying not to trample everyone in their path. At our stop, we’re able to quickly get off and start exploring the city right away without making a special trip to our hotel to drop off our bags. I’ll defiantly be packing a backpack for our next weekend trip to Washington D.C. in October. I’ve really enjoy being mobile with a lighter bag.

  3. Kristen K says

    I definitely think there is an issue (at least for me) of judegment from other travelers. For me that basically comes during the research phase on websites and such. As I’d you should only travel or pack in the way the group at this site likes. Happened to me on a Rick Steves sitr because to them I was an overpacker cause I didnt want to wear paper underwear and use the soap for my body as my shampoo and conditioner (I have difficult hair). Honestly I love the information in my future trips section of Thorn tree forum, but I hate everything about the atmosphere/attitudes there. Like there is only one way to do anything–pack, lack of care what you look like, bathing optional while travelling. That is awesome if you want to travel that way, but no thanks for me!

    There is an attitude out there that suitcase travelers are ruining the world and other cultures while backpackers are the ‘true/real/only right way to travel’ best.

    Obviously neither of those things are true or at least not all the time. The way I feel about the attitudes I encounter (and which ones press my personal buttons) clearly show I am a suitcase person in my core, but I think I about to buy my first backpack for our upcoming Thailand trip.

    To be honest my biggest roadblock in buying a backpack is not wanting to be identified with the backpacker attitudes that I dislike. When I recently realized that was SERIOUSLY my biggest roadblock to trying it out, my conclusion was similar to what you said in your podcast–who cares what other ppl think.

    People look for different things out of their travels. I dont think any of us should put the attitude out there that our way is best and certainly not that our way is the only right way. That was supposed to be my 2 cents on the question but I think it came out much longer than that….maybe not that much more valuable though 🙂

    • Brooke says

      Well I knew this was a good topic 😉 I totally get what you’re saying. I think it’s cool that you’re going to venture into backpacks. I’m a backpack person, but I also have a suitcase and a nice leather weekender, and I use them all in different scenarios. It’s about the utility. Thanks for your comments 🙂

  4. Ali says

    When I was still living in the US and working in insurance, I brought my backpack on a few business trips. My boss gave me a weird look and laughed, and I did feel a little weird wearing a suit and a backpack, but I didn’t really care. It’s how I was comfortable traveling, and none of the clients we were meeting with ever saw that I had a backpack instead of a rolling suitcase. Go with what works for you and don’t worry about other people’s potential judgement.

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