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Reader Question: A 33L Backpack for 5 Weeks- Am I Kidding Myself?

A while ago, a reader sent me an email asking about the plausibility of getting smaller luggage and having it work for her intended trip. It went like this:

I’m going to the UK this summer for 5 weeks and I am thinking about buying a 33L backpack. The last time I went to Europe, I took probably a 45L suitcase for two weeks in Spain and I had way more stuff than I needed. Am I going overboard in thinking I can do 33L?…

Here was my response:

No, you are not going overboard, and yes, it is absolutely possible!

For a 5 week trip in the summer, and without the need for special gear/equipment, a 33L backpack will be just fine. If you’re questioning yourself, think about your trip to Spain. What did you actually wear and use? I find even if I pack more clothes, I end up wearing the same few outfits most of the time with a couple extra occasional items that aren’t totally necessary.

If that thinking doesn’t help you pack minimal, opt for a couple extra tank tops and scarves to layer, mix and match, and make your outfits not feel “the same”.

Remember, you can always buy extra stuff on the road and cheap bags to tote said stuff around in.

And, to make this post even more complete, I followed up with the reader after her trip to see how it all went:

…Yep, the 33L bag was plenty and my trip was AMAZING…

Well how about that!

Are you struggling with the decision to buy smaller luggage? If you went smaller, what was your inspiration to do so?

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 planning adventures or just snuggling with my pet rabbit, Sherlock Bunz.

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Speakeasy Hidden Pocket Scarves


Splice Jaisalmer Reversible Tunic
Splice Reversible Jaisalmer Tunic


Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes
Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes


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Tom Bihn 3D Organizer Cube


Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack - Fits in the palm of your hand!
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack


Turkish Travel Towels


Travel Resources

HPL Learnables

Handbag Packing Masterclass – Learn to pack your lightest bag ever in this revolutionary packing class run by HPL founder, Brooke.

Creative Ways to Minimize Your Toiletry & Beauty Kit – Practical tips alongside DIY recipes designed to help you pack lighter, smaller & with fewer liquids. (Also included as a bonus to Handbag Packing Masterclass.)

Book Your Trip

Viator – Enhance your trip experience by booking from thousands of tours across the globe. – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

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. Gaby says

    I’m wondering what would be a good backpack for 3-5 day trips? Or would a tote or duffle be good? Or would you say that the same backpack you would use for 2 weeks of travel be okay? I’m planning on doing mostly short trips around the US. I’m from Los Angeles and maybe later in the year a 2 week trip.

    Oh, and what 33 L back did the reader use?

  2. Shi says

    I have daily back pain, so I knew I would have to take that into account during my upcoming backpacking trip to Europe for 6 weeks this summer. I bought the Pacsafe Venturesafe 25L backpack (which is suppose to be a day pack). It was scary seeing it in person for the first time, because I thought there was no way I could do it. Since then, however, I have used it for week long trips to New York City, San Francisco, and Louisiana without any problems. A packing cube and a minimalist approach are needed, but I can’t wait to see how it goes.

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