I like to travel with only the minimal essentials. Everything that I'm not using regularly, I simply don't want to take it with me. IMHO there is no need to pack your backpack for all the possible "What if" moments. Here are 23 other reasons why you should travel with just one carry-on backpack.
My preferred backpacks
Goruck Echo (Discontinued)
My 16L daily EDC backpack that I use for commuting to work when I only carry essentials. And still some space available for an extra jacket or some groceries.
This is my other daily EDC backpack that I use when going to the gym before or after work. It always contains the same EDC gear as the Echo, plus the extra gym gear that I need for the day. It has a volume of 26L. This daypack is also big enough for a weekend or midweek away.
The GR2 is great for longer trips. I used it to travel around Japan for 3 weeks, and Mexico for 2 weeks. And the best thing is, it is still a TSA carry-on compliant 40L backpack, so a great travel backpack.
For me, the pro's of the Goruck backpacks is first of all the aesthetics. It has a low profile, it is not obvious that you are a backpacker or tourist and thus carry value stuff. Plus it looks good when traveling for work. The bag opens flat, this makes (un)packing so much easier. It has a separate compartment for my laptop, which you can easily access, but still safe because it is hidden and closest to your back.
A big con is definitely the steep price. (Be patient and wait for a discount moment like 4th of July, Veterans Day or Black Friday). But I also think it will pay itself back because of the robust build of the bag. It feels like it will last a lifetime. Another thing is the outside front pocket. It is not very accessible when your bag is full with your belongings. Unfortunately it is not really a quick access pocket. For that purpose, I use the one small pocket inside the bag. And the front pocket to put away small flat items and I irregularly need.
3L or 4L field pocket that carries all sorts of small EDC and valuable tech items. Like all the Apple adapters, cables, and power plugs. I have multiple field pockets that I can use if I'm packing more or less depending on the trip.
Light and strong packing cubes to hold my clothing. I have the packing cubes in both sizes, small and medium. They are compressible, so they can almost hold double the amount of a normal non-compressible packing cube. And there is a separate compartment in the cube to hold dirty clothing. Besides the packing cubes, I also have to shoe pouch to hold an extra pair of shoes and flip-flops. This way I keep the inside of my backpack clean from any sand and odors.
A super straightforward jacket to block out wind and water when cycling through Amsterdam. It has enough big pockets to put a lot of stuff in. In combination with my Nano Puff the perfect travel winter jacket.
A warm lightweight jacket that can be worn underneath my wind and water jacket. Together they make an excellent winter jacket. And it is very packable so it doesn't take up a lot of space in my backpack.
Handy kit with all the adapters that you may need. They work for the laptop and iPad charger. I always take an iPad charger and cable with me for charging my iPhone. And only the adapters that I need to take for the specific trip.
Apple Keyboard & Mouse
Both are small and lightweight. Ideal for traveling.
A laptop stand that can raise you laptop to the ideal hight for you back and neck. Making remote working just as good as working from the office. It is super lightweight and packs super small, so it fits easily in that small spot somewhare in my Goruck.
Maybe the best gadget purchase I have done in the last couple of years. I don't miss untangling the cables. And I feel totally comfortable wearing them while biking through Amsterdam or rushing to an airport gate.
Stay hydrated. Drink water. Alcohol doesn't count. Reduce plastic waste. But make sure it's empty before you go through security at the airport. Fill it up after security for free and you will easily save €5,- every trip.
I actually have 2 wallets. One is in my pocket with the most important cards that I use daily. And a second one with less important cards and some emergency cash.
Other small items
Lip balm, tissues, pen (to fill out forms at the airport border control), eye mask, earplugs, nail clipper, painkillers, sleep aids, multivitamins, protein bars (for a healthy snack), and energy gum (to battle jetlag and hangovers).
My favorite apps when traveling
IMHO the best app to find my way around in a city, because it now also include public transport information.
Foursquare & Swarm
To find hidden local gems, and keep a logbook of all the places I've been.
Before I go on a trip I download the local language in the app. Live translations to English by the camera even worked for Japanese.
Get around a city quickly. Especially handy for traveling to and from an airport. When I'm tired or a bit stressful because of catching my flights. I don't want to deal with obnoxious cab drivers, and even negotiate about prices.
Reisapp Buitenlandse Zaken
The app from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs that provides information around travel advise, safety and contact details for each country. Always handy if you get in to an emergency situation.
For podcasts and my favorite music playlists (already downloaded at home!) to lift me up when feeling down or to get to sleep in the airplane.