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Does anyone else practice carrying their backpack ahead of their trip?

Since I carry on most of my stuff, and I'm not super active (desk job), about 2 or 3 months ahead of my trip, I start walking around with a weighted backpack and day bag, then hop on the treadmill for even more of a workout. If I was about 20 years younger I wouldn't feel the need to do this, but I want to make sure I'm ready.

Does anyone else do this or is it just me? 😊

Posted by
2490 posts

I admire your determination. All I've done so far is try it on a day or two before leaving to determine how much heavy stuff I need to reassign to my husband's backpack 😋

Posted by
531 posts

I just don't want to be in a lot of pain during my trip, so I'm trying to get used to it. Especially important if I have to wait in long lines and run to gates. Also need to practice climbing stairs because as we know, a lot of the hotels on the tours don't have elevators!

Posted by
8248 posts

I do have a backpack/suitcase, however I don't use it. We prefer swivel wheel 21" carry on bags.

I'm a big guy, but my back still starts to hurt after hauling too far around that backpack.

Posted by
1990 posts

I just bought a new backpack from Amazon for my next trip. I have not used a backpack in many years, maybe more than 20. I need to practice using it. Thanks for the reminder.

Posted by
1912 posts

No, but it's a fantastic idea if you feel like it will help you feel better on your trip 👍👍👍

I do make sure to go into a trip in good (for me) physical shape - makes it much better to feel fit, strong core, no bad back from odd beds and airplane seats etc.

Posted by
32273 posts

I've done that in the past, and it's certainly a good idea to get used to carrying the pack with a weight that will be similar to that during travel. I always started with shorter distances and then worked up from there. I go to the gym on a regular basis so wasn't overly concerned about pre-trip preparation, but wanted to get used to carrying the pack again.

I was always careful to buy backpacks with a waist belt, as that allows for torso length adjustment. A properly fitted backpack should place most of the weight on the hips rather than the back or shoulders. That's especially important when carrying heavier loads. This website explains how to measure torso length - .

Posted by
531 posts

The RS convertible backpack I bought does have a waist strap. On top of that I bought two straps from Amazon to create a makeshift sternum strap to take some of the weight off the bottom and my back. I think it was less than $10 for a pack of four straps?

Posted by
4604 posts

I like those sternum strap add ons even for small packs. I have a couple of old Eddie Bauer packable backpacks and after using one with a little more weight in it while birding in Costa Rica, adding a sternum strap helped.
But I don't think I will be returning to a backpack only long trip again. Too many upper body pain triggers.

Posted by
7473 posts

Hi Jill, I’ve used a backpack for some of my domestic trips where it’s more by car or just one flight, but this 30-day trip in Europe that just ended is the first time I used one for an international trip.

First, I looked for a backpack that I liked the style features and fit me properly. I also needed to see how much weight I could comfortably carry. I ended up with the Cotopaxi 35L, and dropped the total weight of the backpack packed down to less than 13 pounds through a lot of kitchen scale measuring decisions between items, etc. Ideally I was hoping for 11-12 pounds, but settled on my amount.

I practiced with my backpack filled by taking mile walks around my neighborhood and also going up & down the set of stairs in our house. I also practiced putting it on & off my back safely, so I wouldn’t torque my back during the trip.

It was very comfortable for me during the trip - so much that I just walked the two miles from the hotel in Split instead of a taxi to the marina to catch a ferry. And it certainly was SO much nicer going up & down all of the stairs during the month. For reference, I’m retired, in my mid-60’s and not slender.

I don’t do this. But, I applaud safe exercise in any form. Sounds like a good way to add exercise into your routine - even if for just a limited period of time.

Posted by
947 posts

I haven't done this, but I wish I had. If I had, I'd have realized that the straps cut into my underarms since I am petite!

Posted by
8660 posts

Speaking of backpacks….. As someone who usually has an aisle seat on the plane, I urge you to take it off for boarding and carry it in front of you. I can’t count the number of times someone walking down the aisle has turned for some reason and I have been bashed with his/her backpack.

Before you all tell me to sit by the window, I have a specific need for an aisle seat.

Posted by
18871 posts

Speaking of backpacks….. As someone who usually has an aisle seat on
the plane, I urge you to take it off for boarding and carry it in
front of you. I can’t count the number of times someone walking down
the aisle has turned for some reason and I have been bashed with
his/her backpack.

More wisdom from Carol now retired.

I will go one step further, take it off when you get in the airport. I get banged at least once in every airport I enter. Its the second most hazerdous thing in an airport or on a plane.

Posted by
531 posts

Mister E, I'm flying on KLM from Chicago to Prague for the Best of Eastern/Central Europe in 15 days tour. Layover in AMS.

Good reminder about taking off the backpack when entering the plane and boarding.

Side note: I don't know how often they actually weigh the carry-on bags, but I am limited to 26 lb total between backpack and day bag...which is actually better for my back anyway

Posted by
7033 posts

Jill, I took the same backpack Jean has (the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L) and before I left, I hiked on some trails around our house for a couple of miles, just to make sure it worked. I think it's a good idea to do that.

For various reasons, I decided after this trip that I would go back to my spinner, but I still think it's a good idea to practice walking up and down steps and for longer (1+ miles) distances, just to make sure everything works okay and that it's not too heavy.

ETA: I managed to get mine down to 20 lbs, which included a CPAP, although I still overpacked. Next time I'm shooting for 15 lbs, which will include the 5.4 lb weight of my TravelPro bag (the Allpa was 3.8 lbs).

Posted by
199 posts

I practiced traveling with my new RS backpack by taking a 4 day jaunt. This was before we went to Spain a few years ago. I took a train and a bus to my destination and then walked to a friend's house. I packed light and also had a sleeping bag for my practice trip. Obviously, that wasn't necessary when I took it to Spain.

Posted by
32273 posts


"The RS convertible backpack I bought does have a waist strap."

The waist strap only provides part of the solution. Load balancing shoulder straps are also needed. In any case, I hope it works well for you.

Posted by
92 posts

Jill, you’re not alone! In preparation for a trip, I packed up my backpack and did the “mountain hike” program on my treadmill, while watching YouTube videos of my favorite European destinations! Also a good way to break in shoes or boots.

Posted by
2403 posts

This is such a great tip. I over packed my carryon backpack. It’s about 16 lbs. When I’m not carrying it, it slides on top of my spinner bag (which I checked). Just carrying that backpack around the airport and between destinations convinced me that backpacks are not for me.