Despite my immense and deep hatred of shopping (and shopping-related research), I actually did some! And luckily, it paid off: I finally decided on my travel pack.

Now, although I think the pack I actually chose is less significant than the process of shopping for it, I ended up going with the Deuter Futura Vario 50 + 10. I liked the fit in the store, I like the look (I know this seems shallow, and maybe it is, but it’s important to me to like carrying around the pack, since it will be going with me everywhere!) and I like the price!

So here’s a readers’ digest version of the process: I looked up a few packs online, went with a friend to a sporting goods store, went home and looked up a few more bags online, went to a travel store and tried on a few, empty, went back home, narrowed down the ones I thought I wanted, went back to the travel store and this time tried on a few packs after they were full of weight, did some final research on line, and decided on the Deuter.

Importantly, I learned a few things in the process and I’d like to share them with you.

  1. Think about how much space you might need before you get to the travel store. Then, when you get there, forget that and ask someone more knowledgeable for their opinion! I had some ideas of what size bag I might need based on the amount of stuff I planned to take, some online research and other travel blogs I had read. When I walked into the store though, I knew that whoever was helping me would be far more knowledgeable about travel than I was! And that open mindedness paid off: the pack I originally wanted would probably have been way too big, not only for my tiny frame, but also for carrying on planes. I’m really glad I listened to store associate!
  2. Consider the price, but don’t go with the cheapest option. Before I started shopping for packs, I thought I might spend between $50 and $100 dollars, because I had no experience with this type of product. Turns out, I was way off! When I started looking around, though, I realized shopping for a full-time travel pack was about the value and its usefulness and reliability over time. They can get pricey, but considering all of your belongings are going to be in this pack for who-knows-how-long, it’s worth it to spend a little bit of money.
  3. Travel packs are different than hiking packs – make sure you are getting the right one! Something else I didn’t know! Turns out, travel packs and hiking packs aren’t the same thing – the suspension is different, how they carry weight, and even how they load. Make sure you are getting the right thing for your journey.
  4. The fit across the shoulders and waist is the most important. Carrying your entire life around will probably get a little bit heavy! The point is to have a bag that fits what you need and doesn’t screw up your back. Make sure you get a pack that fits your shoulders almost like a glove and feels good around your waist.
  5. Look for things like sturdy and water-resistant material, multiple compartments, and the possibility of clipping things on. Before you buy, make sure you have an idea of the features that will be most important to you (and if you don’t, ask for help!). That said, consider universally-important features like an overall study pack that will be good in all kinds of weather and that can be well-organized with multiple pockets and hooks.
  6. Finally, try it on FULL. I was a little bit resistant to this idea at first (like an idiot), but now, I’m so glad I took the time at the store to see how the different bags felt full. The bag I thought I liked when it was empty ended up being an absolute disaster when it was full of weight! Many travel stores are happy to help you through this process, so take advantage of it!

I’m happy to be done with bag shopping and can’t wait for my Deuter Futura Vario to arrive. Below, check out some of my adventures in finding my fit! I hope this post helped all you travelers and future travelers, and if you have any more questions or just wanna chat with me about your favorite bag, comment below or drop me a line at anjali@thelitmolife.com.

To life!