How I Packed For Vegas In A Backpack


We’re headed off to Vegas for a long weekend to celebrate a friend’s birthday.  We love that we have the option to fly on Allegiant because it offers a super cheap direct flight.  Because of our geographic location, we usually have to stop in Denver or Salt Lake, so being able to fly directly to Las Vegas is a big deal for us!  But, Allegiant is a budget airline, which means there’s additional charges for nearly everything. In trying to keep the budget for this particular trip as low as possible, I absolutely refused to pay the additional charges to select our seats or pay for any type of luggage.  In case you’re curious as to what this translates into the breakdown on this flight of Allegiant’s is:

Pre-Selecting Seats – $16 per seat each way ($16x2x2) = $64.00

Carry-on bags – $30 each each = $60.00

That’s $124.00 we could easily put towards a great experience in Vegas and is nearly how much we paid for our airfare!  There’s no way we were going to nearly double the price of this trip “just because”.  This could only mean one thing – that we were packing for this trip in nothing more than a standard size backpack!  Although this is a short trip and we are both devoted carry-on only fliers, this was still going to require a little work.

Here’s how I did it

First, I took out all of the things I generally keep in my travel backpack – sticky note pad, excess pens, water bottle, etc.  Then, like always, I check the forecast, make a list of what days I will be gone and what types of things I anticipate needing to wear during those days.  This may sound silly, but this trick has really helped me in my efforts to pack light.  This allows me to pull outfits that directly correlate with my needs and nothing more, therefore… no over packing!  The forecast isn’t horribly warm (mid-50’s) and we won’t be spending a ton of time on the strip for this particular trip.  I anticipated needing the following items:

  • 1 warm outfit for hot air ballooning
  • 3 semi-casual outfits
  • 1 set of running clothes
  • 1 set of warm lounge clothes
  • Accessories, toiletries, shoes, etc.

I always lay out my clothes by type – tops, bottoms, etc. – so that I can see what I have.  This also helps me see possible outfit combinations (as I generally pack mix-and-match pieces) and double check everything.  Next, I start rolling.  Yes, I roll almost everything.  Once I have my items rolled, I pack them as tight as possible into a travel vacuum seal bag and roll out the air again.  The goal is to make everything as compact as possible.

Next, I tackled my “grab-and-go” bag.  Normally, I keep this bag fully stocked with the same items and take it with me wherever I go.  Aside from my liquids, it has everything I could possibly need during a trip.  This time, I decided to forego the bag and get everything down to the minimum, grabbing just a few basic items.  Although I generally don’t travel with much makeup, I did the same thing with my makeup bag – paring it down to minimal items.

As always, I selected just enough of each of my liquids to give me only the amount I need and know more.  I select these amounts by using various product sizes and noting how many uses I get out of each.  This allows me to take just enough for 3 full days using both toiletries from hotels or foil packet samples I’ve received.  Most things will be used entirely during the trip and will not be taken back home.  By doing this, this will actually allow me to make a little room in my bag in case I do a tiny bit of shopping.

The last thing for me to tackle is always the hardest when I travel – shoes!  I know I’m not alone in my struggles with finding decent shoes when traveling.  Considering the purpose and activities in this trip, I decided to bring three pairs.  I always bring sandals to “warmer” destinations.  I also decided this would be a perfect opportunity to break in the flats for a bigger upcoming trip in March.  Same with the other shoes – these are actually hybrid walking/hiking shoes and I want to see how they’ll fair for the March trip.

The last things I did was make space for my travel purse, camera and ipad and voila – I’m ready to head to Vegas with just my backpack!  It’s important to note that I will wear my bulkiest items on the plane which will include the hooded sweatshirt, pants, jacket, and hybrid shoes.  And, we will use the money we saved to do something fun!  Viva Las Vegas!

Are you a light packer?  If so, what are your favorite tips and tricks for keeping your bag as light as possible?  Share them in the comments below!

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