9 Tips for Choosing a Travel Backpack for Students & Studying Abroad

Spending a semester abroad? We’re super excited for you. Studying abroad can be the ultimate experience for any student. Everything is new and exciting. You get to learn a completely different way of life, explore interesting places and eat delicious food! It will change your life forever.

While you’re away on the greatest adventure of your academic life, be sure to take the right gear for all the opportunities that will invariably come your way. In this article, we have put together a list of things you must consider while buying a travel backpack for your life abroad.

Standard Luggage Carry-on Backpack for Students and Travel Abroad

Your travel backpack must (Unfortunately!) conform to airline regulations

As a student, you may always have to travel on a tight budget, especially when traveling overseas. Carrying a backpack conforming to airline regulations means no baggage fees no matter where you go.

Ideally, your travel backpack should be a carry-on to avoid checked baggage fees. Airline regulations regarding carry-on bag size may vary but the most common dimensions are 22 x 14 x 9 inches.

EasyJet, a popular budget airline in Europe charges up to 50 pounds per checked bag.

In addition, keep in mind that the weight of your backpack matters too! Most airlines have a carry-on bag weight restriction between 15 lbs. and 22lbs. If you carry more than that, you will either be asked to remove some items from your bag or check it in.

If you want to comply with airline restrictions and carry all the essentials you need at the same time, buy a bag that is less than 2 kgs. If your bag is heavier than that, you may have to leave any essentials behind.

Front-loading backpacks are awesome

If you think it doesn’t matter how your backpack opens, you’ve clearly not used one that opens from the front. Packing and unpacking can be a real headache with backpacks that load from the top.

In contrast, front-loading backpacks are super convenient and easy to use. You can simply lay them down and open them like a suitcase. They are easy to pack and unpack and allow you to place your things neatly in layers.

The best thing is that you don’t have to dig through the entire bag to reach items at the bottom. Yay, right?

Get a lockable backpack

Safety is paramount when you’re out globetrotting especially if you’re a student traveling on a limited budget. You will often find yourself using crowded public transportation where the risk of theft is high.

Select a backpack with lockable zippers for increased safety. While it doesn’t guarantee that your things will be secure, it dramatically decreases the chances of someone finding their way into your bag and lifting your valuables.

A pickpocket or thief will have to spend more time trying to open your backpack, therefore, increasing their risk of getting caught. This will make them think twice about stealing from you. They would rather leave you alone and not take the risk of being noticed.

External frame backpack or internal frame backpack

If you haven’t traveled much, you probably don’t know what the difference between an internal and external frame backpack is.

Internal frame backpacks are travel backpacks that have one spacious internal compartment and a couple of zippered external compartments. In contrast, external frame backpacks are backpacks with one standard-size internal compartment and several small external compartments.

Are you wondering if it makes a difference whether your backpack is an internal frame or external frame? Yes, it does! External frame backpacks are designed to carry more weight and allow for better organization of your things, whereas internal frame backpacks are more stable and easier on your back.

This decision depends entirely on what you want. Do you want to carry more things on your trip or protect your back?

Backpack material matters!

The ideal travel backpack for a student should be made of top-quality materials that are lightweight, water-resistant and rip-resistant.

The material must dry fast in case you’re caught in heavy rain, as nobody wants to lug around a doggy backpack. 

It should also come with a padded waist and chest strap (to keep the weight off your shoulders and lower back) a carry strap to convert the bag into a shoulder bag.

Many backpack companies also provide an additional rain cover to protect your bag in extremely wet weather.

A backpack with a safety whistle is useful

When you’re traveling alone, you may find yourself navigating empty streets or unsafe areas. If this were to happen to you, having a backpack with a safety whistle could be a lifesaver! Emergency whistles help you scare away potential attackers and signal others for help.

Built-in whistles are a great feature for travel and hiking backpacks. If you don’t have one attached to your backpack, be sure to carry one in case of an emergency.

Get a backpack with a laptop sleeve

Students often have to carry around their laptop for college work and other assignments. If you’re a student who uses a laptop regularly, you may want to take it with you even when you’re traveling.

For this reason, you should get a backpack that comes with a detachable laptop sleeve. A laptop sleeve is a pouch that safeguards your laptop from dust, dirt and small blows. A detachable laptop sleeve will also give you easy access to your laptop at airports.

If your backpack comes with such a sleeve, you also can eliminate the extra laptop bag from the list of things you have to carry.

Backpack with a water bottle pocket

Many travelers hesitate to drink water during their travels for fear of not finding a toilet when they really need one. Although this is a legitimate fear, dehydration can cause more problems than you can imagine.

Even small levels of dehydration can cause fatigue and headaches. Keep yourself hydrated no matter what. Therefore, you should get a travel backpack with an external water bottle pocket.

In many countries, bottled water is pricey. To avoid spending money on overpriced bottled water, take your own reusable water bottle and fill it at your hostel or Airbnb. You will be spending less and contributing to environment protection at the same time.

Remember to try it before you buy it

We understand that the anticipation of living abroad can make you forget many important things. But don’t forget to try your bag before you spend money buying it. There is no point in going for a backpack that is not comfortable.

An uncomfortable backpack can make your trip a nightmare. So, try on your bag in the store before buying. Fill the bag with as many things as you can and walk around the store with it for a few minutes to see how you feel.

If you’re shopping online, order well before your trip so that you can return it if it is not the right one for you.


Your travel backpack is an important companion on any journey. Be sure to find one that meets airline regulations, is comfortable, and has features that make your travels more enjoyable. Look for a backpack with safety features, a laptop sleeve, and a water bottle pocket. Try your bag on in the store, or order well in advance to ensure you get the right one.

If you’re a traveling student, you know how important it is to have your things within arm’s reach. The days of carrying around multiple bags and cases are over. Invest in a high-quality traveling student backpack to make your life easier, so you can focus more on the experiences and less on the travel.

Discover The Ultimate Travel Backpack

Freedom is skipping the lines and never paying checked bags fees