Use a large durable backpack
I have had a large Swiss backpack since I started high school and it is the best backpack I have owned. It has held up really well and fits so much inside it. I highly recommend getting one or something similar and using it for all of your trips where you have to take a plane and use it as your personal item.
Use packing cubes
I mentioned this in my Copenhagen post but I now pack using packing cubes to help compress my clothes as much as possible and keep everything well organized. I used 2 small packing cubes to pack for 6 days and they both fit into the main pocket of my backpack relatively easily. I prefer to roll most of my clothes, put them in the packing cube, and then fold some last few items and lay them as flat as I can on top of the other clothes inside the packing cube. Below is a picture of a packing cube I have packed with most of my summer clothes since I haven’t needed them for a while now. It is holding a sweater, 3 pairs of shorts, and 7-10 tank tops. It is less than a foot wide in either direction and is no more than 3 inches tall.
Only bring what you know you’re going to wear
You should try to set up outfits before packing them up and make sure you don’t bring anything extra. By setting up exactly what you will wear on your trip beforehand, you don’t have to worry about putting together an outfit once you are there and will not have to carry around extra clothes you won’t be wearing.
Don’t be afraid to rewear clothes
Of course you should bring enough underwear and socks to last your entire trip but you can re-wear most pants, shirts, sweaters, etc. especially if you’re not in hot weather where you will be sweating a lot. Bringing simple clothes that can be paired in several different ways will help you vary your outfits without bringing a lot of clothing.
Check the weather
Check what the weather will be like there and pack accordingly. Copenhagen and Berlin were significantly colder than Rome is so we had to bring extra warm clothes. And warm clothes are much thicker so I had even less room.
Only bring the toiletries you really need
If you can, find out what toiletries your Airbnb, hostel, or hotel will have so you don’t have to bring everything with you. While this is something small, when you’re packing for several days in only a backpack, every extra bit of space helps!
Wear heavy, big items on the plane
While this is very common advice for any time you go on a flight, it is extra important in this situation. Wear your biggest jacket or sweater on the plane, the same goes for shoes. On my flight over here from the US, I wore hiking boots on the plane because they would be too heavy in my checked bag.
A Message from the Office of Global Engagement:
The safety and security of Drexel students is a priority for the University. As part of the efforts to support Drexel students that are studying abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Global Engagement has conducted a rigorous review of programming and provided additional support to participating students with customized pre-departure orientations and regular check-ins during the required self-isolation period and the term.