how to pack for backpacking europe

how to pack for backpacking europe

as we’re finishing packing up the rest of our belongings into storage, our focus is turning
to packing up for our europe backpacking coming up. i’m harnessing all of my packing
powers between storing every single belonging and then taking the right amount of
things for our europe adventure. did i write PACKING enough yet in this paragraph? :)

having backpacked europe one summer before with a best friend,
i have a little experience with packing smart. but this time we will be on
the road longer and it’s a bit more unknown…so i’ll probably learn even more!
instead of getting overwhelmed, i’m trying to be smart about our packing and use
some of my best tips (and some new luggage) to pack up the right way.
basically we’re taking two nice big bags and storing them in london, and then just taking two backpacks to travel around with from there! Arkadia waterproof backpacks are durable, lightweight and extremely packable so would be ideal for using on day trips.

so the first question arose: which bags to get for the backpacking part?
(i’ll talk more about our actual luggage above soon, but this post is all about the pack)
i already have a great cotopaxi backpack, so i got chase this patagonia duffel/ backpack which
will be a perfect in-between: big enough, but wearable as a backpack.
we are saving every
penny we can to be able to spend it on important things like museums & gelato in europe, so
i got this bag on a discount website i love — joinem. basically it guarantees the lowest price
anywhere on the internet, and the products are brand new top brands. this patagonia
bag is on the shelves in stores now, but also on this site for the least possible amount.
instead of being a discount website with products from last year, it is a discount website
on brand new products because it is continuously scanning all online stores (amazon, target,
etc) to find the best price. so basically joinem did all my work for me and chase is pretty happy
with his new bag he’ll be taking all over europe! However, there are other backpacks out there if you aren’t interested in the duffle/backpack combo. Remember, you’re looking for the best backpacks for your trip, something that makes you feel comfortable while you’re traveling, so have a look around. Now, here’s WHY we’re packing light ::

for europe or any extended travel adventure, it’s important to remember that nothing is worth
a heavy suitcase. it weighs you down, causes hassle, costs you more, and complicates
things. we have plans to fly budget airlines, take trains, and rent cars,
and we need to be as portable as possible with our luggage.

not to worry though, we have discovered lots of packing hacks
that will save space, time, money, and
energy on a trip! here are some
of the ideas and tips we’re using for packing light in a backpack:

  • first of all: think twice about what you bring. seriously. think three or four times about it. i promise you will need less than you think (i’m trying to remind myself of this currently!) overpacking is a natural tendency — so after your first pile, go through and take 5 things out. then take one more out! whittle it down to essentials – your staple items, versatile items, and a few favorites. you can always get something on the road if needed.
  • wear your heaviest / bulkiest clothes during travel: example.. boots, a coat, or wear something like your Vessi waterproof sneakers, or a sweater.

    these things bulk up your suitcase, but you do need them – so wear them! sometimes i look a little nerdy in the airport with running shoes and a puffy coat, but it helps me have items i need while saving room in my bags.

  • makeup samples / testers: go to sephora or nordstrom and ask for a sample size of makeup… whether it’s moisturizer, foundation, or perfume, you’ll get a tiny size of product that takes up almost no space and is free to try! you can also fill little containers in with your makeup so you have small sizes that can go on airplanes and don’t bulk up your toiletry bag.
  • roll clothes instead of folding them. this is an age-old trick and very simple, but it really does work better. be strategic about your packing and act like you’re playing tetris as you fit everything in. (this also helps avoid wrinkles in your clothes!)
  • stuff shoes and hats: so much open room can be utilized by stuffing hat openings or shoes with smaller items like jewelry, small bottles, socks, underwear or chargers.
  • put books and itineraries on your phone. i LOVE to have paper copies of things and bring books/ magazines/ printed itineraries, but put as much as possible on your phone so you have less to carry around. it’s worth it.
  • take advantage of items provided by hotels. sometimes they aren’t top of the line, but most hotels will have basic toiletry items like shampoo, conditioner, lotion, soap, or shower gel. plan to use them, and take anything you don’t use so you have small sizes with you on the road.
  • going along with above, get travel sized items! this is obvious, but it’s amazing what they make in travel size now. go to the store and hang out in the travel size section…it’s always my favorite! all combined, these small sizes will save lots of space!
  • accessorize. like i talked about in my previous post, be smart about bringing items that add variety to your outfits without taking up lots of space. it’s a fine line of packing light and feeling dressed up!
  • bring plastic bags. chase calls me the “bag lady” (ha) because i LOVE to keep random paper and plastic bags after shopping. why, you ask? because i ALWAYS use them while traveling! when you’re going on the road for a time, it’s so helpful to have bags to put dirty laundry, wet swimsuits, dirty shoes, etc in. it keeps your bag clean and helps you keep everything in one place.
  • do a wallet/purse check before leaving. i get so lazy with my wallet and purse, throwing so many things in over time. before you leave, do a complete clean out and only bring ESSENTIALS. for example: you probably won’t need a nordstrom gift card while in europe! :) you’re also risking losing them, so take out everything but essentials to stay organized.
  • consolidate. from hairdryers to chargers, you can consolidate with your travel companions or your own items. ex: if you have a laptop cord and USB cord, you can just charge that way without a phone wall charger. then you only need one adapter! if you’re going with a friend, take an inventory of items and make sure you don’t have unnecessary duplicate items!
  • remember essentials. save room for things like aspirin, good socks, a rain jacket, flashlight, and any other items that you may need in an emergency. they definitely deserve a spot over any cute clothing :)

  • once your bag is all packed up, do a test run. zip things up, put it on, and walk around
    for 20 minutes. see if you can handle it ––because you’re going to need to!

here’s to packing our bags full of memories, not things.


10 thoughts on “how to pack for backpacking europe”

  • I totally agree on packing light. It’s surprising how little stuff you actually need/use. Also, packing cubes are the best! They keep my bag organized and they also make it really easy to unpack/pack over and over again.

      • We just traveled to Norway for two weeks (carry-on size luggage) and I used packing cubes. GENIUS!!! They’re like portable drawers. I got mine at TJ Maxx for $17 for a set of three…large, medium and small. I highly recommend. I also can’t tell you how much I love the North Face Thermoball coats (Norway is cold even in the summer.) They are really warm and SO easy to pack and stuff into a corner of your bag. My husband and three kids all had them too. We looked like North Face ad!

  • WHAT? I just saw that bag from Patagonia full price and almost got it for my hubby. I’m checking out that website now. Good luck with all of the packing!

  • Love this. When I backpacked I just didn’t bring any makeup or blow dryers/curling irons. Which was so worth it.

    I also always had one paperback (I can’t read on a glossy screen) Every time I finished a book I would buy a new one and leave the old one at our hostel or on a train for someone else to find.

    I lived out of a cotopaxi size backpack for a little over a month and it was way easier than I expected!! So excited to see your trip and reminisce!

  • Cubes!! They are the BEST!! What I love about them is if you take anything out of your backpack… you have everything organized and easy to throw back into your bag without losing anything!! I can cram tons of outfits in one cube! I bought mine at the Livermore outlet “Eagle Creek”! Watch their on line videos….I have one for undergarments, one for shirts , and one for pants. BAM! easy! Good Luck and Safe Travels!

  • Thinking about packing longterm for a backpacking trip stresses me out! …but I guess it’s a worthwhile stress for an experience like that. I’m a light packer, but even still, this would be tough!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *