In my previous post I mentioned that the airline I flew, WOW Air, provided me the challenge of fitting everything for my backpacking trip to Europe literally in just a backpack. This travel blog post will focus on how to save space, pack light, and the list of items that you should bring with you. My hope is that these travel packing tips and tricks will help you on your trip to Europe.
Most of us have a bad habit of over-packing for trips, and if you're staying at one location the entire time, it might be fine to have some extra baggage, but I can tell you from experience that for backpacking Europe alone, the less you have the better. Not having to drag a giant suitcase makes transitioning from different locations much easier, not to mention you don't stick out quite so bad as a tourist.
When it came to clothes, I found it helpful to focus on layers and simple, basic items. I brought along t-shirts, several sweaters, jeans, a jacket, and a pair of tennis shoes for my main day-to-day wardrobe. So what happens if I decide to have a night out on the town you may wonder? Well, my trick was to pack a pair of flats instead of heels, which wasn't a hard choice considering I can barely walk in heels anyway, but flats really do take up far less space. Also bringing along a good red lipstick can make even the most chill wardrobe more appropriate for a night out. You can also pack a small cross-body purse for nights out or simply if you don't want to carry the whole backpack with you when exploring around town.
To help accommodate space in my backpack, I made sure to wear layers on my flights to Europe. I wore a t-shirt, sweater, jacket, and then my extra sweater around my waist. When it comes to toiletries items, finding solid alternatives to liquids helps as well, since there is a limit to the amount of liquids you can bring on a plane. A bar of soap instead of body wash, or facial wipes instead of face wash can help save space. Also try to look for items that have more than one function. There's a great product I found in the travel section at Target called Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Soap. This soap can be used as a body wash, shampoo, for shaving, and even laundry.
Sometimes sleeping on a plane can be impossible, so I made sure to bring along some books to help pass the time. Another way I saved space was to carry the books myself instead of putting them in the backpack. Obviously carrying a bunch of books around Europe isn't particularly light, so what I did was purchase several $1 clearance books prior to my trip and whenever I would finish one I would leave it in a public place for someone else to hopefully want to read and thus lighten my load. Hey, if Emma Watson can randomly leave books around town, then I might as well do it too.
Also make sure to pack a good international travel charger. Best Buy has excellent ones available for purchase. I recommend getting an all-in-one travel charger adapter that has multiple settings that you can use for all different parts of the world. They are available for around $40 and are well worth it.
Aside from other basic toiletries, make sure to bring along some aspirin too. If you are going to a country where the main language isn't English, it might be hard to find the proper medicine you are looking for if a headache pops up. Also, many places in Europe don't have a 24hr CVS or Rite-Aid around for any late-night medicine runs, so having that stuff ahead of time can really help.
If you are considering staying in hostels, check out my upcoming post which will include recommendations for places to stay and what you need to know, and bring, for your hostel stay.
About the author
Jill Zwarensteyn is a writer, comedian, and television producer who has been featured on Amazon, truTV, The New York Times, Matador Network, BUST Magazine, Tiplr, ARTRPRNR Magazine, YourTango, Thought Catalog, GoMad Nomad, Mashable, The Daily Mail UK, the Cannes Film Festival, LaughFest, Women's Lifestyle Magazine, and the Funny Women Festival LA. For more info visit: http://www.jillzwarensteyn.weebly.com