Backpacking in Europe – What to Pack

Yesterday night, I returned home from a 16 day trip to Europe with my best friends.  All each of us packed for the trip was a stuffed full traveling backpack and a cross-body purse.  Since a lot of people have trouble planning what to pack for such a long time in such a small space, I thought sharing what I packed would be beneficial.  Below is what I was able to fit into my bag and a breakdown of the clothes I brought.

The backpack I chose was the Osprey Porter 46 which I got on sale at REI Garage and it worked perfectly for the trip.  Here it is before it was filled with clothes.

Osprey Porter 46

Here is what I was able to fit into the bag.


I was able to fit in a lot more items than I thought I would be able to and I still had a little space leftover.  This is what I packed:

  • 10 Shirts
  • 1 pair of leggings
  • 3 shorts (this was during the summer)
  • 2 jeans (we spent 5 days in Iceland and I wore one pair on the plane)
  • 1 swim suit
  • Toiletries and makeup (in the 3 small bags)
    • Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, shaving cream, razor and lotion (all mini sizes)
    • Tooth brush, tooth paste, mouthwash, floss, Q-tips, makeup remover, contact case and solution, glasses, deodorant, sunscreen (all mini sizes)
    • Liquid foundation, powder foundation, blush, mascara and face sunscreen
  • Dry shampoo (I brought two, one big and one small, the big one that’s pictured above wasn’t allowed through security at one of the airports)
  • 1 light sweater
  • 1 pair of Nike tennis shoes (I wore these on the plane)
  • 1 pair of Toms for going out
  • 1 pair of flip flops

Not pictured:

  • 1 rain jacket
  • 1 beanie and 1 hat
  • Dirty clothes bag

In hind sight, I would say that I did a pretty good job packing only the necessary itmes.  I only went out to the bars/clubs one night so I could have done without the Toms but they can come in handy if you want an option that’s not flip flops or tennis shoes.  I wore a few of my shirts twice and obviously wore jeans/shorts more than once too but if you don’t want to do that, you can always do laundry on your trip.  A few of my friends that I went with did laundry and it didn’t take up too much time during the trip.  Bringing neutral colors also helps to mix and match outfits.  I contemplated bringing a dress but knew that would mean another pair of shoes and I’d probably only wear it once so I opted not to.

I didn’t bring a hair dryer or flat iron since it was during summer and my hair dries pretty fast; however, my friend did bring her flat iron and I used it twice.  Usually you can pay for a hair dryer at the hostel or some have them complementary.  I also didn’t bring a towel and rented one at the front desk from each hostel once we arrived.  They ranged from €2 to €10.

One thing to remember when you pack is to make sure your backpack isn’t TOO full.  You’ll want to bring back souvenirs for yourself and friends and need a place to pack them.  It also seems like you can never fit everything back in the same way once you’ve removed stuff.  I rolled my clothes to make the most of my space in my bag and with all my dirty (non-rolled) clothes that I came back with, it was a lot tricky to get it all in.

I hope this post helps you pack for your trip!  Comment below if you have any other tips on light packing. 🙂


Laura – The Waffle Lover




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