I went on a trip for 12 days and only took a backpack. I had moments of doubt initially, but now I can happily tell you that it is doable! I started my travels in Cleveland, OH and bounced to Iceland –> London–> Galway–>Dublin–> Amsterdam–>Paris–>Boston–>Tampa and back to Cleveland. If we’re doing the math here that requires about 3 different climate options as well. I was initially intimidated by the thought but knew it could be done.
I received a lot of questions on how I managed to do it so here are my 7 tips to traveling through Europe/America with only a backpack:
- Limit your shoe options. I know y’all, but only 1 or 2 pairs since those tend to take up the most room. I packed cute tennis shoes since they were the most comfortable for walking and knew they would go with all of my outfits…or at least most of them. I also packed a cute pair of flip flops for nights out because they were small, easily malleable, and could still complete a lot of walking.
- Bring a versatile coat. I packed one leather coat because it was warm, cute, and could either be worn casually or dressed up. This piece really helped spice up my night time outfits when we went out for cocktails and nicer dinners.
- Layer and mix n’ match. I packed about 3 pairs of jeans and 2 pairs of leggings that I knew I would for sure wear and paired them with different casual t-shirts and bodysuits. Bodysuits were also a great way to dress up an outfit as they usually looked a little bit cuter and could easily be dressed up or down.
- Bring the basics: I only packed the essentials for makeup so I didn’t have a ton of options in terms of eye shadows, lipsticks, highlighters etc. but it all worked out. I put my most frequently used items in plastic ziplock bags, which took up way less space than my bulky makeup bags.
- Condense your toiletries: I left out a lot of toiletries such as shampoo and body wash because wherever you’re staying is going to have toiletries for you. Granted some Airbnbs might not have everything you need, but in that case you can easily run to a store…or wait till the next city. I mean you’re traveling with a freaking backpack so I feel as though it is safe to assume you’re somewhat flexible/carefree right!?
- Do laundry: We made note of the air Airbnbs that had in home washers and dryers and did a load while we we’re out exploring the city. We only did 1 load of laundry during our adventures which worked out perfectly and didn’t put a damper on any of the trip.
- Repeat offender: Gotta be okay with this, because no matter how well you layer or mix and match you’re bound to repeat an outfit or a piece of clothing at some point. I made made peace with this pretty quickly, I mean I was only taking a backpack for 12 days so I knew what was up!
Would I do it again? For sure, but I would almost pack even less (I always end up packing a few hopeful outfits that somehow never get worn, no matter how genuine my intentions are). Also, only bringing minimal options resulted in way less stress and overthinking, which allowed me to feel cute in my comfy clothes and not spend hours ruminating over outfits. I wanted an efficient and cost effective way to see the world–no checking my bags at the counter, no fees for checked bags or carry-ons, no waiting for my luggage and no dragging around a huge suitcase. Give it a try one time, it was pretty liberating if I do say so myself! Here’s to the next adventure!
Until next time friends,