The best packing advice I ever received is this: Pack as if you are going for 10 days. Why? Because it is much easier to pack for a 10-day trip than a long-term international trip. You can do laundry every week or so. When you think about it that way, it makes packing much more manageable. Here’s the full list of items I packed for my first long-term trip to Europe (three months in 2016). You can check out the places I visited on the backpacking Europe itinerary.
Tips for Packing Light
- All clothing items should match. Neutral colors are best.
- Roll (don’t fold) your clothes and use packing cubes.
- Pack a comfortable pair of shoes in addition to tennis shoes (Converses, TOMS, AllBirds, Rothys, etc.). They are a bit more fashionable than tennis shoes for when your feet have had enough of those cute sandals!
- Avoid packing cosmetic jewelry. A simple pair of earrings and a watch will suffice.
- Use refillable mini bottles for toiletries. You can restock at local grocery/convenience stores throughout your trip.
- Remember, you can mail items home and/or purchase clothes during your trip. So avoid packing a heavy jacket if you don’t need it until your last month.
- There is no shortage of laundry mats in Europe. Pack less and do laundry more.
A Minimalist Packing List for Europe
Backpack and bags
- The backpack: Osprey Kyte 46 Pack – Women’s *I truly believe this is the BEST travel backpack for Europe. It’s extremely comfortable and light. It fits under your feet when traveling on a crowded train, or you can easily throw it on a luggage rack. And best of all? Most airlines consider it a carry on backpack.
- The day bag: Longchamp Le Pliage Large Tote
- The night bag: Fossil Crossbody Purse
- Quick-dry towel
- Thin sleeping sheet (perfect for not-so-clean-hostels. Learn how to choose the right hostel)
- Brita Water Bottle (with interior filter)
- Travel Pouch (Passport and Ticket Holder)
- Foldable clothesline
- Sink stopper
- Lonely Planet Western Europe Guide Book
- Lonely Planet Central Europe Guide Book
- Waterproof watch
- Mesh laundry bag
- Silk pillowcase
- Mini bottle of wrinkle release
- Passport (plus two copies)
- Drivers license (plus two copies)
- International drivers license
- Eurail train pass
- Basic toiletries (plus one pink nail polish)
- Makeup (travel size basics)
- 1 North Face Women’s Fastpack Wind Jacket
- 1 lightweight green jacket
- 2 short rompers (one black and one black/white)**Ended up mailing one home.
- 1 long romper (black/white)
- 2 dresses (one black and one black/white stripes)
- 2 pants (one black jeans and one blue jeans)
- 4 short sleeve tops (one pink cotton, one grey cotton, one teal cotton and one black silk)**Ended up mailing the teal shirt home and buying a blue cotton t-shirt.
- 1 grey tank top
- 1 grey cotton long sleeve top
- 8 pairs of underwear
- 2 sports bras
- 2 real bras (black and nude)
- 3 pairs of socks
- 1 pair of black Nike shorts
- 1 pair of black Nike pants
- 1 black bandeau
- 1 black cardigan
- 1 black/white scarf
- 1 black pajama romper
- 1 swimsuit
- 1 black floppy hat **Ended up mailing home.
- Black Steve Madden sandals**Ended up switching out for white Converses.
- Brown Steve Madden sandals
- Black flip flops **Used as shower shoes.
- Nike tennis shoes
- Black ballet flats