Clothes for Western Europe Backpacking Trip

First Row (left to right): Bikini set, sports bra and lightweight bra, sleeping pants, sleep top Second Row (left to right): black silk short-sleeve top, grey cotton short-sleeve v-neck, tri-quarter striped top, long-sleeve activewear top Third Row (left to right): mid-length jeans shorts, black mid-length compressions, dark wash denim jeans, black yoga pants Also pictured on the far right is a long waterproof rain coat *Not pictured: 10 pairs of underwear
1st Row (left to right): bikini set, sports bra and lightweight bra, sleeping pants, sleep top
2nd Row; Tops (left to right): short-sleeve, short-sleeve v-neck, three-quarter sleeve, activewear long-sleeve
3rd Row; Bottoms (left to right): mid-length shorts, mid-length compression pants, denim jeans,  yoga pants
Also pictured (far right):  long-length waterproof rain coat with hood

I wasn’t always a light packer. As a child and even into my mid-teens I would pack for every magical occasion that could possible occur. Usually, they didn’t. I finally learned my lesson as I closed out my sophomore year of college. Freshman year I’d had some friends who were able to store a few of my boxes in their Greek houses for the summer, but the next year I was overwhelmed with the volume of belongings and miscellaneous knickknacks I had. Home was at least four hours away from campus and I was heading back solo. As I choked back shame in a residence hall archway, hoping my discarded (and expensive) art materials would be picked up by someone more skilled than me, I knew I had to make a change. After that year I slowly grew better and better at packing light for trips. By junior year many of my study abroad classmates were outwardly shocked at what a light load I was going to be carrying for my return to the US, even with gifts in tow. Now for my trip to Europe I am keeping with my lightweight style of packing.

I think of packing like I think of editing my writing. I gather/write everything I want and then go back to trim around the edges, only adding on when absolutely necessary.

For instance, I originally planned to bring a gorgeous black going-out dress, which then needed a scarf to cover up my back and my arms in case it was chilly. Then one night, preparing my mind for sleep, I began thinking through every detail of my packing list. ‘Will I use it in London? Amsterdam? Paris!?’ Each city was a firm ‘no’ or a ‘probably not.’ My conclusion: don’t take the dress.

With my newly trimmed list of clothing items I have pictured above there are options for long-distance commuting, dressy nights and casual tourist days. Something as simple as a floral green statement necklace and red lipstick are really all I need to dress up my clothes. In the end, these accessories take up far less space than the back-detail dress and scarf I would have crammed into my pack only to be worn on one night. Sure, I may have squeezed in a second night just so I felt like it had purpose, but I think I will feel much happier with my current decision. Especially since I will be in a new country every few days!

As for shoes I only have three pairs:
(1) black lightweight slip-ons, for everyday walking
(2) golden brown t-strap sandals for dressy days, yet still comfortable
(3) turquoise flip-flops, for showering!

Packing, like most things, is personal. What I’ve packed is what works for me, yet we all have individual needs and ‘must-haves!’ What are yours?



  1. Wise woman 🙂

    Since lugging a guitar, 70L backpack and a day-pack full of paints and other arty items around India, I’ve become a packing guru myself. Lucy (my guitar) still features, but my backpack (lovingly dubbed Elvis) is 50L and almost always 3/4 full. It’s just so much nice not to be weighed down by excessive material crap, isn’t it?


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