Heading to Europe for summer and wondering what to pack? Yeah, I get ya. I have a strange obsession with packing. Every time, before I go on holidays, I feel the need to look up packing lists as a way to get me prepared for travel. No matter how much I look into it, the results are always the same: I end up packing last minute and ignoring the online advice anyway.
My issue is that all the people I find inspiration from online for travel fall into one of two very distinct categories: 1. the fashionistas/ influencers/ fashion bloggers who bring everything under the sun for just a short holiday so that they have all the content they need for their instagram, which is fine- its their job after all. The problem is I can’t fit all of those things, I can’t afford to bring a huge suitcase with me everywhere because I am a budget backpacker BUT I still love clothes and want to look really nice while travelling… The opposite end of the spectrum is the budget backpackers who travel in a similar way to me, but all their clothes and travel items are ‘essential, multi use’ and usually pertain to ugly cargo pants (even sometimes with a zip to make them into shorts), breathable shirts and hideous hiking sandals/runners/boots. Where’s the in-between?? Where’s the budget backpackers guide to how to look nice while travelling? How to put together a nice outfit with limited items? I’ve had to try and figure this out on my own, and I think I’m slowly getting the hang of it. Although I have to admit, I was VERY sick of my clothes after 1 month, let alone 4.
Thoughts that ran through my head while reading other ‘packing lists’… and the advice that I absolutely ignored, and you should too.
Don’t bring hiking boots. Don’t even bring runners…
I knew my euro-trip was going to be half exploring cities and half beach/island hopping. I knew I didn’t have the resources to go hiking in some remote places because I was on my own and getting public transport everywhere, so immediately I ruled out hiking boots. Some might disagree, but I didn’t bring any running shoes either, and everyone that I met along the way who packed them, DIDN’T WEAR THEM. Unless you are a fitness freak and will absolutely go jogging everyday, or plan to go on long hikes, a casual pair of sneakers will get you by.
If one more person says ‘comfortable and cute’ im going to cry, because girl those crocs are NOT cute.
Don’t bring any jewellery? Oh yes I want to look boring every single day. Good one. How else are you going to bring that dress from day to night, huh?!
A headlamp or flashlight- um, do these people not own a smartphone?
A travel alarm- “hi, it’s me again, your iPhone, I can also wake you up in the morning.”
‘Travel clothes’ I’m sorry, but do you wear these kinds of clothes everyday? If the answer is no, then don’t buy them to travel in. News flash, you can wear normal clothes overseas too!!! and usually travel clothes are hideous, lol.
A raincoat or umbrella- I didn’t see rain for the first 3 months of my trip! Its so not essential for Europe in SUMMER. If you run into bad weather, deal with it when it happens. I’d rather not carry an umbrella around for 4 months just to use it for an hour.
Okay now that I’ve finished being cruel to everyone else on the internet, here’s my Europe packing list for 4 months- and an honest critique!
- 10 undies: I mean I didn’t actually count, but I just chucked in a whole bunch. Personally I find g-strings pretty comfy, and I enjoy wearing pretty lace undies too, of course I had some normal ‘comfy’ undies, but don’t over think it, you wear them everyday at home so don’t go out of your way to some kind of specific travel undies. My fave comfy undies are a Calvin Klein g string!
- Socks: I had long ones for the bus but had a couple of low ankle ones to wear with my sneakers.
- Bras: I had a couple of bralette’s, I don’t wear structured bras if any bra at all…
- 2 jackets: Denim and leather, probably could have gotten away with 1, but I liked the variety, especially when wearing denim jeans, i didn’t always want to be double-denim-ing
- Scarf: I have a silk scarf that I tied around my leather handbag as an accessory, and also wore it as a top, I didn’t once actually use it as a scarf.
- 1 oversized knitted jumper- I FREEZE on every bus, train, and plane.
- Swimmers: okay, so everyone says oh just bring one… UM bring lots!! It’s Europe in summer, you’re going to be spending most of your time in swimmers, isn’t it nice to mix it up a little bit? I bought 2 with me but brought another 2 whilst travelling. I was envious of people who had more. Looking back I would also bring a one piece- maybe just plain black, because you can wear it as a bodysuit with jeans, short, skirts etc.
- A plain black long sleeve top came in handy for slightly chillier nights
- Lots of light summer tops, including camis and crops, to mix and match with your essential bottoms
- The 3 essential bottoms: denim shorts, denim skirt, denim jeans. I love denim!
- T shirts: I love a plain white tee, although nothing that was white when I left is white anymore, RIP.
- Light summery dresses that can be warn casually to the beach, and also dressed up to go out at night. I didn’t have enough, and bought 2 more cute ones from Brandy Melville, which we don’t have in Australia!
- Nice dress: I bought my Realisation Par dress and glad I did, I wore it when I wanted to feel a little bit less like a backpacker.
Dress: Realisation Par.
Dress: Brandy Melville, Brown leather sandals from Florence, Italy.
- White sneakers: Absolutely. I have Senso, but other brands I love are Superga, Converse, Veja; they look cute with almost any outfit.
- Oldskool Vans: Also very happy I brought these
- 2 pairs of sandals and a third pair I bought in Italy- Excessive, just one pair is fine, buts its nice to have nice shoes instead of going out in birks.
- Thongs (I’m Australian- they’re thongs)- necessary to avoid gross shower experiences
- Birkenstocks- always yes for travelling.
Sunglasses: Rayban, Top and Skirt: vintage, Shoes: Vans Oldskool.
- tinted moisturiser: I use Nars
- concealer: Bare Minerals
- mascara: any
- eyebrow gel/ pencil if you really need to fill them in: any
- blush: I’m currently using a cream blush from Stila
- bronzer: Hoola by Benefit is by far the best bronzer! Its also necessary when your body starts to tan and you need your face to match 🙂
- highlighter: for fun
- face powder: Ambient lighting powder from Hourglass really makes me feel like I’m wearing proper makeup for some reason, it just takes it up a notch.
- Lip balm: I had some SPF lip balm for the beach and also used Drunk Elephant ‘Lippe Balm’ which is so so nice and can be used under the eyes.
- Lip gloss: I love the butter gloss from NYX- it has some colour, its glossy so it looks better than just balm and it feels really nice on the lips.
Toiletries and skincare
- The one thing I absolutely recommend for travelling in summer is face sunscreen. I cannot wear normal sunscreen on my face. It feels disgusting, looks disgusting, and it makes my skin break out because its just far too oily. I used Mecca Cosmetica ‘to save face’ 50+ and i cannot recommend it enough. It has a matte finish, looks amazing under makeup as a primer, and it just did its job so damn well. This is so important for avoiding wrinkles and skin damage, I have a sun spot on my face already from a previous holiday and I do not want any more!!! I’m too young for that shit.
- Face wash: one daily cleanser and one exfoliator
- Charcoal face mask
- ear buds and cotton pads
- nail clippers and nail file
- jewellery: I wore the same jewellery everyday- my gold ring, sleepers for earrings, and 2 gold necklaces which I luuuurve. Unfortunately I did lose one in the ocean, but I’d rather wear it every single day and possibly lose it, than wear it once and still possibly to lose it! I also bought some jewellery along the way including dangly earrings, a gold ring, and an anklet for fun.
- Sunglasses! Try to get polarised to protect your eyes properly
- A hat! I bought one after learning how much fun having a burnt scalp was.
Sunglasses: Rayban, Long sleeve but light flowy dress from the East Order, and a woven bag that belonged to my Nan.
- Backpack lock (combination, not key)- I could’ve brought an extra padlock because as I discovered, some hostels provided a lockless locker!
- Noise cancelling headphones
- Turkish towel: I used it as a bath towel at the start of my trip before I made it to any beach destinations, then once I used it at the beach I tried to use the towels at the hostels, usually they’re free but sometimes they did cost. I’m still not sure if I would bother bringing 2 towels, but maybe next time a Turkish towel and just a small microfibre towel for those times I really needed.
- Travel adapter
- My backpack: I had a 45L bag, and left Sydney airport with 11kg of checked luggage. Let me tell you now, this is not much for 4 months, but other people with ginormous bags were jelly. I picked up things along the way and came back with almost 20kg- still unsure how I managed to zip my bag shut.
- Small backpack: I wore on my front, necessary for short trips where you can leave your big bag behind and just take a day or two’s worth.
- A leather handbag: I used everyday to keep my wallet, phone, sunnies.
- A beach bag: i didn’t want to ruin my leather bag at the beach, and my beach bag could fit my towel and drink bottle, even lunch 🙂
What I didn’t have but wished I did
- a one piece swimsuit to double as a body suit to wear as an outfit.
- earplugs: I was fine with my noise cancelling headphones, until I wanted to roll on my side…
- More sleeveless tops and dresses. Anything with sleeves gets sweaty and needs to be washed way more frequently.
What others didn’t have that I did
- A nice variety of shoes. A lot of people bring one pair of sneakers and one pair of comfy sandals like Birkenstocks, but this gets boring really fast.
- A reusable drink bottle: I saved tonnes of money and tonnes of plastic, plus my water stayed cool all day, and its so easy to find somewhere to fill up (bar greek islands and turkey)
- A hanging toiletries bag: essential for hostels
- Packing cubes: amazeballs.