This week's blog is written by Kaylee, a student, photographer, and traveler based in Austin. Follow along with her adventures on Instagram (@kayleeknightsphoto) and her blog (https://texanonthego.blog/).
This series will be featuring people who are working online, volunteering for their stay through sites such as Workaway, getting free stays through house sitting, are self-employed, etc.! We hope their stories inspire you to create and share your own! If you have found a way to travel long term and would like to be featured in this series, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before, during, and after my solo backpacking trip of 2 months throughout Western Europe, a lot of people were astonished to hear I traveled for 2 months with only 1 backpack. Today I am going to break down for y'all what was in my backpack and how I could travel so light!
Why I love this backpack: Osprey Fairview 40 Travel Pack - Women's
Small enough to be a carry-on on the airplane
Back support with wire mesh
Compression straps on waist and chest for support
Shoulder straps and compression straps can zip up to stow easier
Front pocket has secure slot for laptop and mesh zipper pouch on top
Small pocket in front to store small items
Mesh zipper pouch inside backpack
Straps that buckle to tighten and compress items inside backpack to fit more and zip backpack closed more easily
Handle on top and side for easy transport and carry
These helped me organize stuff inside my backpack:
The key to clothing is to pack very simple items that can be paired with each other in different combinations resulting in various outfits. You want to bring plain colors that can easily combine with another item in your backpack. You can always change up your outfit by adding an accessory such as a headband, scarf, or jewelry. Here is what was in my bag...
3 short sleeve, 2 long sleeve, and 2 workout/ sleep shirts (I did have another short sleeve shirt, but halfway through my trip I got rid of it because I didn't like it very much/ wasn't wearing it a lot. But, I bought another short sleeve at the store that I liked better... pictured later)
2 blue jeans, 1 black jeans, 1 stretchy fitted plaid pants
1 jean short, 2 nike shorts (for workout/ outdoor activity and sleeping), 1 nike pro spandex for under skirts/ dresses
Bathing Suit: 1 bikini (& I bought another one on the trip since it didn't take up too much space)
Bras: I had 2 normal bras & 2 sports bras
Underwear: I had maybe 10 pairs (I wish I would have brought more though so I wasn't forced to do laundry just because my underwear ran out)-->Speaking of laundry, I usually did laundry once a week. A majority of the hostels have at least a washer (most also have a dryer). But if that is something you know you will need during your trip, definitely keep that in mind as you book your hostels.
Socks: 7 pairs
Headbands are a game changer!!! I love headbands and for me it was the perfect way to change the look of an outfit I had already worn a million times to look a little different. I also bought this hat in Lisbon (for only $5!) and it also was able to change up the look of my outfit!
Jacket: Patagonia Light Grey Fleece Jacket
This jacket was expensive, but an amazing all around jacket that kept me warm in cool temperatures and also blocked the wind really well. The light grey style matched every single outfit I had so I never had to worry about it not matching.
Belts: 1 black & 1 white (I had a different white one in the beginning but bought this nice white leather one in Florence!)
Clothes I bought along the way:
Always remember that you can buy more clothes at any point in your trip if you're tired of your outfits & it is a great souvenir.
Yellow tank top & blue short sleeve shirt from Prague, Czech Republic. Yellow dress from Cinque Terre, Italy. Skirt from Berlin, Germany hand made by a local German.
This is where most people use up a lot of the room in their backpack/ suitcase -- on shoes. Coming from a girl who loves shoes, let me tell you that it is totally possible to get by for 2 months with only 3 pairs of shoes. You're going to want 1 pair of really good walking shoes (especially if you're going to Europe) because you will walk everywhere!! I averaged 5 miles every day and some days I walked even more than that. Before my trip, I thought it would be impossible to find a pair of walking shoes that would be durable and cute, but thank goodness I found some! My beloved white sneakers are my favorite shoes in the whole world at the moment. They go with literally every single outfit and support my feet so well to walk 5+ miles every day! Some people like to be more stylish, but personally I just wore my white sneakers every day.
White Sneakers (my good old everyday walking shoes)
This is the most money I have ever dropped on one pair of shoes, but it was worth it! I wore them basically everyday for 6 months straight and they are still doing super well and I am going to keep wearing them until they fall apart which I don't see happening any time soon.
Workout Tennis Shoes (these were good for working out which yes I did find a way to do on my trip & hiking)
Flip Flops (good for community showers at the hostel & going to the beach)
My toiletry bag was stuffed full, y'all. This isn't something to worry about too much because if you ever run out of something you can easily go to the store in whatever city you are in and buy some more. All of the following items are travel sized...
Toothbrush and toothbrush cover
Contact Solution & Contact Case
Glasses & Glasses Case
Over the counter Medication (I brought a little of anything I thought I might need... better to be prepared than to not have it!)
Emergen-C, Dayquil/Nyquil, Tylenol, Imodium, Sudafed, Tums, Peptobismol, Advil
Makeup & Makeup Bag (I brought very minimum makeup... foundation, powder, lipstick, mascara, eyeshadow, & a couple brushes)
But I did bring like 5 different lipsticks because I love lipstick and I think that really change up your look even if you are wearing the same outfit!
Hand Sanitizer (I used mine allllll the time)
Small Pack of Tissues
ELECTRONIC/ ACCESSORIES/ OTHER
Y'all this thing is the best invention I've ever encountered...it doesn't take up all the space in your bag like a normal towel does and it dries in hours
This plug adaptor was bomb!!! It lets you charge 3 things at once. It has 2 USB ports and an American wall port.
Let me tell y'all this is the best $30 I have ever spent. You could pay less money and get a bad charging bank that barely even charges your phone or you could pay more and invest in this amazing charging bank that will charge your phone 4 times on 1 charge from the wall. I would usually charge the bank overnight and then carry it with me every day so that I never had to worry about my phone running out of battery.
Phone Charging Cable
I made extra copies of each of these that I kept with me in my wallet at all times. I also left a copy at home with my parents in case I lost my passport and needed to get it replaced.
I wrote in this journal every single day from the day I landed in Madrid to the final day when I left Paris. I didn't always write a lot, but it is such a treasure for me to look back and remember what I was thinking and feeling each day throughout my trip.
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT TO HAVE!!!! I brought my water bottle everywhere. It's always good to have a sturdy water bottle that keeps your water cold for hours.
DLSR Canon 70D Camera, 18-135mm Lens, & USB to SD reader for my laptop
Most people can live with just using the camera on their phone, but I am a photographer and I could absolutely not travel Europe without my camera.
This you really need to lock your bag while you are traveling just as a precaution and to lock your stuff in the hostel lockers in your room while you are out exploring during the day.
This isn't something you might think to bring, but they are super easy to pack and SO useful!! I brought multiple sizes and shoved them in my bag and I ended up using all of them. I used them for various things but some examples are wet shoes or clothes, leaky toiletries, and medications.
Some people need their laptop with them and some people don't. Really think about whether you will actually use it before you bring it. If you don't end up using it much, it is a lot of extra weight you are lugging around. Personally, I knew I would be using my laptop to upload and edit photos from my camera & write blog posts.
This is a personal preference, but I love to read and so I brought a book with me because I had heard that a lot of hostels have book exchanges (and they did!). So I just brought one book with me and then whenever I finished it, I would change it out at my next hostel.
A daypack is something you need so that when you walk around the city during the day, you have something to put all your stuff in. The daypack I linked is the one I used, but it honestly wasn't my favorite. The idea of it is cool because it turns inside out for easy storage inside you bigger bag, but I never ended up actually putting it inside the my large bag because I always had stuff in the daypack and was using it. Here is the new daypack I bought for my recent trip to Ecuador with Travel World Culture and I liked it much better. Here is what I typically carried in my day pack...
Money/Wallet/Passport Copy/Credit Card/Metro Ticket
Portable Charger/Charging Cable
THINGS I COULD HAVE LIVED WITHOUT
This was a good thought in case the hostel ever didn't have enough plugs, but I never ran into a case at a hostel where there weren't enough plugs so this wasn't necessary
This is a nice little compact travel umbrella, but honestly I prefer to just get wet the few times that it does rain instead of carrying this extra weight in my backpack
I read on a blog that I might need this to secure my bags on the train or at the hostel, but I never used it
This is a really great laundry kit for doing your laundry in the sink, but almost all my hostels had a washer & dryer so I never ended up needing this. I used the clothesline one time when the hostel's dryer was broken, but I could have figured something else out if I didn't have it.
It was a good idea and interesting to read at first, but the more my trip went on the less I used this book and the more I used google translate.
PRACTICAL TIPS FOR PACKING
Roll your clothes (it saves room and helps them to stay less wrinkly)
Use packing cubes (it will help to organize your clothes and help you to stuff your bag better)
Set out all the clothes you think you want to bring & then get rid of 1/3 of them. Seriously, y'all the 1st time I tried to pack my bag it wouldn't even shut so I had to decide which clothes weren't really necessary & eventually got it down to what I showed in this post
Think about clothes that can serve a double purpose (ex: I used my nike shorts to workout/do outdoor activities & also to sleep in...obviously I wouldn't sleep in dirty shorts so usually I would use one pair to workout in and the other to sleep in or do laundry if they were both dirty)
Remember, you can always buy almost anything you need on your trip so don't worry too much if you forget something
I had so much fun writing this article and reminiscing back on my trip. I miss Europe so much!!! I hope this will be helpful for you guys when you plan your next trip! As always, I'd love to hear your feedback or questions so comment below.
Texan On the go