For some, minimalist packing is a science that they derive great pleasure from doing. Folding your clothes in an exact fashion and having everything go into its own compartment can be oddly satisfying. For others, not so much. It might even seem impossible trying to fit everything that you need for a trip to Europe in a backpack. Take it from a minimalist packer, who can live out of a carry on bag for a couple of weeks, it’s very possible.
Here’s How you Get Ready to Pack:
A couple of days before you travel, start to pile stuff that you’re thinking of traveling with on to your bed or on a surface where you can see everything at the same time. Pile trousers, shorts and tights together. Shirts, vests, and t-shirts in one pile. Socks are on their own. Undergarments are on their own. Jewelry and makeup are together, shoes are on their own, and toiletries are on their own as well.
Keep adding things that you think you’d like to travel with but don’t get carried away. Remember, you want it to fit into carry-on luggage i.e. either a backpack or a small suitcase.
Minimalist Packing List for Europe
- One pair of sweatpants to wear on the days that you travel which can also double up as pajamas.
- 2 pairs of shorts. One should be the kind that you can swim or exercise with.
- For the men, pack 1 shirt that you can wear for a dinner or other formal occasions.
- 1 pair of jeans that are a lighter kind of denim so that they don’t make your bag heavy.
- One pair of khaki pants.
- 4 t-shirts
- For the ladies, 2 dresses and a couple of tights instead of a couple of pants.
- A packet of pads or tampons. Always have a pack handy.
- Painkillers and any medication that you’re required to take.
- Phone, earphones, laptop, laptop charger, USB cable, adapter converter combo so that you don’t have to carry two devices. Buy an adapter or any other electronic devices that you will need in Europe, in your hometown. Most tourist locations charge much higher rates for things that you could have gotten cheaper at home.
- Toiletries bag- Toiletries bag with compartments so that you can separate your deodorant from your toothbrush. This bag will contain your comb/brush, hairbands, toothbrush, floss, Vaseline, moisturizing sun lotion, razor/ epilator.
- 5 pairs of underwear and five pairs of bras for the ladies.
- A swimming costume for the ladies.
- 4 pairs of socks.
- A light cardigan or sweater for the evenings especially if you’re in a coastal town. If you’re having dinner close to the beach or taking an evening beach walk, it can get quite breezy.
- A pen, a notepad and a journal if you normally journal. You can opt to use an online journal app like Penzu so that you don’t have to carry the journal.
- A sarong which doubles as a towel and you can also use it to cover your eyes to sleep while traveling.
- One pair of sneakers (the kind you can wear to dinner but also tour a town with) that you’ll wear on the day you’ll be traveling so that your bag is not bulky and one pair of sandals/flip flops.
- A baseball cap or a sunhat.
- Cash in dollars and the local currency of where you’re visiting and banking cards.
- Plane ticket.
What to Add to Your List for Cold Weather
- A puffer jacket. You can also use this while traveling as a pillow.
- A thermal top that you can wear underneath your tops.
- Thermal pants you can wear under your trousers.
- A warm beanie hat.
- Boots that are water and wind resistant instead of sneakers.
For Those That Work Out
- 2 vests/ tank tops
- Resistance band
- Skipping rope
- Visa if it’s required
- Travel insurance
The day before you travel is when you’ll sort through the piles of stuff that you had placed on your bed and choose which items you’ll travel with. The lighter, the better. Use your list to make sure you have the important stuff and to guide you so that you don’t over pack.
Once you’ve chosen what you’ll travel with, go through the list and check that everything on it is present. Once this is done, you can now pack.
Buy cubes to pack similar items together and to help keep your bag organized. The cubes will also enable you to find specific items without disorganizing everything in your carry on bag.
Undergarments can be packed together. Electronics can be packed together. Jewelry and make up can be put together. Tops can go together and bottoms can be packed with dresses. Shoes and socks each get their own cube.
Tips for Minimalist Packing for Europe
- Make sure your bag is of high quality that will not get soaked easily or rip easily. If it’s a suitcase, get one that will not crack easily.
- Having a quality bag doesn’t mean getting one that is heavy. Bulky, heavy backpacks tend to have less room for your items.
- Get a bag with lots of zips and compartments to help you organize your packing. One compartment should specifically be for your laptop. A section for your water bottle would be convenient.
- Include a laptop sleeve that’s cushioned and will protect your laptop.
- Carry a sling bag or a smaller bag that’s fordable which you can use when you’ve left your backpack at the place you’ll be staying at. You can use the sling to carry your cash, cards, passport, phone, etc, when you’re sightseeing.
- Carry snacks and water if you’re taking connecting flights or you know the flight is going to be long.
- If it’s summer, don’t forget to carry a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.
- If it’s going to be cold then you need thick socks, a thick scarf, a raincoat and a thick jacket.
- Carry an e-reader such as Kindle instead of multiple books. If you have a laptop, there’s no need to carry your kindle as well. You can download Kindle to your laptop or you can download Audible on to your smartphone.
- Unless you’re a professional photographer, your smartphone should suffice.
- When traveling, don’t put your sensitive items like your passport, phone, camera, laptop, near the surface of the bag otherwise you make it very easy for pickpockets to access your items but you should remember which cube you put them in so that you can quickly pick it when you need them. Do not put the cube holding these items at the bottom of your bag.
- Once you’re done packing, make sure it looks like something that can fit in an airline overhead carrier or even a carrier in a bus. You can weigh your bag to see whether you’ve adhered to the weight limit for carry on luggage.
- Pack clothes that can match multiple times over such as t-shirts and pants or t-shirts with shorts.
- Carry items that may serve several purposes like a sarong which can be used as a towel, a curtain or a scarf.
- If you’re going to work out during your trip just pack one pair of sneakers not your whole collection. Don’t carry bulky shorts. Tights are best. They’re light, they don’t take up much space and you can carry several.
- Carry a USB cable to charge your phone and other devices instead of specific chargers for each device.
- Do not carry wet laundry. Wet laundry will make your bag heavy and it may even smell if it’s not unpacked for long. For this point it’s advisable to carry material that dries quickly like merion.
- Carry a scent like essential oils to keep your luggage smelling fresh.
- Keep copies of your travel documents and airplane, bus and train tickets in case you lose the originals. To be extra safe, scan them so that you can access them online.
- Scribble your contact info on a piece of paper and leave it in your bag where it can easily be accessed in case you lose your bag. Some bags have a tag where you can fill in that information.
- Carry fewer liquids like gels or shampoos because they may leak.
- Liquids have to be less than 100ml so take that into consideration when packing shampoos and soaps.
- You can carry a shampoo bar instead of liquid shampoo.
You’re Good to Go
There’s no need to be anxious about having not packed enough. If you need extra clothing or other additional items while you’re in Europe, you can buy them there. Things like mouthwash, floss, soap are all things that you can buy once you arrive and you don’t really need to pack them.
Minimalist packing is so freeing. You won’t get tired lugging around tons of baggage which makes it easy to sleep in several locations within a week. It’s the perfect way to help you enjoy your travel.