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I have always dreamed of backpacking across Europe. The ancient cities, the cultures, the food, the architecture, and all its old world charm. That dream finally became a reality for me! I spent four glorious, wonderful months traveling from one end of the continent to the other. Me and my cousin packed up our bags (very strategically I might add!) and headed out!
We prepared ourselves for weather ranging from a bit of sunshine, to fall, to quite chilly. We started our journey the beginning of September, and ended it at the end of December. As two girls from Canada, we knew how to pack reasonably due to the fact we have experienced all kinds of hot and all kinds of colds! I do have to put it out there though, that I do love fashion. I always have, and going to Europe, with some of the most fashionable cities, there’s no way I wanted to be walking around in sweatpants.
Although when you have to pack your entire life into one bag, that does come with some difficulty. No, you’re not going to be able to pack your favorite sequin dress that needs to be hand washed and hung to dry. That just isn’t going to happen. You have to be practical. My biggest advice for choosing which clothing to take with you is to choose items that can be layered!
It’s a dream come true when you’re in Paris in December, and can wear a t-shirt, denim shirt, plaid and coat, and yes — still look fashionable and still be warm!
Also, make sure to take with you lots of solid colors, because mixing and matching is key! I will hopefully be able to help YOU: the stylish gal who wants to feel good in what she’s wearing, but also pack very reasonably and practically!
Where we traveled:
We got sunshine, fall weather, snow, and rain. If you are wanting to travel during these off seasons (which despite what anyone says, is really great! You don’t have to deal with crazy tourists everywhere taking away from your experience, lots of things are cheaper, and less crowds to me is just a huge plus!)
One more thing:
I cannot stress how important it is to have the perfect backpack for your trip. That doesn’t mean you have to go out and spend $800 on some fancy-shmancy bag. It just means it needs to fit you and your body. When you have your backpack on and you’re walking around a city looking for a hostel, or standing when you would rather be sitting… you’ll never be more thankful for a great bag!
I personally really like MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op) brand (the bag I took) as well as Deuter backpacks. Whatever the type, just make sure it’s comfortable, the right size for your body, the correct weight and has LOTS of compartments!
>> Check out our guide to choosing a backpack.
Something that will save you time and insanity when living out of a backpack is a little something called stuff sacks! Do yourself a favor and purchase a couple of these babies and organize your clothing into them. I had five with me, the biggest one for tops, one for pants, one for shorts and dresses, one for underwear, tights and socks, and another one along for those extra items or if you choose to buy any more articles of clothing.
2 pairs of jeans – one denim blue pair, and one black pair. (I’m a high waisted pants fan, so I made sure to bring a pair along.)
1 pair of black leggings (I also bought a pair of fun print leggings while in Europe, that I wore very often!)
1 pair of jean shorts (can be worn alone when weather is warm, or layered with tights underneath when it starts getting chilly)
2 black skirts (one short and one maxi)
1 pair of black tights (I wore my tights so much that I ended up going through about 3 pairs on the trip! But don’t worry, you can buy them for cheap all over!)
1 button down denim shirt (great for layering, and staying fashionable!)
2 tank tops (one white, one black)
2 V-neck t-shirts (one white, one black)
1 plaid shirt (also great for layering and staying fashionable!)
2 sweaters (one black, one colored) Hint: pick ones that you already love so you know you will wear lots, and that are a bit looser so you will be able to do lots of layering with them.
1 graphic tank or crop tops
2 going out/fancier shirts
1 striped shirt (stripes will forever be in style and you can wear them with anything!)
1 jean jacket, or 1 leather jacket
1 warmer coat (but keep it light as to not bulk up your entire bag)
2 bras (one black, one nude)/1 sports bra (for sleeping or long travel days)
7 pairs of underwear
socks (I took about 3 pairs of black ankle socks, one pair of black knee highs, then 2 pairs of wool socks which are not only warm, but look great with boots!)
1 cardigan (I went with black, and didn’t regret it once)
2 dresses (one black, one colored or print)
1 pair of pajama bottoms, and 1 pajama top
1 scarf (Also ended up buying cheap ones at vintage shops.)
Comfortable shoes can still be stylish! Don’t fret! My best friend for my feet during the trip were my insoles! If you have some, bring them along. Make sure to pick your favorite shoes that you know will work with every outfit, and last you the entire duration!
1 pair of boots (I would choose either short combat boots, or knee high leather boots which can be rolled while in your backpack)
1 pair of black flats or loafers
1 pair of flip flops (Promise me you will wear them in ALL hostel showers!)
It’s nice to have most of these items pre-bought before you leave, but don’t worry if you run out of something or misplace it (because you will!), there are stores everywhere that will supply these things!
Lotion (Body and Face)
Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Ponytails and Bobby pins
Travel sized hairspray
Makeup (I also found it handy to have along makeup remover wipes for those nights you’re just too lazy to go wash your face, but don’t want to sleep with junk on your skin.)
>> Want to smell as pretty as you look? Try packing some solid perfumes.
Camera (This is quite obvious! I would recommend taking a good quality camera (SLR if you have one), a vintage/polaroid camera if you have one, and of course if you bring an iPhone, that’s always a great quick option for taking pictures!)
Memory Cards (make sure you have more than one just in case you run out of space)
iPod/iPhone (music, camera, apps, internet, etc.)
Chargers and Adapter
Laptop or iPad (not essential, but lots of people choose to bring them along)
This is all those random extra things that don’t quite fit into the above categories, but are very essential and just as important!
Umbrella (unless you have a very compact travel one, just buy one once you are there)
Flashlight or Headlamp
Books (I took my Europe travel book, and then 2 leisure books. Some people get great use out of Kindles. Also remember that most hostels have “book exchanges” which is essentially dropping your book off in exchange for taking a new one to read during your travels.)
Water Bottle (I would recommend a stainless steel one, and if possible get one with a hook attached so it’s easier to transport around.)
Jewelry (accessorizing makes even the simplest black outfit seem stylish and it increases your outfit options as well!)
A few Clothespins (nice to have when you are needing to hang something to dry)
Deck of Cards
Journal and Pen (I can’t stress enough how incredibly important it is to document your adventure!)
Small sleeping mat/yoga mat (If you have the space on the outside of your backpack to wrap up a small mat, it comes in handy when sleeping on airport floors, or staying at peoples homes that don’t have many extra beds.)
Passport, Visa, Debit Card, Travel Insurance, Health Card, ID
I hope this list will help make preparing for your journey a little bit easier. Just remember to bring:
- things you can layer
- your favorite pieces you know you will get wear out of
- colors and patterns that mix and layer easily
- comfortable and functional footwear
And don’t cram your bag absolutely full to the brim because if you didn’t already know: Europe has some of the best shopping and vintage/thrift stores in the entire world.
Remember at the end of the day, it isn’t what you are wearing or what you look like. It’s about squeezing every last drop out of your experience. This list will hopefully just take the weight of stressing over what to bring off your shoulders and help you enjoy your trip to the absolute fullest! I wish you all love and luck!
What do you think of Molly’s fashionista packing list for hitting the fashion capital of Europe?
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About the Author: Molly is a 19 year old gal who is crazy about life and all things in it! You can catch her enjoying her favorite hobbies which include; getting her Yoga on, reading, writing, drinking coffee, eating pizza, stealing fuzzy cats, being addicted to Pinterest, making art, still continuing to drink only European beers, purchasing too many dresses than necessary, cooking, laughing up a storm and loving everyone she meets. Oh, and of course traveling! If interested in reading her blog and taking a peek into her adventures throughout Europe it can be reached at: b-and-m-ineurope.blogspot.com
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