Dearest D-RAVEL Traveler,
My name is Sam Morgan (@sam.anne.morgan), and last spring, I was given the chance to embark on the trip of a lifetime. Through my school, I was able to participate in a two-week study abroad program in western Europe. During those two short weeks, I was able to experience four different European countries. We began our trip to Frankfurt, Germany, a high-speed train ride then brought us to Paris, France, where we spent a few days before a bus took us to Bruges, Belgium. Lastly, another train and a short taxi ride brought us to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Let me tell you, I have a fashion lover’s guide to backpacking in Europe for all your needs.
I was beyond ecstatic to be going to all these different places I had never been before and getting the chance to learn about the fashion and culture in western Europe. What I wasn’t overly thrilled about was the packing process. My teacher, who was leading our group, told us that we were to pack either one suitcase or preferably a large backpack. Packing light was essential since we were taking lots of trains and buses and also walking quite a bit from our transportation site to our different lodging. I remember thinking to myself, “How am I going to fit 14 different outfits and all my shoes into one backpack?!” The short of it was, I wasn’t.
After spending a fair amount of time searching: How to pack my closet into one bag, I came to the realization that the internet wasn’t going to be helping me much on this one. So, I got to work creating a plan of action.
I’m super stoked I get to share with all of you what I learned throughout my travels and I hope that if you are in a similar situation as I was, or if you hope to travel one day in the future, that these tips and tricks will be of great use to you!
Before you begin throwing stuff in a suitcase or backpack, it is important to plan a few things out—here’s my fashion lover’s guide to backpacking in Europe. First of which is the luggage, you wish to bring with on your journey. My travel buddies and I found that bringing a large traveling backpack worked best when bouncing around from country to country. This allows you to be hands-free while moving about the streets and stations as well as decreases the likelihood of theft. I bought mine online, it was considered a hiking backpack, but I chose it for the size and the pockets. I made sure to read some reviews on which was the most durable and spacious as well.
Pickpocketing is sadly quite common in the more populated areas such as train stations and touristy locations. To prevent this from happening to you I would recommend bringing a purse or small bag that can be worn on the front of your body where you can keep an eye on it. I bought a trendy little fanny pack in Paris that worked beautifully to carry my wallet and goodies during the day. It’s also important to bring a little snack in your bag in case you get hungry and want to save a few dollars.
Lastly, before you start picking out outfits to bring, I recommend creating an itinerary if one is not already being provided to you by your group or organization. This doesn’t need to be extremely detailed by any means. Scheduling snack and restroom breaks will not help you during the packing process. However, it is helpful to know what activities you plan to do in each location and how long you will be there.
Less is More:
Now that you have a rough idea of your day-to-day activities during your trip you can finally start planning outfits! It’s important to know what weather you’re going to experience while you’re there. During the springtime Europe is beginning to become quite warm, around 70º give or take, I also experienced a few rain showers during my trip which tend to bring the temperature down a bit. Overall, I would recommend dressing in layers and bringing a light rain jacket or umbrella that you can hook on to your luggage or backpack.
Next is a tip I learned that I feel made the most difference for me. After picking looks for each day of my trip, I laid out every outfit I planned to bring. Yes, every outfit for every day of my two-week excursion. From there I found pieces of clothing that I wanted to bring that I could wear more than once. That would be jeans, layering pieces, shoes, skirts, durable things that don’t necessarily need to be washed before wearing again. Also, it’s not nasty if you use a pair of pants twice, it’s called being resourceful. I used these pieces to overlap different outfits. If I had two looks that both included a pair of pants, I would use a pair of pants that I knew would look good with both. I would do that with as many pieces as I could. This way you are bringing less articles of clothing, creating more space in your bag, while still looking cute and stylish. And believe me when I tell you that nobody will care that you wore the same jeans and shoes in two different Instagram photos.
Lastly, a quick packing tip if you don’t already do this. I highly recommend rolling your clothes, it creates so much extra space in your bag. All you do is fold your shirt in half and roll that baby up like a burrito. As simple as that!
- I would recommend bringing a wrinkle release spray. They sell them in little travel versions at most stores. This helped out a ton since clothes tend to get super wrinkly after being shoved in a bag.
- Don’t bring all your money with you in your purse or bag during the day. If in the unfortunate case that you were to be pickpocketed, you don’t want to lose all your money all at once. Only keep the amount you need for that day on your person and leave the rest in a hidden part of your luggage or in a locked bag.
- Most restaurants will have an English menu if you ask for one. Otherwise, the google translate app has a nice feature that allows you to take a picture of something in another language and it will translate it to English. The app isn’t without error, but it will help you get the gist of things and prevent you from ordering liver when you thought you asked for chicken.
Thank you so very much for reading! I had so much fun sharing with you my fashion lover’s guide to backpacking in Europe. I hope by using my experiences, you can be successful with your packing. Happy traveling!