Packing Light for Europe: from 0 to packed in 20 minutes!

Well, I suppose it’s true. There really is a first time for everything!

The formula:

previously horrible packer + backpack + nicely thought out packing list + packing cubes = happy traveler + marital bliss!

I am getting ready for my first backpacking trip. Hosteling, backpacking, washing clothes in the sink, you name it. I am so excited about the adventure of it all, that for the first time EVER in my life I am COMPLETELY packed 5 DAYS before the trip! Up until now, my track record was more along the lines of, start 5 hours before the trip, end 5 minutes before leaving the house. But this time, I am taking a single pack, totaling 24 pounds, packed in all of 20 minutes – thanks to a list and packing cubes! My hope is to sneak it as a carry on, but we’ll see.

So why backpack? Because my last trip to Europe was a nightmare of 5 peoples’ worth of suitcases rolling through cobblestone streets, losing wheels, and getting crammed into a tight trunk of a rental car. There was a single person in the group (you guessed it – not me) who had taken a backpack, and had a much easier time of it. Since then, and other suitcase (mis)adventures, I decided to get a pack and try this “traveling light” thing that seems to make everyone happier and more excited.

Here the fully packed pack – Gregory’s Jade 60. I love her. Cushioned and with airflow on the back. She has been tested on a practice 4 day trip where it was way too full, teaching me a firsthand lesson about packing light. I am so glad I had the idea of doing a practice run to get some of the mistakes out of the way.

Reading up on packing light, I also discovered traveling cubes. No, they are not hype. You can read over 10,000 five star reviews about them yourself, at a major seller’s website.

I got a set of 3 mediums from eBags, and added a single small one. Boy, do those things fit a lot! Those cubes hold ALL my clothes for the trip except what I am wearing on the plane.

In case it helps you make sense of this list, here is our itinerary, from August 6 – August 24. As you can see, the weather could range from wet and cold at night to mighty hot during the day:

1.5 days in Dublin

4 days in London

2 days in Edinburgh

3 days in the Scottish Highlands

1 day in Edinburgh

1 travel day

3 days in Dubrovnik, Croatia

2 days in Split, Croatia


First medium cube:

Biker leather jacket

Merino LS top/baselayer

2 thin cotton LS tops (grey, black) for Scotland and/or night time

2 tank tops (beige, black) for hot days and Croatia

2 pyjama tops (1 tank, 1 LS cotton)

1 convertible top/beach dress (flower print)

1 bra


Second medium cube:

1 Merino mid-layer in case of unpredictable weather in the UK

1 light black cardigan

2 scarves

1 rain jacket (will probably take it out as I have a rainproof trench I am taking on the plane)






Third medium cube:

Skinny jeans

2 skirts from H&M (1 striped, 1 silver)

dressy shorts from BR

1 night out dress (purple, rolled up)

1 day dress (green paisley, rolled up)

2 jimjams bottoms (plaid flannel shorts, chihuahua flannel pants)




The small cube:

socks (4pr)

undies (4)

bra (1 + 1 wearing on the plane)





AWESOME croc mini-travel flat iron (since flat irons are notorious for burning out when used with voltage converters, which is what happened to my old Sedu the very first time I tried to use it in France)


Shoes go into the pack, in between the packing cubes:

(Really tall) suede wedges for night out/dancing

Dr. Scholl’s fielding flats (comfy!)

Guess converse-type tennis shoes

Flat sandals

Flip flops for hostel/showers

Yes, I did go a little crazy on the shoes… But, they fit, and are not too heavy. Except for my leather riding boots waterproofed with SnoSeal in case of wet UK weather (shhh…) But, I am wearing those on the plane!


Finally, the top compartment of my backpack detaches, and holds:

Toiletry kit from Target, which folds down nice and flat – minimalistic contents,

and a night out clutch (black sequins, forgot to take a pic).

We had a brief toiletry crisis as I went to Lush to get my favorite bar soap, to find out it has closed down due to an upcoming expansion. But, fear not! After a moment of panic, I googled Lush and found there is one 200 yards from our hostel in Dublin, our first stop. The global village does have some advantages…



It’s a perfect fit in the pack, which weights in pretty light at 24 lbs, and with a decent amount of room to pack some souvenirs on top!

Plane clothes:

  • Black leggings
  • Thin cotton LS (one of the ones above)
  • Leather riding boots
  • Rainproof trench (Hooded Rain Showers from Land’s End… passed the shower test!)

That’s it! I really hope they’ll let me take it as a carry on.  Besides the pack, I am only taking a light bucket type purse with my small items and electronics (RFID wallet, sunglasses, phone, computer, etc). But, I will post on that another time.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s