How I Packed Just A Backpack For Europe

When my husband decided to travel to Europe for our vacation this year I knew I was going to have to pack light. Traveling to four cities in two weeks wasn't going to allow for a large wardrobe. He purchased Oakley backpacks for each of us to take on our trip. That's right; a backpack for two weeks in Europe. Now we weren't camping or even staying in hostels, but to survive four flights, four train rides, taxi and shuttle rides, two mile walks to a train station and a water boat taxi, I knew the backpack was my best bet.

It's been long known by my family and friends that I love clothes; lots of clothes. I'm not exactly sure when the love affair started but I think it was around 13 years old when I started seeing clothing as a way to express my personality instead of just something to go to school in.

How was I going to do this? I needed to survive two weeks with one backpack. Plus I was going to be visiting some of the most iconic places in the world. I didn't want to be wearing a wrinkled cotton t-shirt and jean shorts in a photo with the Eiffel Tower that would probably be displayed in my living room for years to come.

I knew I had to pack "light". But what does that mean? I did eventually end up packing light because my bag only weighed 15 pounds. But I think a better term may be to pack "smart". Here's how I did it:                       

1. Solid Colored Clothes

Why take solid colored clothing? It gives you more options for outfits than say, a patterned or striped shirt. Take for example this purple Express Portofino shirt. This shirt was so easy to wear with jeans, shorts or dress pants. It could easily be dressed up or dressed down. This lightweight shirt is 100% polyester so it didn't wrinkle much. It was cool enough in hot weather and still protected my shoulders from the sun. It also could be easily hand washed and hung to dry quickly, unlike cotton clothing. It looked great with jeans, shorts or dress pants. 

As we moved from city to city, I decided that each new city was a chance to re-wear my clothing again. We also rented an apartment in Venice which had a washing machine. Since this was halfway through our trip it was the perfect time to wash our clothing and give us a whole new wardrobe again.

2. Dresses

When it comes to dressing up with ease, dresses are the way to go. I packed three dresses for our trip. Dresses are a favorite of mine to pack because they provide one complete outfit with a single article of clothing. My favorite dress on our trip turned out to be a black dress I bought from H&M.

3. Scarfs

Scarfs are the perfect way to accessorize an outfit. They are lightweight and take up minimal room when packing. It's also great to have a scarf to cover up your shoulders in case the sun is strong and you're worried about sunburn. I wore my multi colored scarf from Anthropologie. It went well with a lot of my outfits and automatically dresses up an outfit.

4. Dress Pants

I packed one pair of black dress pants for this trip, which proved to be pretty valuable. I typically wear Banana Republic pants to work, so I took a pair along. I wore them pretty often especially in Paris and Rome. Also, they were much easier to wash and dry than jeans. It was very uncommon to see jeans worn in Paris and I felt more comfortable wearing my black pants there. I mostly wore my jeans when we were flying or traveling by train.

5. Comfortable Shoes

This is probably the single most important item to pack for a trip to Europe. We averaged around nine miles a day of walking just from sight-seeing! You want to make sure you have something comfortable on your feet. I wore Easy Spirit Karelly Gladiator Sandals. I bought these shoes specifically for this trip and I was sure glad that I did! They were really comfortable and didn't give off the appearance of a "walking" shoe. I walked miles in these shoes and they have easily become my go to summer shoe when I'm going to be walking for a while.

When I wasn't wearing my sandals I was wearing my Kangaroos shoes. I found these shoes about seven years ago and they are the most comfortable pair of shoes I've even worn. They are a bit of a 1980's throwback (which was a popular trend in Europe), but that suits me just fine. I've had my current pair for approximately four years and they've held up well. I wore these whenever we were in transit from city to city because they took up a lot of space in my bag. Kangaroos shoes are really hard to find in stores, but I have been buying them from Zappos for a while now.


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