Ever since my two week trip to Scandinavia in 2015, I’ve been obsessed with packing as lightly as possible and avoiding checking bags AT ALL COSTS. Do you know how much time checking a bag adds to your travels? It’s stupid. Above is what my backpack usually looks like on the last day before I have to find some way to make the stuff I’ve acquired along the way fit in with the clothing and fear that I brought with me. So, you may ask, what exactly have I brought with me on my travels? I’m glad you asked.
Scandinavia, 2015: I was going abroad for two weeks with a sizable (compared to the backpack that I use now) rolling bag in an almost-fall-like temperature zone. I knew layers was probably my best bet. I brought with me: two pairs of black leggings, one pair of blue skinny jeans, one pair of black skinny jeans, a pashmina, a pair of walking sneakers, a pair of crocs, two tank tops, a flannel button down shirt, two three-quarters sleeve length shirts, one 3/4 sleeve length dress, a cardigan, and a logo tee. I have to say I can’t remember for the life of me what the black shirt on the right is, or the pink thing directly next to it. You know what that means: I didn’t wear it. I also brought flip flops (for the hostel showers), an umbrella, my toiletries, my Lonely Planet guide book, and a collapsable water bottle. And of course, my phone, wallet, chargers, etc. Out of all this stuff, I think the only things I never wore were that pink, the black shirt, the dress, and the beige cardigan.
Those sneakers I’d bought specifically for the trip because I knew I’d be walking a lot so I went to The Walking Company and bought these sneakers. This turned out to be a terrible idea because they ripped my ankles to shreds. I was applying and changing my band aids multiple times a day. I switched to wearing my Crocs ASAP and then only switched back when the Crocs started to hurt (after a few days, at the very least). I can’t remember the brand but I would never recommend them to anyone who was traveling. I would sooner recommend Crocs or Converse.
2016, Poland: I’d obtained packing cubes and a (now retired) backpack from Tortuga. I love this company. I’d 100% recommend them for your traveling needs. this time around so my clothes were a bit more organized. What I wasn’t smart about were my packing choices. Sure, I packed light, but I packed clothes that were definitely not warm enough for Poland in late October. What I packed this time: one pair of blue jeans, two pairs of black leggings, one long-sleeved black shirt, one 3/4 sleeve Green Day t-shirt, a pashmina, a KALE t-shirt, two tank tops, that same stupid flannel button down, and a pair of grey sweat pants and a black thermal shirt for sleeping in. I think I actually wore all of this during the trip. Even the flannel top (it was cold in Poland in October). I wore a jean jacket, too. I ended up buying a sweater, winter hat, scarf, gloves, and a peacoat while I was in Poland (thank goodness for the cheap exchange rate) because this clothing was not cutting it for 45* F and raining.
I also packed my travel journal, my parent’s super old, cracked iPad, makeup, toiletries, Kindle, converter, camera, earbuds, inflatable neck pillow (they sell these at the Flying Tiger – GET ONE), passport, chargers, Rick Steeve’s guide book, and my collapsable water bottle.
London/Dublin, 2017: Finally, this past summer, I knew what I’d be getting myself into weather-wise. I’d done London in the summer before and Dublin is north of that and usually pretty cloud. I packed: one pair of blue jeans, two pairs of black leggings, a pashmina, a (different) flannel button down shirt, grey sweatpants and white t-shirt to sleep in, a patterned 3/4 sleeve shirt, a black long sleeve shirt, a track jacket, a royal blue sweater, two tank tops, and two logo tees.
I don’t think I actually acquired any clothing on this trip, shockingly. I think the only item of clothing that I packed and didn’t wear was the patterned 3/4 sleeve shirt. I should know better now than to pack actual clothing when I’m backpacking because 9.9 times out of 10, I will thrown on some jeans and a solid colored shirt and go. I also brought two Lonely Planet travel guides (too much!), chargers, a book, passport, brush, travel journal, makeup, toiletries, a camera, umbrella (it was London, after all), and a converter (which ended up only working in some outlets, so check your converters, too, before you go).
Conclusion: Pack light. Pack solid colors. Check the temperature of where you’re going. Dress in layers. And for the love of timesaving, don’t check a bag.