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What to bring on your backpacking trip to Europe

I finally took the plunge and started packing. I love a good challenge, but this task almost defeated me. I have a tendency to over pack for a weekend in St. John’s; I had no idea what I’d do for 4 weeks in Europe, with one backpack. But I DID IT and I feel like a magician… or at least a really awesome Girl Guide. I somehow fit all of this clothes into one backpack, with room to spare! And, it’s a manageable weight! Where’s my expert packer badge?!

What kind of backpack am I taking?

I originally booked this trip thinking that I was set in the backpack department. When I moved to London in 2010, I splurged on a really nice pack by Arcteryx. But once I sat down and started reading advice articles on what type of pack to take on a backpacking trip, I soon discovered that my 33L bag probably wasn’t big enough. It was also top-loading, meaning that I had to take out everything in my bag to get to the items on the bottom. It was a drag.

So I settled on the fact that I needed to buy a new bag and I purchased a MEC Supercontinent 65L pack online. The exact pack I purchased has since be replaced with a newer version. Here’s what mine looks like (but mine is dark blue).

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I love this pack. It loads like a regular suitcase, has a detachable daypack, has hip pockets and there is a zippered cover for all the straps on the back which will be so handy when I have to check my pack to get on the plane to London.

What’s in my main pack?

Somehow I managed to pack all of this into my main pack, with tons of room to spare:



2 tshirts
2 tank tops
Longer sleeve top
Long sleeve white shirt
Dressy top (for all those times I’ll go out dancing with handsome men)

2 pairs of shorts
2 pairs of capris
Pair of jeans

4 dresses (one maxi… for visiting the Vatican)

7 pairs of undies
An extra bra
A sports bra
2 bathing suits (hello Mediterranean sea!)

Pair of flip flops (for hostel showers)
Dressy pair of gladiator sandals (I’m not allowed into Rome without them)

Other items

XL size travel towel
Hanging toiletry bag (see below photo)
Miscellaneous first aid stuff (tylenol, bandaids, eye drops, etc)
Wrinkle releaser spray
Contact solution

Note: All the items on the left side of the photo are my travel day outfit, so they aren’t packed in my bag, and they aren’t included in my list of clothing taken. So you can add 1 sweater, jean jacket, tank top, leggings, sneakers, scarf and socks to the list of clothes I’m taking.

I also got an awesome idea from The Chic Site to use the Stella & Dot hanging toiletry bag I got for Christmas (thanks cousin!!) for all of my frequently used bathroom products. This was freaking genius. I’m staying in hostels and most bathrooms/showers are like they are in university dorms, so I have to drag all my shower/makeup things back and forth to the bathroom every morning. This is going to save me so much trouble.

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All my shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste/brush, hair brush, contacts, makeup, and jewelry in one place.

Packing Cubes saved my life

Ok. Maybe they aren’t going to save my life, but they are an organizational wonder! When I was in the city last week, I picked up these Pack ID packing cubes from The Travel Bug. There are 5 different sizes and you roll up all your clothes in each separate cube. I used the 2nd largest one for my tops, dresses, and cardigan. I used the middle size for my shorts, capris and jeans, and then one of the smaller ones for my undies, socks and bathing suits. There’s still extra room in the pants and undergarment cubes. And, they come with handy ID stickers, just in case I’m drunk at any point and can’t tell that my pants aren’t a shirt. Don’t laugh. It will happen to us all at one point.


All of this seriously fit into my bag. And it’s not heavy! Sure, it’s not light… but it’s very manageable. Watch out H&M and Primark. I’m coming for you!

*I’m using the old lady hair net to keep my shoes from touching my clothes. I swear it will never be worn.


Thanks to posts from Blonde Chick Travels and The Savvy Backpacker on packing for Backpacking trips. Your posts were crucial to my packing success.

I’ll post again soon about the daypack I’m taking with me with all my electronics. Stay tuned!


  1. posted by
    Apr 30, 2015 Reply

    I am so beyond jealous of this trip! I wish I could go and I so want to but alas, it requires monetary funds that I do not have. Damn you student loans!

    P.S. Lisa says we should be friends. She is threatening to set us up on a blind-friend-coffee meet up. Not to sound weird or anything. Just warning you. :p

    • posted by
      Apr 30, 2015 Reply

      If Lisa says we should be friends, she’s probably right. We might not look anything alike, but we’re essentially the same person, so I trust her judgement. Yay for new friends!

  2. posted by
    rochelle leblanc
    Apr 30, 2015 Reply

    Such a cool post! I have the same backpack as you from MEC but its a 75L. I’ve downsized for my 3.5 weeks in Europe and instead borrowed a friends 65 L.

    • posted by
      Apr 30, 2015 Reply

      The 65L seems like more than enough space for me. And I love the detachable day pack. Make sure you get packing cubes. They are the best purchase I ever made. That and a travel size bottle of febreeze 😛 Good luck on your trip!!

  3. posted by
    Dec 3, 2015 Reply

    Hi there,

    Did you bring this MEC backpack as carry on luggage and did it meet the size requirement?

    Or did you bring it as checked luggage?


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