Packing 101

The Europe Trip – How to be a packing ninja

DSC_0025-002I’ve spent the better part of the last two months researching packing lists for backpackers. It’s a daunting task to figure out what kind of backpack is best suited for your trip, what you need, and how you’re going to make it all fit.

The MEC Wayfarer
Specs: 42-53 Litre Capacity
Price: $79 Canadian (free shipping)

The backpacks people use to travel through Europe tend to cost upwards of $150. More if you choose a high quality brand like Osprey. I debated which bag to get for A LONG TIME. I actually bought a second-hand one off Kijiji before realizing I needed something more tailored to my needs. In the end, I opted for the Wayfarer by Mountain Equipment Co. The price was unbeatable. It also comes with a day pack that rolls up and fits in the front pouch of the backpack. AND it’s convertible. I can wear it as a backpack (the Wayfarer has a hip belt and padded, adjustable shoulder straps) OR I can zipper a covering over the back panel and turn the Wayfarer into a duffel bag. This feature is great for flying because it means the straps won’t get eaten by airport conveyor belts.

convertable bag

The key to packing for an extended trip is organization. My bag has one big compartment, so I’ve used packing cubes to divide it into sections. Here’s a master list of what I’m bringing and how I’ve broken it down:


DSC_0038Large packing cube:

  • 1 pair skinny jeans
  • 1 pair black pants
  • 1 pair black leggings
  • 1 pair sweats
  • 1 blue dress (3/4-length sleeve)
  • 1 grey cardigan

Medium packing cube:

  • 4 t-shirts (two stripped, two plain)
  • 2 long sleeved tops
  • 2 tank tops (one beige camisole, one quick-dry racer-back)

DSC_0037Small packing cube:

  • 7 pairs of underwear
  • 7 pairs of socks (4 pairs ankle socks, 3 pairs long)
  • 3 bras (two regular, 1 sports)


  • 1 pair Merrell running shoes
  • 1 pair Bobs (knock off Toms)
  • 1 pair Flip flops for hostel showers


DSC_0057Make Up Bag:

  • Travel mirror, mascara, BB cream, powder, coverstick, blush, brown eyeshadow, black-eyeliner, 2 travel brushes, travel lipstick (red)
  • 1 quick-dry Pack Towel in XL (some hostels don’t have towels, or charge €3-5 to purchase one)

Toilet Kit:

  • Shampoo + Conditioner
  • Body Wash
  • Deoderant
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Floss
  • 2 disposable razors
  • Brush
  • Hair stuff (elastics, bobby pins, pro-wrap for headbands)
  • Disposable face cleansing cloths



Technology Case:

  • Camera Charger
  • White iPod cord
  • Black USB for charging phone + Kobo
  • Extra memory cards
  • International SIM Card
  • Travel Adapters for Europe and Great Britain

Odds & Ends Case:

  • Laundry stuff: Sink stopper, mini detergent packs, travel clothes line
  • Padlock for hostel lockers
  • TSA lock for luggage
  • First Aid: Bandages, Q-Tips, nail clippers, Advil
  • Pen and Post-its (to write down directions)
  • Mini flashlight (so you don’t wake up your fellow hostel-goers)


  • DSC_0063Nikon D3100 and Case
  • iPod + Phone + Kobo
  • Travel Journal + Pen
  • Inflatable Travel Pillow + Earplugs
  • Lip chap
  • Collapsible water bottle
  • Black zip-up sweater (not pictured)

Not pictured:

  • A North Face rain coat that slides into a mesh pocket inside my main bag
  • A dark green zip-up coat I’ll be wearing most days, but which can also fit in my bag
  • A beige infinity scarf
  • Travel umbrella


DSC_0065I’m also bringing this purple folder which has copies of my hostel reservations, a photocopy of my passport, my Eurail Pass and the user guide for my Global SIM CARD. I’m bringing a travel wallet along with a neck pouch for my passport that I can hide under my shirt.

It took A LONG TIME to figure out what I needed and how to organize it. I’m travelling in the fall, so I needed to be conscious of the changing seasons. I’m not bringing mitts, a hat, or boots, but if the weather gets too cold I’ll buy those items as I need them. There’s some extra room in my packed bag, which is a good for souvenirs or buying items on the road. Here’s a picture of the finished product, and some resources I used when putting my list together:
The Savvy Backpacker: Travel Packing List for Women
EF Student Travel Tips: Packing



5 thoughts on “Packing 101

    • I didn’t try. I only flew twice and it seemed just as easy to me to check it. However, I think it fits within the carry on dimensions of most airlines.

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