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



Top Sites Wish List

The Europe Trip – The guide book that’s not a guide book

DSC_0012I borrowed a stack of guidebooks from the library when I decided I was going to Europe.  I’ve used them to read up on attractions and to figure out what area of a city I should stay in. The problem is guide books are too heavy to lug around in a backpack, so I’ll be leaving mine at home. In order to take some of their information with me, I’ve compiled a master list of the top sites I’d like to visit in each city. I don’t have detailed information about how much each attraction costs or its hours of operation, but at least if I’m looking for something to do I can consult my list and go from there. The best part? My printed list fits on one sheet of paper. Much lighter than lugging 5 pounds worth of guidebooks.


Trafalgar square, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, The Eye, Covent Garden (shopping), Buckingham Palace/St. James Palace in St. James Park (connected), free walking tour, Millenium Bridge (as seen in Harry Potter), Kings Cross Station, Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio

Cafes, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Notre Dame, free walking tour, Sacre Coeur/Montmartre area (best view of city), Catacombs, Champ d’Elysee and L’Arc de triomphe, Opera Garnier, Jacquemart-Andre museum (an aristocrats mansion), Day trip to Versailles
Tour: Louvre, Eiffel Tower

Belgium (Bruges/Brussels):
Eat chocolate

Anne Frank House, Heinnekin museum, rent bike, walk red light district, The Pancake Bakery, Van Gogh Museum, Begijnhof (historic complex)

Reichstag (parliament) + Brandenburger Tor (opposite), Holocaust memeorial, Gendarmenmarkt, concentration camp, Unter den Linden (boulevard of old buildings), Berliner Dom (cathedral), Checkpoint Charlie (berlin wall), East Side Gallery (most interesting part of berlin wall)
Tip: Take Buses 100 & 200 (public buses that take you to major sites in city)

Charles bridge, Prague castle

Hofburg imperial palace, Stephansdom (big church with mosiac roof), Schloss Schonbrunn (Habsburg’s summer home), KunstHausWien (museum that looks like something out of a toy shop), Prater (amusement park/ferris wheel)
Tip: Use tram 1 & 2 to circle Ringtrasse (Ring Road) to see pretty buildings

Festung Hohensalzburg (the big fortress), Residenz (baroque palace), Schloss Mirabell (palace- Sound of Music’s Do-Re-Mi song filmed on steps), Residenzplats (main square), Mozart Geburtshaus (museum of Mozart’s birthplace)
Tip: Salzburg Card (gets you public transit, river cruise and into main sights)
If bored of palaces: Day trip to nearby salt mines or ice caves

Residenz (palace of bavarian rulers) beer gardens, Marienplatz square and the new town hall (Neues Rathaus), Viktualienmarkt (market) right outside of Marienplatz, Hofbrauhaus beer hall for 1 litre beers, the English Garden (blocks from Residence palace- bigger than central park) with beer gardens inside, you can rent bikes from train station, Schloss Nymphenburg (royal family’s summer palace), Day Trip to Ludwig’s castles (Neuschwanstein Castle)

Ride the Ebbelwei Express (The apple wine express- historic tram that goes through city), climb the Goethe Turm (Main tower) for best view, Romerberg (Frankfurt’s old central square)