Packing for two months in Europe
It can be intimidating packing for an extended stay in a foreign place. Where do you start? How do you condense your whole wardrobe into a backpack? What if you NEED something and you don't have it?? It is actually less overwhelming than it sounds, and we are actually still used to wearing the same clothes even after being back in the States. I'll talk about both guy and girl packing since it is slightly different.
I'll start with guy packing. Mike's bag isn't huge, it's about 33liters and 3lbs from L.L. Bean. He also got a good deal on a bag from wilson's leather for extra space. Since we were traveling more Airbnb and private hostel style for our honeymoon, we weren't looking for a huge backpacking bag that made us stick out as a backpacker. I guess you can say we wanted to "travel in style." The shoes and camera made up the bulk of the packs when wearing sandals but they were versatile. Enough grip for light hiking, but nice enough to go out to a nicer restaurant. He actually used the backpack for putting the camera bag in (took up a good chunk of space), toiletries, and accessories, while the leather bag contained all the clothes and a space for his shoes when he wasn't wearing them.
The key for guy packing is having classic pieces that can all match each other. They dress very well in Europe and they tend to wear more muted colors. So he had a couple dress up shirts in white, and blue checkered, a black sweater and fleece for cooler weather since we were coming late April and going into the alps. He packed:
2 button down shirts
1 pair of jeans
1 pair of nicer slacks
1 pair of shorts (that doubled as a swim suit)
and he bought a suit coat while we were over there in Italy
4 pairs of boxers (he wished he brought more)
4 pairs of sox
a driver cap
We both bought exofficio undergarments that were moisture wicking and anti-bacterial, also fast drying when you needed to wash them in the sink when there wasn't a washer or dryer available. There are barely any dryers in Europe so it was smart on our end to make sure we didn't have too many cotton garments. They have things called drying racks in the bathrooms in some places which are basically like a vertical heated ladder, but most people air dry their clothes there.
We debated bringing the camera since it took up so much space and it was a bit heavy. But there were honestly so many photo opportunities in Europe that we were so glad we brought it. We took over 4,000 photos and we will definitely print some out and frame them for our home. We also brought two different lenses, a fixed and a telephoto. The fixed lens was perfect for those low-light night photographs and the telephotos great for taking more wide angle landscapes and zooming in on things from far away.
We used the telephoto lens the most, even though the fixed lens took better photos.
We filled all the cards we brought to Europe. We were thinking of bringing an external hard drive but those are bulkier and add more weight to your pack. These cards are much more light weight and it takes a lot to fill a 32 or 64 GB card even shooting in RAW. It's not pictured here but we purchased two additional 64 GB cards so we had 4 total.
Here's the camera bag we brought. It was also great for when we were walking around the city and needed to store water bottles or my cardigan on the extendable side pockets.
Now for girl packing. It is a little bit more complicated, but its a lot more little things rather than big items. I also had a first aid kit, some ibuprofen and cold medicine just in case, makeup, and extra bag for liquids that could spill or hand sanitizer, some toothbrush wisps for when there wasn't time to brush those pearly whites, tissues, febreeze for when your clothes weren't so fresh, and tampons (you can also buy them over there but they might be a different brand). I also had a european adapter since european outlets are shaped differently and have a different voltage. We also got a surge protector with multiple outlets (and usb ports) for plugging in multiple devices (both our phones and the tablet).
One of the best things that both Mike and I were happy we bought were the nylon stuff bags. I grabbed one large and one small and this was perfect for creating separation between different clothing items and organization in your pack so you can easily find things and pull them out. I used zip lock baggies, one sandwich size bag for 10 pairs of easy drying underwear, and another for 4 pairs of light merino wool socks which repel moisture and bacteria growth. I had two socks that were for flats, and two longer socks for cooler weather. Bras and a bathing suit I put in a lager freezer zip lock bag.
I also ended up using a freezer bag for dirty laundry, and freezer bags for sandals and flats so you can find them easily and so they don't get their "shoe-i-ness" all over your bag *important*. Just bring extra zip lock bags in general. We ended up using all of them by the end of the trip.
So pictured above for clothes, I brought:
2 neutral tank tops
1 colorful and 1 black muscle tank top
3 dresses including: 1 maxi skirt, 1 summer dress, 1 nice dress for dinner reservations
1 pull over thermal
1 dressy black blouse
2 cardigans (one color one black)
two pairs of leggings (I used for pajamas mostly)
1 pair of jeans
1 pair of shorts (I didn't even wear the shorts)
2 comfortable unwired bras
1 strapless underwire bra
1 colorful and 1 patterned scarf (to dress up all the black/solids)
1 pair of hiking boots (for travel days and hiking)
1 pair of sandals (I wore these most)
1 pair of flats (for dressing up)
1 water resistant jacket
This was my travel outfit for the plane over. I wore my black dressy blouse, one strapless comfy bra, blue jeans, and a pink patterned scarf.
I had a matching set from Timberland, a messenger bag and a water proof backpack. The way I packed my bag that made my life so much easier was by rolling my clothes which also prevents wrinkles. I put my water resistant jacket on the bottom. I then had two nylon stuff bags side by side, the bigger one I put my pants and shirts which took up the most room, and the smaller one I put my dresses, leggings and shorts. In front of the nylon bags I put my flats in the zip lock bag on one side (left or right), and my sandals in its zip lock bag on the other. My bag with bras and dirty laundry stayed on top, and the baggies with the socks and underwear went in the front two pockets of my backpack. In the front pocket above the two on the bottom, I put my toiletry bag. Easy!
My messenger bag was loaded with different pockets for all the accessories/makeup/electronics etc we needed. I put the valuables in the middle pocket and had a small combination lock to lock the two zippers together. That front little zipper pocket was great for easy access items like mascara, hand sanitizer, and lip balm.
I also had a small over the shoulder wristlet size purse for money, passport, and smaller items like chapstick, bobby pins and change.
There were things that we brought that we didn't really need. These items included the microfiber pack towel, bungee cord (although we did use it once to dry our clothes), and money belts (good for storing extra credit cards and important documents but neither of us actually wore them). It is important to stay aware in congested touristy areas and keep an eye on your stuff but we never felt truly threatened. We never used the earplugs but we really utilized a white noise app on our tablet to help us sleep.
The things we didn't think we'd need but actually used included the first aid kit; when Mike's shoes weren't totally broken in and we went for a 3 hour hike he got massive blisters on each foot. The bleach pen was handy, especially when we spilled a little bit of red wine on white bed sheets at an airbnb and our clothes. The hanging toiletry bag I bought was perfect for storing all the bathroom essentials, toothbrush, tweezers, nail clippers, jewelry, contact cases, and women's hygiene essentials I needed and it also included a mirror.
All in all, we were pretty prepared throughout our trip. Anything we didn't have on us we bought while we were over there. You can find pretty much anything you need in the major cities. There were also times where we got rid of a few things. We didn't wear our packs for longer than a half an hour, and if the place we were staying was further than that, then we'd grab a bus or cab to get there. We did a ton of walking, and there are always a lot of stairs with 4 story buildings so you'll definitely get some exercise! Our bags withstood rain and normal wear and tear, but one of mike's zippers broke during our last week in Europe. It would've been handy to have a sewing kit on us or some safety pins but we didn't bother since we were so close to the end of our trip. Otherwise, we became seasoned travelers, and were packing our bags within minutes by the end of the trip.
Ready to take on the world!
Have any other questions on packing or traveling in Europe? Please leave a comment below!