Travelling can be tough. You’re pushed out of your comfort zone and forced to adapt to everything you’re not used to: different cultures, different time zones, different climates… I love everything about it. But I know it can be intimidating, and I am definitely one of those people who hates feeling unprepared. Before I left for my trip abroad, I looked up every single “What to Pack for Europe” guide I could find on Pinterest. Most of them should have been labeled “How to Pack Everything You Own to Look Cute in Europe.” However, I managed to find some lists that were actually helpful. Out of everything I took overseas, these were the top 10 things I’m glad I had with me on my trip. Definitely don’t leave them at home!
1. Carry-on sized backpack: I did SO MUCH research on which backpack to invest in before I finally settled on the Tortuga last year (this one was my second choice); I took it with me to Japan and it stuck with me all throughout Europe. It’s the same size as a carry-on suitcase but without the wheels. It has truly changed the way I travel. I promise, you don’t need a giant suitcase when you travel abroad. You just don’t. While people in my travel group were struggling to haul their giant ~40 lb suitcases off and on planes, trains, & buses in between each city, I had zero trouble. Getting your luggage from Point A to Point B can be such a pain, so why not make it easier? You’ll thank yourself later. Also, PSA: the backpack I used is on sale right now for a great deal!
2. Crossbody backpack: As I mentioned above, I hate feeling unprepared. When you plan to be out and about literally ALL DAY, a simple purse isn’t going to cut it. I needed a bag that was big enough to hold all my necessities but also small enough to not be annoying. In this bag I could fit everything I needed—jacket, cap, battery charger, iPod, phone, money, sunglasses, medicine, etc. It’s super simple to just swing around and grab what you’re looking for. And it’s way more comfortable for your back as well!
3. Water-resistant walking shoes: I originally bought these shoes when I went to Japan because I knew it was going to rain a lot during my stay. While everyone else was miserable in wet socks after being caught in a constant downpour, my feet were perfectly fine! Not only that—the shoes are actually SUPER comfortable as well. In the last 2 weeks when I went to the colder countries in Europe—England, Scotland, Norway, Ireland—I pretty much wore these every single day.
4. Simple (but nice) sandals: People who know me well know that I wear my Chacos all the time (see #7). And it’s true, but I also know when a situation calls for something a little nicer. I brought cute sandals for simple outings like dinner, shows, or nights going out when I didn’t feel like getting made fun of for my shoes. Flat sandals take up almost no room in your bag, so it’s nice to have some options. Try to stick to a neutral color that way they will pair well with more of your outfits. I didn’t bother bringing heels, in case you were wondering.
5. External battery charger: I didn’t invest in a travel plan for my phone unlike some people in my group; I kept my phone on airplane mode the entire time unless I was somewhere with reliable wifi. Still, when you’re out and about all day, your battery is gonna drain, and you do not wanna get stuck with a dead phone in case you get lost or need help. I also use mine at music festivals like ACL and SXSW. Seriously, invest in an external battery charger. They’re not even expensive and will come in handy when you need it most!
6. Cap: If you saw my photos from Europe, you may have noticed that I wore my Longhorns cap pretty much 95% of the time. And even when I wasn’t wearing it, I always had it in my backpack just in case. The sun was brutal in Europe! Before I left, I didn’t even own a cap. The only reason I bought one was because they compact easily and are perfect for bad hair days, and I didn’t wanna pack my wide-brim fedora that I knew I would have to carry most of the time. Now I own 6 caps. I have a problem.
7. Walking sandals: Okay, my love for my Chacos is nothing new. But I say it every time: they are the BEST things I’ve ever put on my feet. We were walking ~10 miles a day in Europe, and every morning I was ready to go again not feeling tired at all. Maybe you’re one of those girls who can walk around all day in shoes with zero arch support and be just fine, but that’s not me. I used to think I could do that, but after 2 hours I’d be complaining about my aching feet. Every time! Then the heavens opened up to these ugly walking sandals, and my life was forever changed for the better.
8. Fleece jacket: I was sooo close to not bringing this jacket because I knew I would more than likely have to carry it around when travelling from city to city. Then on the morning of my flight, I was freaking out and thought, Screw it! and grabbed it last-minute. I’m so glad I ended up bringing it because I packed a total of ZERO sweaters—which didn’t really matter the first few weeks, but in the colder countries, I never took it off. This jacket never shows up on the blog because it’s not very “fashion forward” but anyone who knows me well knows that this thing is always with me (at least when it’s not summer, of course).
9. Rain jacket: I brought my rain jacket because I knew it was going to rain during my stay in England and I read that it rains even more in Scotland and Ireland. It was great for the unexpected days of rain that we experienced as well like in Prague and Florence. When the weather got cold, it was super important to layer your clothing, so I would even wear my rain jacket over my fleece jacket in some cases. So yes, bring your rain jacket! Leave your umbrella at home.
10. Packing cubes: Yet another item that has changed the way I travel. I wish I knew about these sooner! I love keeping an organized suitcase that way I know where to find everything, and these are perfect for that. While bouncing from city to city after only staying in one location for ~2 nights, I had to do so much packing and unpacking which involved a lot of rolling my clothes for easier storage; thank goodness for packing cubes. *praise hands*
Honorable mentions: Earplugs and an eye-mask. Trust me.
Now that I think about it, I literally brought all of these things with me when I went to Japan, and I was only there for a little over a week. Your own packing list will be dependent on where you go and what time of year you’re there; maybe you’re headed to the Greek Islands for a short trip in the summer in which case you can leave the fleece/rain jackets at home. This list is definitely tailored to people who are going on an adventure type of vacation rather than a relaxing one. Still, it never hurts to be prepared! What’s your go-to travelling item that you never leave home without?