I traveled across five countries in one month with a backpack.
And as you can imagine, packing was a nightmare. It didn’t help that I went from hail/snow/rain in Iceland to eventually end up in bikini weather in Croatia – with the same backpack. But my former fashion fiend wouldn’t let go of the pieces in my closet that I knew I’d need to take with me on my trip. Why? Well because I wanted to backpack without looking too much like a stereotypical backpacker.
There are tons of reasons why bringing a backpack on your trip instead of a suitcase is easier (more convenient, cobblestone + suitcases = horrible time, checking bags are expensive), but when you’re frolicking around the streets of Paris, a girl can get kind of self-conscious. So here are a few things I learned from packing for my first backpacking trip:
1. You absolutely can never go wrong with black.
My wardrobe will consist of: black leggings, black loose pants, black skirt, black blouse, black tee shirt, black shoes, black everything else. Black is the easiest way to look chic and hide any stains/dirt accumulated along the way. When most of the items in your bag are black, matching is never an issue.
2. Bring items that don’t wrinkle easily.
Silk blouses are light, gorgeous and effortlessly classy, but they absolutely SUCK when you try to bring them along with you on the road. Opt for cotton, rayon or polyester items so they’re not easily wrinkled when kept in your bag for long periods of time.
3. Leggings are easy, comfortable and chic. Bring many pairs.
Leggings are a women’s godsend. You can wear them to sleep, while working out, running around the city, or dress them up with a blouse/heels and go out to dinner and drinks. I bring two to three pairs and rotate.
4. You need three pairs of shoes, MAX.
I brought boots, sneakers and flip flops for my first trip starting in Iceland. When I went back to travel throughout France for three weeks, I brought sneakers, flip flops and heels. You only need three pairs of shoes, max – one pair for each occasion. Just make sure they are comfortable shoes you can ACTUALLY walk in.
5. Build on the warmth by packing light layering pieces.
Light cashmere shawl cardigans, Uniqlo Heat-Tech long sleeve black shirts, Uniqlo Ultra-Light down jacket, BCBG MaxAzria trench coat – four layers that actually kept me warm during the colder parts of my trip. I also love taking a leather jacket with me in the fall because it’s always effortlessly stylish and when worn over your basics, adds just enough warmth. (Find some of my favorites on my Lyst here.)
6. Always bring a scarf.
Probably the most versatile thing in your bag, the scarf is a must-pack item. In Spring/Summer, I brought a lightweight cotton-blend scarf, that ended up becoming a plane/train pillow, semi-blanket, wrap skirt and at one point even a towel. [Here are a few options I added to my Lyst account here.] This winter, I’m packing this purple fur circle scarf (picked it up at ML furs) – one of the warmest, most luxurious accessories in my closet, that’s easy, stylish and goes with just about anything. No pillow? No problem. And when my ears get cold I can just throw it on my head and wear it as a hat.
I usually bookmark all the products I’m looking for on Lyst, a shopping platform that lets you save all the items you want from tons of online retailers. It notifies you when the items you save go on sale, and just generally makes it a lot easier for you to scan through tons of brands in one easy place. I started a few lists just for specific items I’m looking for for upcoming travels, but I also made a general travel clothing wish list – see the rest of the items + prices here.
So what do you guys think? What’s your experience been with backpacking, and what items do you tend to take with you?