What I learned from one-baggin’ it around Europe

July 30, 2017 - Comment

The One Bag Traveler recommends Gear, Destinations and Adventures. After becoming a little obsessed with this sub I’ve decided to post my own experiences from two separate trips through Europe, both during summer. One involved a 30L backpack, the other involved a massive 80L backpack. This is going to be more of a “what I

The One Bag Traveler recommends Gear, Destinations and Adventures.

After becoming a little obsessed with this sub I’ve decided to post my own experiences from two separate trips through Europe, both during summer. One involved a 30L backpack, the other involved a massive 80L backpack. This is going to be more of a “what I learned” post that an itemized packing list— sorry!

My first trip around Europe was about 5 years ago. I was 19 and had never travelled, so was a little uneducated on what to pack. I was going to be visiting 5 countries. The dude in the camping gear shop literally laughed in my face, multiple times, when I selected the 30-liter backpack off the shelf. Jokes on him— I managed to fit everything in that I wanted to take!

What I would have done differently:

  • Stuck to a basic colour palette for my wardrobe. All the clothes I brought were “statement pieces” and clashed. I ended up just wearing the same pair of black jeans and t-shirts.

  • Brought better shoes. My vintage boots from the thrift shop literally fell apart.

  • Packed less. I definitely didn’t need a French phrasebook, giant hat and camera (I rarely take photos). Ended up leaving a bunch of stuff in hostels along the way.

  • Not buy random shit last-minute. I really could have used the cash I spent on that Star Wars passport cover during my actual trip.

My second trip was last year and was a bit longer— 7 countries in 3 months. I was also going to 5 music festivals, so needed to carry a tent, sleeping bag and camping mat. I made sure to purchase lightweight, second-hand gear that packed down small and helped me save a few bucks.

My bag was gigantic and waaay too heavy, so my experiences from that trip probably aren’t totally relevant here (I’m also intent on never carrying a bag that size ever again). But I do think that what I learned definitely applies to the one-bag philosophy.

What I would have done differently the second time:

  • Pack less shit. Okay, so maybe I hadn’t learned that much. The two books I brought? Never read them. Hula hoop? I was either too tired from travel or too shy to use it in public (thanks, social anxiety!). A deck of tarot cards? Really?!

  • Pack clothes that were more practical. Cute outfits that were only intended to be worn at a music festival? Totally unnecessary. I also went to one festival in the North of Norway which, despite being summer, was bloody freezing thanks to those biting Arctic winds. One light, sturdy jacket would have gone a long way (I only had a hoodie). However, I do have to give myself major props for buying sturdy shoes (Planet boots) this time!

  • Brought a lighter laptop. Granted, this was impossible due to my small budget. But if only I could have traded my heavy 2011 MacBook Pro for a MacBook Air…

  • Bring one tent. I was travelling with my boyfriend, and we each brought a super lightweight hiking tent. We used one for sleeping and one for our gear. It would have made more sense to bring one slightly larger tent that could fit both us and our stuff than take up lots of space in our bags with two tents.

  • Used a suitcase with wheels. I was going from hostels/Airbnbs to festivals. A backpack to carry my gear was rarely necessary— a suitcase with wheels would have been far more practical. My boyfriend brought one for his stuff and I was majorly envious of him the entire time.

  • Used packing cubes. I didn’t even know they existed before reading this sub!

I know this all seems like common sense, but hopefully my experience may help out someone else. I’m off to Norway next month and am determined to live that true, one bag life!

Edit: a word

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