When I tell people that I decided to only bring a backpack each for our 30 days In Europe I get some really weird looks. “How could you possibly do it?” To be honest I wasn’t sure I could. After some research and lots of planning I realized that it was not only possible but was actually going to make our travels so much easier. Follow along as I share my thoughts behind why we chose to pack this way and how we actually implemented it.
We are traveling Europe for an entire month with our 3 young girls, and only bringing a backpack each. Find out how we made this happen and where we are headed.
WHY ONLY A BACKPACK?
There are a few different reasons why we thought packing light would be for us. Here are the main ones
We all know baggage fees can be quite expensive. Now multiply that by 5. If we were headed to just one destination the cost wouldn’t be much of an issue but when you add in several flights over the 30 days the price increases quite a bit. Plus when we don’t check any bags we don’t have to worry about lost luggage.
We didn’t want our bags to hold us back in any way. We knew there was a possibility of taking smaller airlines, trains, buses, and more where large luggage aren’t always accepted. Plus we didn’t want our luggage to be a distraction from our main goal, which has always been the experience. You dont need a lot of “stuff” to make magical memories.
As someone who has backpacked Europe before I know first hand that bringing too much stuff can be a huge burden. Have you ever tried to roll your suitcase over cobblestones? Or take it on a subway? Or carry it up multiple flights of stairs because there is no elevator? I’ve been that girl so I knew I never wanted to do that again. Plus, I wanted to make sure I could give my girls all my attention. With everyone carrying their own bag (well for most of the time anyway) we could have our eyes on them instead of on our “stuff”.
Did we have to make sacrifices in regards to packing? Yes
Would I have loved to have a huge wardrobe for all my pretty instagram photos? Yes
But this way of traveling took so much stress off of us and now that we have been in Europe for about 15 days I know it was the best decision for our family.
PLANNING THE PACK
There was a lot of planning that went into making this minimalist packing goal a reality. My hope is that by sharing my process I can make it easier for you.
First I spent hours googling packing tips. I learned folding techniques and about packing cubes (linked below). I read about pros and cons. I researched backpack sizing. I really tried to get as much information that I could.
Then I started to plan. I started with finding the perfect bags. The girls backpacks were not the biggest but I felt it was a good balance of large enough to bring what they need and not too heavy.
I started to order items about a month before the trip. The packing cubes were a lifesaver and once they came in I started practicing my packing techniques.
When planning out the girls clothes I started to think about creating a capsule type wardrobe for them with items they could use over and over again. Any items I bought for them I kept in a bag and didn’t let them wear beforehand. That way I could keep track of everything I was bringing and I was able to get them fully packed about a week before our trip.
THE KIDS BACKPACK FOR 30 DAYS IN EUROPE
Creating a capsule type wardrobe for them really was the key. I couldn’t bring a lot so I had to be strategic with what I was bringing. I wrote lists of everything I wanted to bring (writing really helps me) and made sure I was packing items that were versatile. I opted for items that the girls could wear to dinners but were also easy to wash so they could be used as play clothes as well.
Here is what I ended up packing:
- 4-5 dresses or rompers each
- 2-3 bottoms each (shorts, jeans, black leggings)
- 2-4 tops
- 2 shoes (one sneaker and one sandal)
- 1 Pj each
- 7 underwear
- masks (in Europe they require medical masks most places)
- 2 swim suits
Another important part of our pack was the try-on day, or as they like to call it, our fashion show. I do this for a couple reasons. I want to make sure everything fits but I also want to make sure I am bringing items they absolutely love wearing. The last thing I want is to bring only a few outfits and they refuse to wear one because its too itchy or doesn’t fit right.
Packing the cubes
After quite a bit of trial and error I found the perfect way to pack our cubes. Here is what I did:
- Measure each item against the height of the cube and folded it flat to sit upright.
- Once I had two or three items in I started to zip the cube half way. This helps keep everything contained.
- I continued to fold items and place them in, pushing down after each one.
- Once I was near the end I would hold the cube upright and push down to make as much room as possible.
- Thats why I loved the packing cubes I chose. The top was mesh so I was able to get most of the air out.
Check out my videos below to see exactly how I packed!
Toys/Activities for the plane
We were short on space so we had to be strategic about what we could bring to keep them occupied. Each girl had one device to play on, headphones, a couple activity books, markers, and some sweet treats.
One of my top tips is to pack gum. Its a special treat for my girls and it helps with their ears.
I have been getting a ton of questions about souvenirs and how that works since we have such little room. The girls each received some spending money from their grandparents for souvenirs or fun things they would like to buy like snacks or experiences. They know they can only buy what they can carry so some of the things they have picked are:
- candies from that country
- small handmade toys
- soaps for family members
MY BAG FOR 30 DAYS IN EUROPE
After I had everything packed for the girls I could really focus on my bag. Even though it isn’t a traditional backpack its still a carryon and I loved this bag (after researching a ton) for all of the storage options and space it provided.
I really tried to plan my clothing picks to be as versatile as possible. I wanted options that were functional and I could wear different ways so I wouldn’t get tired of them. Here is what I packed for myself:
Read all about my Europe Capsule Wardrobe here
All toiletries for the girls and myself were packed in my bag. Watch the video below to see exactly how I fit everything.
I also used the top portions of my bag to hold all of the extra stuff we needed for the plane, chargers, camera, etc.
MY HUSBANDS BACKPACK FOR 30 DAYS IN EUROPE
My husband was probably the easiest to pack for 30 days in Europe in just a backpack. Here is what we brought:
- 3 shorts
- 7 underwear
- 6 t shirts
- 2 workout shorts
- 1 bathing suit
- 2 button up shirts
- items like socks and hats and his toiletries
My husband was responsible for carrying most of the electronics including the girls devices and our computers.
MUST HAVE TRAVEL ITEMS
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- Do you wash your clothes? Yes, we are visiting my sister in Berlin for a part of the trip so we will have access to her washing machine
- How about cold weather? Based on where we are going the temperature is warm but if that changes we will just buy something if the one sweater each we are bringing isn’t enough.
- What if it rains? We can buy an umbrella. We aren’t camping so if its a rainy day we will opt for indoor activities.
Have more questions? Head over to my Instagram and ask them there.