A City Girl’s Guide to Packing for Backpacking

I just got back from a 9 day whirlwind backpacking trip throughout part of Europe. (More details to come later.) I put together a list of things I took on my trip that made my “roughing it” life a bit easier. I am not the most high maintenance person in the world, but I am also not the best at going without some of my necessities…such as makeup. My trip consisted of some outdoorsy activities, city sightseeing, hostels, and a few different climates. Hopefully this list will help you out if you are needing some tips for a backpacking trip.
1. I borrowed the REI Talus 50 backpack from a friend. This pack has since been discontinued, but I would suggest on similar. It was both a top loader and a side loader. This made packing and unpacking very easy. There was quick access to whatever I needed. the bag also had plenty of straps and snaps for support.
2. eBags packing cubes; these things are great! These were suggested to me by a coworker and I am eternally grateful. When I got them in the mail I was surprised by their size. I was expecting them to be larger, but their size was deceiving. I got everything I needed in these 3 fabric cubes. The large one was perfect for clothes. The medium held my shoes, guide books, and technology accessories. The small one held all of my toiletries. These cubes made packing, unpacking, and finding things a breeze. My backpack was organized the entire trip.
3. This zip closure wallet was found on clearance at target. It was perfect because not only did my passport fit inside, but it also had divided compartments so I could keep all my currency separate and organized.  The zip closure is also one more obstacle for pick-pocketers.
4. Eye mask, eye mask, eye mask! Get one of these! This will help you sleep any time, anywhere. I couldn’t have traveled without this little guy.
5. The Dreamie is the cousin of the snuggie. I am so thankful for this little contraption. It kept my skin and hair free of touching the questionable hostel mattresses etc. It is kind of like a sleeping bag, but just made of a sheet. It also has a pocket a pillow can slide into. Best of all it fold up really small and even comes with a travel pouch.
6. This North Face rain jacket was essential for a trip to Great Britain. You never know when it is going to rain over there. This little baby rolled up nicely so I could keep it in my purse at all times. I even wore it when it wasn’t raining because it was excellent at blocking the wind. It comes in so many different colors, you will be sure to find one that will go with your outfits 🙂
7. Another necessity to have when staying in hostels is a towel. Most bath towels are bulky, but not this guy from REI. It dries super fast and folds up into a little pouch. I just bought one and used it for my body and my hair. Perfect.
8. I am a huge advocate of drinking water. I drink water all day every day at work. When I travel I tend not to drink as much because I never want to carry around a water bottle. This platypus water pouch was perfect. When it wasn’t full, it was paper thin.  I could refill it whenever I wanted and I kept it with me at all times. Small and reusable. Brilliant.
9. Another recommendation from my coworker was this Old Navy bag. It was versatile because I could carry it so many different ways. It fit a lot of items, but it also collapsed when it wasn’t jammed packed. Again, a zipper closer was required. Not only was it perfect for walking around all day when using it as a cross-body bag, but I could also throw it on my shoulder and it would look cute at night. It comes in a bunch of different colors too. I bought it in black with brown handles. Loving all the options.
10. Some people recommend ear plugs, but I found those didn’t really work for me. Instead I brought my Ear Candy ear buds. I used them to listen to music and audio books while traveling, and at night they doubled as earplugs in the hostels.
11. Wrinkle release spay, also referred to as ghetto ironing, was a must have for this trip. With all of our clothes being rolled up in our backpacks we needed a quick and easy solution to get rid of the wrinkles. Yes we were backpacking, but we didn’t want to look like slobs.
12.  A clip flashlight was another item that did double duty on this trip. Not only did it illumiate my book while reading on the plane, but I als used it as a flashlight in the hostel. When sleeping in a room with 20 other people you can’t just turn the overhead light on whenever you please. Keeping this little guy handy made it easy to get ready for bed in the dark.
13. Oh man how I wish I had Rainbow flip flops. This is the only think on this list that I didn’t bring and totally regret. I brought old navy flip flops for the showers and then cute BCBG sandals for nights out, but I really wish I had these flip flops. They are comfy enough to wear all day, but also cute enough to wear wondering through the city. If we were on some sort of adventure trip, Teva sandals would have been the way to go, but I wan’t fond of wearing adventure sandals in Paris.
14. Who thinks those neck pillows look extremely dorky?! Well, everyone does, but they are totally helpful. Having an inflatable one was the best because I just kept it in my purse. Any time I needed to catch a snooze on a train or plane, I had it within reach. It keeps your head from bobbing all around and actually lets you get a good sleep. Embrace the dork. Embrace the sleep.
15. Tom, ta tom tom toms (sisqo’s Thong song anyone?). I wore these almost every day. Great for walking around and also cute enough to wear to a bar and not feel like a weirdo. Mine were neural colored so they went with everything.
16. With all the crazy restrictions on how much liquid you can take on an airplane, I opted for taking bar soap with me. Neutrogena bar soap is gentle enough for my face, but cna also be used for my body. This bar soap replaced taking face wash and body wash. Space saver for sure. I love multi taskers!
17. Is anybody else as clumsy as me? Probably not. That is a tall order. Again, not wanting to look like slobs, we took this tide to go pen every where. When we spilled wine on ourselves, or dripped some pasta sauce, this guy was our best friend.
18. As horrifying as this is to admit, I think I only showered 3 times while I was abroad. Honestly there just isn’t at lot of time or convenience. Dry shampoo was a life saver. It kind of acts like baby powder by removing grease from your hair, without the side effects of grandma gray hair.
19. Not much explanation needed here. Practice safe breath.
20. Most people would think to bring liquid hand sanitizer, but I prefered bringing these wipes. They were easy to carry around and again, didn’t inturde on my liquid limits for the airplane. I also felt more clean after wiping my hands off with them. You will touch an unbelievable amount of dirty things while aborad. Keep those mits clean.
Well chicks, there you have it. Don’t be scared of backpacking in the unknown. You will leave some of your creature comforts behind (I missed you hair straightener) but take these essentials and you will be sure to survive.

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