How I Took a Solo Trip to Europe- Packing

Friday, September 25, 2015 Emily Childers 0 Comments

Half the fun of going on an adventure is preparing for it, right? Right??? Maybe that's just me. Anyways, I spent a good amount of time thinking about how to pack for my four week European vacation. Since I was traveling alone there would be no one to help me with my bags, keep me organized, or pick up the slack if I forgot to pack something essential. I'm a strong advocate for packing light and knew I didn't want to bring more than a backpack and a purse.

There are tons of reviews on travel backpacks out there and after lots (and I mean LOTS) of research, I decided to splurge and purchase the Tortuga travel backpack. I wanted something that opened flat like a suitcase, would be comfortable for long treks, and would fit in the overhead bin on most planes. The price was a bit steep, but I'm happy to report that I'm still getting plenty of use out of the pack and it is holding up really well.

Since I was traveling in March I expected the weather to be pretty variable: rain, snow, ice, and mud were all options. As were warm sunny days. Basically I had to be super prepared. I've learned the hard way that cold wet feet are awful, so I spent a day at the Vegas Outlets trying on short boots. I settled on a pair of waterproof Hush Puppies in brown. Overall they served me well, but by the end of the trip the heels had caved in and the tread was gone. I wouldn't buy them again.


I'm most comfortable in flowy tops and stretchy pants (basically fancy pajamas) so I planned all of my outfits in complimentary colors with a formula of tunic top + loose sweater/blazer + scarf  + skinny jeans/leggings + boots. I also made sure to think through all of the other essentials I would need.

  1. North face 3-in-1 jacket in chocolate brown bought at an outlet for $100. Similar here. The versatility of being able to wear just the fleece, just the shell, or both together was fantastic.
  2. Gap 1969 high waist skinnies. So soft and comfortable.
  3. Loose blazer bought at Nordstrom Rack. Similar here.
  4. Rick Steve's best of Europe. I tore out the sections that were pertinent to my trip and left the rest of the book at home.
  5. My iphone 5s. I left it on airplane mode for the entire trip to avoid roaming fees; once you're on wifi you can open google maps and it downloads the data of every area you look at. GPS is a stand alone system and works while you're on airplane mode, so I basically had a handheld navigator with me at all times. I used Google Hangouts to video chat with Nick and call my family back home over wifi. I took tons of pictures with my phone and posted the highlights to Facebook each night with captions. It was like a little travel log for my friends and family (and a way to track my location publicly in case anything happened).
  6. Ear buds with a microphone so I could video chat with Nick whenever I had wifi access. I brought a spare pair which came in handy when my first pair broke!
  7. Compact umbrella
  8. First aid kit with Advil and nail clippers added.
I brought enough clothing for 7 days and ended up doing laundry 3 times, which didn't feel like a drag at all. Sometimes it's cathartic to stay in and read while doing a load of laundry. 

As I was staying in 5 countries, I decided to order currency from my bank before I left. Exchange rates were in my favor so I just sucked up the shipping fee and figured it was a cost I was willing to pay to feel prepared. You can also hit up an atm once you arrive; this tends to be the cheapest option. I brought a small money belt that looped onto my bra or belt, but didn't end up using it more than once. Instead it made sense to keep my cash in the inner-most zipped pocket in my purse. I am not one to put my purse down, so I felt safe carrying my (limited) cash with me.

The physical result of my prep. Itineraries, city guides, maps, money, etc. 

I felt incredibly prepared throughout the whole trip, it seemed that every moment spent planning and packing was worth it.

Check out my other posts on planning and Paris.