Lots of people make the decision to go on a solo backpacking trip months before the actual departure date.  They look at weather patterns, notable dates, flight ticket prices… I decided a month in advance and bought my ticket at a whim.  While still employed.

But that’s part of the thrill!  Said no one as I frantically second guessed myself and began perusing every blog possible using keywords “solo” “female” “backpacking” “packing” “Europe”.

First things first was the object that would be carrying all my belongings and possible determining whether I’d be hobbling like Quasimodo for years to come.  I did… minimal research on this.  I don’t even remember how I found out about it, I think after reading through forums about a backpack that wouldn’t be gigantic.  That was a dealbreaker, I didn’t want those huge packs that are taller than my head and scream “tourist!”  I read something about the Osprey 46, and a big selling point was that it was carry-on size.  Well that’s fantastic, I thought, then I would never have to pay those outrageous fees for checking in baggage on budget flights.  Turns out I checked in my backpack all the time anyway due to weight limitations, but nonetheless the size forced me to pack only the necessities.  There was no room for maybes or possiblies.

Now what I packed!

ClothesClothes

  • one pair of jeans
  • one pair of black pants
  • 1 blue H&M cardigan
  • 1 flannel long sleeve
  • 1 black Northface windbreaker jacket
  • 3 t-shirts
  • 2 shorts
  • athletic shortsTops
  • 1 dri-fit tank top
  • 2 tank tops
  • 2 summer dresses
  • sports bra
  • 2 bras
  • swimsuit
  • 3 pairs of socks
  • 5 underwear
  • blue Toms
  • Nike Free shoes
  • Rainbow flip flops
  • Havaiiana flip flops
  • hat (bought it from an H&M in Prague)

Shoes

Electronics

  • iPad Mini
  • iPod Nano
  • iPhone
  • Sennheiser earphones
  • GoPro 3+ Black Edition
  • Selfie Stick for GoPro
  • alternate backing for GoPro case
  • GoPro Remote
  • MicroSD adapter for iPad
  • 2 Europe chargers
  • Portable Charger
  • Olympus XZ-1 camera
  • multi-plug Europe adapter
Electronics

Electronics

Toiletries

  • spare contact lenses
  • lens solution
  • washcloth
  • travel size shampoo
  • travel size conditioner
  • body lotion
  • face lotion
  • face wash
  • two sunblock lotions (1 face, 1 body)
  • toothbrush/toothpaste
  • toiletries bag with a hook
  • Sea to Summit Drylite MicroTowel (XS) [should’ve gotten at least a S]
  • beach towel (ended up buying one in Croatia)

Toiletries

Miscellaneous

  • Advil
  • diarrhea pills
  • 3 sandwich zip-locks, 2 gallon zip-locks
  • pen
  • notebook
  • wallet
  • xerox copy of passport
  • printouts of hostels I’ve booked
  • Ray-Ban sunglasses
  • clothesline
  • sink stopper
  • packing cubes
  • 2 backpack locks and 1 cable lock
  • detergent soap

Now obviously my list isn’t consistent with my photos.  Some stuff didn’t make it to the final round, like my gold sandals, and the keyboard.  Other stuff were left off the list that are just common sense, like chapstick.  A passport.  I mean, your passport.

I ended up never needing the diarrhea pills, and I’m glad I didn’t bring those sandals in the end because I was perfectly fine without.  I also wished I had packed a regular lock because there were often lockers at hostels that I could stow my bag in.  I tried not to buy things and used whatever I had around the house as much as possible.

But, here are things that I bought for this trip that I found absolutely essential:

  • clothesline
    • Given the limited amount of clothes and the high prices of laundry machines, I handwashed my intimates and just hung them up in my bunk to dry.  Since I stayed in hostels, I was almost always in a bunk, and I tried to get a lower bunk so I could use the posts to string up my clothesline.  Absolutely fantastic.
  • cable lock
    • I’m quite paranoid, so I loved this one.  I got a cheapie little thing, nothing fancy, and it worked just fine.  I didn’t go to any seedy hostels, so I don’t think I really prevented any thefts since there didn’t seem to be any, but this gave me peace of mind nonetheless.  Furthermore, since I didn’t bring any large locks for the lockers, I ended up just strapping my backpack to my bunk each night and locking my zippers.  Better safe than sorry!  Nothing was ever stolen from me on this trip.
  • portable charger
    • This was a lifesaver.  It’s never easy finding a free outlet in a crowded hostel.  But, I got the most use from it when I was out and about.  My GoPro’s battery drains quickly when I hook it up wirelessly to my iPhone, and I used my iPhone a lot to look for my location
  • Map app
    • It’s worth it to pay money to buy an offline maps app.  This paid off big time.  Wifi was provided at all my hostels, but getting there from the train station without having internet on my phone?  Difficult.  Before my next city, I’d always prepare beforehand by downloading the next country’s map, locating my next hostel and pinning it so I wouldn’t have to worry about searching for the address later.  GPS WORKS WITHOUT INTERNET/WIFI.  That’s the biggest thing you should know, travelers!  I used GPS religiously on my iPhone and my iPhone was in airplane mode the ENTIRE trip.
  • Packing cubes
    • I got a cheap set of packing cubes for roughly $12, and it’s worth getting.  So much easier to find your things, and packing is a breeze.  One pack can be tops, another, bottoms, a third, intimates.  Rather than having to rifle through wadded up clothes all the time, you can just pull out a pack, unzip, and get what you need.  The ones I got didn’t help with minimizing space or anything, but for the sake of organization they worked.  Seriously, get them, you will not regret it.  My mom absolutely loves them now and we ended up getting another set for the family.
  • Osprey 46 backpack
    • This wasn’t the most ergonomically comfortable bag, nor the prettiest.  But, I wasn’t planning to walk a lot with a backpack, only from the station to the hostel, and this backpack made me realize that the belt strap really does distribute weight.  Also, it’s pretty big!  Surprisingly deep and you can pack more than you think.  People were always surprised to see my backpack, because it really is quite small in comparison to the packs of most my fellow travelers’.  I can’t say I know if it’ll pass EasyJet’s requirements because I always checked my bags due to its weight.  Best of all, it’s only $100, and in comparison to some fancy-ass packs out there, that’s a great deal!  I also loved that you can pack away the straps, so helpful when you’re chucking it into a plane or under a bus.  I’d say worth the buy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s