Did I Pack Too Much, Again?

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So round two of being on the road. I know what to pack for travel in South America.

To pack for Europe I wanted to go lighter and I now  have a snazzy new 48L backpack from Mountain Equipment Co-op that weighs 20 lbs when packed.

When I originally packed for Latin America I was worried I wouldn’t be able to find anything, only to discover most of the same brands are there.

Now backpacking Europe I am fearful of paying for things in Euro prices but I eventually just run out of room.

New clothing strategy

This time I took a page from My Beautiful Adventures and bought dresses.

They are practical for Europe as one dress is an entire outfit and means I’ll be dressed appropriately wherever I go.

The snag in my bag

After reading Beers and Beans posts I decided to go WWOOFing in Italy for 10 days and needed clothes just for that.

I did buy second-hand clothes so that I could toss them when I’m done. I’ve left this clothing out of my travel list.

So here is what I finally decided to pack for Europe


7 dresses
1 pair shorts
1 pair jeans
2 skirts
2 tank tops
3 shirts
1 cardigan
1 long sleeve shirt
flip flops
2 scarves


Mr. Bacon
MEC Cragalot 48L pack
Messenger bag for walking around
Packing cubes
Travel lock with cable
Passport (scanned and sent to email address)
Debit and credit card
Journal + pen


HP Mini 311 + power cord + neoprene case
Canon 40D DSLR + battery + charger + 2 cards + 3 lenses (18-135, 10-22 wide angle, 50mm for food)
Sony Cybershot + 8GB memory card
USB card reader
iPod Touch
Cheap unlocked cell phone from Chile


Toothbrush + toothpaste + floss
Travel size shampoo + conditioner
Mach 3 razor
Sunscreen + Moisturizer with sunscreen
Nail clippers + eyebrow tweezers
Mosquito repellent
A bit of make-up + perfume in a very small bag


This time I learned that you don’t need to bring an entire year’s worth of pills and fortunately I have lots left from South America.

Anti-diarrhea pills
Antibiotic ointment
Birth Control
Canesten (not taking the chance it’s different in another country)


Moo business cards
Water bottle
Eye mask

travel hair dryer and passport

The frivolous things which warrant your scolding comments

Oil of Olay self-tanner: Compared to my travel sized cream it takes up a lot but I love this stuff and it keeps me from tanning so it’s really a practical way to avoid cancer.
Travel size hair dryer:I know! I know! But I spent 14 months in Latin America without one and I really missed it. I swear it is tiny, look it’s the size of my passport!
Travel size flat iron:Now you’ve lost all respect for me haven’t you? But I made room by getting rid of my I heart Buenos Aires t-shirt.

All right let me have it, do you agree with what I decided to pack for Europe? Did I miss anything?

Join the Conversation

  1. wow, you are super organized!!

    I stopped bringing my hairdryer to Europe since the wattage was different – there wasn’t strong enough outlets for my dyers and I didn’t want to lug around a converter. You might want to verify for Italy – if I remember correctly my haircare stuff didn’t work. πŸ™

    Can’t wait to read your posts on your organic adventure in Italy! πŸ™‚

    1. Lissie - from Travel Tips says:

      You’re hairdryer won’t work unless its dual voltage – and it will quite likely blow the socket anyway – and you will need a plug adaptor. Really don’t bother, and a travel iron? If you have that you have the wrong clothes plain and simple

      1. Ayngelina Author says:

        Not a travel iron, a flat iron for my hair πŸ™‚

        I traveled without a hair dryer or flat iron for 14 months through Latin America but now that I am indefinitely traveling I want a bit of luxury.

  2. Dresses=YES. I backpacked through Europe and lived in Nice with a great assortment of dresses, but finally decided that it was time to “retire” them before I came to Australia. Now I’m trying to find replacements, and it’s just impossible to find ones that won’t wrinkle, that go from day to night to casual to dressy, and that aren’t a heap of fabric to pack. And I’m totally with you on the blowdryer and straightener, girl! (Although most places in Europe will have a blowdryer). That’s honestly what I freak out about most when it comes to traveling in Asia or South America: this fringe does NOT air dry! πŸ™‚

    1. Runaway Brit says:

      In Asia you can get your hair washed, blow dried and straightened in a salon (often with a head and shoulder massage thrown in) for a couple of dollars πŸ™‚

      1. Ayngelina Author says:

        Yes I do miss prices from Asia…

  3. Christine from christineinspain.com says:

    How long are you going to be in Europe for again? And where besides Spain and Italy? I think you should reconsider so many warm-weather clothes..it’s hot where I am (far south of Spain) until October, but even if it’s decent outside, lack of central heating really makes it chilly inside. My first year here, I was optimistic after seeing it only dips down into the 60’s F(15-18 C) in the winter and froze my ass off. But this depends on where you’re going/how long you’re staying of course.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Just Southern Spain and Italy, what is the shopping like where you are? I left a few things out because I figured I would just pick it up on the road.

      1. Lissie - from Travel Tips says:

        You really won’t need shops! You really only need 3 outfits and the ability to wash them as you go. I never travel with dresses – they are too infexible and you have to wash the whole thing – while with a top and bottom the top gets more washing than the bottom if you see what I mean

  4. Sounds like you have the essentials πŸ™‚ I don’t remeber exactly where in Europe you are going or for how long, but it is starting to get cold around here, so you might want to bring a warmer jacket… of course depending on where in Europe you go πŸ™‚ You can get tampons everywhere in Europe by the way πŸ™‚

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I don’t have a jacket, well because someone stole it at a hostel in Buenos Aires…but I figure I can buy a chic one on the road. πŸ™‚

  5. I always seem to pack way to much…..but I am okay with that ever since I heard an old Jewish proverb that went along the lines of “Do not pray for a lighter pack, instead pray for broader shoulders”. I hope you enjoy your time in Europe. Whereabouts in Italy are you going to be? I spent 2 months in Florence last year and had a great time.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I’m not entirely sure about Italy. I have already seen Rome so definitely not there, the WWOOFing is in Tuscany and I may head South.

  6. Technosyncratic says:

    Your list looks a lot like ours! Well, I also carry a crap ton of medicine that’s prescription and difficult to find, plus my memory foam pillow because I’m a baby and most pillows give me a headache. But dresses rock, I have a dual-wattage travel blow dryer I love as well, and a very similar electronics setup.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Memory foam makes me laugh but if you get headaches I can see why you make room.

    2. Totally give up dress options for a memory foam pillow too. Takes up half my carry-on, but worth it not to avoid pain in the neck!

  7. Lily (Explore for a Year) says:

    Wow, your list looks very streamlined. Are you leaving room for some shopping in Europe? πŸ˜‰ I think the mini hair dryer is brilliant, definitely needed on the chilly days.


    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Yes definitely leaving room. I keep staring at the bag and thinking what else I can throw out as I don’t mind wearing the same clothes every day.

  8. Big YES! on the hair dryer! πŸ™‚

    I got a dual voltage one for my trip and am so glad I have it. With dual voltage, no need for a converter, you just switch the voltage and be sure to use it on the low setting, which has worked great for me so far in Finland, Estonia and Russia!

    I would only add the 2 items I have probably used the most so far in northern Europe – my rain jacket (which folds up into its own pocket) and my travel umbrella. I have traveled a lot in Europe in the fall and I always hit rain!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I got a dual voltage one too – well actually I should credit my mother as she found it.

      I never bring rain gear. It meant that a few times in Latin America I wore a garbage bag and other times I got wet but if I find a place is cold and rainy every day I’m leaving!

  9. Wow!! These are great packing tips!! The only thing to be aware of is that sometimes the hair dryer and flat iron burn out (or in my case, sizzle and explode) when you use the electric converter to plug it in and use (each country in Europe has its different electrical plugs with the exception of a few). Speaking of which, I make sure to get a universal converter! It will come in handy.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      My hair dryer thankfully has a little button that will change the voltage for Europe, but my flat iron does not – you are right I need a converter.

  10. Cheryl Howard says:

    I’d bring the hair dryer, as I find they’re way more expensive here.

    Will you have a warm jacket? Or how long are you here? It’s going to get cold here soon, even in Spain and Italy. πŸ™‚

  11. I’m really impressed that you are able to fit all this in a 40L backpack! I’m in the packing stages for my year-long Latin American adventure and I have a similar list for a 60L.. so you have given me hope! And I totally support bringing a flat iron! I’m doing the same, even though I know I’ll get made fun of by fellow backpackers. πŸ™‚

    1. Ayngelina Author says:


      I just just 14 months in Latin America – check out my last post Pack this, not that

      A few things:
      1) Get packing cubes, it really helps
      2) Do not bring full size bottles of shampoo etc. They have the same stuff you have
      3) Do not bring a year’s supply of medication, you can buy everything there much cheaper, same brands, even birth control is a lot less expensive. I had a head cold and bought decongestant for 10 cents a pill. Except condoms, they have them but not the same ones so bring your own.
      4) You can buy really cheap clothing there, you do not need to pack for every imaginable climate. Central America is hot, South America can get cold, but in the cold climates you can buy warm sweaters for $3 so why cart around your expensive ones for so long.
      5) Do not pack anything to wash laundry, you can get it done there for $1-3 bucks, everyone just drops off their laundry.
      6) Don’t buy converters, it looks like you are from the US and most countries use the same plug, in those that don’t you can pick up a converter for 50 cents or less.

      I got caught up in the trap of packing for a year, don’t think of everything you need in a year, pack for 10 days and you can find the rest.

      Let me know if you have any other questions, I’ll check your site to see if you posted your packing list and can comment on it.

  12. Love the girly stuff! You totally deserve to bring it Ayngelina. Some days we need to feel pretty. Even while on the road!

    1. I think I’ll post my packing list next week! I wasn’t sure if I was going to because I know everyone has a different opinion about some things (jeans vs no jeans, etc.). But I think it’s still worth posting to get a few second opinions!

      Thank you for your help! I really really appreciate it.

      Oh and P.S. I’m from Canada!

      1. Ayngelina Author says:

        Yep I used to be anti-jeans but I do think they are good in South America but. not for Central America as it isn’t cold enough and the humidity means they’ll never dry.

        I just read your post on shoes and I see you want to bring 4 pairs so I suspect you are an overpacker πŸ™‚ definitely post it and let people weigh in. My biggest advice is buy travel size everything and that you can buy all you need in South America, especially Peru the clothing is very cheap.
        Oh and I saw you are also an East Coaster, so are Candice Walsh and Cailin O’Neil!

  13. Nomadic Samuel says:

    I definitely don’t think you over-packed. The fact that you travel with a 48L bag is impressive, in my opinion. I’ve been traveling with a 70L from MEC and I should consider downsizing because it is never close to capacity. Anyhow, it must be exciting to be off to Europe – best wishes!

  14. One of the blessings of new technology is that so many things are so small and compact, it makes traveling so much easier. I think you have a good list, I certainly subscribe to the buy second hand and discard school of thought too. The meds aren’t that necessary to pack since you can get pretty much anything you want from the pharmacy….I was surprised how easy it was to get meds that requires a prescription back home…. less regs I guess. Michi mentioned my idea about the converter….you will need one.

  15. I would die without cubes. I got a 65L the same one you saw when we were in Peru so I am in awe of your 40. I don’t think I can do it! And the meds- I also carry a bunch I don’t think I could find since some are homeopathic and whatnot. In any case, you know I took the flat iron to Peru this year and I never used it once? I ended up giving it to my friend that lived there. And I used a hairdryer on my Euro trip if for nothing else but to warm my feet if it was chilly after a shower!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      The only time I really wanted a hair dryer was in Peru and Ecuador in rainy season. I hate being cold after getting out of the shower.

  16. You’re going to Italy for ten days, is that right? Seven dresses?? Plus skirts plus stuff you haven’t listed? Seems like a lot to me. I bring one small wheelie suitcase..my daughter has used it for several three month trips, cold weather to hot. She had considerably less than you. We tend to travel pretty lightly as we are both petite and don’t want to have too much weight.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Oh no not 10 days, I’m going for 3 months πŸ™‚ Of those three months I am working on an organic farm for 10 days so I have a couple of shirts and shorts for that which I’m going to get rid of when I’m done.

  17. Pack more cold weather clothes–I have been to waer you are going, and it is cool in the Fall and colder in winter. Rainy too. Tights to wear under those dresses and one more pair of trousers of some sort. Also, 1 load of laundry in Verona cost me $12 usd..not cheap in Italy at all.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Eww Italy is expensive for laundry, guess I will be wearing dirty clothes πŸ™‚

      Did you go to a laundry service or in your hotel?

      1. I went to a laundromat because the services were even more! How long are you there for? Are we going to be passing eachother?

        1. Ayngelina Author says:

          let me send you a quick email, just grabbed it from your comment πŸ™‚

  18. I might consider an external flash for the Canon (I think the 40d has a hotshoe) or a little bit bigger lens…

    I’m just amazed at how little you get by on.

    You should give lessons to wives the world over πŸ™‚

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I have been holding off getting an external flash but I know I really need one!

  19. I’d totally ditch, like, 5 dresses! And bring laundry soap so you can just wash them there instead of doing laundry only once a week or so. Ever tried Icebreaker? Dries in an hour!! And sexy dresses too πŸ™‚

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Oh lady I don’t do my own wash, I’d have to bring the soap. I’m all for sending it in πŸ™‚

  20. awww you did a great job packing! ain’t no shame in your game with the dryer and flat iron. if it makes you feel better to do a little more for your hair then what’s the harm? they’re tiny anyway, so well done you πŸ™‚ have a ball. i miss spain every day

  21. I agree you are super organized. I would also bring a refillable water jug since you have to pay for water here everywhere (even in restaurants) and nobody drinks tap water, even when they can. I carry my SIGG bottle with me everywhere I go as I’m too cheap to buy water.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Good idea I hate paying for water!

  22. Total Travel Bug says:

    Wow, good packing list! And that hair-dryer is tiny!
    I actually can’t wait to go on a long trip again simply because I know what to pack this time. And I can guarantee it will be half the amount of last time!

  23. Debbie Beardsley says:

    Great list! I think dresses and skirts are a great way to go. Just being in Europe, jeans are no problem! Everyone wears them and they are not English speakers.

    I too bought a folding dual voltage hair dryer and already had a dual voltage curling iron. They all work great. I think the issue with the smoking and burning is with the converters being used. I noticed my converter only went up to 1200 watts and my hairdryer was 1800 watts. Thats why I went searching for a small dual voltage dryer. Works perfect on any setting.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I haven’t bought my converter yet, so you think I need one that is 1800 watts?

  24. Can’t believe you can get this all into your backpack. I’m inspired to follow your lead. Thanks for the great lists!

  25. Emily in Chile says:

    I think if you’re living on the road (as opposed to taking a quick backpacking vacation where roughing it is part of the appeal), it makes sense to bring stuff like the hair dryer and straightener. You’re not camping, this is your lifestyle – for the space they take, I’d imagine the comfort they provide is well worth it.

    I saw your dryer’s dual wattage, but I’d be careful with the straightener. Even with a heavy duty converter, I’ve never managed to make my US straightener get hotter than lukewarm on 220v because it takes so much power. And it may perhaps have caused a mini-explosion once. Your smaller one might be ok, but if you can return it and buy a travel one abroad I would to be safe.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Yeah I’m a bit concerned about the straightener but it was second-hand so if it goes it’s no big deal. I may save it for special occasions so I don’t blow it on just an afternoon out.

      1. Hey, that is my straighener that you are tossing out with no backward glance.!

  26. I recently tossed all my stuff, and I can fit all of my clothes, shoes, toiletries into a 65L bag. That’s not for a trip..that’s everything I own (minus camping gear, bike, photos, & laundry basket of stuff at my dad’s that I haven’t gotten rid of yet.) So, realistically, EVERYTHING I own fits into my Civic’s trunk & backseat.

    This may sound silly, but I switched to a menstrual cup. It’s A) cheaper, and B) eco/body friendly. No rayon fibers getting stuck in your lady parts. Plus, it’s about the size of a walnut when squished down in its bag. On that same note, since I use condoms as birth control, I don’t need the pills anymore.

    Aside from that, yeah, I’d pick up a clothes line & add in Dr. Bronner’s soap/camping soap for laundry, hair, body, dishes. I’m too frugal, and did clothes in the sink & hang dry them when I was living in my car/couch surfing.

    Sounds like you’re going to have a blast! πŸ™‚

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I started with a clothes line and soap in Mexico and tossed it by the time I got to Central America. I’m a bit of a frugal traveler as well but I’m also lazy and preferred to find a laundromat – especially since all my clothes had soap stains on them.

  27. Christy @ Ordinary Traveler says:

    7 dresses! I think that’s a lot, but I guess it just depends on how often you want to do laundry. I usually pack 2 dresses because I agree that they are very practical. I just don’t like wearing them when I’m lugging around my big backpack because all of my dresses are sleeveless and it gets really uncomfortable.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I used the dresses to replace 7 other pieces of clothing. Usually I would have several shirts and shorts and figured a dress makes it all easier.

  28. It’s fun to see what someone else packs so thanks for sharing.
    One comment though, if you’re coming in October it might already be too chilly for dresses, so I wouldn’t put my trust in them unless they are made of wool.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      What about dresses with leggings and cardigan?

  29. Mach 3 fellowship! That’s the one thing I always miss the most. They sell it in some stores here, but the razors are worth their weight in silver.

    Glad the bacon’s back on the griddle.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I didn’t bring one to Latin America because I didn’t think I would find blades to fit it and then I saw them everywhere!

  30. The Travel Chica says:

    7 dresses!! That’s a lot of clothes. I’m guessing you don’t want to do laundry as frequently as you did in South America. Now I’m starting to panic that I didn’t bring enough clothes back to Buenos Aires.

    And yes, I make fun of you for the hairdryer and flatiron. But if you were in my hostel, I would beg you to let me use the hairdryer πŸ™‚

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      The seven dresses replaces seven regular outfits, I hate matching things up and a dress is an instant outfit.

      And you loved our hair dryer in Buenos Aires! I thought for sure you would bring one back too.

  31. Nice list! All the best for your adventures. If you happen to be in northern Germany, northern Austria or south-western Bulgaria and wanna meet for a drink please write me πŸ™‚

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      For sure Sebastian, are you going to WTM in November?

  32. I think your list is just perfect. Initially I thought hair dryer is unwanted but it’s a personal choice.
    Carrying dresses is a good idea. Can we have some photos of them please? πŸ™‚

    I agree, packing for 10 days suffices for 3 months & at times for even more.
    I also carry an elastic rope with hooks on both ends. It can be used as a clothes line or for tying up my bag if it is on the verge of bursting, and a few more.

  33. Annie - FootTracker says:

    Every girl needs a good hair dryer! So I agree with bringing one. I personally would not bring flat iron though since I usually tie my hair up when traveling.

  34. Always find no matter how hard I try to compress my packing, it somehow morphs. So I start with a bag half the size of the one I’m PLANNING to take in order to fit everything in πŸ™‚

  35. The next time around the dresses are going in my bag for sure.

    And jeans. OMG I miss jeans… and my Chucks.

  36. I totally do not judge you for the hair dryer and straightener. As long as they are dual-voltage, you’re golden! (Where, by the way, did you find the dual-voltage travel hair dryer?? I have been searching for one for ages!!) During warm months, I don’t mind letting my hair air-dry if there’s no hair dryer provided where I’m staying. But, when it gets chilly out? No thanks! I want to travel with dry hair!

    Also, great decision on the dresses. I have a bunch of jersey-knit dresses that pack REALLY well, take up virtually no space, and can be worn with leggings when it’s cooler out, or just on their own when it’s warm. Plus, like you said, you’ve got a full outfit with just one piece of clothing! Can’t beat that.

  37. RON & MONETTE | fliptravels.com says:

    wow! you are soooo organized!
    i feel so ashamed! LOL

    your next big trip is drawing near, can’t wait!

  38. Man! You pack light. My wife could learn a thing or two from you.

    Great blog BTW!

  39. During one and a half years of travel I come to a conclusion the best is to carry very less clothes and buy if required street clothes from the city visiting and in that way the luggage weight is always very less and helps to travel easy.

  40. Shirlene from Idelish says:

    I too can’t travel without my hairdryer for many years!

    In the past couple of years however, I’ve just started to “learn to let go” and make do with whatever hairdryer they provided at hotels, use the car’s A/C or wind down the window to dry my hair or just go for the “wet look” πŸ™‚ When these tricks don’t cut it and I my bangs look like cow lick, I just slip on a hair band or sport the “sunglass on my head” look πŸ™‚

    It really isn’t too bad after all!

  41. Chances are, you won’t tan here in Europe at this time of year anyway, hun, so self-tanner’s all good. πŸ™‚

    Out of curiosity – how do you rate your Sony Powershot? I’m trying to find a digital point and shoot that doesn’t cost too much that I can take to Latin America with me (‘ll buy a DSLR at a later time when I’m all settled then). Having a hard time finding a good recommended one. x

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I really like the Sony Cybershot, it takes great photos on the food setting. Just beware there are two different kinds of lenses for it, one is Carl Zeiss and one is Sony. The Sony one is cheaper although not as good.

      The only things South America that are expensive are electronics (Central America has US prices, especially Panama) so if you are thinking of buying anything on the road, it’s easier to get it at home.

  42. How the HECK did you fit all that in that backpack!?!? I just got a 60L (smaller than my old 75L) and I think I fit like half that much clothing in. Teach me!!!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Packing cubes! Do you have them

  43. Lissie - from Travel Tips says:

    I’d ditch all the dresses -that would leave you with enough clothing – though you might be under-etimating how cool it gets in southern Europe and may want to add some thermal underwear. You don’t need the flipflops either – the chacos will double.

    I’m assuming you are including underwear and sox? You may need a waterproof jacket too.

    You don’t need a water bottle either – just buy some water and refill it as you need to

    1. I’m with Lissie. I like dresses though. Maybe 3 and ditch the shorts and a couple shirts?

      A waterproof jacket will bring way more joy than a hair straightener. And get your self some exoficcio undies. You can wash them in the sink. Super awesome.

      One question: What’s the difference if she brings a water bottle or buys one there? I go no where with out my nalgene.

      1. Ayngelina Author says:

        Oh no I am not the kind of traveler who washes their underwear in the sink. I now just bring 7 pairs and once a week I pay for laundry. It’s the one expense that I have no issue paying. Besides I has a pair of ex-O in Latin America, paid 30 bucks and lost them. My 7 thongs cost 1/3 of that and don’t take long to dry.

      2. Ayngelina Author says:

        I never travel with a waterproof jacket, either I get wet or I don’t go out πŸ™‚

    2. Ayngelina Author says:

      The issue is that you should not use a #1 water bottle more than once as the plastic begins to deteroriate and I am not willing to pollute the world with unnecessary plastic bottles.

  44. You know I’m with Andi when it comes to dresses!! Bravo on the self-tanner. Having one splurge makes us feel human. I wouldn’t know what to do with a hair dryer or flat-iron.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I will never travel again without a hair dryer.

  45. Bohemian Trails says:

    It looks like you packed pretty well and I think compacting everything definitely saves space. I stopped bringing my straightener overseas because my last one broke in Chile even though I had remembered to pack a voltage converter.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I used it only once, but the hair dryer was definitely worth it as it had a voltage converter built into it.

  46. emma@greenglobaltravel says:

    Good packing list! I know the feeling of changing the things you pack due to volunteering, it can throw a spanner in the works sometimes. Thanks for sharing.

  47. Hi, I think that electronics are essentials, mainly to kill the time while youΒ΄re travelling.

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