Packing for 20 Days in 8 Countries and a Backpack

I traveled 26,882 miles with 2 passports in 20 days to 3 states and 20 cities in 8 countries via 9 flights, 15 trains, 12 buses, and a ferry all with 1 free, personal item/carry-on backpack. And somehow, I still managed to over pack.

IAH → JFK → SWF → BFS → DUB → CPH → ARN → LGW → FCO → CIA → STN → DUB → BFS → EWR → IAH

The Countries

(1) The United States of America – (2) Northern Ireland – (3) Ireland – (4) Denmark
(5) Sweden – (6) Italy – (7) The Vatican – (8) England

The Cities

(1) Houston – (2) New York City – (3) Newburgh – (4) Belfast – (5) Dublin – (6) Copenhagen
(7) Helsingborg – (8) Linkoping – (9) Jonkoping – (10) Savsjo – (11) Stockholm – (12) Rome
(13) The Vatican – (14) London – (15) Dublin – (16) Salisbury – (17) Liscannor
(18) Bunratty – (19) Belfast – (20) Newark


First thing’s first; I had some help. I traveled with two friends and I met up with my mom in Sweden. So for the flight with the tightest baggage restrictions (America’s Spirit Airlines) Marta let me store some of the goodies I was brining for my family in her suitcase. And for the rest of the trip I was able to carry my purse outside of my backpack. I also handed off some souvenirs and a shirt right before my mom and I parted ways. But aside from getting to Europe with some goodies, everything I packed fit on my body (my rain jacket and winter jacket didn’t fit in my backpack so I wore them onto the planes) or in one 40 liter backpack (check it out here).

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher, Clare, Ireland

My Packing List

Toiletries

I really really loved my LUSH bars – especially when I was going through airport security in the UK. Regardless of whether or not you carry your liquids in a clear plastic bag the TSA over there requires that you use a TSA-provided plastic bag for ALL your liquids; and even if they’re all under 3.4 fl oz, you can’t carry them on if they don’t fit in the TSA-provided bag. That means mascara, concealer, moisturizers, face cleansers, mouthwash, toothpaste, hair sprays, hand lotion…. if it’s a liquid or a gel it has to fit in their one plastic bag. So not only did the LUSH bars not take up prime liquid carry on space, I got to use regular products and feel some at-home luxury even when I was staying in cramped hostels. #WINNING

Colosseum 3

When I was in line at the London Stansted Airport on my way to Dublin I actually saw one lady forced to choose between her toiletries and a snowglobe she brought as a carry on or pay to have whichever items she didn’t carry on added as checked luggage. I’m tellin ya, TSA in the UK is no joke.

Clothing

I chose clothes with complimentary colors so I could match all of my tops, pants, shoes, and accessories. I think I succeeded but I still packed quite a bit for a 20 day trip, especially considering how accessible laundry facilities were. For future travels one thing I’ll definitely be adding to my list is an aluminum square tin from LUSH filled with Tide Pods (you can fit about four in one tin which is plenty).

  • Black winter coatThe Vatican 10
  • Tan rain coat
  • Burgundy turtleneck sweater/shawl
  • Burgundy off-the-shoulder blouse
  • Gray turtleneck sweater
  • Gray sweater
  • Light blue long-sleeve button down shirt
  • Royal blue 3/4 sleeve top
  • Black and blue long sleeve top
  • Black 3/4 sleeve sweater
  • Black leather jacket
  • Black and white houndstooth 3/4 sleeve top
  • Sheer white 3/4 sleeve top
  • Green tank top
  • 1 black and 1 white camisoleLondon Ritz Tea Time 1
  • Red dress (fancy)
  • Black dress
  • 2 pairs of leggings
  • 1 pair of black jeans
  • 1 pair of leather pants
  • 12 panties/2 lace bralettes/1 strapless bra/5 pairs of socks
  • Purchased while abroad

Shoes

  • 1 pair of black suede booties
  • 1 pair of black flats
  • 1 pair of black Hunter Rain Boots

Accessories

I was happy with the selection of accessories. Everything matched, didn’t take up too much space, and there weren’t enough chains to get tangled everytime I put them away. I didn’t wear most of the jewelry I packed, but I appreciated having options; especially when they took up next to no space.

Temple Bar with Marta
Marta and I outside Dublin’s most famous pub, The Temple Bar

This is a comprehensive list of everything I needed to dress comfortably and fashionably (your call if I was successful with that) while surviving a European winter sans snow. In my next 20 days/8 countries post I’ll share how I managed to do this entire trip for less than $1,600;  including airfare, ground transportation, lodging, food, and everything else – aside from the clothes I bought in preparation for the vacation!


Do you think you could pack for a three week vacation with one backpack? Is my packing list ridiculous? What are some of your travel must-haves?

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