So, you’re going to Europe for the Winter
One of the biggest questions we get time and time again is about how we pack for our long term journey around the world. Since winter is winding down and we’re making some changes to our luggage, we figured this would be a good time to answer at least a part of the question.
So, you want to travel around Europe for the winter, but you only want to take a backpack. The first question is: are you crazy? Then, why would you want to travel around Europe in the winter? Isn’t it cold? Wouldn’t you want to travel around the continent in the summer?
These are all very good questions and yes, if we had more “choice”, we would have started our European adventure in the summer. However, our circumstances led us to starting our journey in November right before the the full swing of winter. (And as it turns out winter was a great time to visit the cities of Europe).
When we started out on our whole Nomadic Lifestyle we took the idea of backpacking Europe to heart. We took a look at what we would need, shopped for backpacks, read blogs, cut out supplies, read more, and finally collected everything that would eventually sit on our backs.
Okay, so you’ve decided to pack everything in a backpack
Like I said before, we are currently making some changes to our luggage situation for a number of reasons, but backpacking is one way to get the job done. The backpacks served their purpose well and we got the most we could out of them. We’ll let you know about the changes in a future post, but for now we’ll stick to our original methodology for any of you needed to pack up.
First, let’s get into our bags and what type and sizes you will need.
We both opted to trek around with a full size Osprey Packs Atmos 50 Backpack. These bags were a product of some research on some other travel sites including a lot of very useful information from The Savvy Backpacker. Your milage will vary on what kind of luggage you’ll be taking on your trip. We chose these backpacks for a number of reasons and Osprey is a great brand (the lifetime warranty didn’t hurt).
Our fully packed bags ready to go for our journey. Can you guess which one is Angie’s? Hint: It’s the bigger puffier bag 🙂
In addition to the bags we opted for some other helpful travel organization gizmos. We bought a pair of Toiletry Kits designed to pack flat and hold all of your little bathroom nick nacks. This second bag is actually amazing. It has a ton of pouches and one of the best inventions for a travel organizer … a hook! There’s a built in hook in the main compartment so you can hang your bag in the bathroom for easy access. This is great for small or shared bathrooms.
My Essential Clothing List For Women, in Winter
- Underwear: 10 pairs of underwear (Try getting a couple of the ExOfficio Women’s Bikini Underwear), 1 pair of thermal underwear.
- Bras: 1 sports bra, 3 regular bras
- Socks: 4-5 pair of socks (You will want moisture-wicking socks to help keep your feet dry).
- Shirts: 2 long sleeve shirts, 2 short sleeve shirts, 4 tank tops
- Pants: 2 pairs of pants: You may want to pick up something like the ExOfficio Women’s Nomad Roll-Up Pant. They’re great for an on-the-go lifestyle. Jeans are heavy and take a long time to dry if you find yourself without a dryer. I absolutely love my L.L. Bean fitness pants. They are super comfortable for traveling in and L.L. Bean has a lifetime warranty on all of their clothing.
- Dresses: 2 dresses
- Skirts: 4 maxi skirts
- Leggings and Pantyhose: 2 pair of sheer pantyhose (mine are two different colors), 2 pair of thick leggings to keep your legs warm while wearing a skirt or dress.
- 1 light jacket
- 1 winter coat (this is a winter list after all)
One thing to note is that not all of the items in this list will make their way into your bag. For example, the winter coat that I opted for was a full length wool coat. You’ll be wearing that whenever you’re geared up for travel so you don’t have to worry about fitting it anywhere in your luggage.
Accessories For Women:
- 1 Scarf
- 1 Hat
- 1 pair of boots
- 1 pair of sneakers
- 1 purse or day backpack
- 1 pair of sunglasses
- Make-up: 1 bottle of foundation, 1 blush, 1 small eyeshadow set, 1 lipstick, 1 mascara
My Essential Clothing List For Men, In Winter
- Underwear: 2 pairs of ExOfficio Men’s Underwear and 2-3 pairs of your normal favorite underwear
- The ExOfficio underwear are amazing. They dry super fast so in a pinch you can wash a pair in the sink and hang them up to dry over night. By morning they should be good to wear. This way, you can actually get away with only having two pairs and switch one clean pair out every day.
- 1 pair of thermal full leg underwear
- Socks: 4-5 pair of socks (You will want moisture-wicking socks to help keep your feet dry)
- Pants: 2 pairs of Hiking Pants
- These pants are super light weight and dry very quickly. Depending on activity level you can get away with wearing one pair for two or three days.
- Shirts: 3-4 t-shirts and 2-3 long sleeve t-shirts
- 1 light jacket
- 1 sweatshirt
- 1 heavy jacket
- (Optional) 1 pair of sleep pants
Accessories for Men:
- 1 pair of sunglasses
- 1 pair of hiking boots (I’m a sucker for anything L.L. Bean. I love the company and have nothing but good things to say about any of their products. Check out something like thesehiking boots. You should only need the one pair for anything the winter will throw at you)
- 1 winter hat
- 1 pair of winter gloves (something light, not full nylon snow gloves)
- 1 scarf or neck warmer
- Chargers and cables for all electronics
- We each carry a laptop, phone, and Kindle e-reader
- If you bring a laptop and if that laptop has an HDMI port be sure to bring yourself an HDMI cable. They’re super cheap and even in traveling you’ll want to have some veg out time to catch a movie or show. With the cable you can connect up to almost any TV and get a better viewing experience.
- USB flash drive (they always seem to come in handy somewhere)
- Small Foldable Umbrella (100,000% an absolute must)
- Platypus SoftBottle
- These little water bottles are great for places like airports. You take the bottle through security and then you can fill it up on the go at any water fountain. No more paying for super expensive bottled water!
- Outlet Plug Adapter (there are at least three different kinds for Europe)
Earlier I mentioned that we decided to grab some Toiletry Kits. The flat packing is great and the hook is extremely helpful for getting at your stuff when you don’t have everything put away in nice shelves and drawers. You’ll want to make sure you have all of the usual essentials like:
- Deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothpaste, toothbrush, q-tips, hair brush, etc
Medicine is something that we’ve found to be extremely important to take with you when traveling to a foreign country (or countries!). You’ll have a very hard time finding the concoctions that you’re used to back home. You may be able to find substitutes for some things, but don’t expect to find any NyQuil or DayQuil over in Europe. We both got sick in the Netherlands and again in Italy and were rationing our NyQuil gel tabs like they were water in the desert.
Since this is the winter packing edition do make sure you pack some cold remedies. Sickness always seems to be strongest in the cold months. Besides, if you’re going to be traveling long term you will get sick; it’s a fact of life. You may as well be sick with the things that you know work for you.
Finally, don’t forget to pack up on any prescription medications that you take. Make sure you work this out before you leave. Different countries have very different laws and policies on which medications are available over the counter, if at all. In Italy even the medicated sore throat lozenges are stored behind the counter. We had a great time (sarcastic) miming a sore throat to the pharmacist in Italy to get our hands on the magic tablets.
Okay, so that was all the ‘what’, but how about the ‘how’? Packing is actually the easy part and get used to it because you’ll be loading and unloading your bag quite a lot as your trek around from place to place. Here are a few tips that should help you keep things handy and organized:
- Keep items that you frequently use like sunglasses readily available in easy to reach pouches or at the top of your bag
- Pack your main bag compartment with the stuff you don’t expect to need right away at the bottom
- For instance, you should pack some of your pants or shoes at the bottom of your bag with things like t-shirts and your toiletries bag on top
- Roll all of your clothing instead of folding. Rolling your clothes into tubes helps everything fit into your backpack, keeps your clothes organized, and helps prevent wrinkles
- Make sure you keep valuables and your passport out of harms way and within easy reach
- In fact, I keep my passport, phone, and wallet all on my person at all times. I just don’t trust them sitting around in my bag. There are times when you’ll set your bag down and take your eyes off of it. I just wouldn’t want to chance losing something like my passport like that 🙂
So, there you have it. The Nomadic Lifestyle’s guide to packing it all up for a winter wonderland in Europe. We hope you were able to get some useful tips and tricks for your next adventure. Was there anything that we missed? Let us know and we’ll be sure to add it (and give you the credit you deserve).