5 Tips for Packing a Three Month Trip into a Carry-On Backpack

Those bags we’re wearing and that red bag Luke is holding is all we brought for our entire three month trip to Europe. It was actually the perfect amount of things and we didn’t have to spend an extra $80 per bag to check them in! img_9224-1Only packing exactly what you need and condensing it down to one bag can be pretty tough. So, here’s some of our tips to help you pack for your next adventure:

1-Roll don’t fold
Rolling your clothes maximizes your use of space AND your clothes don’t get as wrinkled. (but in general- it makes sense to bring clothes that don’t wrinkle easily).

2-Plastic Bag Caps
Put a sandwich bag or any sort of plastic over your bottle before you put the cap on, this prevents leaks and messes!
Picture from makespace.com

3-Only pack 4-5 outfits
Especially when you’re doing workaway- you can generally do you laundry at least once a week so you really don’t need that many outfits. I put a personal packing list below with more details.

4-Strategically plan your packing 
This is especially true when you’re traveling around often and on the airplane. Make sure that the clothing you need most is on top and that things you use often like your cosmetics, phone charger, chapstick etc. are easy to access! I always put laundry on the bottom of my bag (usually in a plastic bag) because it doesn’t need to be accessible.


On our Easy Jet flights from Toulouse to Geneva we had to fit our red backpack into one of our other bags because we didn’t purchase an extra carry-on, so we had to push everything to the sides and shove the bag in…and it worked! Usually if you take smaller things and shove them into the sides you can fit a lot more because you’re using every centimeter of space! It’s surprising how much you can fit with brute force. 😉

Here’s a sample packing list of what I brought this past trip- keep in mind it’s during a cold season so it’s different in the summer:
Packing List:
-Socks (5)
-Thick socks (2)
-Underwear (8)
(These are small and you use them every day so it makes sense to pack lots of them-as many as you can fit in the extra spaces)
-Pants (5)-(1 work/messy, 1 Jeans, 1 comfy, clean sweats, 1 leggings/workout, 1 shorts)
-Shirts (3)-(1 short sleeve, 2 long-sleeve)
-Jacket (1)-Warm down jacket
-Sweater/hoodie (3)-(1 Casual/around town, 2 workout)
-Dress & Tights (1 cute outfit)
-Hat (1)
-*Scarf (1)-Big scarves are amazing for traveling because they double as blankets 😉
-*PJS-(an oversized shirt (you can wear the shorts underneath if you’re around people)
-Makeup-(just the basics)
-Face stuff-(Facewash/Toner/Cottonpads/Lotion)
-Hair stuff-(small hairbrush, shampoo/conditioner)
-*Chapstick or Vaseline
-Nail polish-(because it’s small and you’ll want to paint your nails at some point on your trip)
-*Phone and charger
-*Travel converter/adapter
-Shoes (3)-(Running shoes, hiking shoes, casual around town shoes)-Slippers might be a good idea in Europe if you have room, houses have really cold floors there
-*Laptop and charger-(optional)
-*Water bottle-(really nice for traveling in airports, but you can also just reuse a plastic one)
-*Credit Cars, Drivers License and Passport-(email pictures of each to yourself just in case)
-*Toothbrush and Toothpaste

Keep in mind that the liquids need to be under 3.4 ounces or 100ml. 

*The items with *stars* are the ones I keep in a carry on while I’m in the airport in addition to these:
-Extra pair of underwear to change into for long flights
-One pair of those thick socks for the flight
-Book (optional-downloading a book on your phone obviously saves room)

If I wear make up and if it’s a long overnight flight, I also bring some make up and face wash/lotion for the flight so I can take my make up off before I sleep.

All of this fits into a medium sized backpack that you can fit in the overhead bin!
Make sure you check if your airline weighs carry-on bags so you can be prepared. We didn’t-and had to chug lots of water and make puppy dog eyes at baggage attendant so we didn’t have to throw anything away when we flew Norwegian air from JFK to Barcelona haha.

If you have any packing tips to share, comment below! 🙂

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Well done! I have been meaning to do “the packing list” blog for a while. I really like your minimalist style. My family of 5 did Greece for 2.5 weeks in two carry-on’s and no one believes me…rolling is the key.


    1. hazeldespain says:

      Wow that’s so awesome!!


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