Somewhere between traveling from hostel to hostel and airport to airport, to packing and re-packing my backpack during my solo Europe trip, I found myself losing things. First, it was my favorite white V-neck T-shirt in Berlin, then my iPhone earbuds in Paris, then worst of all my Moleskine notebook at JFK airport at the very end of my trip. I realized that the lighter and smarter I pack, the less I run the risk of losing items or lugging around items that I didn’t actually use.
1. Expensive Accessories and Jewelry
Aside from potentially attracting pickpockets or thieves, it’s really easy for jewelry to fall through the cracks of your backpack or suitcase. Even if you have a special case for these expensive items, you still have to make sure they’re locked up when not wearing them. And heaven forbid something did happen, they could cost a fortune to replace.
2. New Clothing
As your prepare for your Europe trip, you might feel the urge to buy clothing specifically for the trip. Resist this urge. Unless you’re traveling somewhere that requires specialized clothing, like a ski trip, I wouldn’t bring any new clothing you think you’ll wear on your trip.
Tip: Don’t buy clothing for your trip, buy clothing on your trip.
I bought a cute new dress and skirt that I thought I would wear in Europe. Key word: thought. The new sundress never ventured out of my suitcase, and I wore my new skirt a grand total of one time. When it came down to it, I found myself choosing to wear the items in my backpack I was more familiar with and comfortable in. The items I bought for my trip, ended up taking away luggage space from the new pieces I picked up shopping on my trip. Side note: You especially do not want to break in new shoes in Europe. That’s a recipe for blisters and disaster. Your feet will thank me later.
3. High Heels
OK, I know I may be a traitor to my gender, but bringing high heels to Europe is a no-no in my book. First of all, unless you’re taxiing everywhere, you will be doing a lot of walking, and let’s just face it, walking in flats or sneakers is way more comfortable than walking in heels all day. Not to mention the sheer nightmare it is to walk in heels on cobblestone streets. Even if you’re a Beyonce or Victoria Beckham type and live in stilettos, they just really aren’t that practical to have in your backpack, assuming you only break them out a few times for clubbing. And from a safety standpoint, it’s again easier to cut and run in flats than it is to run in heels or barefoot with said heels in hand.
4. A Laptop
Unless you’re a digital nomad and working in Europe, given the advancement of smartphones and tablets to do everything that you need, I’d leave the laptop at home. Laptops are heavier and bulkier than a tablet, and therefore will take up more space in your bag. And like expensive jewelry, it would be one more thing to worry about if you leave it locked up in your suitcase while exploring.
From guidebooks to airplane fiction, I’d leave all hard copy books at home. Like laptops, books are heavy and bulky, and can be consolidated onto a tablet or smartphone. There are great guidebook apps that can be installed on your phone. The Kindle app or iBooks can hold your entire fiction or non-fiction library.
So there you have it. Those are the five things you don’t need to pack for Europe. Traveling and packing light is all about dual-use and consolidation to make sure you have a stress-free and great time on your trip.