This week I was asked by one of my lovely readers if I was able to write a post about what I packed for months of backpacking through Europe in the winter months. So here goes!
I wanted to pack enough clothes that I wouldn’t have to do laundry every week, but I had also set myself a luggage limit of 13kg (3kg backpack included). This turned out to be pretty tricky considering that most winter clothes tend to quite bulky and heavy.
Something else that I had to keep in mind when packing was that I also wanted to look half decent on a semi regular basis (no mean feat, let me tell you).
But I ended up making it work, although buying things along the way did make my backpack substantially heavier by the time I went back home! So here is a list of what clothing I packed for a journey through the wintery wonderland that is Europe.
14 pairs of underwear
This may seem like an excessive amount of undies to take, but they take up very little room and the more you take, the less you have to deal with trying to work out the washing machine at your hostel.
4 bras (assorted colours)
This may seem like far too few bras to take, but I am blessed (cursed?) with very little going on in the breast region; which means that I don’t really sweat in that area and consequently, my bras can go a few days before needing to be washed.
8 pairs of 300 denier black stockings
Once again, this may seem excessive, but I am the sort of woman who hates wearing jeans and pants; so instead, I wear skirts and dresses all year round. 300 denier stockings are super thick and keep my legs toasty warm in the winter. My favourite stockings can be found on the ASOS website (http://www.asos.com/au/Gipsy/Gipsy-300-Denier-Soft-Tights/Prod/pgeproduct.aspx?iid=1704282&xr=1&mk=VOID&r=3) and because they are thicker, they last ages, so they are well worth the money.
2 pairs of fleecy stockings
Stockings that are fleece lined are one of my favourite things in the world. Flox do a good version (http://www.flox.com.au/), but you can find ones just as good for much cheaper at any European winter market.
2 pairs of leggings
For the days when a skirt just would not be a viable option, but I am still too stubborn to wear jeans.
1 pair of thick thermal gloves
This goes without saying! If you only invest in two things for a winter in Europe, make it high quality thermal gloves and high quality merino wool socks.
2 pairs of merino wool socks (+ 8 pairs of regular socks)
Merino wool is AMAZING! It keeps your feet toasty warm, minimises sweatiness and dries super quickly, so if you wash them at night they will be dry in the morning.
3 scarves (assorted colours, lengths, fabrics)
I am a firm believer in the power of the scarf. Scarves can make an otherwise boring outfit look polished. Scarves keep your neck and face warm on windy days. Scarves won’t weigh your backpack down too much.
8 long sleeve tops (2 grey, 2 white, 1 apricot, 1 black, 2 striped)
As far as my personal style goes, I go by the motto “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Basically, this amounts to me wearing pretty similar outfits from day to day, but mixing up the top/skirt/scarf/jacket combo. If you are starting your trip in the UK, you can get half decent tops for a few quid each at any Primark store. They won’t last forever, but they are cheap!
1 sweater and 1 knitted jumper
Perfect for keeping you warm in the winter. A good quality grey sweater will always look polished too.
2 black skirts (one a-line leather and one rayon skater style)
My two favourite skirts that go with everything never let me down, and the leather skirt always looks amazing.
2 thick jackets (one black, one khaki)
I was wearing one of these jackets at all times, so I only ever had to physically pack one of them at a time. They went with everything and kept me warm for the entire time. They were not waterproof though, which did lead to me rocking the “drowned rat” look on more than one occasion.
6 tops suitable for nights out (inc. 1 purple bustier, 1 sheer white button up shirt, 1 cobalt button up shirt, 1 leather camisole, 1 sheer black panelled tee, 1 sheer white polka dot top)
I wore these tops a lot, and ended up wearing them during the daytime hours if the weather wasn’t completely hypothermia inducing. My little purple bustier ended up being my go-to party outfit.
This may seem a little strange to pack for a winter trip, but they take up barely any room and you might be surprised when you need them. Whether it is soaking in a thermal bath in Eastern Europe, going on a snorkelling trip, having late night swims in pools and spas in hostels (rare as they are, they do exist) or even just jumping into a freezing cold lake, ocean or river for the sake of it, bathers come in handy.
Cross Body Bag
I took a small black cross body bag with me, which eventually fell apart (cue me having an excuse to buy a cute new one in Florence), but while it lasted, it was able to hold all my daily essentials and ensured that all my possessions were kept close to me.
A skinny black metal plated belt will be your best friend. They go with everything and add instant polish. You can find cheap ones on eBay for less than $15.
1 pair of waterproof Dr Martin lookalikes
Definitely not the most fancy of shoes, but they kept my feet dry (mostly) and were comfy to walk around in.
1 pair of black ballet flats
Light, compact and cute enough that a club won’t refuse you entry for your less than stellar footwear.
Dresses are often really lightweight and roll up to barely nothing. The right dress can be worth it’s weight in gold on a night out (hello free drinks).
I only used these babies in Iceland, but they did keep me warm so I was glad I packed them, even if they went unused for the majority of the time.
Most people will tell you to avoid wearing flashy jewellery because it makes you a target for theft. This is definitely true, but I am a firm believer in taking a few key pieces to wear on nights out, to fancy restaurants or if you happen to go on a date with a beautiful man and want to look nice (it happens).
1 beanie and 1 hat
The beanie is totally necessary in the winter, a hat not so much. I actually bought my maroon hat in Edinburgh and I absolutely love it, and consequently, I wore it half to death.
So what do you think? Was there anything else I definitely should have taken? Anything I should have left home?