Packing List: European Winter

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.

Basics

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.

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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.

Clothing

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.

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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!

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1 sweater and 1 knitted jumper

Perfect for keeping you warm in the winter. A good quality grey sweater will always look polished too.

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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.

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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.

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Bathers

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.

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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.

Belt

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.

2 dresses

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).

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Thermals

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.

Jewellery

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.

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So what do you think? Was there anything else I definitely should have taken? Anything I should have left home?

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20-something year old Australian backpacker writing her way around the world.

53 thoughts on “Packing List: European Winter

  1. Oh how I wish I stumbled upon your packing list before I left for my trip! I thought it was impossible to pack cute functional clothes in one backpack but you did it! I might have to do some shopping abroad:)

  2. Hi Ellen
    Where would you recommend getting some long sleeved tops from in Australia? I live in Perth and I’m heading to Europe soon for a cold Christmas and can never find long sleeved tops here! Any ideas?

  3. WOW, your list was awesome, and other than some odds and ends like snacks, there was nothing wanting in your list….
    PS: all this and managing to look so lovely as well… 🙂

  4. lol…nice post. I’m landing in Munich then hitching my way to Toulouse in the south of France. Got to make it there in 27 days😳 To say I like to jump in the deep end is an understatement. I’ll be landing back in Adelaide when I return so maybe if you’re about we can meet for coffee and swap Euro stories…;)
    TK

  5. I love beanies. I would have taken four since you can lay them flat and not compromise luggage space. You packed a good amount but forgot to list deodorant. Lol.

  6. You made a very clever packing list. I usually don’t like to travel during the winter because of the whether and because this season clothes takes twice more place in the luggage than the summer. However this winter we are having a trip so your tips are very helpful. Greetings

  7. Today, I went to the beachfront with my kids. I found a sea shell
    and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell
    to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it
    pinched her ear. She never wants to go back!
    LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had to tell someone!

  8. I’m hopeless at packing, but at least I travel lighter than you do. But then I’m a mere male. I always think my partner Denise takes too much but then she looks much nicer than I do overseas. Great information and well told.

    Tony
    http://breadtagsagas.com/

  9. I swear by silk thermals….light weight, take up little space.

    A bathing suit……well I’ve missed a couple of opportunities ’cause I didn’t bring one. Thanks for telling me to put it on my must bring list!

  10. YAY!! this blog post is so helpful! I’m studying abroad next semester so I need help with what to pack for cold weather!!

  11. Wow! That list is perfect! Thanks so much! I’ll be flying into London on approx 1 November, to start my tour 7am November 3, I then go to France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium. I then have a few days in either Amsterdam or London (haven’t decided yet) before flying to Iceland to stay for a few days and see the northern lights and do a few other fun things. Then fly back to London and go see stone henge and hopefully see Brighton and the pier.
    I’m extremely excited for it all and can’t wait to go! I’ve bought myself a lovely waterproof winter coat to wear and keep me warm. I still need a good pair of shoes though. How cold was it? Am I going to need thermals? I’ve been thinking of wearing a thermal singlet, a skivvy then either a warm jumper then my big coat, or thermal skivvy and big coat. As well as jeans (possibly thermal pants under if needed) and scarf, gloves, beanie. Is that too much or not enough? I know Iceland will be super cold!
    I’m also from Australia (North Queensland to be exact). So really have no idea about cold. What time of year did you go?
    Thanks!!

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