Does packing light have to = looking basic? 10 days in Europe: a backpack & tote bag

You know what I hate about a lot of these travel blogs? They appeal to people that think flats & tanks tops are appropriate “dressy” clothes for going out. The 2-shoe rule for carry-on bags I see regurgitated over and over drives me nuts. Any trip, even with just one carry-on, I always have (1) pair of running shoes, (2) pair of loafers and (3) a pair of high heels.

This trip was 8 days of exploring & 2 days of transit, broken down into:

Days 1 & 2: En route — extended layover in the UK

Day 3: Amsterdam pt 1

Day 4: Prague

Days 5 – 6: Paris

Days 7-10: Amsterdam pt 2: tulip festival & more!

My packing List:

Quick Summary: 2 pants, 1 skirt, 1 dress, 7 tops AND… OMG, 3 pairs of shoes! Flats, Sneakers & Heels.

*If you’re not fancy, the number of tops can be cut down to 4. Two worn on plane, Two packed.

In Detail:


Front pocket: liquids bag, foldable tote bag, mini flat iron, travel antibacterial wipes

2nd pocket: 2 pairs of men’s socks, water bag/ plastic bag flask

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3rd pocket: 1 pair of chinos (Rolled & Banded with rubber bands), 1 thin skirt (R&B), 1 LittleBlackDress (R&B), tiny travel towel

Main compartment: heels & flats


Laptop space in main compartment: compression bag of 3 lgslv shirts, 1 turtleneck & 2 sweaters  [each day 1 sweater/turtleneck with lgslv shirt underneath]

Update:  Wanted more flexibility in storage arrangement, so i R&Bd the tops & ditched the compression bag [both methods work equally]


On top of  shoes & space saver bag: Lingerie Bag

Mini Mesh zip pocket: tampons, bar soap, face scrub brush, shower cap

2 small side pockets: 1 specialty shirt, 1 gator tank for running

—2 large binder clips, clipped anywhere — can be used to hang scarf as privacy in hostel & hold up cords

Tote Bag:

*All items packed in my Tote can fit in a much smaller bag for extra-light travel. Also, I’m bringing a large plastic Target  bag to wrap my purse in when I leave them w/hostel front desk for the day & will tie plastic bag to my backpack ( I carry a small clutch & foldable grocery bag through the day) — my purse is Coach so I don’t want to attract any potential thieves.

  • 1 light running jacket (R&B)
  • ziploc sandwich bag: eyebrow kit, liquid eyeliner, blending sponge, eyeshadow mini palette & brushes, powder foundation & brush
  • ziploc bag: mints, antacid, aspirin, gum, bobby pins, emery board
  • passport, USB (with backup info), 1 packet of premixed instant coffee
  • hairbrush/comb
  • ziploc bag: necklaces/extra watch
  • ziploc bag: cords & batteries
  • snacks & extra ziploc bags
  • Champagne large & lightweight scarf(wide & long enough to be wrapped around your body like a towel / worn as a skirt)
  • **a MacBook Air can fit in purse but was not brought on this trip

-smartphone tripod (carry bag hooked onto outside of purse or placed inside)

Wear On Plane:

Liquids bag (front pocket of backpack) – basically all hair products #naturalhairproblems: 


  • .3 ml bottle of hair serum (cut & taped label from original bottle)
  • 3fl oz bottle of conditioner
  • .3 ml bottle of lotion (I refilled one from a hotel with cocoa butter)
  • travel-sized hair spray
  • mini squeeze bottle of hair oil / (can be used for sustain oil or dry shimmer body oil)
  • Heat Protectant (for blowdrying/flat ironing)
  • 25ml spray bottle for liquid foundation (yes, it works like a pump bottle) [pink] & mouthwash [green]
  • .3 ml plastic balm jar/container for solid, whipped shea butter [to carry around in my day clutch as a lotion substitute]
  • .3ml plastic balm jar of toothpaste
  • Mini Shampoo
  • “poo” cover-up spray
  • 25ml spray bottle for liquid makeup primer
  • travel hand sanitizer spray stick
  • travel sized hair gel OR other hair styling product of choice

*Used a $20 DYMO label maker to keep everything labeled

*The Dollar Tree & The Container Store are some of the best places for bottles – TCS is really good for special sizes that you don’t want to buy in bulk online

Lingerie Bag:

Underwear, 2 camisoles (R&B), 1 pair of compression pants (R&B), leggings (for bed) & pantyhose

Compression bag: 3 long slv (black, gray & olive), 2 short SLV/tank (Gator shirt, Maroon sleeveless faux mock neck)


  • Stick to neutral colors & fabrics —> simple & chic
  • Hand wash some light items; do laundry 1x — I’ll do mine Paris since it’s the midpoint
  • Items in packing bag were laid flat & folded once.
  • Items in other pockets/nooks/crannies, rolled & wrapped with a rubber band (R&B).
  • I tried a balm jar before w/liquid foundation but too much foundation ran out and made the jar hard to open, so now I only use spray bottles.
  • In hostels, I dry with mini-towel, but wrap scarf around body if not able to dress immediately. Scarf is also used as a coverup for religious sites & the beach.
  • For colder climates, if a coat is necessary, wear it on the plane. If not, just layer multiple shirts & sweaters — saves space by avoiding bulky items.

Will update with photos of my outfits after the trip! Happy packing. 🙂