I spent 2 weeks in Europe with just a backpack. My best packing tip is to bring quick-dry clothing.
20.09.2023 - 20:21
When it comes to packing light, it's not just the amount of clothing you bring that matters — it's also the materials they're made of.
Last year, I took a two-week trip through four European countries with just a backpack. I flew from NYC to Berlin and traveled by train from Germany to Austria, Italy, and Switzerland.
Traveling with just a backpack works for me because I find I have less stuff to worry about losing or forgetting when getting from one location to the next, and it leaves my hands free when commuting.
Plus, fitting everything in a backpack means I don't have to check luggage and pay the accompanying fee, or feel the anxiety of whether it will make it to my destination.
Although I'm used to packing light, this was my first time using a backpack for two weeks of travel, and I found it challenging to decide what to bring and what to leave behind. But one thing made it easier.
For clothing, I brought quick-dry shirts and pants made of thin, moisture-wicking materials that are designed to dry quickly in the sun, like polyester and nylon. Capsule wardrobe stylist Millie Bentley backs this packing tip.
"Quick-drying means you can wash the garment really easily and just hang it up," Bentley, who designs capsule wardrobes for Aday, told Insider.
She explained the importance of layering these quick-dry pieces, especially when the weather is rainy or the temperatures vary throughout the day.
"Because you're fighting with the elements, you want a lighter layer that you are wearing underneath," she said." If the layer gets wet, you can take it off and can dry it quickly," she said.
Most of my quick-drying clothes are from Under Armour or Prana and are good for exercise, but I thought they'd serve a dual purpose on this trip, especially considering my laundry strategy.
When I pack light, I usually bring laundry sheets, which are small, dry, scented squares that look like dryer sheets, but they're actually pads of laundry detergent that turn into a bubbly soap when mixed with water. They're great for using on the go, and I like to pack them while traveling so I can do my own laundry in sinks and then air dry my items. Doing laundry made it possible for me to pack less clothing overall.
During my trip, I dried my freshly laundered quick-dry clothing on the balconies of hotel rooms and the porches of Airbnbs, and it never took longer than 20 minutes.
Backpacking with quick-dry clothing made me realize that I could pack as lightly as I did for my two-week trip for even longer adventures — as long as I have my laundry sheets, too.