Packing your travel bag can make or break your trip. You want to look cute but be comfortable and have access to the things you need. But you also don’t want to lug around your entire life and valuables. That’s why you need to pack and think like a travel blogger. All the tech, clothes, and stuff you need, all easy to access. Winter is an especially hard time to pack since sweaters and coats take up more space. You have to think about how to pack strategically. This ultimate guide to packing like a travel blogger (and backpacking in general) will help you to not over pack and bring what you really need.
I am a really good packer. I feel like I can say that since I’ve been on many trips both around the US, abroad, and Asia, and now living in Germany, I am ready to go at any moment. I may not be good at singing, say no to cheese, remembering birthdays, or doing the dishes, but I can pack a bag.
First and foremost before we get into the details (and believe me, I am laying out all the details!) you need to pack for comfort. I like to look cute, but I also like to feel my feet and be able to walk all day. That is what traveling is about. Right? It’s about actually seeing the places, understanding the history, trying the food and more. So make sure to get over having a showstopping outfit everyday. Most of the time when I’m on long trips I end up wearing whatever I found was the most comfortable, not the outfit that was cool but made me feel like I needed to suck in the whole time. Your trip should be about the scenery, not the clothes you wear.
The Ultimate Guide to Packing Like a Travel Blogger
With that said, the first and most important aspect is a backpack. If you are traveling internationally, for a short trip, or really, anywhere, a backpack makes the most sense. Do you want to be dragging around a rolling suitcase on cobblestone streets? Me either. I have done a lot research when it comes to a backpack and I wish that this post was sponsored, but it’s not. I just really love this Osprey Porter bag. This is what I asked for my 30th birthday and I can tell you it’s been the best gift ever (thanks Mom!). It also fits the specs for a carry on bag at the airport plus has tons of compartments. It has padding on the straps so it doesn’t hurt your shoulders and I can put my laptop in here too. Lastly, it opens up so that I can have access to all my stuff. This is very important as the backpacks where you just stuff everything through the top makes it hard to organize. As you can tell I put a LOT of thought and effort into this backpack, but really, it makes all the difference. It is life changing for me.
Why is having the right bag so important? Well, if you aren’t careful you can get your stuff stolen. I remember when I was in Greece a few years ago. We were standing on the escalator in Athens and I felt something on my bag. I turned around to see a guy trying to rummage through to steal something! The great thing about the Osprey bag (and many of their bags) have a place for you to hide zippers or make it inaccessible.
Further reading: Why I ALWAYS Carry On
Clothes to pack:
Since it’s cold right now, sweaters and jeans are a must. But that also means they take up more space. I always try to pack a few accessories (scarves, hats, jewelry) so that I can switch up my look, even if I didn’t bring a different top for every day I’m traveling.
I like these leggings because they are very durable and not at all see-through. Then I’ll pack a pair of blue jeans and black jeans. I packed two pairs of tennis shoes this trip (probably could have gone with even just one pair, but wanted the shoes to match my outfit… bloggers!). I also have super warm gloves and of course underwear and a couple bras.
For tops, I packed two turtlenecks that are neutral colors so that I can layer and switch things up. I packed a navy vest, a pink sweater, and a gray sweater. I also packed a scarf, and two winter beanies.
Tip: wear your bulkier items (coat, boots, etc) on the commute. If I’m going somewhere really cold (when I was in the mountains in Austria) I needed a big coat, scarf, and snow boots, so I wore those. As long as it’s comfortable (it should be!) wear the bulky stuff.
My travel makeup is two things: not breakable and lasts all day. I don’t want to have to reapply makeup, anytime for that matter, but especially while traveling. This post is a full breakdown of my updated travel makeup, best tips, and how I pack it! Here’s what I bring when I’m traveling:
I like this makeup bag since it’s made out of scuba material so it doesn’t look dirty. Travel brush / mirror, deodorant, Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation (this stuff is the BEST- lasts 24 hours), It Cosmetics eyebrow pencil, Mac “Gingerly” Blush, Clinique lotion, Mac pro longwear concealer, L’Oreal skin perfection primer, Too Faced Bronzer, pony tail holders, beauty sponge, L’Oreal Double Extend Mascara (literally I have written about this dozens of times, there is nothing better in my book), toothbrush, and blush brush. See all my must have travel makeup here.
Further reading: How to Get Super Long Eyelashes
All good travel bloggers are also secretly photographers. We need pictures for our posts (and Instagram… @heleneinbetween) but we need the right equipment. I try to tote around the bare minimum. I always bring my Nikon D40 and while I have two lenses at home, I just pick one. If I’m by myself (or if I know I need a very steady shot for low lighting, which is most of the time) I bring a tripod. I love this one because it is durable, lightweight, and folds up easily. I also bring my favorite on the go phone charger, the “lipstick” Anker charger. I pretty much don’t leave the house without it.
I also bring my laptop (which fits in my backpack easily) (also marble laptop case here) because if I have any down time I’ll work. I also bring power cords, headphones, and a universal outlet (this one is the best one for Europe). You never know if your plug will fit in the socket (especially when you travel internationally) so I make sure to bring this one with me always. I also bring another tripod– one for my phone. I LOVE the Joby Gorilla tripod. This works for almost any smartphone. Plus, you can mold it to fit on whatever- a light pole, an arm chair, you name it.
I always bring a small, crossbody bag and/or a small backpack. I don’t like having my camera around my next so that way I can put everything in there. I also keep a small padlock on the backpack so I can lock it up if need be.
I also bring a grocery store plastic bag and a gallon size ziploc bag. The ziploc bag is for toiletries and the plastic bag is for dirty clothes.
Lastly, I am never without ear plugs. This is not only to ensure I sleep soundly but in case I am going to a concert or event I always have them on hand. You can call me old fashioned but I’d rather save my hearing.
How to Pack It:
I know you might be thinking, Helene I know how to put stuff in a backpack. But there really is a right and wrong way. Here’s a diagram that illustrates the weight distribution:
You want to keep the weight even and the bulk of it in the middle and back of the pack. This makes it easier to carry (and so you don’t topple over). Also, make sure that non valuables (think pills, a hairbrush, toiletries) go in the more accessible pockets. That way, if someone does try to take something they won’t be getting anything of value.
Here’s the truth: while I know you want to look cute while you’re traveling that isn’t the main goal. The main goal (should) be to see the world. You WILL look great because you are exploring and making memories. So pack neutrals and a few pops of colors so you can mix it up.
I remember when we went to London recently I over-packed. And then I had to carry my stuff on a train for an hour. It wasn’t worth it and I didn’t end up wearing half the stuff I brought. So just remember that the less you bring the less you have to think about what to wear and less you have to lug around.
Tip: I try to plan out a few outfits and try things on beforehand so I’m not rummaging through my suitcase thinking I have nothing to wear.
Whether you’re going for a few days or a couple weeks (I went to Asia for 17 days with just a backpack!) you can carry it all in one bag and have what you need. Once you do it more and more, you’ll start packing like a travel blogger in no time!
So… are you an overpacker? Or do you pack just the essentials? Have in must-know travel packing tips?
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