In March 2016, my boyfriend and I traveled to Prague to meet up with one of our best friends for a week of eating, drinking and gallivanting around Central Europe. We had a jam-packed schedule: in just eight days we’d be visiting four countries, traveling nearly 600km through the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary, and relying completely on public transit.
Because we had so much ground to cover in such a short time, I didn’t want to waste any of it trying to haul a wheely suitcase up and down cobblestone streets, on and off of buses, and up and down stairs, so I opted for my trusty and beloved MEC Dragonfly 25L daypack.
Now, 25L isn’t a lot of space at the best of times. The daypack had been ideal for overnight trips and the occasional long weekend spent in a warm destination, but this trip would be neither of those. No, this trip was taking place in late-March and while that time of year is technically spring, the temperatures made it feel a whole lot like winter. This meant I had to budget my space even further to accommodate for bigger and bulkier clothes.
This would be my daypacks true test.
It wasn’t easy, but thanks to a few key strategies, I was able to pack exactly what I needed to feel cute and comfortable, and stay warm during our eight-day trek through Central Europe.
Here are my four strategies to making the most of just a little space:
My first strategy for fitting eight days worth of ensembles into a 25L daypack was to create a capsule wardrobe. Because of the limited space, I needed to ensure that everything could be used with more than one other piece.
When creating my capsule travel wardrobe I went back to basics, opting for pieces that were either black, white or grey, or some combination of the three. By narrowing down my colour palette, I knew that each and every piece I packed could be used to create any number of outfits.
To avoid feeling drab in my monochromatic look, I used accessories like my scarf and toque to add colour and pattern to my #ootd.
Wear Bulkier Items to Travel
To save space even further, I wore my bulkiest items when we traveled. This included wearing or carrying my wool coat and sweater on the plane, bus or train, and flinging my scarf over my shoulders
Not only did this free up space for other pieces, but made these trips more pleasant. As someone who’s always cold, I was prepared for those drastic temperatures that you only seem to encounter in transit, and if I got tired, I had plenty of things to use as a makeshift pillow.
Plan to Do Laundry
One of the biggest packing traps travelers fall into is feeling as if they need to bring enough of each and every item to get them through every day of their trip. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Simply plan to do laundry at some point.
Each of our AirBnBs was equipped with a washing machine and drying rack so I was able to do a quick load towards the end of the trip when the necessities were starting to run low.
Even if I hadn’t had access to the machine, I knew I could always hand wash a few things to help me make it to the end of the week.
By planning to do laundry at some point on the trip I was able to travel more with less, and I didn’t have to resort to a desperate Primark run for new sock and undies.
Minimal Toiletries & Travel Size Everything
Toiletries, although quite necessary in my opinion, can take up so much space if you’re not careful. To make room, I transferred liquid products, like shampoo and face wash, into smaller containers. I definitely wasn’t going to use 100ml+ in just eight days, so there was no point in bringing the entire container.
I also did a makeup audit before packing anything. I don’t usually wear a lot (if any) makeup when I travel, and this trip was no different. I relied on just a few staples, like BB Cream, blush and mascara to help me feel good and look camera ready.
Last, but not least, I tucked my travel-sized hair straightener into my bag. I, unfortunately, don’t have hair that can just air dry and look amazing, so I need the help of an iron, if only for the front bits.
What Was In My Bag:
- 2 pairs of pants, one grey, one dark denim
- 2 camisoles, to be used for layering
- 4 t-shirts, 2 black, 2 white
- 1 long sleeve t-shirt, black
- 3 sweaters
- 1 wool jacket
- 1 toque (a beanie or wool cap if you’re not Canadian)
- 1 pair of gloves
- 1 scarf
- 1 pair of black walking boots
- 1 pair of socks and underwear for each day
- 2 bras
- 1crossbodyy bag for day use
- 1 pair of sunglasses because the sun still shines even when it’s cold
- 1 Ziploc bag containing facewash, shampoo, BB Cream, blush + brush, mascara
- 1 Ziploc bag containing toothbrush & paste
- 1 travel sized hair straightener
When preparing for a cold weather adventure, it can be easy to get scared and think you need to pack everything and more. But don’t let these colder temperatures stop you from packing light. By taking a little time and going back to the basics, you can easily pack for eight days or more in just a carry-on!
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