How to Pack Savvy

I like to consider myself a bit of a master packer. Mainly because when people saw the size of my backpack during my ten weeks travelling Europe, and I told them how long I was travelling for, they looked shocked or scared / concerned for my sanity.

Like most things the more you do it, the better you get at it. I used to take way too much stuff with me and not end up wearing half of it. I like to think I’ve improved a lot since those days.

How far i've come since this trip to Dublin

ow how far I’ve come since this trip to Dublin in 2014 – note the teeny tiny rucksack I had. And for some reason a plastic bag. I’m sure there was a method to my madness. 

So I’ve complied a list of the best ways to pack savvy,

  • Packing cubes are life – seriously.

Finally buying some of these for a three week long trip changed my life. No more stuffing things randomly in my backpack, and then throwing everything out every time I needed a bobby pin. I got my set of three off Amazon, and I probably just went for the cheapest option (I’m sure they cost under £10).

A beautifully organised packing cube, which did stay pretty well organised. The white top was a stupid thing to take though, it got a werid / questionable stain on it which wouldn't come out.

A beautifully organised packing cube, which did stay pretty well organised throughout my trip I’m proud to say. The white top you can see was a stupid thing to take though, it got a weird / questionable stain on it a few weeks in, which wouldn’t come out no matter how many hostel sinks I washed it in.

  • Pack a plastic bag / reusable material bag

This is invaluable! You won’t believe how many times I wished I had a plastic bag on me in my early travel days. Why? To put the recently washed clothes in which aren’t completely dry yet, the towel or face cloth you used the previous night which is also still damp, those dirty shoes or wet flip-flops, your dirty stinky clothes which really need a wash…really the list is endless.

The reusable material bag is a great space-saving option, and the one I took for my ten weeks doubled as a beach bag, a bag for when I hadn’t packed so smart and need to stuff a few extra things in it between destinations, and a food / shopping bag (because a lot of countries in Europe charge you for plastic bags from supermarkets, and if you’re spending 5 cents on this everyday it can quickly add up).



If in doubt or desperate need you can always tie your boots to the outside of your backpack, and look completely deranged – just an option though

  • Take less than you think you need.

I know it may seem like you need twenty differing shades of blue t-shirts, and that formal gown for backpacking Europe but you don’t. And also what’s the worst that can happen if the unexpected happens, and you need some obscure item of clothing that you don’t have, can’t borrow,or find a substitute for? You can buy it.

A piece of clothing doubles as a great souvenir too, and a reminder of that time you were freezing in Prague, and thought your fingers would drop off if you didn’t quickly find a jumper for under 200 Koruna.

  • Take something to wash clothes by hand with.

I love washing my clothes in hostel sinks (please don’t judge me). I don’t know why more people don’t do this, but if you’re going on a trip that is under a month this can be your sole way of washing clothes. It saves you so much money, and is way more efficient than waiting for all your clothes to be dirty until you can justify paying for the washing machine. Also a lot of hostels won’t even have a washing machine.

It ultimately means you don’t need to take as many clothes, and you can leave behind that huge pile of underwear which would have been enough to fill a Victoria Secret as well.

Although I may look calm and composed, the panic was real.

The night before leaving for what would become a ten week trip around Europe. Although I may look calm and composed, the panic was real. The fuzziness wasn’t though, it’s just a bad quality photo. 

  • Leave space in your backpack.

By this I also mean don’t forget that the outfit you start in will at some point have to fit in your bag too. I’m not saying I’ve done this but…trust me on this one. It’s not fun to be desperately repacking your backpack with a horrendous hangover and less than ten minutes until you need to check out,  and wondering why there doesn’t seem to be space for those jeans you wore on the flight over. So although it’s great advice to wear all your bulky things when leaving, remember that at some point those heavy boots, or coat, or jeans will end up in your backpack.

Leaving space is also a good tip in case you pick up extra items / souvenirs / food.

  • Don’t stress

Finally don’t let packing stress you out so much that you can’t enjoy the last few days you have at home before leaving. Whilst being organised is great, accept that after a few days on the road your carefully organised and regimented backpack packing routine may go completely out of the window.

And that’s ok. 


  1. Shereen @crazytravelista

    Great article! And I agree, packing cubes changed my travel life!! I have no idea how I lived without them for so long!!

    1. Pippa (Post author)

      Thank you 🙂 I know right! Who would have thought that such inexpensive items could make a huge difference?!


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