Ahh, packing—the one thing standing between you and your backpacking adventure. Packing light for a winter in Europe seems extra daunting, but I promise it’s doable and gratifying! Temperatures in Paris, Dresden, Prague, Krakow and Munich were between 30-50°F and I was more than warm enough with what I packed in my carry on. If I can do it, you can do it even better!

winter in europe outfit

How to Pack Like a Minimalist for Winter in Europe

Lugging around a huge bag for weeks at a time only to arrive home with clothes you never wore is pretty disappointing. Only bring the bare minimum you need to be comfortable, clean and (hopefully) stylish. When deciding whether or not to pack an item, I really like the mantra in this HerPackingList.com article,

“This is an item I love, this is light weight, this does double duty.”

If it doesn’t meet all three criteria, it’s not coming with ya! Give yourself plenty of time and lay out your items like I did in the photo above. Make sure that everything you bring goes together nicely when you mix and match and that the items are things you actually love and wear. If they’re not, it’s likely you’ll end up not wearing them. Once you have everything laid out, go through and pick out the things you definitely want to keep in the list, rather than things you think you should take away. Make a new pile with those items until you have your final list!

dresden germany prague tips for finding cheap flights

Live music in Dresden, Germany

The Perks of Packing Only a Carry-On Bag

One of my favorite parts of backpacking is realizing I really can live as a minimalist. It’s so gratifying knowing everything I want and need is on my back. I feel so untethered and free and that’s exactly how I want to feel, not just on vacation, but every day of my life. It’s always interesting the first few days back from a trip—I find myself wanting to just wear clothes from my carefully-curated backpack wardrobe rather than decide from my overflowing closet (okay, it’s not overflowing anymore, I cleaned out more than half!). You can feel this way too!

I pack light comparatively speaking, but even on my lightest trips I catch myself redoing the packing list and nixing all the items I didn’t need in my head on the flight home. Don’t make the same mistakes I have and carry around excess on your glorious adventure. Use my winter packing list for 17 days in Europe as a start!

Winter Packing List for 17-Day Trip Through Europe

  • 4 long-sleeve shirts
  • 1 long-sleeve dress
  • 1 very thin, long-sleeve sleep shirt
  • 1 pair pajama shorts
  • 1 pairs of jeans
  • 2 pairs of leggings (one pair was fleece-lined)
  • 5 pairs of socks
  • 2 beanies
  • 1 pair of leg warmers
  • 1 scarf
  • 2 pairs of gloves
  • 20 pairs of underwear
  • 2 bras
  • 1 bathing suit (I made a quick stop to the Dead Sea)
  • 1 pair boots
  • 1 pair rubber sandals (for showers)
  • 1 hair straightener
  • 1 packable backpack for day trips
  • 1 Relefree Microfiber Towel
  • 1 compact toiletry bag
  • 1 heavy mid-thigh-length black coat (I always wore or carried this with me, not in my backpack.)

Pack What You Need, But Use The List as a Guide

Some of you may look at that list and think, “Wow, that’s hardly anything. I don’t think I can get buy with just those items” while others may think, “That’s a minimalist packing list?” I can relate to both sides—the side of it’s not enough before I leave for the trip and the side of I brought way too much by the time I’m half-way through the trip. It’s not about packing less just for the sake of being “minimalist” it’s because you actually need less than you think.

paris in winter packing list

Courtesy of Chris Karidis

Pack This Backpack for Winter in Europe

I packed all this into the Ozark Trail – 45L Montpelier Technical Backpack using packing cubes. I found this backpack at Walmart and it’s served me well for years. It’s like $65, has an attached rain cover and as long as you pack like a minimalist, it meets carry-on requirements for major airlines. I’m sure there are better backpacks out there, but this one has everything you need. If a Walmart near you has it, you can try it on before buying, unlike online (I normally don’t endorse Walmart, I’m just a realist).

Happy packing and safe travels! ?✈️



Do you have any packing tips, packing lists or awesome packing resources? I’d love to hear about them in the comments! I need all the help I can get. 😉