Ahh, packingโ€”the one thing standing between you and your backpacking adventure. Packing light for a winter trip seems extra daunting, but I promise it’s doable and gratifying! Temperatures in Paris, Dresden, Prague, Krakow and Munich were between 30-50ยฐF 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!

How to Pack Like a Minimalist

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!

The Perks of Packing Light

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 tripโ€”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!

One look at the list below and you’ll realize that it’s more of a “beginner minimalist” packing list…because it’s so long. I talk a big talk but I’m really a minimalist in progress.ย When I told my friend Jaymie that I was using one of my previous packing lists for a “minimalist packing list” blog post, she laughed out loud and said something like, “That’s going to be a long list.” So take courage, we’re all on this journey together. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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! I was pretty proud of this list, but I’ll pack half as much for my upcoming trip to Europe in the fall. We’ll see how that goes and I’ll post that list as well.

Winter Packing List for 17-Day Trip Through Europe

  • 4 long-sleeve shirts
  • 3 long-sleeve dresses (only needed 1)
  • 1 black tank top
  • 1 thin red tank top
  • 1 very thin, long-sleeve sleep shirt
  • 1 thin short sleeve shirt
  • 1 pair pajama shorts
  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 2 pairs of leggings (one pair was fleece-lined)
  • 9 pairs of socks
  • 2 beanies
  • 2 pairs of leg warmers (why!)
  • 1 scarf
  • 2 pairs of gloves
  • 32 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 (fits everything I need)
  • 1 heavy mid-thigh-length black coat (I always wore or carried this with me, not in my backpack.)

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 sidesโ€”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.

Side note, if you read the list closely you may be wondering, “Why so much underwear?” Most of the trips I take are pretty fast-paced, so I avoid doing laundry and pack enough underwear for one pair every night and one pair every day. However, that’s a ton of bulk in my backpack. I’ll bite the bullet on my next trip by packing a reasonable amount and do laundry every week like a normal person!

Here’s the revised list I would pack if I could do this specific trip all over again:

  • 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
  • 14 pairs of underwear
  • 2 bras
  • 1 bathing suit
  • 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 black coat (mid-thigh length)

The Backpack

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! ๐ŸŽ’โœˆ๏ธ

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Love,

Tara