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I spent 2 weeks backpacking Europe for the first time and wished I'd packed even lighter. Here are 3 things I could have left behind.

Left: The author in a black, floral maxi dress (a red arrow points to the dress) on a patio with colorful tiles. Right: The Author in a nave top smiles on a train platform with a black backpack and a white tote. Behind her, people walk with suitcases towards the train.
Insider's reporter backpacked across Europe for the first time and packed a few too many items.
  • I backpacked across Europe for two weeks and felt I brought too many items with me. 
  • I regret packing a maxi dress, extra camera gear, and so many pairs of socks. 
  • Packing lighter would have made my two-week journey less taxing on my body. 

The first time I traveled for two weeks with a backpack, it was the lightest I'd ever packed for the longest trip I'd ever taken. I had everything I needed, but I was surprised to find that I could have packed even lighter. 

Traveling with just a backpack works for me because I find I have less stuff to worry about losing or forgetting when getting from one location to the next, and it leaves my hands free when commuting. Plus, fitting everything in a backpack means I don't have to check luggage and pay the accompanying fee, or feel the anxiety of whether it will make it to my destination.

Last October, I packed my backpack for my longest journey yet — a two-week trip to Europe. I took a red-eye flight from NYC to Berlin and traveled by train from Germany to Austria, Italy, and Switzerland.

For this adventure, I used a 32-liter backpack, the largest one I own, to hold everything I needed for two weeks. I packed my work computer, camera, and chargers; snacks, toiletries, and medications; one packing cube stuffed with clothing; and additional necessities like a raincoat, a tote, and a pair of shower slides.

Left image: The author's blue button-down shirt is seen behind the packed black backpack with an orange water bottle on the side. Her hand give a thumbs up in front of the bag. Right image: (From top to bottom and left to right): The author's work gear, toiletries, and folded clothing selection on top of a white sheet
The author all packed up for her trip to Europe in 2022.

While I longed for more outfit variety, I was glad I packed so little. I didn't feel as weighed down by my backpack as I had on previous trips, so I had more energy throughout the day. But there were a few items I could have left behind to make my bag even lighter.

A maxi dress wasn't worth packing

For one thing, I could have done without the maxi dress.

I brought it for days when I wanted to dress formally. But apart from different jackets over top, I found that my dress looked the same to me every time I wore it. And since it was so long, I thought it took up the same amount of space in my packing cube that a pair of shorts and a couple of extra shirts could have taken.

Replacing the dress with a pair of nice shorts and some blouses would have given me nice outfits that were more versatile. 

I could have brought about half as many pairs of socks

The author's 11 pairs of socks she brought to Italy.
The author's 10 pairs of socks she brought to Europe.

I didn't need 10 pairs of socks either. I brought so many because I'd had trouble washing and drying my socks in just one night on previous trips, leaving me wishing I had packed more.

But since I booked two nights in most of the cities I visited in Europe, I found I had plenty of time to dry my socks. I probably could have done with six pairs to leave more room in my bag for small souvenirs. 

I brought more camera gear than I needed

A lens, a film camera, and rolls of flim on a white sheet.
Lenses and film the author brought to Europe.

I love taking pictures on digital and film cameras, but I could have lightened my gear load.

For example, I brought way too much film for this trip. I packed eight rolls of film and only shot four of them due to some rainy days. Plus, I was surprised by how easy it seemed to buy film in Europe — if I'd needed more, I could have stopped at one of the many film stores I passed in Vienna and Berlin. In Vienna, I even spotted a film vending machine on the street.

Because I overestimated how many film pictures I'd take, next time, especially if I'm traveling to Europe, I'll bring half the film I think I'll use.

I find that rolls of film feel bulky in my bag if I have too many, but my camera lenses feel even bulkier. I brought two lenses for my digital camera: a zoom lens and a lens with a fixed wide angle. Although I used both, I thought the majority of the shots I got could have been taken with my zoom lens, which has a pretty wide setting and can take close-ups.

After my two-week trip, I was proud of myself for bringing just a backpack on the longest trip I'd ever taken. But in hindsight, leaving a few items behind would have made my bag lighter and easier to carry around. Next time, I'll leave the dress at home and cut down on socks, film, and camera lenses.

Read the original article on Insider

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