How to Pack for 10 Days in a Backpack

Traveling to Europe this Spring? Pack less and do more. 

It was just after 5 PM as I sat at the gate waiting for my zone to be called for the first leg of my overnight flight to Florence, Italy. I nervously kept checking to make sure my passport and boarding pass were accounted for, as if they would have somehow evaporated from my jacket pockets. I was heading to Europe for the first time, meeting up with my younger sister to explore Florence, Rome, Amsterdam, and Paris over the next 10 days. The late April weather was expected to range from 80 and sunny to 45 and raining… I wondered if the travel umbrella was worth the space it took up in my backpack (it wasn’t) and hoped that I hadn’t forgotten anything important (in hindsight, mittens would have been nice).

As my sister and I covered countless miles on foot, plane, train, and the occasional bus… I was glad that I didn’t have much with me. Packing efficiently makes traveling a lot easier as you have less to keep track of, less weight to carry, and less to try to shove under the seat in front of you on a plane.

So let’s talk packing for a 10 day trip... all in one backpack.



Accept that you will not have a different outfit for each day — Things are going to get worn, layered, unlayered, and re-worn (except underwear… I am leaving that up to your own discretion!) On cold days, put a pair of leggings on under jeans and layer multiple tops under a rain jacket instead of bringing a bulky winter coat.

Bring clothing that can be mixed and matched — Think neutral tops and dark pants. Try on the shirts that you plan on bringing ahead of time to make sure they have the right lengths and necklines to be layered. 

Here's my suggested clothing and footwear quantities:

  • 1 warm sweater
  • 2 long sleeve shirts
  • 2 short sleeve shirts
  • 1 tank top
  • 1 blouse
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • 2 pairs of jeans (1 black and 1 blue)
  • 1 pair of leggings
  • Boots
  • Neutral flats
  • Sneakers (optional, I only used mine twice)
  • 4 pairs of socks
  • Hat
  • Mittens



Find the right pack — A 30-40 liter day pack is roomy without being a nuisance. Multiple compartments are helpful to keep maps and snacks easily accessible instead of having to unpack every time you need something. Wide padded shoulder straps and a waist strap will protect your back and keep you comfortable.

Optimize space — Wear your bulkiest shoes and clothing items on the plane. This saves space in your bag and keeps you warm since airports and planes are usually cold. It will also help you avoid any oversized bag fees if your pack isn’t bursting at the seams. Bring a bladder water bottle that collapses down when it is empty to stay hydrated.  Bring a couple grocery bags to wrap around shoes after they’ve been worn so they don’t transfer (any more) dirt to your clothes.

Be prepared for the weather — Spring weather can be all over the place so a rain jacket and waterproof boots are lifesavers. Mittens and a hat are a must if you are going to be spending a lot of time outdoors... 50⁰F doesn’t seem that cold until the wind is whipping by, it’s raining sideways, and you're waiting in a long line outside of a museum.



Pack a second bag  A small cross-body purse that can fit your passport/wallet/phone is perfect for day excursions when you don’t need to have all of your belongings with you. If you are staying in hostels, bring a combination padlock to lock up your backpack when you're touring around.

Chamois towel — Bring a small super absorbent towel instead of a bulky full-sized towel. Perfect for drying off after dipping your feet in the ocean or wiping off that wet park bench for a much needed rest.

Bring something to read — Take along a book or kindle to read during those long flights and train rides when you can’t sleep (bonus if you find one about where you are visiting!) 

Thanks for reading, follow my adventures on Instagram @audreyokae!

Happy travels!


Guest Writer, Audrey Keene @audreyokae

Audrey Keene is a mechanical engineer and yoga teacher in Cincinnati, OH. She loves to learn and pass her knowledge on to others both in the office and the studio. A lover of productivity, she starts each day with a cup of black coffee and a to-do list (even on the weekends). In her free time, Audrey dabbles in various activities including distance running, reading non-fiction, rock climbing and enjoying a good beer.