Skip to Content

Skip the Suitcase and Travel with a Backpack on a Trip to Europe

It’s easy to pack your suitcase full and head out on vacation but do you know it’s also easy to travel with a backpack and nothing else? We’re sharing tips.

Travel with a Backpack for a trip to Europe with these easy tips.

I’ve always been fascinated when reading about people who can pack everything they could possibly need in a single backpack and set out across the country or on an extended vacation exploring Europe.

Thank you to Standard Luggage Co. for providing product for review.

To someone like me who is a self-professed over packer, the idea of packing everything I needed in a backpack seemed like an impossibility that was out of my grasp. But when my husband and I bought tickets to travel to Iceland before heading to the U.K. and compared the prices of traveling with a carry-on only vs packing a full-size suitcase, I decided to pare down and give carry-on only travel a try.

It turns out, packing everything you need for a vacation in a backpack was so much easier than I thought it would be!

Not only did we save money on baggage fees, but we also saved time we would have spent retrieving our items at baggage claim, plus, we didn’t need to lug around bulky luggage and packing everything in a backpack even saved time in our hotel room. I’ll get to that in a minute.

Not only did packing everything we needed in a backpack vs multiple bags save us a ton of money, but it also saved time. I had no idea how much time I have spent in the past simply unpacking and repacking my clothing and other items until we traveled to Europe. With the packing cubes and backpack, I simply removed the cubes I needed rather than digging through everything in a suitcase and throwing it all over the room.

How to Pack and Travel with a Backpack Only for a Trip to Europe

1. First, buy a set of packing cubes. If you’re new to packing cubes they will be a life changer!

2. Make a list of all the items you think you’ll need. Make sure you include clothing, toiletries, snacks, medications or over-the-counter items you may need, a converter for electronics, cell phone chargers, etc.

3. Pay attention to the weather forecast where you’re headed and plan accordingly. You’ll want lightweight items and plan to layer if necessary and skip bulky items. Be mindful of how many articles of clothing you truly need. If you wear the same clothes at home for two days in a row, or twice before washing, do you really need to change your clothes daily on your trip?

To give you an example, for our 12-day trip, I packed six shirts, two sweatshirts, two pairs of leggings, two pairs of jeans, an extra pair of shoes, p.j.’s, a pair of gloves and hat, and plenty of socks and undies. That doesn’t seem like a lot but I quickly realized that it was more than I needed for the trip. Select items that are lightweight so you can hand wash them if necessary and air dry easily in your hotel room.

I also packed clothes that color coordinated so I could mix and match them easily.

4. Wear your heaviest and bulkiest clothes on the plane so they don’t take up the room in your backpack. I also wore my boots on the plane which I deeply regretted during our long flight so keep in mind that you also want to be practical and dress for comfort when on the plane.

5. Skip the books and download books to read on your Kindle, smartphone or tablet.

6. Begin gathering all your items and place them all on a table, bed, etc. where they will be out of the way for a few days and begin sorting the items and packing what you consider essential first. Continue packing by priority until all items are packed or you run out of room. If you still have items left to pack, consider if they are truly necessary for the trip. Even though I packed using only a backpack for our two-week trip to the U.K., I found that I had still managed to pack items that I didn’t even use or wear.

7. Roll your clothes instead of folding and stacking them to stay organized and easily find what you need in your packing cube.

8. Pare down the toiletries and pack only what is needed for your trip. Do you need to pack all your make-up and perfume? I opted to leave those things at home and traveled with only mascara, lip gloss, and powder. I buy travel size items when it comes to toothpaste & deodorant and my shampoo, conditioner and body wash are stored in reusable travel containers, so I don’t need to spend more on trial sizes each time I plan a trip.

9. Be realistic when packing electronics. Do you really need your DSLR and laptop? I opted to pack an adapter, earbuds, my smartphone, charger, and an external battery pack.

Selecting a Carry-on Backpack


It’s my experience that you will use up the space you have available. If I have any space left in my bag, I will find something to stash there. For that reason, you’ll want to be mindful when choosing your backpack.

Today I’m highlighting the Carry-on Backpack from Standard Luggage Co. This versatile product is designed not only as a carry-on sized travel backpack but when combined with the packing cubes and packing cube day pack, it creates the ultimate travel system.

The Carry-on bag is a travel backpack, suitcase and shoulder bag all in one and features backpack straps that can be hidden when not in use, a full perimeter zipper, hip belt for added stability and a dedicated laptop sleeve. The bag expands from 35-45L and has both luggage and laptop compartments that can be locked tight with lockable zipper pulls. The exterior is water resistant and comes with a rain cover for the days when you need a bit more protection for your gear.

Your gear is easily organized with additional compartments and thoughtfully designed pockets. This is one well-designed bag! The back pocket easily stores your laptop with a removable padding that allows you to easily pull out your computer when passing through security. Front pockets allow easy access to your toiletry bag, passport and boarding passes and a hidden pocket inside provides a space to hide cash, medication or an extra credit card.

The backpack is black with orange and turquoise accents in interchangeable leather pieces.

Backpack Packing Cube – an 8L packable daypack

I was probably MOST excited to see this piece. This handy packing cube doubles as a daypack for those moments when you’d rather not tote around your entire backpack, but still need someplace to tuck away your granola bars, wallet, passport, bottled water or light jacket.
You’ll find an exterior pocket that holds a water bottle or camera for easy access. Inside the backpack packing cube is a media pocket to hold an iPad or 10” tablet. The rip-stop nylon is durable and easy to clean.

3-piece Packing Cube set

I think part of the reason I loved traveling with a backpack only is due in part to the organization that the packing cubes offer. You can pack your clothing tightly so as not to waste space and once you get to your hotel there’s no need to unpack. A mesh window allows you to easily see your contents. The Standard Luggage Co. packing cubes can be hooked together and hung up to create a hanging dresser. The durable rip-stop fabric ensures that the cubes will hold up for tons of future travel. And since these cubes were designed specifically for the Standard Luggage Co. backpack, you can pack with confidence that there will be no wasted space.

All Standard Luggage Co. pieces come with a lifetime warranty and satisfaction guaranteed. Learn more about this incredible system by watching the short video below. 

I was very impressed by the quality and durability of the products I received to review. The backpack is very generous in size and could easily hold all items you need to travel in comfort on vacation while remaining small enough that it meets carry-on size regulations. As always, check with the airline you’ll be traveling on before you begin to pack to ensure that your bag meets their individual rules and regulations.

Romantic Getaways in Cincinnati
← Previous
What You Need to Know when You’ve Gotta Go Van Camping
Next →
DMCA.com Protection Status
This site uses cookies. Find out more about this site’s cookies.