Planning/Packing for 9 Countries in 14 Days With Only Backpacks


Backpack planning packing for Europe
Regular size backpack for me.

As mentioned in my post Backpacking Through Europe Adventure: 9 countries, 14 daysBig Dog and I have been wanting to go to Italy, and also London and Paris, for years! At our 25th anniversary, we said we would go on our 30th. We didn’t. Life. It’s almost our 34th now, but we are finally going!!

I have spent weeks pouring over an itinerary. Since, our son and daughter-in-love will be in Ireland during this time, we are incorporating Ireland in our trip also. So, first off I had to have an idea of a route in mind. I knew we would need at least several weeks to travel and had Big Dog squeeze as much vacation time away from work as possible. 

After comparing round trip flights vs flying into one country and out of another, I decided on a round trip in and out of London. Based on more than enough flight research, we decided on dates, Big Dog confirmed vacation days, and we booked our flights! (I used Skyscanner to look at prices for whole months, we have collected miles for years, Google Flights, Expedia, and just about everywhere else.)

No turning back now, we had our bookends! We just needed to fill in the middle. We were actally going!

The middle, well I had pretty much figured on a loop from London over to Amsterdam, down through Europe (Brussels/Cologne/Luxembourg/Zurich) and then ITALY-where I’ve really wanted to go, fly to Paris, fly to Ireland and then back to London to fly home to Texas. 

So, after choosing the route and spending hours researching how to get to each place, roughly what we wanted to see in each area, and deciding on how much time to spend at each stop, based on our time restraints, I started making reservations. Many, probably most, probably 90%, were non refundable. Yikes!

I was up until 1,2,3 and 4 am looking up train, bus and flight prices. I needed to know the most efficient (regarding time and cost) ways to get from place to place. It seemed to me that the transportation between countries became more expensive the closer you booked to departure. At that point, I began booking our ‘rides’. Of course, we had to have places to stay and we would be moving pretty quickly from point to point, which meant many accommodations. More hours of sifting through online reviews, looking up proximity to arrival locations, departures, and planned activities. 

It was coming together and time was running out. I had work related things I needed to wrap up and plans I had to put in place to take care of business while I was gone. And I had to pack! Beyond excited!!

Speaking of packing, we had decided to take only backpacks and a ‘purse’ each. We call Big Dog’s satchel his man-purse. Haha Our reasoning was that we wouldn’t have to check and wait for luggage, we wouldn’t have to drag luggage around when we were between hotel rooms. Backpacks also free up your hands for drinks, phones etc.

The trick would be to pack minimally, but with everything we needed, for over 2 weeks. 1st decisions were to wear our one and only pair of shoes and only jackets that would also serve as a rain jackets. Also, no hair dryers, hair products, or shampoo/conditioner. The hotels usually furnish most of these things. My hair could be left curly, in a messy bun or under a hat and Big Dog shaves his head. I decided on minimal makeup, etc. We looked on route and decided we could do laundry once or twice. We carried 6-7 outfits, maybe and extra shirt, scarves etc. We strategically rolled all of our clothes, packed our chargers and selfie stick, any meds, passports, etc and we were ready!!

I’m writing this on the plane on the way to Europe. I have most of the trip planned, other than Ireland. That’s ok. Ireland is towards the end of the trip, and we want to spend as much time as possible with our son and DIL, along with tackling our list of must see places. They will have ideas and suggestions while there. So, other than flight reservations for flying into Dublin and out of Shannon (which dictates car rental pick-up and drop-off), and booking our hotel, nothing else is really set. It’s a plan in progress at this point. 

Big Dog has mentioned being flexible. He knows I’m a planner and therefore, I like to follow my plan. He also knows things happen, especially with two novice world travelers charting brand new countries. The 1st test in flexibility started in Atlanta (I failed). We were delayed leaving DFW due to storms. Knowing we were getting into Atlanta much later, while still at DFW, I confirmed we could make our connecting flight to London. Yes, but tight. I was even told they wouldn’t re-book us on next flight because we had a chance of making original London flight, and there were seats if we needed to get in that flight once we got to Atlanta. Big mistake. Always, always, always take the guaranteed option. See why I like plans?! “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” After missing all flights to London (seats were gone when we did need them in Atlanta-that’s the domino affect of weather related cancellations earlier in the day), instead, we worked out rerouting our flight to Amsterdam for the next day to catch up to our itinerary. We missed a day in London, a prepaid Ferry Cruise including dinner and breakfast that was to take us to Amsterdam overnight, and had to stay in the states one more day, but that kept the rest of the itinerary in tact. Otherwise, talk about a domino affect!!

I’ll be updating as we go to to all 9 countries in 14 days with only our backpacks to let you know how ‘the plan’ went going forward. Europe, here we come!

Bon voyage!

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46 thoughts on “Planning/Packing for 9 Countries in 14 Days With Only Backpacks”

  1. What an amazing trip! My brother did this for his honeymoon and I want to do it so badly! Thank you for all the tips! So inspiring!

  2. The only way to travel!! My husband & I have always only taken what we can carry on our backs. It’s easy, convenient, and works! Thanks for showing how it’s done!

  3. What great information, I would love to try this with our family one day when our boys get older!

  4. Great job packing! What size of a backpack do you use? We only travel with backpacks now, but no matter the size, I always seem to fill it to the max…

    1. I understand! My husband’s was larger…almost like a little piece of soft luggage with backstraps and it got heavy. Mine was a regular backpack that I had picked up at Target. I actually already had it when we started packing.

  5. Wow, that is amazing how you fit everything you needed in a backpack! I just started packing lighter and as I get older I get more creative and just need less stuff! Love this idea! Hope your trip was awesome 🙂

  6. I am glad you were able to do this! We went to Europe in October and I had though about pushing it to this April. I’m so glad we were able to go!

  7. We did Europe for 14 days with backpacks. It’s an interesting exercise in traveling light.

  8. What an incredible trip and an amazing way to do it! I am enthralled at the fact that you were able to do a 14 day excursion with JUST a backpack! Ah! I aspire to be able to do that some day. Thank you so much for sharing!

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