The BFH Healthy Travel Guide to Minimalist Packing: 2 Months in Europe Edition (Summer)
I want to come clean: I’ve been a serial over-packer for most of my life. If I had to describe my packing style until the age of 24 it would be “what if”. What if it rains, What if there’s a 80’s themed party? What if there’s a 90’s themed party? What if my back-up running shoes eat shit? What if I don’t want to wear the blue version of this hat… better bring the brown version of the exact same hat... just in case. The result? A big a$$ suitcase filled to the brim (I’m talking “can you sit on this while I try to zipped it closed” and “pray this zipper doesn’t burst somewhere between here and Mexico” type situations), followed by a trip basically spent in a bikini, with 3/4 of the suitcase contents left completely untouched.
This all changed when I took the trip to Australia and decided to pack only a carry-on. I can’t explain the shift, but all I know is that it was life changing. A single pair of leggings, two pairs of socks, no underwear (… tbh I stopped playing the underwear game years ago), one pair of sneakers, one hat.. I threw stuff in my backpack the morning of my flight across the world and my bag was small and light enough to take as a carry-on. Yup, I moved to Australia with a carry-on.
If you too are a pathological-over-packer, first of all recognize it’s coming from a place of fear. If you’re not going to use something more than once and/ or are bringing it “just in case” or planning for the worst (weather wise etc)- take a deep breath and realize that there is pretty much nothing you can’t buy or borrow in a pinch. Obviously you wan’t to avoid buying a 350$ parka because you failed to realistically plan for cold weather; but if you’re going to Greece in the middle of June- bruh, leave the raincoat at home.
My upcoming trip is just shy of 2 months, spent hopping around from Paris, around Greece, up through Italy to the South of France, pit stop in the French Alps, then Burgundy and back to Paris. Summer in Europe is a minimalist-packing dream: hot weather and easy access to almost anything I could need that I didn’t plan for. I did a little bit of re-con on other packing guides and found them hi-la-riously unhelpful- people either focusing solely on clothing, with no mention of useful tips (like an international adaptor), or on the flip side about 12 pages long listing everything from band-aids, to your favourite blender. This guide was born out of my own personal packing list, and I thought it might be useful to share for any of you looking to pack smart for an upcoming trip. This is not the ultimate guide to minimalist packing alone, because many things I’m taking with me are definitely health-conscious luxuries. I am planning ahead when it comes to maintaining my regular lifestyle while travelling, so I find this list a pretty good balance between minimalism and health.
Note also that I will be working throughout this trip, I am currently in school doing a post-grad in holistic reproductive health and am working on a deadline for a massive writing project… which means a laptop is coming along for the ride. iPhones are so baller these days that if you don’t plan on working while you travel, I’d definitely opt-out of the added weight/ worry of bringing expensive electronics with you. If you are packing a laptop, please dear god get a solid traveler’s insurance (I’m a fan of World Nomads and have been using them religiously for years).
The Becoming Fully Human Healthy Travel Guide to Minimalist Packing: 2 months in Europe Edition
backpacking backpack (as main luggage/ "carry on" item)
smaller day pack (as "personal" carry on item)
small tote (for grocery shopping, hitting up the markets, etc, while you travel)
fanny pack (don't judge me)
5 pairs of ankle socks
2 sports bras
pants (1 full length linen, 1 3/4 flowy linen, 1 full length leggings, 1 3/4 leggings, 1 sweat pant for sleep)
shirts (4 or 5 tanks, 2 t-shirts, 1 long sleeve, 1 button up, 1 sleep shirt)
2 long, light dresses
shorts (1 active wear and 1 comfy)
1 super lightweight rain-repelling jacket
1 super lightweight down feature jacket
1 pair of "free" (no support, barefoot style) running shoes
1 pair of more sturdy runners (for hiking)
1 pair of Earth Runners sandals
Work/ School/ Electronics
laptop + charger
iPhone + charger
international conversion plug
solar powered battery charger
small external hard drive
thermometer (to chart my cycle!)
50ml Living Libations face oil (frankincense)
30ml Living Libations face oil (sandalwood)
Endoca CBD lip balm
organic bamboo face cloth
dr. tungs cardamom floss
copper tongue scrapper
bamboo tooth brush
mini toothpaste tube
1 piece of my rose quartz gua sha set (learn everything you need to know about gua sha HERE).
30ml of shampoo
30ml of conditioner
60ml of Dr. Bronner’s castille soap
small bamboo hair brush (ok TECHNICALLY I couldn't find mine, so I literally packed no hairbrush for my trip... dreadlocks get at me... but I'm including it because you should probably not forget a hairbrush)
collagen face mask
blue light blocking glasses
2x looped exercise bands
handful of hair ties
1 bag of collagen powder
peppermint essential oil
HCL + pepsin
probiotics (make sure they are shelf stable! Many probiotics require refrigeration.)
2x 30ml activated charcoal (in small glass jars)
an organic cotton pillow case (communal pillow cases gross me out...!)
a travellers towel (they are super small, light weight, and dry heaps quickly)
a sink plug
To see all my favourite brands for all of the stuff mentioned above CLICK HERE.
passport(s) (also e-mail yourself a clear scan of your passport... just in case)
That’s it. I rely on having a copy of every other important document (like traveler's insurance) on my e-mail as well as a picture of the key information on my iPhone for easy access.
Total Weight of my "carry-on" (backpack):
Which was pretty much just all my clothes + Earth Runner's + pair of runners
Total Weight of my "personal item" (smaller backpack):
Which included my laptop + electronics, supplements, toiletries, and my jacket
BOOM! All within the Air Canada carry-on limits.
1. Carry-on only means no sharp objects! So no nail clippers, etc. Buy as necessary when you arrive.
2. If you’re thinking “what if?” … just don’t. After years of packing for “what if’s” I’m finally relinquishing the worry and just going with the flow. You can always buy it there. Only pack rain coat if the weather calls for serious rain; if you won’t use something multiple times, don’t bring it!
3. Wear your heaviest stuff on the plane; planes are chilly anyways, and it’ll help lighten the load.
4. You're allowed a carry-on, as well as a personal item, so your main luggage must fit the criteria of your airlines carry-on restrictions, and your personal item (which for me is always a smaller backpack) as well. Be mindful that the personal item can bear a significant amount of weight, so maximize your overall load by using up the amount of weight allowed for your personal item.
5. Weight your stuff before hand, I borrowed a hand held luggage scales from a friend to make sure my bag would fit the carry-on criteria. If you don't have one of these, take the total weight of you + your suitcase on a scale, and then subtract your weight from the total to get the weight of your bag.
6. Combine your supplements into one (or two) bottle(s). I will be combining the HCL+ pepsin, the digestive enzymes, and the probiotics into one bottle. I know what each of them look like, and having them in one bottle takes up heaps less space.
7. Packing a sink plug will allow you to wash your clothes/ socks anywhere there is access to a sink. Dr. Bronner's soap doubles as a great natural detergent; a few drops in a sink filled with water and you can easily clean your clothes anywhere. Dr. Bronner's soap is a must-have while travelling; you can use it for a million different things (from washing your body, to your clothes, and even your teeth!)
8. If staying active/ fit during your vacation is a priority for you, make things easier by anticipating. Pack your runners, sweat gear, and consider light weight things like a skipping rope and a few exercise bands. Depending where you're going, you might want to bring some of your fav supplements (like matcha, or chaga) to make sure you can keep up with your preferred routines. You may decide to just rest (which is definitely ok too), but if you feel motivated to train- you want to make sure you have the gear to do so.
9. 30ml glass jars are a life saver; I reuse mine from "health shots" I bought at my local juice bar (ginger shots, etc), but you can also find a variety of them on Amazon. I use them for shampoo, conditioner, activated carcoal, and even to pack a few misc. stuff like probiotics).