Backpacking through Europe Part 0: Preparation

2 backpackers, 10 kg, 40 liter, 13 cities, 16 days

Note: my bag is actually smaller… So, not quite 40 liter…

Have We Gone Crazy?!?!

A wedding invitation from a dear friend called us to Spain, so we thought we might as well take a small holiday. The original plan was to have a lazy and relaxing holiday in Spain. Then boyfriend, aka Cotton’s Daddy, had an eureka moment–“Why don’t we backpack through Europe!!!”


What???? The idea of dingy hostels, duvets infested with fleas and dirty shared bathroom sent shivers through my spine. Plus, I have to walk with heavy backpack. No way I am doing this!


“Look. I do not do this kind of stuff anymore. I have to have comfy beds and powerful hot showers.” This was my reply. As I have aged, I have grown tired towards holidays and activities involving dirt, hiking and outdoor, although I used to love them.


It took quite a bit of persuasion to finally convince me to do backpacking. In the end I just thought, “what the hell, I am still young, should just try it out.”


Well, the planning didn’t take very long. We just booked two interrail tickets, pulled out a map, and basically drew a line from London to Vienna.



London->Brussels->Brudges->Brussels->Antwerp->The Hague->Cologne->Frankfurt->Nuremberg->Munich->Salzburg->Vienna*->Barcelona->Zaragoza->Madrid*->London

* Vienna to Barcelona, and Madrid to London, we travelled by flight. The rest was done by interrail.


We did agree that we would stay in small hotels with ensuite bathrooms for comfort. In fact, when travelling in pairs, staying hotels is only marginally more expensive than hostels. Recommend



A general rule of thumb, people tend to pack more than they need. And people will always fill their bags/luggages to the maximum. So to travel light, we decided right from the beginning to only travel with maximum of 20L each. So we used the good old Herschel Backpack.


As a girl, I cannot live without a bit of makeup, so I minimised everything to bare essentials. The followings are what I brought with me. This post is not to promote any products, but just to give you some suggestions what you can bring when you travel. I always believe that we should find things which suit us each individuals.


1. Skin Care


When on the road, skin care is still quite important.

Face masks, They are not a must, but fun to bring when travelling. Innisfree a popular brand with Asians, I like them personally, but there are other ones out there. I know Muji also sells face masks which you can soak up in moisturiser yourself.

A small pot of moisturiser, I have used Olay daily Fluid for years as face and hand moisturiser, pretty good quality and price.

For cleansing, I just took some cleansing oil in a travel size bottle. It cleanses face very well, and removes all makeup. Nearly all major cosmetic brands have cleansing oil. I know Shu Uemura does it, good quality, but a bit pricey. I usually get mine from Bodyshop.


2. Face makeup

Shu Uemura BB mousse, because we are backpacking, I want the look to be a bit more casual, so no caking on thick foundation.  This BB mousse improves the complexion with light coverage. Sometimes, showing a bit of flaw is beautiful. No need to have full coverage all the time.

Compact Powder, my little Estee Lauder compact is very convenient, as it is small and the powder is translucent. I had this compact for years now as it can be refilled. More environmentally friendly as well.

Something for the cheeks and lips, Yves Saint Laurent Babydoll Kiss & Blush was recommended to me by a friend. It is a stain which doubles up as lip colour as well as a blusher.

Small tube of sunscreen, Shiseido Anessa Perfect Essence Sunscreen SPF50+ 

Contour/highlight powder, Smashboxthis might be the least necessary item in the list, but it does help to make the face look more defined. Besides, it can double up as eyeshadow.


3. For the eyes

Something for the brows, this is very very important. Eyebrows can really frame one’s face. If I have to choose one makeup item, then it would be something for the brows. I had a bad experience with crayons, as they can break easily when travelling. Pencils are great, but they would need sharpeners. So going for powder and wax is a safe option. Rimmel, is alright, although the brush inside is not the best.

Eyeliner, by Kat Von D. Make sure it is the ink liner.

and a small mascara, certain makeup brands give up samples, which are the perfect size for travelling.

Eyeshadow, I don’t usually wear eyeshadow, only packed it for the wedding.

4. For the nails

Nail polish remover, don’t bother bringing cotton pads. Just use some tissue.

A travel size nail kit

Two nail polishes: a base coat and a nude colour, top coat maybe unnecessary  when backpacking, you would probably end up chipping your nail polish anyway. Yet, a base coat is a must, as it protects your nail. Nude colours are very forgiving. Even if the nails get chipped, it wouldn’t be very obvious.


5. For the mind

There needs to be something for the mind, especially for long train journeys when interrailing.

A kindle is very handy, carrying multiple books in one. Here are some book suggestions

Then of course, my laptop, for some casual blogging.

And a USB memory stick to backup data, a pair of earphones and a SD card reader.


6. Some accessories

Just because we are backpacking doesn’t mean we can’t try to dress up a little. We went with safe clothes choice, i.e black jeans, T-shirts, so we might as well jazz it up with some accessories.

I made the two choker necklaces myself. The pig is in fact a brooch I bought from Greenwich Market, and the stone on the gold choker was the pendant from an old necklace. I just sewed them on the plain chokers

A scarf is very handy, can be used as an accessory for the neck or as a headband.


7. and the Essentials

Don’t forget the passport and purse


8. Clothes

  • 1 pair of black jeans
  • 1 pair of blue jeans, opt for good quality ones as we don’t want them to break whilst travelling. Suggest Levis, Lee’s, Tommy Hilfiger, Gap… I am sure there are more good brands out there, these are just the ones I am used to.
  • 1 pair of leggings to wear in the hotel, Uniqlo would be a good place for cheap yet good quality leggings.
  • 2 X vest tops
  • 3 X short sleeved T-shirts/polo shirts. Many tech events give out free T-shirts
  • 1 long sleeved top
  • 1 hoody, some atheleisure shops are very good for hoodies.
  • 1 jumper
  • 1 bomber jacket
  • 1 cap/hat
  • 5 pairs of socks


So the above items plus some personals (e.g toothbrush) are packed into my bag. Cotton’s Daddy’s bag is about the same, minus the cosmetic products. We weighed our bags, his was nearly 5kg and mine was just slightly over 5kg because of my laptop. All the clothes can be washed during the trip. Sounds crazy, but this actually worked, and we did not end up being smelly and dirty.


Ok, you might ask, what happened to the wedding attire. We obviously couldn’t shove the dinner jacket and the dress into the backpacks. We just sent them straight to the hotel, where we stayed for the friends’ wedding.


What happened to Cotton?

Sadly, as much as we wanted to take Cotton with us, it could not be done. So we had to also ‘pack’ her away to the bunny hotel. 🙁 This is the second time she was away from home, the first time being this, click.

Cotton was obviously a bit confused and upset why we had to send her away. Just look at her little face.

She even tried to bite through the carrier, only to give in eventually.

Cotton stayed with the Eltham Hen House, which is ran by a family. The owners are very friendly and experienced with rabbits. So I am sure Cotton had a good time. Still, wish Cotton could have gone holiday with us. Backpacking through Europe with a rabbit? Um, sounds rather amusing. Maybe Cotton can just stand on our shoulders, or maybe not…


Stay tuned for our backpacking adventures.