36°, Four Countries, Two Bags, One Traveler

In my month of hopping around Europe and the Middle East I had only what I carried in a small suitcase and my Jansport backpack. I’ve had a few people ask me how I made that work and I promised them a blog about it. So… I’m not a travel expert but I’ve compiled a list of tidbits that I have found valuable and what I have found works for me; maybe it’ll work for you, too.


How I decided what goes in my bags:

  • Packing for the arctic and the dessert in one go: L A Y E R S. In Iceland I wore leggings under my jeans and thermal undershirts. In Europe I was able to do without the base layers as long as I had wool socks and a hat (when biking, at least) and in Jordan I wore jeans and a jacket like I would in California. This made packing easier because because it cut down on the total number of items I took with me.
  • I did pick up a lot of souvenirs and gifts as I wandered around, and I didn’t need an extra bag to get back home. My recommendation for how to do this is as follows: I planned in advance (kinda) and took gifts with me. Now, I was visiting family so I had people to take gifts to, but still.
  • Also, don’t be afraid to leave things behind. I bought a lock for my storage space in Amsterdam and left it there, I left a pair of shoes in Jordan so I could bring pottery back to my parents. So, win some lose some. I’m happy with my wins.
  • In that same vein, there are many things I didn’t bring with me. I counted on being able to acquire sunscreen for example, through purchase or borrowing and didn’t prioritize getting it in my luggage.


How I organized what was in my bags:

  • In the suitcase I had basically nothing that security would ask me to take out. It was basically all clothing, a couple books, and other miscellaneous stuff
  • I kept all electronics and toiletries at the top of my carry-on so I could just pull them out and not disassemble my whole bag (This seems really obvious, but it took me a while to figure out)
  • I kept all my electronics, liquids, and valuables in my backpack/ on my person. That way, if my luggage got lost (which it did) I still had the essentials.
  • With the exception of my phone, laptop and its cord, I kept all my electronics in my pencil case. Headphones, battery packs, even outlet converters were all in one pouch. Again, easy for security and easy for me to find on a plane or in a busy airport gate
  • All my toiletries, including things that the airline probably wouldn’t ask me to remove from my bag was in a single plastic bag. That way, All the liquids and gels were ready for security checks, but then when I needed any of those things they were all in one place
  • I had a suitcase that was small enough that some airlines would consider it a carry on. I was forced to check it for most flights, though (However, only one airline charged me)

Some of the stuff that could be found in my carry on

Random facts about what I packed and how to multipurpose things:

  • I take an empty water bottle in my carry on. Security won’t take it, there’s usually water fountains in the ~secure area~ and then I don’t have to pay ridiculous prices in airports or airplanes.
  • I didn’t wear hoodies on any plane ride because I like to keep things in my pockets and the kangaroo pouches aren’t super secure. :/
  • Larger coats double as blankets pretty well
  • The purse/bag that I carried with my everywhere (that wasn’t an airport) is a little drawstring backpack. I’m a really big fan of it because no one can get into it without me knowing. I didn’t have to worry about pickpockets or thieves as much as I’ve heard some people do and it was very relaxing. Plus, it folds up into nothing when it’s time to pack it up.


Let’s see… what else. Here are some random (unsponsored) recommendations and anti-recommendations for anyone who’s curious:

  • Aegean Air is great. They charged me for my checked bag, but everyone I talked to for that process was super friendly and helpful. I had two flights with them one afternoon/evening and one red-eye. They fed me on both. Pasta and baklava is the way to my heart, guys*
  • Not a fan of Air France. They lost my bag and it was Iceland Air that helped me get it back.
  • Clink Noord hostel in Amsterdam is great. It’s right across the river from Centraal Station, the staff are very helpful and friendly (They moved me out of my room it was necessary with very little hassle). They have everything you could need and are reasonably priced (I believe that Clink also has a hostel in London? Not sure how that one is, maybe ask Max)
  • Danish Christmas lattes are wonderful. I don’t remember the name of the establishment where I got it or what was in it, but somewhere in the Copenhagen International Airport they can, and should, be found.

*the meals were also no additional cost


Thank you all SO MUCH for reading my blog! I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Hopefully I’ll revisit this project one day. 🙂 ❤

By the way, dressing for Wadi Rum is basically the same as dressing for Iceland.


3 responses to “36°, Four Countries, Two Bags, One Traveler

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