What I’m Bringing to Europe and How I’m Getting There

You know what’s ridiculous? Only being able to take two or three weeks of vacation a year. Now that I’m “retired,” I decided to buy a one-way ticket to Europe a few months back and I’m leaving in a couple days. I want to show you how you can get to Europe even if you’re working in a low wage job right now. To prove that you can do it, let’s look at what I’m bringing to Europe and how I’m getting there.

First: The Gear (aka Back Care)


The total weight of my pack is 11.6 lbs. When I wear my rain jacket as I plan on doing at the airport it comes in at 10.6 lbs, right under the 11 lb threshold for the airline I’m flying on which charges hefty fees for going over that amount (more on that later). I was really influenced by Life Reengineered and Tynan on the virtues of traveling light on foreign trips. I’ve been to Mexico, Peru, South Africa, The Middle East, and Europe before and each time I had way too much stuff. I found I was wearing certain clothes at least 80% of the time and that I’d only put on alternate outfits to avoid doing laundry.  I carried a 30 lb pack on a 100 mile backpacking trip once, and I swore I would never bring more than I needed on a trip ever again. 

What happens when you’ve got more than you need is your back pays and your options decrease. You have to worry about your next drop zone to place your valuable luggage under lock and key. Before you leave your hostel you need to make sure your luggage is secure. If you are out and about and want a quick bite to eat, the whole world knows you are a foreign tourist and you can become an enticing target in less developed or safe areas. To me, the power of being able to keep my backpack on my person is worth having fewer clothes.   

The Shirts


I’ve got six different shirts for different situations. I’m not planning on going to too many high end night clubs while I’m in Europe but just in case I need to go to something nicer than a pub I’ve got one button up shirt. For chill occasions I’ve got two T-shirts, one’s a Nike quick dry from college and another is something I got in Italy a few years back. Filing out the rest of the group are three different soccer (football in Europe) jerseys that can really act in multiple capacities. Each is nice enough to wear out a nice dance hall but athletic enough to be highly functional in a pickup game. I’ve got a lot of different colors and very little overlap. The material these shirts are made of is key. Almost all are composed of at least 50% polyester. Because of the mix they take longer to smell/get dirty than your typical cotton and wash better too.

The Pants and Shorts


I’ve got four pants/shorts in total. Two athletic gym shorts, one pair of jeans, and a zipoff pair that can be shorts or pants (I’ve been told they aren’t too fashionable but they have a ton of usefulness). The rationale for fewer pairs than the shirts is that shorts/pants take more to get dirty so I’m expecting to get about 2x the wear out of these before they need to be washed.



The jacket doubles as a rain jacket as well. Just a solid cold weather piece that can keep you dry and warm, a must have for any long Eurotrip even in the summer. My belt is just some cool leather thing I was given a while back with a covered bridge buckle. I’ve gotten more comments on that buckle than anything I’ve ever worn so makes sense that I’d wear it over there if I’m only taking one. The shoes I just picked up for $37 from the Burlington Coat Factory. At size 13, it’s pretty tough finding something that could double as nice going-out shoes and hike-around-the-city-for-a-day shoes. I would usually go to the local thrift store to see if they had anything but since there were none near me, I went to check out the factory surplus stores and felt great about these with memory foam at the price.

Not pictured: The computer I’m typing this blog post on is a Samsung Chromebook I got from a friend. It’s nothing fancy but does the job and importantly is ultra lightweight at 2 lbs. I also don’t want to wear a “hey I’m a rich American” bumper sticker on my head and bring something as beautiful as a Macbook Air.  Also, I figured I’d leave socks and boxers to the imagination but just in case you were wondering, I’m bringing plenty because you can never have too much of these and they are really light.

The Bag


The Paladineer 25L Hiking Daypack is built with compact and lightweight attributes in mind. I picked it up on Amazon for about $37 as well. It’s probably better suited to someone with a smaller frame, but it was the cheapest 25L pack with a chest and waist strap I could find so I went with it. I’ve been walking around the city breaking it in and getting used to it and haven’t been disappointed thus far. I like that it’s got little clips, loops, and things to hang rope off of just in case I ever really need the space. It easily holds what I’m bringing and stays on my shoulders so it’s good enough for me (super annoying when backpacks keep falling off which is a problem you’re gonna have without chest straps).

The Flights to Europe


I saw an ad back in March for flights to Iceland for as low as $99 one way from select US airports. I thought it was a misprint. I checked it out and this airline Wow Air has a Spirit/Frontier model where they fly super cheap flights from the US to specific airports in Iceland and mainland Europe but charge extra for most things. I got my flight leaving on a Wednesday for $199 US.

I wanted to spend a little under a week in Iceland to get a taste of what the country was like and then move on to the Continent so I picked up a Norweigan Air flight for $119 US to Oslo after that. The catch for all these cheap airlines is they make their money on things like 50 lb packs most people take over. On a round trip I think Wow Air charges close to $100 for bag fees. If you avoid this trap by narrowing down your life to a 25L bag like I tried to do, this method of travel represents extreme value. A typical round trip to Europe from DC or NYC is around $1000, and assuming I come back on an off peak time I might be able to do the whole round trip for less than $600. Another plus for small packs is you can get in and out of airports quickly and never have to worry about lost bags.

I wanted to leave the trip open ended once I get on the continent as you never know where the wind will take you. Some of the most exciting side trips of my life happened when I had no plans and just went for it.

Summary on What I’m Bringing to Europe and My Travel There

You can make it to Europe for less than $300 if you fly out of NYC or DC. If you follow the Mr. Money Mustache guide to credit cards you might be able to go for as low as a $90 annual fee. I earned 100,000 bonus miles using their credit card churning tricks, but that’s another post. So if you save up a few hundred bucks you can make it to Europe and worry about how you’ll get home later. Get a pack that will save you a ton of money in baggage fees and keep you worry free.  Once you’re over in Europe you can do things that aren’t socially acceptable in America like couch-surf and meet random people and crash on their couch and live for cheaper than you would here, especially with the Euro at such weak levels. Hurry up and get to Europe before they figure out this Greece situation and do it on the cheap.

Bon Voyage! Though I will keep the posts coming! 


4 thoughts on “What I’m Bringing to Europe and How I’m Getting There”

  1. Sounds like you’re doing it right!!! When I was backpacking in Europe we flew on Ryanair all the time, we got a flight once for $0.01, no lie. Can’t get much cheaper than that… Definitely check into it.

    1. Holy cow I hope I can see europe like that! I’ll have to blog about it, where did you get that flight ?

    1. that’s actually a great question, I think it depends on what country you go to, does anyone have any insight that’s tried this before? Online forums suggest buying the cheapest airplane ticket out of the country that you can find to take care of this problem if it arises at customs

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