Last Minute Packing Guide When You Haven’t Solidified Where Exactly You Are Going Yet

So you are planning a trip, but don’t quite have everything booked for all of your destinations?  Cool!  Get ready for an awesome adventure.  Just because you are traveling spontaneously, doesn’t mean you can’t be fully prepared for your travels.  So here you go…a comprehensive last minute packing post on what you should consider before you embark and everything you should bring once you do.  Let the last minute packing commence.

First off, what size should your luggage be?  Should you check your bag or carry on?  Well, of course, it’s not THAT simple…

When You Should Check A Bag:

If you are going to one destination and spending over a week there, go ahead and bring a checked bag.  I use the Chase United Mileage Plus credit card so that my checked baggage fees are waived.  Pretty simple.  Last minute packing stress alleviated.


When You Should Carry-On:

If you are traveling to one destination for less than a week or to more than one destination, you should really start determining whether or not it’s worth it to schlep around a huge suitcase.  If you are taking a taxi from the hotel directly to a bus or train station, then sure go for it.  However, if there are multiple flights involved or you can’t afford the expense of taxis every time you change locales, please seriously consider bringing a carry-on.

Now that you have decided on bringing a carry-on.  You must determine whether or not you are going to bring a roller suitcase or a backpack.  Here are the pros and cons for each.


Roller Suitcase:


1.  Well obviously, you don’t have to carry what feels like a million pounds on your back.

2. You can fit more items into the suitcase and its easier to get to those items quickly if you need something fast.

3.  The roller suitcase is more durable and there is less likelihood of delicate items breaking.



1. American carryon bags are usually too large for Europe’s budget airlines.  Typically, you need a bag that weighs as low as 10 kg.  For example, according to easyjet’s website, cabin baggage must have a “maximum size of 56 x 45 x 25cm including handles and wheels.”

2. Roller suitcases are hard to lift. Walking up stairs and through cobblestone streets can be incredibly difficult.  My airbnb in Barcelona this summer was a 5th floor walkup.  I opted for a roller and lucky me had to carry that suitcase up all of those stairs.  Cobblestone streets are absolutely beautiful, but those wheels have a real hard time rolling over them.

3. It’s bulky to have around.  Bringing a roller suitcase on public transportation proves difficult when trying to keep the luggage close to you.  Also, there might not be locked space in hostels large enough to fit your roller suitcase, so you have to keep it out in the open during the day.  If this is the case, I recommend locking your important valuables in the locker.




1. Most European budget airlines don’t even check the size of your backpack, so you should not have any issues carrying-on flights.

2. You are forced to pack less; therefore, everything you bring is much more compact and is much easier to store in hostels.

3. It is much easier to move around, go up the stairs, and have your hands free to look at maps, take out a metro pass, or eat gelato.



1.  If you overpack, your backpack can be really heavy.  Once you hurt your back from the weight, it’s hard for it to heal while you are constantly on the go.  Also, it’s difficult to buy souvenirs because you don’t really have the space for them.

2. Since it’s on your back, you have to be extremely vigilant about who is getting too close and potentially opening zippers and pickpocketing.  Click here for 10 ways to avoid getting pickpocketed.

3. Your belongings are not as well protected because a backpack is usually just a fabric covering as opposed to a hard shell.


Travel Accessory Essentials:

No matter where you are going, here is a must-have list of items that should be included in your last minute packing:

Contacts and/or glasses, plastic ziplock bags, an overnight bag for daytrips/weekenders, passport and copies of important documents, medication such as Advil, Tums, Bonine, Emergencee, prescriptions, hand sanitizer, money belt, adaptors*, a small umbrella, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, nail clippers, hairbrush, band-aids, floss, and travel sized laundry detergent.

*note on adaptors:  you usually can get away with just bringing adaptors…most devices we use nowadays do not need a converter; however, some blowdryers, curling irons, etc. may need a converter.  Be sure to check ahead of time.


Specifically for hostels:

lock, towel, ear plugs, eye mask, shampoo, conditioner, shower shoes, and body wash


Should you bring your laptop, iPad, cellphone, iPod etc with you?

I always find this to be one of the most stressful parts of packing especially when you don’t have all of your destinations planned out ahead of time.  Your laptop is too heavy but its hard to book accommodations and flights on a small cellphone so what do you do?  If you have an iPad, I say definitely bring that.  It is the perfect middle ground to the above problem.  There should be wifi at your hotel, hostel, airbnb as well as in restaurants and cafes in the streets, so you should have no problem with accessibility.  Personally, I say forgo the laptop unless you have a specifically designed lightweight one like a Macbook Air.  Generally though, I just find it too bulky to travel with.  The majority of hostels have wifi and hotels typically have business centers.  Also, most websites now have apps that you can download that are more mobile friendly for cell phone users.  If you still have an old iPod lying around, bring it!  I love having the ability to listen to music on travel days when I don’t have wifi.


Should you bring a Camera or use your iPhone for taking pictures?

I would suggest bringing both a camera and your iPhone.  You can always upload photos from both devices to your computer when you get home; however, I think it is nice to keep your phone in a safe place at crowded tourist sites and use your camera.  It would be terribly sad to lose any pictures from your trip; however, losing or having your iPhone stolen with all your personal information would be much worse.  It is nice though to have your iPhone available so that you can easily upload pictures to social media.


Last Minute Packing tips



Clothing Time!

Last Minute Packing for Females in Summer:

1. Jackets: In the summer, most European countries are going to have hot weather with the exception of the more northern countries like Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Norway, etc.  If you don’t plan on going too north, a simple cardigan, denim jacket, or sweatshirt jacket should be enough.  However, if you do plan on going more north, I would suggest both a fleece and rain jacket just to be safe.

2. Underwear, Socks, Bras:  I always bring all of the underwear I own. I bring a new pair of sleeping socks per every week I plan on traveling, and I try to bring at least 3 or 4 pairs of socks per week of travel in the summer for sneakers.  I bring one black bra, one nude bra, one strapless bra, and one sports bra.

3. Pajamas:  I usually bring yoga pants and an old college t-shirt to sleep in per week of travel.  If I know I will be in places that are 110 degrees, I will probably bring some shorts to sleep in as well.  However, in hostels my personal preference is to keep covered up so I will probably use my sweatshirt jacket to sleep in as well.

4. Swimsuits: I try to bring around 3 or 4.  Ideally, 2 out of the 3 are cute ones and  then I bring one that I don’t mind getting ruined for water sports like jet skiing, kayaking, canyoning, etc.

5. Shirts:  I will try and bring around 3 or 4 “going out tops” as well a week or two weeks worth of casual tees and tanks.  I usually bring an abundance of black tanks because I can wear them during the day and then tuck them into jeans and throw on a necklace and be ready and comfortable to go out at night.  Included in the casual tanks are typically 1 or 2 shirts that I also feel comfortable working out in.

6. Pants, Shorts, Skirts:  In summer, I would bring one pair of black jeans (to be dressed up or down), a pair of black lululemon leggings which are my life, a pair of jean shorts, a pair of cotton shorts such as Soffee shorts, and a pair of exercise pants for outdoor activities.  I don’t think it’s necessary to bring skirts.

7. Dresses:  I try to limit these to basic dresses that I can wear both during the day and at night.  I have a black maxi dress that I love because it is so easy to throw on and look polished.  I also have a few other solid colored dressed that fit well which I wear either day or night.

8. Shoes:  I always have such a hard time trying to decide on shoes.  In the summer, I recommend bringing a pair of flat sandals that have a back on them (a friend of mine wasn’t allowed into a club because her shoes didn’t have backs), flip-flops, everyday sneakers, and running shoes.  By the way, those flip flops should also double as shower shoes in hostels. No heels!  I know its hard not to pack and you feel jealous of friends that are wearing them, but it just makes your bag so much heavier.

9.  Hat, Sunglasses, Makeup, etc. are all at your discretion.  Just make sure to pack minimally!

10. Hair:  Bring lots of hair ties!  Now for the tricky part of deciding whether to bring a blowdryer, curling iron, straightener, etc.  My first backpacking experience I brought all 3.  Wow, was that a mistake.  Now I only bring a travel straightener that folds in half.  Yes, my hair looks better curled and yes my hair looks horrendous if it is not blowdried, but I have found that the straightener is the perfect solution.  Just run it through your hair to rid it of those terrible airdried wave-like things.  It won’t look as good as it would be curled, but still presentable and put together.  I also always get my hair done right before I go away.  Since I don’t bring all of my hair moisturizing, volumnizing, color protecting, blah blah blah treatments, it’s nice to start the trip with hair that was just taken care of at a salon.  The sun and the sweat and the salt will ruin it about a week into your travels.

11. Purse: I prefer a small, black crossbody bag that fits my phone, camera, money, map, and cards.


Last Minute Packing for Females in Winter:

1. Jackets and other winter accessories:  Bring a down jacket that is waterproof, fleece jacket, gloves, 2 scarves, knitted headbands, and lots of warm layers.  Bring your down jacket on the airplane as it would be too heavy to pack and it can also double as a pillow or blanket.

2. Underwear, Socks, Bras:  same as above except make sure to bring a lot of socks.  I would bring one per day of travel if you can fit them.

3. Pajamas: I like thermal shirts and yoga pants plus a crew neck sweatshirt for winter pajamas.

4. Swimsuits:  Either zero or one depending on whether you might go in a hot tub.

5.  Shirts:  Bring 5-7 long sleeve shirts including flannels and thermals.  Also bring 3-4 tanks to layer underneath.  Sweaters that aren’t too bulky are great to layer over your long sleeve and under your fleece.

6. Pants, Shorts, Skirts: I would bring 2 pairs of leggings that you could wear underneath your jeans if need be.  I would bring both a pair of blue jeans and black jeans.

7. Dresses:  I would only bring one dress and only if you bring a pair of tights to go with them.  This is actually quite trendy in some of the European cities that don’t get too cold in the wintertime.

8. Shoes:  I would bring a pair of sneakers, running shoes, and a pair of either beige or black boots/booties that you can dress up or down.  Make sure to wear your bulkiest boots on the plane.  You want at least one pair of your shoes to be waterproof!

9. same as above

10. same as above

11. same as above


Last Minute Packing for Males in Summer:

1. Jackets:  I would suggest bringing one lightweight waterproof jacket.

2. Socks and Boxers: a week to two weeks worth of socks and a couple pairs of black dress socks.  Also bring a daily pair of boxers.

3. Pajamas:  Obviously, whatever you choose to sleep in bring 1 or 2 pairs.  Just remember, accommodations are not always the cleanest so you might want to think twice if you sleep in the nude at home.

4. Swimsuits: Two should be enough.

5. Shirts:  I recommend bringing two dress shirts and about 7-10 t-shirts.

6.  Pants and Shorts:  A pair of jeans as well as a couple pairs of casual shorts either khaki and/or basketball style.

7. Shoes:  I would bring a pair of walking shoes, a pair of dress shoes (I know this is bulky but you will need a pair if you go out to a nice bar or club), and a pair of flip-flops to wear as both shower shoes and for a leisurely stroll.


Last Minute Packing for Males in Winter:

1. Jackets:  I would suggest bringing one lightweight waterproof jacket, a heavy jacket, and a sweatshirt jacket.

2. Socks and Boxers: same as above

3. Pajamas:  same as above

4. Swimsuits: One should be plenty.

5. Shirts:  same as above

6.  Pants and Shorts:  A pair of black jeans and a pair of blue jeans should be perfect and a pair of basketball shorts to chill out in.

7. Shoes:  I would bring a pair of walking shoes, a pair of dress shoes (I know this is bulky but you will need a pair if you go out to a nice bar or club).


Do you have any other last minute packing tips?  If so, please share your last minute packing suggestions in the comments below!


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