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Backpacking Europe in your twenties is one of the most exciting things you can plan in a lifetime. It almost seems like a right of passage. The romance of the beautiful cities, the varying culture, the cuisine, and the fashion…oh the fashion. Choosing what to wear in Europe is a big dilemma especially if style is top of mind.
Fear not, we have eight helpful tips to avoid looking like a backpacker in Europe – find out what they are!
Heading to Europe on vacation not a backpacking adventure? Read this guide instead.
Backpacking Travel Wardrobe
Written By: Angela Sterley
Backpacking through Europe is on many travelers’ bucket lists. But when traveling long-term out of a backpack, it can become a challenge to look put together. Europe is a destination that’s very fashion-conscious, so you’ll feel your best when you’re blending in with the locals.
Here are eight tips to ensure you don’t look like a backpacker while traveling Europe.
Pack versatile clothing and neutral colors
Flats | Watch | Crossbody | Dress | Chiffon Top | Tank | Denim Shirt | Sweater | Jeans | Jeans | Bomber Jacket | Biker Jacket | Sunglasses | Nail Polish | Bootie | Hat
It’s easier to put together new outfits when you’re working with items that can be used for more than one occasion. Neutral colors allow you to create more cohesive outfits as opposed to bright colors that can clash within a limited wardrobe. Read my travel tips to Pack Light Stylishly!
What are neutral colors? Read this post!
Pieces that can be used for more than one occasion are essential for a capsule wardrobe. Think little black dresses or a top in a crepe fabric that can be worn from day to night. If an item can be worn both casually and for a nice dinner, consider it a staple.
Find out how to turn any of your dresses into a versatile dress!
Taking care of beauty is essential
Jacket | Dress | Crossbody | Lace Flat | Lipstick | Watch
If you’re used to putting on makeup daily at home, you don’t have to stop while traveling.
Keep your eyebrows tweezed and make sure your nails are not badly chipped. Get a gel manicure the day before your trip to keep your nails looking great. These manicures generally last 2-3 weeks before they need a touchup.
Luckily, you can take a break from sightseeing at a local nail salon so it shouldn’t be hard to find a touch-up when needed. If you’d rather care for your nails yourself, then don’t forget to bring along your favorite bottle of nail polish and a travel-size manicure kit.
Here are some tips on the best eyebrow makeup for travelers!
Don’t forget about accessories
The easiest way to look put together when traveling is with accessories. They can completely change the look of an outfit and make it appear like you’ve put in extra effort without too much work. Plus, they’re small and don’t take up much room in your packing cubes! Bring a few statement pieces as well as simpler options.
Wearing a watch on your trip will add a classy element to your outfits–and of course, it will help you keep track of time if your phone dies after taking too many pictures!
Check out these fashionable summer accessories that will add style to your vacation wardrobe!
Top | Jeans | Fedora (similar) | Watch | Bootie | Sunglasses | Crossbody
If you’re backpacking Europe in the spring or summer, sunglasses are a necessity. They not only protect your eyes from the sun, but can help you feel a little covered up after a rough night! Backpacking doesn’t always result in a full night’s beauty rest, so throw on a pair of sunglasses to hide your lack of sleep. A brimmed hat adds style to your outfit, looks great in pictures, and covers up bad hair days.
One of the most important keys to avoiding looking like a backpacker is to bring along the type of handbag you would use at home. This way, when you’re out exploring for the day, you can use a normal purse instead of a backpack.
Alternatively, consider a cute but convertible backpack purse for travel!
Keep up with skin and hair care
Dry Shampoo I Facial Moisturizer
There’s nothing worse than feeling like a complete mess while traveling. Take along your favorite shampoo and conditioner and don’t leave your face wash at home. If your favorite products don’t come in travel sizes, just put them in reusable travel containers.
You’ll feel so much more comfortable knowing that your skin and hair are getting the same treatment that they would at home, rather than using whatever travel-sized alternative is at the local drug store.
Follow these tips for which travel beauty products to pack and which to leave behind!
Don’t pack fabrics that wrinkle easily
One of the most obvious ways to spot a backpacker is from their wrinkled clothing. After rolling fabrics into overstuffed backpacks and packing cubes, it can be difficult to give the appearance that your clothing is freshly pressed.
Choosing fabrics that tend to be wrinkle-resistant, such as wool, nylon, or polyester, will make a major difference in your look. If you absolutely must bring that dress that wrinkles at every move, then be sure to pack a small, travel steamer.
Jackets that are naturally structured tend not to wrinkle much, and they also give a more polished look to your outfit.
These are the best fabrics for travel!
Pack comfortable yet stylish shoes
Waterproof Boots I Ballet Flat I Sneaker
When backpacking, you want to be comfortable but fashionable at the same time. Shoes can be a major giveaway on your status of tourist or backpacker, so bring a couple pairs that are comfortable yet versatile.
Find a pair that can put up with wet sidewalks but also be worn on sunny days. A trendy pair of ballet flats or loafers can be a comfortable choice for day to night.
Learn how to choose the best shoes for walking on Europe’s cobblestone streets!
Dress like the locals
Sweater | Blouse | Jeans | Watch | Sunglasses | Hat | Bootie | Handbag
Do a little research before you pack and see what the locals are wearing. The more you blend in, the less you’ll look like a backpacker. Pay attention to everything from colors to small styling details. For example, many locals in Paris will tuck in their shirts and rarely walk around in high heels.
Read these packing lists on Travel Fashion Girl to find out what locals are wearing at your destinations.
Utilize laundry facilities whenever possible
Jacket | V-neck | Necklace | Jeans | Crossbody | Watch | Flats | Sunglasses
When you’re backpacking and staying in hostels, washing machines are rarely readily available. If you get any chance to do laundry, be sure to take it. Clean clothing can make a huge difference in how you look and feel.
If you’re unsure how often you’ll have access to a laundry facility, then bring along a coupe of mini laundry detergent packs so you can wash your clothing in a sink. Don’t forget a sink plug!
Read these tips on how to do laundry while traveling!
Ultimately, it’s most important to stay true to your personal style when you travel. If you don’t wear something at home then you won’t feel comfortable wearing it somewhere else…no matter how popular it may be with locals in the destination where you’ll traveling.
Read this post to find out why packing what you love is the best way to pack fashionably light!
What are your tips on what to pack for Europe? Please comment below!
For more Europe packing tips, please read:
- 10-Step Packing Guide for Europe
- How to Choose the Best Shoes for Europe
- What to Wear in Europe: Packing List for Every Destination
- The Only Packing List for Europe You’ll Ever Need!
Suggested travel resources:
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Author Bio: Angela Sterley is a Los Angeles-based travel and lifestyle blogger. She has a background in the fashion industry and is on a mission to explore all the world has to offer. Join her adventures on Destination Drifter and follow her on Instagram.
I am going to Italy (Rome, Venice, Florence, and the Almalfi Coast next late May-early June next year. How should I pack???
Hi Peggy Take a look at our Italy packing guide for everything you need to know: https://travelfashiongirl.com/10-step-packing-guides/10-step-packing-guide-italy/
Do you have any suggestions on when would be the perfect time to go backpacking?
A shoulder month such as May or September might be most comfortable and affordable 🙂
What about when planning a 4-month trip, any suggestions on a good time? no one that I know has gone backpacking and I am in need of advice.
It really depends on where you’re going. Read this: https://www.travelfashiongirl.com/rtw-packing-list-your-ultimate-guide-for-around-the-world-travel/
thanks for the help