• Jo

One week, five European cities, £150 - Packing lightly

Updated: Aug 30, 2019

(Scroll to the bottom of this post for a handy packing list)

First of all an update to my itinerary since my first post. I mentioned previously that travel companies use dynamic pricing for their tickets. After finalising my plans I spent a couple of days making sure that things would be covered whilst I was away. When I finally went to book everything my flight from East Midlands to Budapest had gone from £23 to £154, more than my original budget put together!  So I have had to change my plans somewhat.  After searching I could fly from Gatwick on the Sunday evening but it meant landing at midnight and paying for another night in the hostel.  I try and avoid arriving in places that I don't know late at night, mainly for my personal safety.  The only other option that I could find was to fly from Luton on the Tuesday.  It means arriving at midday so I don't miss too many of the festivities and still have enough time to see the fireworks along the Danube that start at 9 pm.

My new plan is this...

(Tuesday) Luton --> Budapest - £24

2 nights in Budapest - £21

Budapest --> Prague - £18

1 night in Prague - £11

Prague --> Aachen - £28 (Get off at Cologne)

Cologne --> Brussels - £9

1 night Brussels - £14

Brussels --> London - £16

(Monday) London --> Nottingham - £5

Total - £146

So cheaper than my last plan but I still have to factor in how to get to Luton.  It also took me a while to figure out how to connect up Prague and Brussels.  As I mentioned in my previous post this route if you search directly can be expensive.  After trying to break up the journey I found a ticket from Prague to Aachen for £28.  However, Aachen to Brussels was almost £20.  This is frustrating as tickets from Cologne and Frankfurt to Brussels are cheaper even though they are longer.  I took a quick look at the Prague to Aachen route and realised I have to change in Cologne.  So instead of changing to the train to Aachen I've bought a bus ticket from Cologne to Brussels.  If you want to save money you really do have to be savvy and do your research.

What to pack?

So now my tickets are booked I'm moving onto packing. I like lists and being organised. I usually leave everything to the last minute before going away and if I know I have a list to follow when it comes to packing then it's less stressful.  If you can start to think at least a couple of weeks before going away then you have time to go out and buy things that you need rather than paying a premium in the airport shops.  There is one exception to this and you can read about this below.

Finding the right bag to pack is important. I have a variety that I use depending on the type of trip that I'm going on and what limitations my plane ticket has. For a trip that involves lots of moving between cities I would choose a rucksack over a wheelie suitcase. If you don't have one then maybe ask around to borrow one before investing in a bag that is comfortable to wear.  If you do end buying I would suggest choosing one that has a waterproof cover to keep your belongings dry in case of a sudden downpour.

  1. Write a list (or two) - Try to think about what you are going to pack early on. Get everything washed and dried before you pack. There won't be much time to do laundry whilst away so if you start off with clean clothes the better.  Don't forget to include things that you need to print such as boarding passes.

  2. Buy your sun cream at the airport - If you are only carrying hand luggage then buy your sun cream at the airport. This is something that you don't want to scrimp on. Unless you know where you are going and if you can buy a reputable brand then I recommend buying from the airport once you've gone through security.  You can buy as much as you need without the limitation of the 100 ml bottles in the plastic bags.  I am still doing research on sun cream bars/powders so cannot yet recommend an alternative to the liquid varieties.

  3. Pack light - I have saved money because I am only flying with a back pack. I don't mind this as I don't want to be hauling a heavy bag around with me for a week. Have a think about if you really need something. For example, you don't need a huge bottle of shampoo just for a week. I recommend taking a shampoo bar instead. They are lighter, if you finish one whilst away you don't throw rubbish away in another country and it can be used as a body soap as well.

  4. Pack bags within bags - Packing cubes, waterproof stuff sacks, carry bag. I find it easy to pack light for a flight on the way out. Everything is laid out on the bed and every nook and cranny of ruck sack can be used. Throughout the trip it's easy to find your self buying supplies for a long trip and find yourself not have any where to pack them. All of sudden that once neatly packed rucksack can become unruly and overflowing and you end up missing a train because you couldn't finish packing. If you have a couple of bags that are lightweight and scrunch up small packed into your rucksack then you can easily throw things in and sort things out whilst on a long bus journey.

  5. Wear your heaviest clothes whilst flying - If you wear your bulkiest clothes on the plane then you can fit more in your bag.  Don't wear too many and overheat, plus it will make packing difficult once you're travelling.  However, if you are landing in a much hotter country than the one you just left then you can easily get changed in the airport at the other end.

  6. Invest in some carabiners - Most outdoor shops sell cheaper versions than climbing ones. These can be handy for hanging things up or attaching things to the outside of your rucksack.

  7. Create an itinerary to give to someone you know - It's easy nowadays to keep in touch with loved ones whilst travelling but it's always a good idea that you hand a written copy of your itinerary over before you leave. If something does go wrong they at least know where you should be and when so they can get in contact. It can also allay fears of loved ones back home because it shows that you are organised and know what you are doing. It should stop you getting a lot of texts asking where you are all the time and if you are ok.

Packing Light List

I've tried to include everything that I can think of that you may need for a trip that involves lots of travelling between cities. This is a 'hot' list as in visiting places that will be sunny and high temperatures.


  • 1 pair of trousers (Wear these when flying)

  • 1 pair of shorts

  • 1 dress (Cotton)

  • 1 belt (switch between shorts and trousers if needs be)

  • Sports leggings - Comfy for long-distance over night trips

  • Two vest tops

  • Long sleeve top

  • T-shirt

  • Flannel shirt

  • Pyjamas

  • Bra - A nice one and a sports one

  • Socks

  • Pants - I only ever pack a weeks worth and wash as I go. It's easy to give your pants and socks a wash whilst you're in the shower

  • Flip flops

  • Walking boots/trainers

  • Sunglasses

  • Sun hat

  • Swimming costume/bikini


If you are flying then these need to be split between a toiletry bag and a see through plastic bag. Pack any liquids in the plastic bag and pack this last. That way it is at the top of your bag ready for security.

  • Shampoo/Conditioner bar

  • Toothpaste tabs

  • Toothbrush

  • Razor - I have travelled through security with one of these and had no problems. If it does get taken off you then it's easy to buy another later on.

  • Travel hairbrush

  • Hairclips

  • Medicine - Essential, Paracetamol


  • Handbag - This has to be small and be able to fit into your bag if you haven't paid for extra on a flight. This is where I keep all my personal items such as boarding pass, phone, purse.

  • Passport

  • Printed tickets. If you are travelling across boarders on a train or bus then you will be sent labels that you need to print out and attach to your bags.

  • Phone - Loaded with music and audio books

  • Battery pack and charging cables

  • Travel adapter

  • Reading book - Most hostels have book exchanges so only take one and swap for something different

  • Pen

  • Combination padlock - For lockers in the hostel

  • Waterproof stuff sack - This is great if you've been swimming and you haven't got your clothes dry before needing to pack before travelling again

  • Cloth bag - Alternative to plastic bags, get one that stuffs down to a small size

  • Water bottle - Make sure this is empty as you go through airport security. Most places will now top up if you just ask.

  • Collapsible coffee cup

  • Small first aid kit - Plasters, Imodium, rehydration powder

  • Small roll of electrical tape and safety pins - For fixing things

  • Eye mask

  • Ear plugs

  • Blow up neck pillow

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