Europe The whole kit 'n kaboodle for 6 weeks in the Balkans and Turkey - all packed in carry-on only.

Published on August 27th, 2016


Packing Light for the Balkans: 6 Weeks – Carry-on Only

For once I’ve prepped my packing well in advance – and this time I’ve managed to take a full series of pics showing once-and-for-all that…

No matter how many days, or weeks or months you’ll be on the trail – it’s definitely possible to pack everything you need into a single carry-on size backpack or rollie or suitcase.  Toss a small rucksack into the mix (for technos, overnight necessities, plus a few snacks of course) and you’re good to go – anywhere on the Planet for

Packing light is especially easy of course if you’re headed to a tropical beach.  But in this case, I’ll be traveling through at least 7 different countries including quite possibly an ICE CAVE high in the Austrian alps.  But again, tropical to frigid, all it takes is l.a.y.e.r.s. and a bit of planning.

So let’s take a look at just what I’ll be carrying, as well as how I fit it all into my carry-on size rollie and rucksack.

What I plan to wear on the plane when I fly from Ecuador to Munich.For starters, I set aside what I plan to wear on the plane.  Selecting this outfit is critical as I’ll be taking no fewer than 3 flights (from Guayaquil, Ecuador to Miami, then to Philadelphia, and finally an all night flight to Munich.  All this on standby, so who knows? I may be sleeping in an airport or two along the way.  With any luck though, all will go smoothly, and the good news is – (if available) I’ll be flying First Class all the way!

Still… I’ll be “en route” for at least 24 straight hours.  Thus, I best wear something comfy, yet stylish (i.e. one doesn’t fly First Class in one’s pajamas, yes?).  And of course layered so I can adapt to all the inevitable fluctuations in air cabin temps along the way.

First of note: I shall bring 3 pairs of shoes:  a sturdy pair of toed-hiking shoes (a.k.a. my “Keen” wannabees that by some miracle I managed to unearth here in Ecuador 2 years ago), plus a lighter-weight/more stylish pair of Teva walking sandals, plus the requisite “floppys” for hostel showers and the beach.  Notice that (prudently) I’ve chosen to WEAR my most bulky footwear to maximize my minimal packing space/weight.  Also, all black (because, you know – 24 hrs. en route), and comfy leggings plus a turtleneck (I do.not favor being cold/drafts whilst I sleep over the Atlantic) and a black dotted-swiss jumper with colorful scarf to (appear at least) to possess a modicum of “First Class” panache.

Now then – the main course:  what-all do I pack in my (regulation carry-on size) rollie (which btw, niftily converts to a backpack should I need to heft it onto my dodderin’ back)?


Packing for 6 weeks of travel - carry-on only: all my clothes, the shoes go in first...

I’ll peck the entire packing list in detail at the end of this post, but for now – just a few stray notations:

  • the shoes go in first – mainly because they just happen to fit so nicely between the back ribs of the rollie, thus saving every last smidge of space while keeping the soles away from my clothes.
  • Notice too, I’ve not “rolled” my clothes (save for my thin wool long underwear shown beneath the requisite fanny-pack:  both top and bottoms – given that I’ll be traveling o’er hill ‘n dale in the autumn of Eastern Europe, because: once again, “layers” people.  Layers are your best travel buddy).
    Yes, rolling your clothes is a standard packing “best practice”, but… suffice (much like most “rules”) I roll selectively.  For this trip/particular batch of clothes, I found they fit better simply folded.
  • Upper right:  small blue fleece blanket.  Yes, I know, I know – should a First Class seat be available on my flights, no doubt I’ll be offered my own comfy blankie (not to mention other amenities such as more generous leg-room, etc. – yay!) but… again, because I’m flying standby, there’s a real chance I may be stuck in (one or more of *six*) airports coming and going.  So having my own bitty blanket might well come in handy.
  • Lower right: small blue umbrella.  I’m also bringing a tiny, cheapo plastic rain poncho (handy for protecting both me and my backpack should I find myself out on the street in a sudden downpour), but…  Call me crazy, but I just think a bright blue umbrella might be a colorful photo prop for videos and pics I plan to shoot as I’m out and about.

Next up – packing cubes, Packing Cubes, PACKING CUBES!  Small zippered cubes and bags to keep all the chunks and bits organized and tidy.  Perfect for isolating shirts from underwear, from scarves, etc. so you needn’t tear your entire packing kit apart in order to lay hands on that elusive pair of wool socks.

(BEFORE packing cubes)
Packing for 6 weeks in the Balkans - packing cubes are a must!
(AFTER packing cubes – all neat ‘n tidy)

Next goes the stack of (3 plus the leggings I’ll wear on the plane) pants – to the back on top of the shoes:
Packing for 6 weeks traveling around the Balkans - carry-on only, packing my rollie, piece by piece.

Adding, the umbrella, the long-underwear, the bathing suit and a light jacket…
Packing (carry-on only) for 6 weeks traveling around Eastern Europe.

Getting down near the end now… tossing in the sleeveless tops bag and the fanny-pack…
Packing LIGHT - carry-on only for *6 weeks* in Europe.

And finally, the scarves packet and the underwear bag (both handily on top) along with the long-sleeved shirts bag.  Plus the rolled fleece blanket secured atop the rollie in front of the handle.
Packing (carry-on only) for 6 weeks - all tucked into packing cubes to keep everything organized and tidy.


Now then, tucking all the technos, toiletries, snacks, etc. into the rucksack (which btw, can be handily zipped onto the rollie creating a single unit). Plus adding my jammies should I end up spending the night somewhere:
Packing the carry-on rucksack: technos, toiletries, snacks, etc.

And there you have it – all packed up and ready to go!
Everything I need for 6 weeks travel in Eastern Europe - all fits into carry-on only.

BTW… interesting etymology of my trusty High Sierra purple rollie/backpack/rucksack: The whole kit ‘n kaboodle I found more than 6 years ago – at a Seattle Goodwill for the grand sum of *$12*!)


Note that I’ve deliberately made the above packing pics large (click on any to view an enlargement) so you might more easily see some of the minutiae that figures prominently in my travel packing.  I’ve also included a few caveats after the packing list to explain the “why” of some of the items.  Needless to say, packing for a trip is a decidedly personal endeavor, and your list may well include more or less items than shown here.  But I do believe (based on 30+ years of solo, independent traveling to nearly 50 different countries) that you CAN travel – any.where. for days, weeks or months – with carry-on only baggage.

black leggings
black tank top
black cotton turtleneck
black/blue/magenta scarf
cotton socks
black shoes
*teal fleece jacket
*black leather neck purse w/ passport, phone + charger cord and plug, “Moo” travel cards, small notebook

attached: music earbuds, anti-bacterial and sunglasses
tiny shopping bag
moisturizer, lip gloss
eye mask + ear plugs
thin rain poncho
rain cover for camera
*empty water bottle
cache of snacks (peanuts, raisins, granola bars, hard candy)
navy fleece blanket
*pajamas (blue cotton pants + black short-sleeve t-shirt)
Kindle + cord + plug
phone cord + plug
extra cord for phone
“Just Mobile Gum Pro” mobile power pack + cord
RX-M2 camera + cord + charger + 3 batteries + gorilla tripod
Bluetooth selfie stick (2 pieces) + charge cord
*GPSr + cord
flashlight + extra batteries

TOILETRIES: (zippered plastic bag in rucksack)
microfiber travel towel
shampoo + conditioner
small hand soap in plastic ziplock
comb + hair bands
moisturizer, concealer, eye shadow w/ mirror, mascara, blush
nail clippers + file
first aid: Tylenol, Ibuprofen, antihistamine, antibiotic, Blistex, cough drops, bandaids
(more) ear plugs (you can never have too many)
(more) 2nd pack of wet-wipes (ever so handy)
*fake deodorant container for stashing cash

teal pocket pants
navy drawstring pants
navy turtleneck
4 long-sleeve t-shirts: black, blue, purple and magenta
teal short sleeve t-shirt
black short sleeve t-shirt
blue/black lace sleeveless top
blue shell top
thin wool long underwear, top & bottom
bathing suit
5 undies
2 pr. cotton socks
2 pr. wool socks
4 scarves: teal/purple, Cuba crocheted, black/white checked, mauve print bandanna
3 earrings: black dangle, blue drop, zipper posts
macrame band bracelet
blue umbrella
wool hat + gloves
teal lightweight zippered jacket

clothespins + string/elastic (for drying rinsed underwear and wet bathing suit)
large plastic ziplock bag for damp/wet clothes
luggage zipper locks
fanny pack
pen wrapped with duct tape (oh so handy!)
tiny sewing kit
*small zippered cloth bag filled with beans

* teal fleece jacket – the only item not pictured.  I debated long and hard as to how hefty of a jacket I might need given the autumn temps across all manner of terrains in more than a half-dozen different countries.  Suffice I finally settled on a lightweight fleece jacket – I figure with my beloved thin wool long underwear plus layers – I should be good for even snow and ice in the Austrian alps.

Custom "Moo" cards - so handy for traveling.* yes, my beloved “Moo cards” – sturdy, miniature “business” cards with TL info plus each with a unique photo snapped from my many travels.

*yes, EMPTY water bottle.  So as to slide easily through airport security, and fill up at gate drinking fountains thus avoiding the need to buy pricey bottled water.

*jammies.  Note that as I’ll likely be sleeping in at least a handful of hostel dorms and shared bath private rooms (not to mention hopefully a couchsurf or two), a modest set of pj’s is prudent.

*GPSr – for geocaching.  Yes, I have an app on my phone, but suffice it can sometimes be iffy for precisely locating a bitty micro-cache container, whereas my Magellan dedicated GPSr is far more reliable.

*fake deodorant, you may ask?  Yes indeed, an empty deodorant container is a most handy place to stash some emergency cash – in a place arguably no thief would think to look.

* pen (or pencil) wrapped with about a foot of duct tape.  Suffice no surprise that a small swath of duct tape can come in mighty handy for temporary repairs of all kinds along the trail.

* Yup, I’ll bet you’re wondering what the bag filled with beans is all about, yes?  Suffice, a most handy “tripod” for propping up my phone at odd angles for selfies.

Whew! Any questions?

Finally I think I’ve written a definitive (*illustrated* even!) packing list that hopefully will inspire you to pack LIGHT for your next adventure.  Do share any packing tips of your own in the comments below.

Packing LIGHT for the Balkans: 6 Weeks - Carry-on Only

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About the Author

Off-the-beaten-path travel is my passion,and I’ve always lived life “like-a-kid-in-a-candy-store” – eager to sample as many flavors as I can. Indeed, my life motto has long been: This ain’t a dress rehearsal, folks!

4 Responses to Packing Light for the Balkans: 6 Weeks – Carry-on Only

  1. Excellent post, especially with the photos. For a few years now, my travel included countries selling stuff I want to buy because the alternatives found in Thailand are crap. So, I’ve added a 65 L pack to my set. Leaving home, it’s contents would fit into my 46 L carry on bag. Coming home – not even close.

    I don’t see a power adapter or padlock for guesthouse lockers on your list. Just about everyplace I stay has them for loan, rent or sale, but I don’t like to press my luck.

    My latest list addition is an XL Ziploc Big Bag for guesthouse showers. Holds and keeps dry a towel, clothes taken off and to be put on, and a bag of toiletries.

    • Dyanne says:

      Yes, I too have a ziploc to keep all my shower paraphernalia together (shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothbrush/paste). But I’ve never (yet) found a need to have one big enough for my travel towel and/or clothes I take off. There’s always been a hook, or towel rack, else I just toss them over the door. I do have a “large plastic ziplock bag for damp/wet clothes” on the list though, so I guess I could use that if need be.

      All the countries I plan to visit take the Type F plug (2 round prongs) and I have an adapter that accepts 3 of my US/EC Type A/B (2 flat prongs), so I’m good to go there

      But thanks for the reminder on the padlock for hostel dorm lockers. I have 2 small ones for my pack zippers, but I best pick up a larger one for dorm lockers.

  2. Great tips Dyanne! We always carry a travel blanket for long airplane/bus rides and it comes in handy for other uses besides the warmth, especially as back support, cushioning on a hard bench or even an extra pillow. As for packing cubes – I can’t believe we ever traveled without them. Organization is key when on the road for weeks at a time (right now we’re back in the US for a few weeks living out of our suitcases) and packing cubes are king!
    Anita @ No Particular Place To Go kindly contributed to world literature by posting…A Hop-On, Hop-Off Boat: Cruising the Canals of CopenhagenMy Profile

    • Dyanne says:

      Yes Anita, the wee blanket – I somehow neglected to mention those long (often frigid) bus rides, as well as for an impromptu picnic/beach blanket. I’m sure I’ll find many moments that I’ll be glad I added it to my – most carefully curated – packing list. Each item is a trade-off (in space and weight) so only those items that truly add benefit are given the green light.

      And yes, yes – those wondrous packing cubes! Given my years now expatting in Asia and here in Ecuador (neither of which have yet to see the wisdom of erecting an R.E.I. store – what’s with THAT?) 😉 I’ve had to make-do and get creative: I recently found a nice set of small to medium to largish mesh LAUNDRY BAGS which do the job nicely!

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