The Carry-On Female Packing List for the South of Europe in Winter

Portugal, Spain, Travel / Saturday, March 16th, 2019
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Think traveling through Europe for 4 weeks with just carry on luggage can't be done? Think again! I took my Nomatic 20L Travel Pack (expandable to 30L) which they advertise to be suitable for 1-3 days... or 30?

To be clear about where I went, I traveled to the south of Spain, the coast of Portugal, England, and Ireland in January and early February. I experienced all types of weather, from snow in the countryside of England to Atlantic gusty winds on the west coast of Ireland, to warm, sunny days in Spain.

The trick is to pack light and durable. With all of the cobblestone streets and stairs in Europe, you don't want to be stuck lugging all of your things up and down constantly.

The other thing I love about only having carry-on baggage is that I don't need to stress about waiting in line at the airport to drop my bag off, I can check in online, walk straight through security, and be at the gate with plenty of time to spare. It saves time (and lost bags) at the other end as well!

Don't forget that if you forget to pack something, Europe should be a reasonably easy place to find the same sort of things you can get at home.

Okay, let’s get into it!

You can download a free PDF checklist here, but I recommend you read the details in this post as well!

This page probably contains affiliate links. This means I receive a small commission if you choose to purchase through a link I provide (at no extra cost to you!). This helps to keep me on the road and continue to bring awesome content to you!


A great thing to keep in mind when choosing what clothes to pack is to lay your clothes out and see if you can wear every top with every bottom. This way, you can create new and effortless combinations. It also comes in handy when you start filling up your laundry bag and are left with limited options.

10x Undies
10 pairs should be enough if you do washing once a week.


*Wear on the plane

5x Socks

The amount you take depends on the types of socks you wear. I packed 5 pairs of thin anklet socks and 2 thick pairs of hiking socks.

*Wear the thick pair on the plane

2 x Singlets

For layering under your other tops for those extra cold days.

*Wear one on the plane

5 x Long Sleeve Tops

I mostly brought merino wool tops as these are thin, warm and comfortable. Thermal tops work great as a base layer. Try Icebreaker, Patagonia, or Under Armour for a more affordable solution.


Chambray Shirt
I take my light blue cotton chambray shirt everywhere. It’s easy to dress up or down.

2 x Thin Sweaters 

Bring two lightweight sweaters which are perfect for layering. Again, merino is a great option. Cotton generally isn't as warm and wool can be too thick.

*Wear one on the plane



A big, thick hoodie to keep you warm! I love my Roots hoodie!

*Wear on the plane

3 x Leggings

Comfortable black leggings can be worn everywhere in Europe. Bring one sportier pair for any active activities you may be taking part in.

I advise against jeans but if you're adamant, also pack a pair of thermal leggings to wear underneath to stay warm.

My picks for thermal leggings are from Icebreaker and Patagonia. A more cost-effective brand is Under Armour.

*Wear either your jeans or your thickest leggings on the plane


Optional. Pajamas

If you need pajamas then pack a singlet and thin cotton shorts. Everywhere has heating so you don’t need to pack your warmest pair of fuzzy thick pajama places. Otherwise, your thermals also double as great pajamas.

Warm Jacket

I bring my Huffer jacket with me everywhere! Columbia also has great options.

*Wear on the plane


Optional. Lightweight Waterproof Jacket
If your warm jacket isn’t waterproof, pack a really lightweight shell jacket. Just make sure it actually fits over your warm jacket! I love my Columbia shell jacket.


Accessories and Shoes

Beanie - Merino wool is always best! I am a huge fan of Love Your Melon and the incredible work they're doing to help kids with cancer. They have a range of cotton and merino wool beanies.


Scarf - A heavyweight woolen scarf is a must for winter in Europe, the wind can get very chilly and its good to have a scarf to keep your neck warm. I take my 100% yak wool scarf with me everywhere. Love your melon also has a cute range.

*Wear on the plane


Gloves - I have hand knitted merino gloves I bought from a gorgeous lady at a market.

Sunglasses – I didn’t bring these but I wish I had.

Collapsible backpack for day use - So you don't need to lug your main pack around everywhere. Sea to Summit has a great range of lightweight bags.

Sneakers – Ones you can walk in all day.

Flip flops – For showers. If you’re not staying in hostels you may be able to skip bringing the flip flops.

Hiking Boots/Waterproof Boots – I nearly didn’t bring mine but decided to at the last minute. I was SO thankful I did as my sneakers got ruined throughout the journey and I ended up wearing my hiking boots every day. If you plan on going out at night, bring a nicer pair but just make sure they’re comfortable. I love my Keen boots!

*Wear the biggest and bulkiest pair of shoes on the plane



Try and bring these in the smallest containers possible. Preferably plastic over glass as it’s lighter.

Toiletry Bag – I didn’t have one lightweight enough so used a thick ziplock bag.

Lip Balm

Makeup – I only brought Mascara. This is a personal preference and depends on how much room you have spare.

Toothbrush With Cover


Deodorant – The very small travel sticks last 3-4 weeks.

Facewash and Moisturizer

Cotton Ear Buds - Only as many as you will need.

Tissues – One small packet.

Hairbrush - Small fold up comb.

Argan hair oil - Or other hair product you just have to take.


Contact Wearers: Saline, contacts, glasses, glasses case

Pads, Tampons or preferably a Diva Cup - only as many as you will need.

Shampoo – I usually double this as soap so I don’t have to deal with a messy soap bar.


Hair Ties/Bobby Pins

Nail Clippers

Other Health: Antihistamines, Paracetamol, Ibuprofen, birth control, period pain medication, your personal medications.

Dirty Laundry Bag - A very thin lightweight bag. Sea to Summit has a great range of lightweight bags.


Eco-friendly Water Bottle

Lightweight Wallet 

Drivers License

Credit and Debit Cards


Booking Information

Packable Bag – A really compact bag comes in handy for so many situations - check out Sea to Summits range.

Trtl Neck Pillow - The only next pillow I'll ever bother with. Read my review on the Trtl neck pillow here.

*take on the plane

Ziplock bags – A few small ones usually come in handy.

Small Padlock

Eye Mask and Ear Plugs – For obvious reasons. I bring the earplugs that are connected to each other as they’re easier to keep track of.



Camera accessories: charger, memory cards, lenses - I wasn't unable to bring my tripod. You may need to make sacrifices if you have more camera gear you want to bring.

Music and compact headphones

Mobile phone, charger, and small power bank

Optional. Ipad or Tablet – This isn’t necessary but I actually brought my laptop with me.

Power Adapter – Bring an all country adapter with a plug inlet and USB inlets so you can charge your phone and camera at the same time.

Is there anything I missed? What are your essentials for traveling to Europe in Winter? Please leave a comment below.

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One Reply to “The Carry-On Female Packing List for the South of Europe in Winter”

  1. Perfect timing for this post! Appreciating the time and effort you put into your website and in depth information you offer. Such a helpful guide! It’s always hard to know what to pack, especially when you want to pack light but this post makes it so much easier. Worth sharing! Please do continue sharing updates! Thanks a lot!

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