european travel

Hvar, Croatia

Our time in Hvar was wonderful. Our apartment was so centrally located and our hosts were so helpful with their recommendations – all of which were completely amazing. Hvar is a beautiful city, on a beautiful island, but I was unprepared for just how much of a backpacker/party destination it was. I guess I should have known, what with the famous Carpe Diem club being there and all, but I didn't realize Yacht Week was such a big part of the culture there (it's a program that is in essence a big party on a boat that stops in at different cities to party) – the boats would come in almost every afternoon to drop off a big group of very drunk people, some of whom, as one local told us, “don't know how to behave”.
Trust me though, I'm not complaining. We still had an incredible time. It was just up to us to make our stay in Hvar our own, and we went about it in a slightly different way than those folks. On our hosts' recommendation, we spent most afternoons at the beach on daybeds (when we could get them, they were often reserved!) at the further away and less crowded Falko Bar beach. All the daybeds on all the beaches were technically owned by the individual bars nearest to them, but happily you didn’t have to buy anything to use them.
One day, we rented a car, and I drove (eek!!) on the narrowest mountain road with extremely few road barriers (double eek), through narrow tunnels that looked to be simply chiseled from underneath the mountain, along gorgeous cliffs with amazing vistas, all around Hvar island. On a whim I pulled into a driveway off the narrow old road, and found an abandoned old house with colourful beehives alongside. When we were wandering around, we heard a bell ringing and decided to follow it (all the while wondering if we should be creeped out or not..). Eventually we turned a corner, and a donkey came over the hill towards us!!! He was the friendliest. It was such a good omen for the rest of our trip. That day we also bought 1.5L of red wine from a roadside stand for about $5, where the winemaker recommended a beach (Ivan Dolac) to us that was just beautiful. We sang and toured and found fresh figs and abandoned houses. It was a great day.
A couple days later, we rented a boat! A tiny little one, which I kept messing up the steering on in our initial (very casual) tutorial (nobody was overly concerned we'd never driven a boat before). Adrienne mastered it though, and we were off to explore the islands! It didn't go very fast, but we were fine to putter around, letting the ginormous yachts pass us. Another good omen – on our way out of Hvar harbour, we passed a little Island with – you guessed it – a donkey on it! Donkeys are the mascot of our trip, we have decided. After touring around a bit, we pulled into a little secluded inlet and went swimming around the boat in the blue blue water. We eventually took off again, with me driving this time (yep, managed to master it!!!) until I felt a bit seasick.. After I sun burned my back and ended up throwing up overboard (whoops!!!), I felt better and we had lunch and dropped anchor at a beautiful little beach (Robinson Beach) where we spent the rest of the afternoon reading and swimming. It was magical. Those two experiences were enough to make me feel like I experienced more of Hvar than just the harbour and nightclubs – though we definitely experienced those too! It was really fun to walk down by the main strip and ogle all the enormous yachts parked right up alongside.
Hvar was a mix of adventure and relaxing beach days. We ate some amazing restaurant food but also packed a picnic lunch of snacks most days, since the produce from the daily farmers market in Hvar was amazing. Unfortunately, we both ended up with head colds, which we are still fighting as I write this, a couple days later in Split. They're almost gone though, hopefully with one more good sleep we'll have kicked them!

We loved our time in Hvar. We loved walking around the city and soaking it all up.

  • Restaurant Marinero: this is located right around the corner from Kiva Bar, which is a really fun bar (pretty crowded) for dancing – they play great music – and right downstairs from a hostel. But the food is amazing (we went back a second time) and very reasonably priced.
  • Restaurant Luna: literally almost right beside our place, the food here was delicious and the service was excellent.
  • Falko Bar: great vibe, really relaxed. There were always dogs around, and good music. We never tried the food, but it looked great.
What to Pack to Backpack Through Europe >> Life In Limbo

What to Pack to Backpack Through Europe

The Trip: I’m backpacking through Europe for 3 months, spanning the summer and early fall. I’m travelling with a carry-on bag only, and you can read more about why I came to that decision (and find a link to the bag if you’re interested) here. My travels are mainly focused on the more balmy mediterranean countries, but I’ll still be there as it starts to get chilly, so I’ve packed enough layers to see me through different temperatures.

Great Resources: My list of what to pack when backpacking through Europe is inspired by a lot of wonderful lists I found online. OneBag is the mother of all packing lists, with great recommendations and detailed explanations for each item – definitely start there. While I didn’t pack everything he has on his list, Rick Steves knows what he’s talking about when it comes to packing for Europe. I really liked Peanut Butter Fingers’ post for inspiration about what clothes to pack – she’s more my age than some of the other blogs, so it’s a bit more of an accessible post. Her Packing List has a huge resource page for a plethora of different packing lists for all over the world in all seasons. Finally, Never Ending Voyage has a great packing list for carry-on travel.

The List:


Clothes 1

  1. Three cardigans (two long-sleeved, one 3/4-sleeves)
  2. Two plain t-shirts (one navy blue, one black)
  3. Three shirts (all short sleeves)
  4. Five tank tops + 1 sleep shirt (not pictured)
  5. Bras, underwear, socks, black tights
  6. One long sleeved striped shirt (not pictured)

*Two Eagle Creek packing cubes

Clothes 2

  1. Two skirts
  2. Black leggings
  3. Five dresses (one not pictured)
  4. Two pairs of pants (one pair of jeans, one pair of khakis) and a belt

Clothes 3

  1. Knee-length running shorts
  2. Long-sleeved running top
  3. Bikini top
  4. One-piece swimsuit
  5. Two bikini bottoms

Clothes 4

  1. Jacket: light weight and water-resistant
  2. Sunglasses
  3. Purse with shoulder strap


  1. Toms
  2. New Balance Minimus running shoes
  3. Crocs flats: these are completely washable and quick-drying, so I’m planning to use them as shower shoes, water shoes, or flats

*The reason some things aren’t pictured is because I added them at the last minute, post photoshoot!



Top Row: Headband, bandaids, Advil, earplugs, hair elastics, floss, razor blade, matches, soap flakes

Second Row: L.L. Bean Toiletries Case, headlamp, whistle, USB drive, eye mask, Light My Fire spork, comb, toothbrush, Diva Cup, padlock

Third Row: Dr. Bronner’s Lavender All-Purpose Soap, 2 bottles Clear Care contact solution, sunscreen, Polysporin, toothpaste, Tide-to-Go pen, conditioner, Lafe’s deodorant, contact lens case, Q-tips, razor.

*Not pictured, because I forgot: concealer, blush, and mascara


Technology - Packing

  1. Chargers for my camera, iPad and phone
  2. Earphones
  3. MicroSD to iPad connector (to upload photos)
  4. European adaptor
  5. Camera remote
  6. ONA Roma Bag: a camera bag insert that fits into my purse and protects my camera
  7. iPad Mini (a graduation gift from my Dad)
  8. Unlocked iPhone 4
  9. Not pictured (because I was using it!): Nikon D90 + 35mm f.18 lens


Extras - Packing

  1. Waterproof bag: for carrying phone, keys, wallet while swimming if I’m at the beach on the solo part of my trip
  2. Sea to Summit Silk sleep sack: lightweight travel sheets (doubles as a blanket on trains)
  3. Travel towel
  4. Passport
  5. Travel wallet and change purse
  6. Moneybelt
  7. Pens, washi tape (for anchoring memorabilia into my notebook), and a notebook.
  8. A small beach towel (not pictured)


I am going to be wearing one pair of shoes and packing the third. I’m also going to be wearing my jacket when travelling between cities (or at least carrying it) but if it’s too hot, it fits, folded into the front pocket of the bag. My shirts + running clothes all roll up nicely and fit into my large packing cube. All my other clothes get rolled up and packed in the bottom of the suitcase along with my travel towel and sleep sack. In my purse I’ll carry my camera and other electronics, unless their are flight restrictions in which case I’ll pack everything inside the bag.

DSC_0142It closes like a charm! For most airlines, you’re permitted a carry-on plus a purse or camera bag. I’ve heard that some European budget airlines (Ryanair/Easyjet) are strict about allowing only one piece of luggage. In the event of that happening, I will still have enough space in my bag to pack my purse inside. The water bottle is a Vapur bottle I can also stow away if I have to.


And there you have it: my home for the next three months! I love how compact it is, and how everything has its proper place inside.

For this trip, I’ve omitted a few things that most long-term travel blogs recommend: a rubber doorstop (I’m staying in multi-person dorms, so it wouldn’t make sense), a travel clothesline, a well-stocked first aid kit, etc.

What are your travel necessities? What have you packed and then later decided was unnecessary? Have you travelled with only carry-on luggage before? Any tips about how to make my trip go more smoothly?

Let me know in the comments below!

Scroll to Top