The High Maintenance Woman’s Guide to Backpacking in Europe.

For me, whilst a glamorous tiled villa along the coasts of Malta is certainly an appealing getaway, a week by the pool no longer excites me as much as it once had.. If I’m travelling.. I actually want to travel..

Nowadays, a week lounging around a mini summer palace has nothing on a self-constructed tour living out of nothing but a rucksack. However, for those like me whose morning makeup routine is structured more precisely than Kim K’s contour, the thought of compromising on this for a holiday was daunting to say the least.

As I put the finishing touches to my backpacking holiday this summer with my dad, I thought I’d share my tips on upholding the high maintenance lifestyle from nothing but a backpack.

1 – A plane is a plane.. Don’t turn your nose up at a bargain:
I’m not going to lie.. Ryan Air certainly isn’t the most glamorous airline and their inflight food options don’t really make up for it either. However, their cheap flights and generous hand luggage allowances are hugely appealing… Especially when needing to accommodate a makeup bag that could easily accommodate a small child…with wiggle room!

If you can look past the stigma surrounding Ryan Air, it’s a great choice for those that need that extra bit of space whilst dodging the checked luggage fees that airlines love to victimise us with. Furthermore, the money you save can go towards upgrading your room! Who needs a queen size bed? WE DO! WE DO!

2 – Your holiday selfies will still look great with or without that fourth layer of foundation. Give your skin a break:
Honestly though, even a refined version of my makeup bag would still take up more space than I can afford to spare and there’s a ‘C’ word that your going to have to get used to. No not ‘Cry’, but ‘Compromise’. It really does come down to taking only the essentials, and no, your eyeshadow palette the size of a dinner plate is NOT an essential.

My essentials kit came down to:
– My light tinted moisturiser.
– My mini eyebrow powder and wax set which doubled as an eyeshadow in the evenings too.
– Any lip balm with a hint of colour.
– My mascara.

The brushes I chose to take I stored in a spare sunglasses bag, rather than in their wallet. This keeps them from being lost/damaged in your rucksack and protects your clothing from marks too.

If possible, I’d advise you to just leave it all at at your dressing table at home. If posing in front of the Eiffel Tower, I really doubt people will care that your eyebrows aren’t as sharp as usual.

When it comes to hair, leave the hairdryer and straighteners at home. They take up valuable space and hotels will often provide a hairdryer upon request. Bring a stash of hair bobbles and put up or shut up.. Literally.

3 – Travelling light is essential, but ‘travel size’ products are a con.. Don’t fall for it:
Most shops will sell empty miniature bottles for a pound or two, which you can then fill with your usual shampoos and conditioners. Also, no matter how adorable that mini travel toothpaste is, these products can be bought when you get there and disposed of before you fly back, same with deodorants and hairbrushes etc. With all the extra space, maybe the hair straighteners can come too!

Also, try pick a travel buddy that travels light. I cannot tell you how much space in my dads bag I ended up stealing. P.s don’t forget your travel plug!

4 – Crop tops and tank tops are your best friend:
If travelling in the hotter months/countries, these tops are ideal. The thin fabrics and their compactness made it easy for me to take 10 of my favourite tops. If prone to sunburn, these can be layered with a sheer blouse as this will also take up very little space too.

Don’t be scared to show your belly button. No matter what Cosmopolitan may suggest, crop tops are NOT limited to slim/petite figures. You wear whatever the hell you want buddy. However, if that’s something your really don’t feel comfortable with yet, tank tops with low-cut arm holes are just as convenient. Team it with a patterned bralet and this combo is just as light and airy, and upholds a summery style that cannot be compromised upon.

Also, remember to bring some clear but tanned tights. Not only does this buy you an extra day or two in shorts without needing to shave again, it’s gives off the illusion of a tan, which for me and my ginger hair, is bloody impossible.

5 – You TOTE-ally need a day bag:
When back-packing, you tend to be hotel-hopping almost every night, meaning most of your belongings rarely leave your rucksack. Bringing an extra bag saves the relays of unpacking and repacking.

A light cotton tote bag with a zip incorporates security and practicality into one and gives you extra space for souvenirs etc. It also saves you from getting the nasty chaffing on your shoulders from lugging around a heavy rucksack all day. Primark often have a really pretty range of totes, and for £1.50, you really can’t argue. These usually look much nicer than any cheap rucksack and allow you to bring your makeup and other essentials with you in case you get stranded in the wrong area on your first night like we did!

Whilst taking an army of huge suitcases is always an option, the excitement and spontaneity attached to back-packing is liberating to your inner explorer. If you can suppress your high maintenance side for a week or two, I promise you’ll have some of the greatest experiences of your life.

– Rebecca.


3 thoughts on “The High Maintenance Woman’s Guide to Backpacking in Europe.

  1. You are a natural writer. It is so easy to read and funny too. I look forward to reading more from you.
    You are destined for great things!


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