Lady and backpacking are two words that don’t mix—it’s like Grace Kelly and sweats (Eeek!). That was my first thought when my sister suggested backpacking around Europe. I’m not the backpacking type, so the idea of visiting a continent known for its taste for all things…tasteful—donning a backpack and sweats—was not my idea of travel. So I decided to tour Europe, like a lady! If you’re planning to backpack in style, here are a few tips to help you get started.
Leave the backpack at home. Yes, that’s right! My first pre-trip investment was a sleek, burgundy, ultra-light suitcase on 360° wheels. It was far more aesthetically appealing than a backpack, helped me avoid the mule-on-the-town look, and best of all, my clothes stayed wrinkle-free—win-win all around!
Bring lots of scarves! Nothing elevates your look from plane Jane to Jane Fonda like a bright scarf! Lightweight scarves take up minimal space—so you can pack several—and can be mixed and matched for a variety of voyager-a-la-mode looks. And since bringing an iron is not an option (even for me!), wrapping your scarves in tissue paper absorbs the moisture and keeps them looking fresh and breezy throughout your journey.
Plan your looks before you go. What places will you be visiting? The opera? Maybe a museum? Now picture yourself—and what you’ll be wearing, in each of those places. If you know you’ll be popping in and out of cathedrals, plan to bring attire that doesn’t scream ‘North American tourist’—I’ve seen enough short shorts and sweats in cathedrals to raise Michelangelo from the dead.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want anyone thinking I toured Europe on stilettos. While I spent a fair share of time sporting Lulus, I did my best to adjust my style to the places I visited by wearing attire that conveyed an air of respect for both the artist, and their contribution—whatever it happened to be. I’d like to think Mr. Gaudi, grinned from above, as I marvelled at his architectural genius.
So next time you travel to Europe—don’t leave your style behind! Bring it along, and flaunt it with colorful scarves, a pre-planned wardrobe and a chic suitcase! And remember, once a Ladey, always a Ladey!
Below are a few looks from my European backpacking adventure.