Project 333: Holiday Edition

Published Categorized as Style, Travel

When I tell people that I’m planning to travel around Europe for several months with a smallish backpack that I’m hoping to keep under ten kilos, they usually laugh. Then once they realise that I’m serious, look at me pityingly. It’s made me wonder if it actually is possible for me, especially going through countries with a range of different climates and activities. It’s still several months before we go anywhere, but I thought I’d put together a little list to keep everyone’s minds at ease (including mine). When I did Project 333 for the first time earlier this year I thought that I could probably fit everything into a carry-on sized suitcase – so what better mentality to take towards a several month trip?

A recap of the rules in case you’re not familiar:

  • 33 items for 3 months, including shoes, jewellery and accessories.
  • Not including: jewellery that’s pretty much permanently attached to you (like wedding rings or a watch); pajamas and home/loungewear; sportswear.

This is going to have to take me through the first 3 month leg of our Europe trip (and hopefully beyond), which will be along southern Europe from late winter to late spring.


  1. Super comfy walking/hiking shoes – for hiking or when your feet hurt too much to care about fashion or looking like a tourist.
  2. Everyday shoes – comfy enough walk around in all day in the city
  3. Pretty shoes – still comfortable, but also pretty enough to go to a nice restaurant or bar in.
  4. Thongs – for dodgy hostel showers, walking around dodgy hostels, and when the weather gets nice and warm.


  1. Jeans – apparently a no-no for travel for various reasons, but I haven’t yet regretted taking my jeans on any holiday as I usually live in them. I like jeggings stretchy jeans that still have a zipper and pockets and are not tights-as-pants thankyouverymuch; they’re more lightweight than standard denim, dry faster, can be rolled up in hot weather or layered over tights for extra warmth in cold weather.
  2. Pants which are not jeans – and also not the zip-off shorts-pants, because those are never pretty.
  3. Long or mid-length skirt – comfortable in warm weather, but also covers your knees – good for visiting religious sites or places where you just don’t want to show too much skin. Can be dressed up or down.
  4. Shorts – for the warmer weather.


  1. 9 – 11.  3x short sleeved tees/tanks – regular everyday tops.
  2. 12 – 13. 2x casual long sleeved tees – for layering when it’s cold, or just on their own.
  3. 14. Pretty top – something that teams up with jeans/pants/skirt/shorts/pretty shoes in a way that makes you feel pretty and looks acceptable in a nice bar.


  1. Summery dress – for really warm weather.
  2. 16 – 17. 2x casual dresses – the kind that are cool enough to wear in warm weather, but can be worn with layers in cool weather.
  3. Nice dress – for special occasions where the pretty top combo doesn’t cut it.

Warmer layers:

  1. 19 – 20. 2x light sweaters – for layering.
  1. Wool cardigan – for colder weather
  2. Fleece zipup – for weather so cold that you don’t care what you look like, or layering under…
  3. Light, shower-resistant jacket – I’m hoping to get a stylish trench to cover this one. Wear with the fleece layer for super cold weather, or without when it’s not.


  1. Warm scarf – for cold weather.
  2. Light scarf – a proper pashmina if you can afford one (I can’t) otherwise a light and colourful scarf that can double as a blanket, head/shoulder covering, bag, rope, emergency towel etc.
  3. Earrings – I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t going to buy another pair at some point throughout the trip, but I’ll be starting it at least with just my trusty pearl studs.
  4. Necklace – apparently a statement necklace is a travel essential, but I like my long beaded necklace that goes with everything.
  5. Belt – one that goes with everything.
  6. Hat – will probably start out with a beanie, for the cold weather.
  7. Sunglasses – hoping I don’t lose them!


  1. Everyday bag – since my everyday bag has to carry a few kilos of camera gear, I have to go a bit utilitarian – must be comfortable to carry around all day, easy to protect from pickpockets without looking like a dork, and hold a camera safely.
  2. Nice bag – still has to carry my camera gear, but nice enough to not look completely out of place in say, a theater or nice restaurant.
  3. Clutch – for the rare occasions that I feel safer leaving my camera in the hotel/hostel room (my travel document wallet doubles as a clutch, otherwise I wouldn’t bother).

Add in some underwear, socks, PJ’s, tights for layering in cold weather (hosiery doesn’t count right?) and some quick-dry sports clothes and swimwear and I think I’ll be good for the first 3 months of the trip. This works pretty well for me as a blueprint for most travel – swapping out bits and pieces for more consistent or extreme weather – and I know from experience that it all fits fine into a carry-on sized luggage and weighs less than 10kg. Sure I’ll have to do a lot of washing but for the style of travelling we’ll be doing a backpack is ideal, and I can’t physically carry a huge weight in addition to my camera. I’m not quite at Zenhabits ultra-light packing but hey, I think for a girl who has some interest in fashion I’m not doing too bad.

I don’t think I’ll be sticking to this too strictly as Europe does present some excellent shopping opportunities, but as a starting point 33 items works very well with backpacking travel!

Do think I’m missing any travel fashion essentials here?


  1. How exciting! The longest we’ve done so far is 6 weeks in USA with carry-on luggage. Travelling is so much easier with less! I too have never regretted taking my jeans with me as they wear so well and then we go to a laundromat and I tumble dry them.

  2. As someone who used to seriously over-pack, that is too much stuff! I just did my one-month trip to the USA with one pair of trousers, one dress, one skirt (barely used – it was cold), one cardigan, one blazer, one scarf, one pair of loafers, a pair of thongs and a few t-shirts. I’m sure you’ll see more items along the way that you want to buy (as souvenirs of the places you visit – a gorgeous vintage dress from a Parisian flea market, some cool indie designer in East London, etc).

    When I did my “big trip” (and lived in London about half of that time) I really regretted taking way too many clothes (and buying way too many crappy H&M and Topshop rags).

    I think jeans are fine – there was that research that washing jeans once a week was no cleaner than not washing them for six months. Lightweight wool is also great for travelling as you can layer it and it doesn’t need much washing.

    Hope that helps. I don’t think you ever regret not taking clothes with you but you will regret having items that you don’t wear (especially when you’re carrying your pack up three flights of stairs in your hostel having walked 3km from the train station).

  3. Yep, I totally agree! I think I’ll probably start out with less than what I have up here, to allow for potentially buying things here and there. I do want to avoid having to buy things whilst travelling as we’re on a very tight budget, but on the other hand I don’t want to have to not buy something I really want because it won’t fit in my bag!

    I have regretted not taking enough clothes with me on a trip to Hong Kong/China/Vietnam – I expected to buy heaps and packed accordingly, but I ended up not liking or fitting into a lot of the clothes over there and had to buy things I didn’t like and already have at home just to have something to wear! I’m hoping to strike a balance between the the two.

  4. Can you link to the bags you’re taking? I’m going on a three-month honeymoon to Spain and will be carrying lots of camera gear and am having a hard time finding something that isn’t a backpack! Thanks :)

  5. Valerie – I took the Lowepro Passport Sling ( It’s a large bag but the removable padded area is only really big enough for one DSLR with lens attached (I also managed to squeeze my nifty 50mm f1.8 in there too). Camera bag inserts bought separately would probably fit in there if you had more gear with you. It’s not as comfortable for long periods of time as a backpack, but it’s far less obviously touristy and easy to swing to your front in crowds (which is probably a good idea in Spain). It’s much more comfy than a messenger bag though! And being fairly neutral in design, my husband didn’t mind carrying it for me sometimes :)

    Later on I bought a Longchamp Le Pliage, which just fits the padded insert from the Lowepro bag for going out somewhere a bit nicer. Being a handbag it obviously isn’t as comfortable, but it’s fine for going out to dinner etc. and it is tough enough to carry the weight. It also folds up nicely into my luggage when moving place to place.

    I’ll be writing a review on these bags eventually, but I hope that helps!

  6. Hoping you can help me! I have never travelled before and my brother is getting married in France in July and I am going with my 7 year old daughter for 7-10 days. Any suggestions on what to pack? And how much? Am aiming to take only carry on! Thank you, love your blog :)

    1. Hey Ainsley! A wedding in France, that sounds amazing :) I’ve never been in Europe in summer, but it looks like it should be fairly nice and temperate. What to pack really depends on what kind of activities you’ll be doing, how you like to dress and how you like to travel. 7-10 days is in that in-between space where it’s a bit too long to fit clothes for the whole trip in carry-on luggage, but it’s too short to want to waste time trying to find a laundromat. Personally my solution would be to bring enough for several days and wash clothes in the shower at the end of the first few days, but I know that’s not for everyone.

      Here’s what I’d bring:

      – sensible walking shoes
      – pretty (but still relatively sensible) shoes, like nice flat shoes or low wedge heels
      – a nice dress to wear to the wedding
      – casual dress
      – nice skirt
      – jeans/pants
      – shorts
      – nice top
      – a couple of casual tops
      – light cardigan
      – light jacket/blazer
      – warm jumper (for the plane, and unexpectedly chilly nights)
      – comfy t-shirt and leggings to wear on the plane
      – scarf
      – a couple pieces of statement jewellery
      – very basic makeup
      – bold lipstick

      The key is to bring things that go with multiple other items, to bridge different situations. If all of the above items go with most of the rest of the list, then there’s combinations that will work for situations from a light hike through the countryside, to a nice dinner out with the relatives, to a shopping day in the city, to a wedding. It’s worth trying on the combinations to see what works, and trying different things like layering skirts over dresses. If you’re used to packing a full sized suitcase then it might not sound like enough, but as long as you wash things as you go there’s enough combinations of items to go the whole trip without repeating a whole outfit.

      Good luck!

  7. Your list is wonderful. My only advice is that I would invest in a cashmere scarf for cold weather. Then I would look for for an inexpensive but big patterned rayon pareo that could also be used as skirt or dress, as a beach coverup, robe, scarf, beach towel, head cover.

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