I’m going to the Czech Republic for 12 days and my goal is to pack everything I’ll need in my carry-on backpack. Can I do it
Wow, that’s certainly a tall order! But yes, I think you can do it—you’ll just have to plan carefully and make a few sacrifices here and there.
My first piece of advice would be to lay out everything you think you’ll need and then edit from there. Seriously, don’t hold back at first—if you can’t decide between those two pairs of black pants, put them both in the pile for now. Once you’ve got everything in one place, then start to edit from there. Is that blue t-shirt too similar to that blue t-shirt? Cut it. Be ruthless!
Try and bring pieces that will multi-task—a pair of flats that are comfy enough to walk around in all day, but can be dressed up with a skirt at night for dinner, for instance, or a warm hoodie that can be slipped on top of anything in the event that it gets chilly. If you need to bring bulkier pieces (sneakers, maybe?), wear them on the plane instead of putting them in your backpack.
Aside from underwear, you shouldn’t really need 12 of anything for a 12-day trip: with a little planning, you should be able to mix and match quite a few outfits from not too many clothes (seriously, try stuff on at home first—a little fashion show never hurt anyone, and you’ll see what goes with what.) Choose mostly neutral shades so that things aren’t going to clash, and never underestimate the power of a good pair of earrings in a wacky shade to pep things up if need be!
To make the actual packing part easier, this is what I do: once you’ve edited your clothes down to a reasonable amount, divide them into piles depending on type (tank tops, skirts, shorts, etc.) Put each pile in a separate plastic bag (the kind you get from the grocery store) and label it with a post-it. You’ll not only find it easier to just stack the bags on top of each other in your backpack, but when you’re getting dressed in the morning on your trip, you’ll find it much easier to locate what you’re looking for. Also, seeing all your available t-shirts at once will make it simpler to decide what to pair them with.
Finally, a few must-have items: I always bring a pashmina (works as a great multitasker: use it as a scarf, a pillow, a blanket, a coverup, etc), a good pair of flipflops for padding around hotel rooms (or walking on the street if it’s warm enough), and a comfy pair of sweatpants for just lounging around. Also remember sunscreen, sunglasses, all the wires and cables for your computer/camera/phone (I put these in a big Ziploc baggie so I have easy access to them), and a book. Yep, that’s right, just one book—make like a traveler and trade it for another one when you’re done so you don’t have to pack a whole stack!
Hope that helps. Bon voyage!