In Our Bags for Spain and Portugal with Everlane

In Our Bags: Spain and Portugal | The Fresh Exchange

Everytime you travel, you learn new things and new tricks to make it more enjoyable and easier. Over our many many flights we have taken in the last 5 years, I feel like I have finally mastered the art of packing. I know how to mix and match outfits and to not be afraid of the I-wore-that-yesterday concept. This doesn’t mean Mike and I have sacrificed style in the mean time. I think our style has maintained, if not gotten way better, because we have learned to pair down to what matters, is the most useful, and looks the best while achieving the key elements of survival.

In the past we have shared what we have packed (you can see the posts in our travel section), but we have never gone in depth with it. So, this time we took a new challenge and partnered up with Everlane to share how we are packing for a 20 day trip in the 4 bags above. That’s right, no roller bags and only a medium size weekender and a backpack each. Our goal is by no means to leave with full bags, but instead leave as much room as possible in them for discoveries along the way. So, below we are going to give you the low-down on what we are packing as far as clothes. I will also give a short list of the essential items we pack outside of our wears that we feel need to be noted as well.

Here are our basic packing rules:

1. It must serve a multi-purpose: This means your shirt needs to prove it can do more than one trick in order to go on this adventure.

2. You never need more than 2 pairs of shoes (okay maybe 3): I traveled through Paris and Italy with 2 pairs of shoes. You are not out to make a fashion statement so why bring so many? Bring your tried and true favorites that will last and not kill your feet. Travel is not the time to try a new shoe style. I have learned the hard way.

3. Choose a Palette: Every piece of your clothing needs to coordinate together. This is part of the multi-use concept. You don’t want to waste space on one item that only goes with one other item. Makes no sense. Bring 20 coordinating pieces and you have endless wardrobe options.

4. Pre-choose your Airport Outfit: I always wear the bulkier items onto the plane. This will most likely be my outfit there and back. This opens room in your bag, but still gets some of those items on the plane with you such as your coat and boots. Don’t waste space in your bag on these items.

5. Bring multiples of things closest to your body: Do I need to explain this one?

6. Before your trip find a laundromat or book a place with laundry facilities at least half way through your trip: This is the key to minimal packing. We have at least 2 places with laundry facilities. If you use airbnb this is super easy to coordinate either within the space or with your host.  Most hostels have this option as well.

7. Check the weather and think through where you are going: For us this time we realized it was going to be a little chilly each day so we packed one or two extra warm pieces and left a few warm weather pieces in the closet. We also realize we are going to Europe so accessing an H&M or Zara is not a far stretch, but going somewhere more remote we would need to be more on top of it.

8. Leave room: Don’t feel you need to pack to the brim. Not only will it make your travel easier, but it also leaves you room to purchase some treasures along the way.

In Our Bags: Spain and Portugal | The Fresh Exchange

First up is my bag. This is not my first time rolling with my Everlane weekender. I have taken it quite a few places and have learned that this bag is sneaky as it can hold far more than it appears to be able to. That’s the best kind of sneaky I can think of. I still tried to keep my clothes as paired down as possible. Here is what I packed:

3 White t-shirts
2 Black/Gray tees
2 Long Sleeve Tees
1 Sweatshirt
1 Sweater
4 Tanks
2 Dresses (1 short and 1 long)
1 Romper (only cause of the weather and lifestyle there)
1 pair of boots (even in warm weather boots are a good choice)
1 iPad case (love this one from Everlane)
1 coin purse —the change needs a place doesn’t it?
2 pairs of shorts
3 Button Downs (1 Linen Chambray, 1 Olive Work shirt, and 1 White)
2 pairs of jeans
1 pair of slouchy pants (great for sleep as well as day wear)
1 scarf (this can work for you in so many ways other than as an accessory…aka your pillow while you travel instead of one of these)
1 bathing suit
10 pairs of underwear
4 bras (1 white, 1 black, 1 tshirt style for the plane, and 1 sports bra for hiking)
2 pairs of sandals (1 easy to wear, and 1 toss out for hostel showers if you need it)
8 pairs of socks (high and low ones)
1 Waxed Cotton Jacket (loving my new one from Bridge and Burn)

Other items I always make sure are in my bag that aren’t clothes:
– Lots of snacks (these get me through the bad food on planes)
– lip gloss
– lotion
– melatonin (to help to sleep on the plane and with jet-lag)
Dr Bronner’s (this is my face wash, shampoo, and body wash when we travel)
Face wipes when you just want to be refreshed (especially flying long flights!)
– a minimal make up bag of:
– bronzer
– concealer
– eyeliner
– mascara
– eye shadow

In Our Bags: Spain and Portugal | The Fresh Exchange

Here is what Mike will be taking with him in his weekender. He is even more minimal than me…surprised? Probably not.

1 pair of flip flops (for the hostel showers and warmer days)
1 hat (his favorite, Not So Tall Trucker Hat, seriously it’s $10 right now)
1 pair of hiking and street shoes
1 pair of chukka boots
2 pairs of jeans (He loves Uniqlo jeans for the stretch and comfort when traveling)
4 Button ups (2 shades of Chambray, Everlane Blue Oxford, and a White Oxford)
1 Hooded Sweater
1 Black Seed Stitch Everlane Sweater
1 pair of running/swim/sleeping shorts
1 pair of shorts
3 Tees (1 black, 1 stone, 1 heather gray)
1 long sleeve henley
3 White tees (1 everlane white)
1 Penfield Waxed Cotton jacket (purchased used on ebay for $45, jackpot)
6 pairs of socks
8 pairs of underwear

Things Mike packs other than clothes:
– A travel toothbrush/toothpaste
– hand sanitizer
– lots of snacks

In Our Bags: Spain and Portugal | The Fresh Exchange

This trip has been way easier to pack for. I already have plans to purchase a pair of Camper shoes while we are in Spain as I debated it last time we were in Europe.  I feel it is time, especially since they are made in Spain. These I hope will become my go to hiking and travel shoes in the years to come. I left room for things like that and other items in my bag for our trip so I could bring them back.

The biggest thing I have learned while packing for long trips is that no matter the weather you should count on nothing. Always bring at least 1 sweater and a bathing suit even if you have no clue why you would need it. You will need it, believe me. I have traveled from cold to hot and hot to cold and I always find that having the basic items will get you by very well.

I would love to hear any of your packing thoughts and experiences. What have you found to be a good or bad thing? Any thing you want us to expand upon? Ask away!

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  1. This is by far the best post ever. I love it! I always use space bags to shrink my clothing. I’ve been on week long trips with just a northface back pack. It’s so convenient. Hope you guys have a great time + safe travels:) Can’t wait to hear about them!

  2. This is such a great post, love having these guidelines. I was wondering though, where are your boots from? I absolutely love them!
    Just recently found your blog and adore it!
    Thanks for making quality content.

  3. i just got back from a 2 wk trip to tokyo and manila and my bag looked very similar! i had one nude pair of flats and my madewell black moto boots and that was it! when you have a neutral color palette you can accessorize with a pop of color that is lightweight like a scarf! it’s so much more about the ease of travel and the experience than lugging around your entire closet! 🙂

  4. i love this post! i’ve never thought of bringing melatonin, but that’s brilliant. i spent 2 weeks in europe last year with only a backpack about the size of yours. it was SO liberating to travel with just the bare minimum. even though you have laundry access lined up (so smart!) i have to recommend the individual packets of woolite and a flat rubber sink stopper for anyone who might try to do travel in hostels or without access to a washing machine. they’ve become travel essentials for me now!

  5. Ohh the shoes! After I came back from Europe last year I realized that my shoe wardrobe was seriously lacking in versatility. I noticed that European women simply had better shoes. I’ve been working on pairing them down and upgrading with better quality. I love to bring my Hunter rain boots when I travel because they are sleek and can be worn with dresses/skirts if the weather is really terrible.

    1. I fully believer it is possible to live out of carry-ons no matter how long you may be gone. We did 8 weeks that way and it worked out great. transitioned seasons in that time as well. You did get bored with your clothes but your travels are the focus not what you are wearing 🙂

  6. Make sure you bring a warm jacket – it’s been hailing, raining, windy, and incredibly bitter in northern Spain, this weekend it’s meant to be freezing!

  7. These are great tips! It is always liberating to have less stuff to worry about lugging around when traveling. Another tip is that I always roll up my clothes when packing – it leaves me more room and keeps things less wrinkly!

  8. I find that mentally putting outfits together while I pack helps me ensure that I have enough to get me through the trip and that everything is serving a purpose. also, rolling my clothes rather than folding — super space saver.

    my roommate is super into camping and backpacking and recently picked up a scrubba bag so she can wash her clothes on the go. all you need is water and a bit of soap (I’m sure dr bronners could pull quadruple duty for this), it’s super easy and lightweight and makes for one less thing you have to plan your travels around.

    phew, that was a long one.

  9. Really great post. What I find very handy is to put smaller items of clothing (or even all you stuff) into separate bags. I use laundry bags (they breathe). Makes for an organized bag + easier to locate things + these laundry bags come in handy when whasing delicate items together with other clothes. I also always bring a mini first aid kit. Just the basics that fit into a small pouch. Have proven to be very useful: small pair of scissors, tweezers, safety pins. Have fun guys!!

  10. I travel a lot to remote places for work and my best advice is to always bring baby wipes: if there’s no water to wash yourself, if there’s no toilet paper… There’s never been a trip I didn’t use them. Also: small cotton bags to organize your things in your bag to keep dirty laundry from your clean stuff.

  11. This is great! I’m venturing off to Scandinavia for 3+ weeks so this is super helpful! I already started a list on my phone of what I’ll need, and that has already taken away a lot of stress. I’ll definitely implement some of the tips found here!


  12. I love your posts, aesthetic and style! I enjoy these posts about travel soo much, Im an American living in Germany and I have three kids, im always trying to figure out how to pack for our adventures! I have definitely figured out less is more, especially when wanting to bring back items from travels. Have fun, spain is lovely!

  13. I am seriously considering that everlane weekender. Now that you’ve used it a little bit can you speak to how it’s been? Mostly I’m wondering if it got really heavy once fully packed AND how it’s been to carry from place to place? I would love your thoughts!

    1. I think the backpack is obviously ideal when jumping from place to place as much as we have, but when it comes to the number of stairs, escalators, train stations, and hills to climb a roller bag is the LEAST convenient thing to have. I have liked that it has kept me smart about what I purchase and it has been so easy to move around with in each place. It packs fast and at the most gets to be about 25 pounds. It also fits PERFECT in the overheads on the cheap flights in Europe and we have never been stopped for measuring or questioning about whether we should have to pay to check or not, which is how many of the airlines snag more money from you. If I was moving around this much again I would probably do a pack, but if I was just going 1-4 places this bag has been perfect! I will say for quick work trips in the past it has been the best thing ever.

  14. Hi,
    I’m planning for a summer full of travelling so your blog has been pretty inspiring ! I’ve been looking for a camera bag for a while but most of them come off as too pricey, and your everlane backpacks seem to be a nice option. Do you keep your cameras in them ? Are they pratical (can the camera be quickly taken out, do you have enough space for other stuff too ?) Thank you so much for your help 🙂 Enjoy the rest of your trip !

    1. We haven’t found a backpack that is perfect and doesn’t kill the bank account…I know a lot of people talk about ONA bags and Kelly Moore for Cameras. We like the Everlane bag, but we have our mark III in a case inside the bag. We also only brought one lenses for each camera. We always travel with either a 50mm or a 35mm. We chose the 50mm this time because the lens on the Fuji was closer to a 35mm. It is by no means fast to pull the camera out but we keep them looped over us so they are not easy to take. Also it depends on where you are traveling as well and how hidden your camera needs to be.

  15. Thank you so much for all your advice ! It’s been really helpful 🙂
    I come from the French Basque Country so it’s fun to think you weren’t so far away 🙂
    Thanks again !

  16. Thanks for the post Megan! I love your philosophy to travel and how you pack. I’m going to Cape Town in a couple of weeks and I’m trying to wrap up packing now. I was wondering, where is the scarf from? I’m looking for a versatile one that can go with all that I’ve packed and that one is perfect! I recently found your blog and I’ve been looking through all of y’alls trips. Such great and beautiful adventures y’all go on!

  17. Love the post! I actually went ahead and got the Not-Too-Tall Trucker hat and love it!! I was wondering…is his Penfield jacket the “Gibson” do you know? Thx!!

  18. i absolutely adore your posts! Great insight FOr traveling, fashion, and more!
    Megan, where did you get you booties from this post? Love thEm! Im actually headed to Spain for about three weeks Next week and this Helps a ton! Thanks!

  19. Very well written post, thanks for sharing all these tips! I hope will get into a student exchange program and will have to travel to Europe, so this goes straight to bookmarks! 😉

  20. Amazing tips! When I travel I usually take with me a bottle of wine. It is really good tip to put it between 2 shoes. One end in the first shoe , the other in the second.This way the bottle is safe. Greets!

  21. Hi! This was super helpful. I was also wondering.. I will be going to Czech, Croatia and Spain in May 2016. is there anything else that i should take besides the things you have mentioned? i suppose a raincoat would be useful. and also, i was thinking of taking a backpack rather than several bags cuz a lot of airlines within europe don’t allow you to take check-in baggage. any suggestions on that?

    1. A rain coat is necessary. I took a waxed cotton coat with us because it both acted as a warm layer and a water-repellent one as well. A backpack isn’t a bad idea. We flew four times while traveling through Spain and Portugal and just paid the small fee if there was one ahead of time. If you indicate ahead of time they won’t over charge you. It all depends on the airline you are flying with. Vueling was who we traveled with a lot but did do one Ryan Air as well. The reason we took a backpack and a weekender was because of our camera and computers. We were working while we were traveling so we needed these things. The less you take and the more you can carry on your back the better because taking subways, trains, flights, and so on having a roller bag or a bag on your shoulder isn’t easy on your body. Stay as minimal as possible. You would rather have a bag you can add to than a bag with too much stuff you don’t need. H&M and Zara on nearly every corner in most cities in Europe so you should never have an issue finding something you might need. I purchased a couple shirts, a hat, and a dress while over there and got all of them for less than $100 so leave yourself some room. 🙂 I hope that helps! And enjoy your trip! Those are some great places you are going. I hear Croatia is outstanding!!!

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  23. I always pack several pairs of shoes. It seems that even the most comfortable and broken in shoes can start rubbing or make my feet sweaty when walking all day in a warm climate. Also, there can be rain or mud need an option for that. Prepare for the unexpected regarding weather even when checking the forecast ahead. Last year we where travelling in Late spring for over two weeks to four different countries. We expected warm weather. But the weather was hotter than was forecast and we did not expect a heatwave when we were in London for 5 days. We ran out of light weight clothing and had to hit H&M and send things out to the laundry. Lesson was we had way too many things for cooler weather.