11 Days, 3 Cities, and NO Checked Bag

The time is almost here!  Randy and I are one day away from our journey back to Spain.  We’ve been anticipating this trip since November and we couldn’t be more excited!  

We’ll be staying in Madrid for the majority of the trip, soaking up every bit of the Madrileno life we adore.  We’re also going to Sevilla, a southern Spanish city in Andalusia, for 3 days. Randy has never been to Sevilla and I haven’t been since 2013!  We also planned a trip to go up to Salamanca, a university city 3 hours north of Madrid and where I studied abroad.  We’ll be staying there for about a day and a half.  That’s a total of 3 cities in 11 days.

Along with these travel plans I have also planned out how I will be packing.  I’ve decided to challenge myself and only travel with my Swiss Gear backpack as my carry on and a small bag as my personal item.  This will be a test in both packing light and not buying a lot while I’m there. 11 days, 3 cities, and NO checked bag – how am I doing it?

**Disclaimer: I am not being compensated to review any of these products.**    

The Bags


Hands down my favorite travel bag. It fits a ton and it’s so comfortable.
Both bags are from Target. Love you forever Target, *air kiss*

The three bags I will be traveling with: my Swiss Gear backpack, a vinyl drawstring bag from Target, and this really cute gray crossbody purse I found at Target.   And yes, the gray crossbody looks small but it perfectly fits my phone, sunscreen (SPF 30, I want to look 26 forever), money and cards, and chapstick.  What I love about this purse is that it has a zipper to close it AND a flap with a magnetic clasp.  The gray crossbody fits in the drawstring bag so I’ll be able to take both in one as my personal item.  While traveling through Sevilla and Salamanca, the drawstring bag will only be used for bottles of waters, hand wipes, and snacks.  Never money!  

Packing tip #1:  Money and cards should always be in your front pocket or in a bag that can be held in front of you (like a crossbody purse) when traveling.  It doesn’t matter where you are, the US or Europe, when you’re traveling in a new place, you’re often distracted.  And that’s a perfect time for a pickpocket to take advantage of you.  So keep all money in front of you where you can access it easily.    



Both dresses are from Forever 21
The white and black shorts, the dark jean, and pink and white shorts are from The Loft. The lighter jean shorts are from Primark
All of the tops, except for the gray shirt (Target), are from Primark
Need more space? Roll your clothes, don’t fold!
These packing cubes are from Amazon


I have a confession to make: I have been guilty of overpacking.  I’ve packed for weekend trips and have had outfits that went unworn.  It’s frustrating to have left over clothes that ended up doing nothing but taking up space.  Now I’m realistic about what I’m going to wear.  Spain is going to be sunny and hot during our trip do I need a jacket or 3 pairs of jeans?  Probably not.  So I’m going to stick with shorts and dresses.  On the very slim chance that Spain has a chilly day (again, very slim…it’s Spain) I know that I could find a cheap jacket at Primark.  

The Minimalists have a rule when traveling that if they’re on the fence on whether or not to pack something they use the 20/20 rule.  The 20/20 rule is that if they could find an item within 20 minutes of where they’re staying for $20 or less, they don’t pack it.  They’ve said that they’ve had to buy something they left behind only 5 times in the 8 years or so they’ve traveled for book tours.     

Packing Tip #2: Pick clothes that you can mix and match with.  All of my shorts can be worn with at least 2 of the shirts I’m packing.  With the 2 dresses, 4 shorts, and 6 shirts I’ve packed, I have about 16 outfits.  




The wedges on the left are Clarks and the sandals on the right are Birkenstocks


Being realistic with your clothes also means being realistic with your shoes.  In the past I’d pack pretty flats or maybe a pair of heels because I wanted to look cute.  Stupid baby Monika.  Heels? In Europe?  Baaadddd idea.  Cobblestones and skinny heels do NOT go well together.  And let’s be real, when traveling, no one is paying attention to your feet or cares if your flats are cute or not.  No one.   When traveling, comfort is #1 for me.

Now you may think I’m nuts for packing wedges but these Clarks are the most comfortable wedges I’ve ever worn (courtesy of my soon to be mother-in-law, love you Nilda!).  They have a bit of height but the sole is pretty leveled.  I’ve worn them all day while sightseeing before.  They are the best! 

And my Birkenstocks?  Well it’s goes without saying that they are known for 2 things: being proper hippie footwear and for being really comfortable.  (Thanks Santa 😉 )        

Packing Tip #3: Put your shoes (sole to sole) in a plastic shopping bag so you avoid getting any of your clothes dirty.  The bottom of shoes are nasty, people!




All normal toiletries, the black case on the right are my sunglasses and the white box is a small first aid kit.


This is pretty self exclamatory; mini travel products are the way to go.  I bought almost all of these products from Target.  

Packing Tip #4: Never underestimate the saving grace of a wet wipe!  You never know.  You’re out and about, you touch something gross, need to wash your hands, but you’re not near a bathroom…wet wipe to the rescue!!

Packing Tip #5: Downy spray is great if maybe an item of clothing isn’t smelling the best and you don’t have access to a washer machine.  It’s a life saver when in a pinch!




There’s a whole mix here of Elf, Physician’s Formula, L’Oreal, Milani, etc


When I travel I stick to one makeup look, and maybe bring a fun lip color if I know I’ll be going out at night.  Sticking to one look makes it easier to pack and makes my makeup routine very fast and simple (which is the best when you have a full day of sightseeing and fun ahead of you).

For example, I own a couple of eyeshadow palettes but it’ll take up too much space in my bag so I’m only going to bring my e.l.f. eyeshadow cream.  It’s a gold shadow and depending how much of it I put on can go from a day look to a night one.  

Packing Tip #6: TSA only allows up to 3 oz. containers for liquid in carry ons.  So if you want to bring perfume or cologne with you, get one of the sample boxes from Sephora.  The bottles are tiny and if something happens to it, it’s not the end of the world.        




Most of my jewelry is from Forever 21 and Francesca’s

Much like my makeup, I try to pick one look for jewelry when traveling.  This trip, I’m going gold.  I have a few gold statement earrings and the rest are simple gold studs.  And, I have a black lace choker in case I want to feel like a hip college kid…        




My Apple MacBook Pro, an international outlet converter, and my MPOW  phone camera lenses

The last of what I’m bringing to Spain: my laptop, an outlet converter, and my phone camera lenses.  The Swiss Gear backpack has a compartment in the back of the bag for laptops and chargers.  It’s cushioned and has a lot of support so the backpack isn’t too heavy to carry. And of course, an outlet converter is a must when traveling abroad.  I shouldn’t have to say it but, please don’t try to force an American plug into a Spanish outlet…you’ll fry yourself.

Packing Tip #7: If you can’t afford a fancy camera, these MPOW lenses are a good alternative.  They’re only $12.99 and it comes with 3 lenses: fish eye, macro, and wide (the macro and wide lenses are together).  I used the macro lens to take close up pictures of flowers in the Keukenhof garden in Amsterdam and they came out really good!


How does it all come together?


When I leave tomorrow I’ll be wearing jeggings (LOVE jeggings for overnight travel), a t shirt, and my Birkenstocks.  This will also be my outfit when we come home.  My clothes, shoes, makeup, jewerly, and electronic will be in my backpack.  And my cross body purse, money, passport, and tolietries will be in my drawstring bag as my personal item.      

(Last) Packing Tip #8: Keep your liquids in one spot so it’s easier when you go through security and they want your liquids in one bin.      

So let’s see how I do!  Will I survive 11 days with only a backpack and a personal item?  Will I crack and buy another bag to go home with?  Will I need to buy more clothes while I’m over there?  We shall see, let’s hope for the best  🙂  


Cross your fingers!


Are you an over-packer?  Are you an under-packer?  What’s the least amount of stuff you’ve packed while traveling?  How was it?  Great?  A disaster?  Comment below and tell me!






Spread the word, people 🙂


    1. Oh, I’ve been there! Haha But it is nice when you don’t have as much to unpack. Thanks for reading!

  1. I’ve always travelled with only a carry-on, and somehow I still manage to overpack every time! This makes me want to pack my suitcase and go on another trip 🙂

  2. Great tips! Thanks for showing us what you pack. I need to be able to do this for myself in the future, as always over pack and waste precious time checking bags!

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