Backpacking through Greece without looking like it


Two years ago today I began one of my biggest packing challenges ever: How to fit two weeks of clothing into a backpack that I would carry through Greece. Before breaking down how I accomplished this, it should be noted that I have little-to-no upper body strength, I’m prone to complaining on long hikes and I do not like to look like I backpacked through Europe while doing said thing.

As you may have guessed, my husband talked me into this.

I’m glad he did.

Island-hopping in Greece is not for babies. It is not for strollers, car seats and heavy suitcases. We hopped on and off of ferries, boats, busses and at one point, a four-wheel all-terrain vehicle. We needed to schlep our things up and down hundreds of tiny white steps. We had an ambitious five-island itinerary that required us to be nimble.

In the end, it was one of the most relaxing vacations I have ever taken and one that has forever changed how I pack.


Since Greece is warm in August, light clothing eased me into the world of extreme packing. I wore my only pair of pants on the flight, a long-sleeved shirt, sun hat and sarong as a scarf. Here is my summer packing formula:

  • One pair of pants: White jeans
  • Two bikinis: One athletic, one for sunbathing
  • Three pairs of shorts: White, navy blue and neon green
  • Four dresses: Two cotton “t-shirt” dresses, two light sundresses
  • Five accessories: Sun hat, sunglasses, statement necklace, watch and sarong
  • Six shirts: Four cotton t-shirts (one white, one blue, one striped, one long-sleeved), two “fun” tops (a silk halter and a cotton blouse)
  • Also: These leather sandals, pajamas, underwear, toiletries and a turkish towel

I then rolled and packaged my clothes by category in zip-lock plastic bags (I’ve since upgraded to compression bags). Although bordering on OCD, this move was especially key for easily packing and unpacking the backpack every two nights or so.


No hairdryer, no high heels. I wore a bathing suit, sarong and sunglasses most of the time.

I often find with travel that I am happiest when things are simplest, which is why Greece was truly a vacation (not a trip). We spent most of our days on the beach with a towel and a bottle of sunscreen. I’d go for a long swim. We’d have an afternoon ice cream. We would watch the sunset and talk about the books we were reading. It was truly heaven.



8 thoughts on “Backpacking through Greece without looking like it

  1. Great advice for packing generally. It’s much easier to go almost anywhere if you take less stuff. You have now mastered that art, and travel will be easier wherever you go because you will not spend so much time keeping track of extraneous things. Bravo!

    1. Well, I only posted the best photos! I use Bumble and Bumble’s Grooming Creme while it’s still wet. I comb it out and then kind of twist and twirl my hair while it air dries. I’m not loyal to any one brand, but Bumble and Bumble makes great travel-sized products.

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