10-day vacation for TWO with only ONE carry-on bag

 I love budget travel. I ride the cheapest airlines, sleep in 12-bed rooms, and use the hostel kitchen to cook half my meals. Some people might look at it as giving a lot of things up, compared to how they typically travel. And it’s true, I sacrifice a lot of comforts and sleep to do things this way.
At the same time, though, I think taking cost-cutting measures is rewarding. One of my favorite ways time and money is to travel minimally, packing only what I really need to get by.
For our 10-day trip to Amsterdam, Hamburg, and Berlin, my boyfriend and I flew with WOW, a super cheap airline that doesn’t offer a free carry on or a checked bag at all.
Of course, for a trip that long, especially in November we needed at least one piece of luggage. We opted to keep things cheap and simple by sharing this hiking backpack between the two of us.
Here is a complete list of everything I brought along, including everything I was wearing and what was in my free hand item, a pretty average size leather purse. My boyfriend brought a laptop bag (without a laptop inside) as a hand item and filled the remaining space in the backpack with clothes.

 

Carry on (including what I was wearing): 
  • 1 QT liquids bag: Soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, toothpaste, BB cream
  • Deodorant, makeup (mascara, lipstick, eyeshadow, eyeliner, BB cream), toothbrush, ear swabs, chapstick
  • Power converter, cell phone charger
  • GoPro, GoPro charger, mounts
  • SIM card tool
  • Water bottle
  • Laundry detergent, dryer sheets
  • Prescriptions, ibuprofen
  • Padlock
  • Clothing
    • Socks (3 pairs)
    • Tights (2)
    • Underwear (4)
    • Plain black Leggings (1)
    • Skirts (2)
    • Black dress
    • Shirts (3)
    • Sweater
    • Sports bra, bra
    • Coat
    • Balaclava
    • Winter hat
  • All of Ethan’s clothes
Hand item:
  • Passport
  • A book
  • Journal, pen
  • DSLR camera
  • Phone with “phone wallet” for cards and cash
  • Earbuds
And that’s really everything!
Sharing a majority of the bathroom products and our chargers saved a lot of room. But I would say the real secret was reducing the number of clothing items we brought. We saved a lot of space by doing laundry during our trip. Both of us ended up pretty sick of wearing the same few outfits but we felt it was worth the sacrifice not to be burdened by big, heavy bags wherever we went. I would recommend traveling this way to anyone. It’s shockingly stress-free and keeps you super mobile so your stuff never holds you back.

Berlin

Ethan and I found super cheap airplane tickets to Europe and did a 10-day tour of Amsterdam, Hamburg, and Berlin late this month. Here’s a post I wrote about my experience in Berlin on the flight back to Chicago.

 


Budget hostel with a bar

We stayed at Wombats City Hostel-Berlin in a six-bed hostel room. It cost about $12 per night and interestingly included a free drink at the rooftop hostel bar at arrival. They also had €4.50 unlimited (and good) German breakfast in the morning and €2.50 Berliner Pilsner pint-sized beers at night. I met quite a few people there from different English-speaking countries that went out with us later that night.
And the bar had a great (though misty) view of the city.
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Coffee everywhere 
I loved the fact that Berlin had coffee shops everywhere. I didn’t love that the cups were so small! I’m used to drinking relatively huge coffees in America so learning to savor a single shot of espresso was a challenge. I typically drink Americano-style plain black coffee, which isn’t very popular in Europe. I grew to really appreciate espresso macchiatos by the end of my stay, though.
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Free historical sites 
We visited several free historical sites including the Brandenburger Tor, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, and preserved portions of the Berlin Wall.
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Thrift shopping in a trendy area near Eberswalderstraße
I met a young German woman about my age on the bus from Hamburg to Berlin who recommended the Eberswalderstraße area to me. I ended up just off Eberswalderstraße on Oderberger Staße and found the best thrift stores. I bought a tiny glass bottle there that was made for a pharmacy in Berlin–way better than anything that could be bought in a tourist shop. Then I checked out some of the vintage clothing stores and got some new-to-me clothes.
thift shopping berlin
Vegan burgers, vegetarian restaurants 
 Again on Oderberger Straße, Ethan and I stopped at a restaurant named Burger World. It was an unfortunate name for such a cute, boutique style place. I ordered a delicious vegan burger. The atmosphere was beautiful, complete with a tablecloth, candle, etc.
 burger world berlin
Across from our hostel, we also stumbled across a great organic/vegetarian-focused restaurant called Rose Garden. Their foods were seasonal, healthy, and ethically sourced. We had pumpkin ravioli there the first time then went back there a second time for coffee and some very generously piled avocado toast.
Craft beer berlin
At Burger World, Ethan and I had tried BRLO beer on a whim. It was great and made in Berlin, so we decided to see if it had a tap house. It turned out to be newly opened, in a building made of 38 international shipping containers and one of the trendiest, top-rated new restaurants in Berlin. I’m not crazy about expensive but very small meals, so Ethan and I shared one, drank a variety of their beers and picked up some falafel sandwiches on our way back to the hostel.
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