How I Packed for 16 Weeks (and Two Seasons) in Europe in One Suitcase; Plus, My Monos Luggage Review

🤔 Them: “Julie… how many bags are you flying with to manage so many cute outfit changes?!”

😊 Me: It’s not sorcery, my friends… it’s one great suitcase + smart clothing choices + a few packing hacks!

But first… a checked suitcase, Julie? Not a carryon?!?

Why I checked a bag vs. taking a carryon

As someone who’s regaled the internet with backpacking videos from a number of trips to Europe and Latin America over the years, I think a lot of people were surprised when I decided NOT to bring my signature carryon 40L backpack to Europe and instead take a checked bag. 

And truth be told, knowing that I’d be overseas for a lot longer than I’d ever been before (16 weeks in total!)… I just didn’t want the challenge. While there were definitely times that I thought to myself: I overpacked just a bit, and there were certain things I didn’t wear often, and the baggage fees were annoying, and when the lift wasn’t working “gahhhh is my bag heavy” climbing up all those stairs… I’m still happy I had all the apparel options I did, and that it wasn’t a daily struggle to squish and squeeze everything I had into a backpack!

For a trip of this length, and to this destination, the suitcase I had and the clothing amount I brought was perfect. (For future trips of shorter lengths and to other parts of the world, I’ll likely revert back to my 40L backpack.)

The clothing I brought and what (more-or-less) it cost me

I could tell you… or I could show you! Let me walk you through my European wardrobe (literally), while I explain my style and spending choices. Plus, I’m sharing a few packing hacks along the way. (Click the YouTube video preview to play.)

My suitcase review: the “Monos Check-In Medium”

One year ago, I decided to gift myself with a new suitcase. I wanted something with a great warranty AND style, so I looked at both Away and Monos luggage, two brands with great reputations. Ultimately, I went with the Monos’ Check-In Medium bag.

According to Monos.com, “when you want more luggage space but don’t want to go too big, the Check-In Medium is the perfect midsize case” — and I’d have to agree — this size IS perfect.

The suitcase, measuring 26.5” by 18.5” by 10.5”, is not too big for me to maneuver or carry, while being big enough to fit everything I needed for my 3-4 month trip to Europe. And, it came in just under the airlines’ weight limit for flying EVERY time (typically, this is 50 lbs. in the United States, and ~22 kg in the EU. I believe the Check-In Large would be too big and heavy for me to handle, and possibly require oversized baggage fees while flying… I’m so glad I bought the medium!).

I love all its space saving pockets. Plus, the bag comes in a variety of colors — I chose a distinctive pattern called Terrazzo, with a pearly white background with colored flecks. While my bag’s uniqueness helps me spot it immediately at baggage claim, smudges and dirt are more obvious, so I would choose a darker or more solid color next time. Check out the Monos Check-In Medium here.

Read next: LESSONS FROM AN EXPERT INTERNATIONAL TRAVELER: SHARING THE EARLY MISTAKES I MADE (SO YOU DON’T MAKE THEM TOO)

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