How to pack light for an adventure holiday in the Balkans
What to pack for 7 days in the Balkans

Packing for an adventure holiday can be daunting, especially if it’s your first time. With so many activities to prepare for, it’s easy to overdo it. But actually, you need far less than you think.

We’re on a mission to liberate travellers from their overstuffed suitcases by helping them to pack lighter and smarter. And so, we’ve rounded up some of our best tried and tested packing tips from our seasoned adventurers and included sample packing lists below.

Packing light is liberating and it also means you’re doing your bit for the environment (the lighter the load, the less fuel is burned by the plane to carry it). Plus, with many of our trips being multicentre, it makes all the difference when you haven’t got to lug around a huge suitcase. The beauty of adventure holidays like ours (despite the jaw-dropping scenery and adrenaline fuelled activities) is that you don’t need to pack 10 of your finest frocks. Lightweight activewear and outfits which are multi combinational is the way forward, as we explain below.

Our top tips for packing light

1. Max out your carry on allowance

For a week’s multi active holiday in the Balkans with us, you can more than get by with a cabin-sized suitcase and backpack (30L or smaller). In fact, one of our regular guests travels with just a small backpack (see image below).

Our return guest Dawn packed everything she needed for 7 days in this backpack.
Our return guest Dawn packed everything she needed for 7 days in this backpack.

Choose a lightweight, streamlined case which reaches the maximum dimensions allowed by your airline. Most operators allow 10kg for a carry-on suitcase and up to 10kg for your additional backpack. That’s an ample 20kg allowance without having to check a suitcase.

Save space by wearing your heaviest clothes and shoes on the flight (you can always strip off some layers once you board), use the backpack you will be hiking with as your additional bag, and wear a bum bag (fanny pack) on your person to keep your passport and money to hand. Once you’re there, you can use this as a purse or evening bag to go to dinner (trust us, you don’t need a fancy handbag). And remember – leave some space for souvenirs!

2. Bring travel wash

Travel wash can buy you an extra couple of days out of a top or pair of trousers on your travels and it’s inexpensive, usually between £1-£3 in supermarkets. You shouldn’t need to wash anything during the week as you will be able to pack enough to last, but it’s useful if the weather isn’t as expected and you need to keep re-wearing one of your warmer tops, for example, or to spot clean stains.

It’s also a good idea to pack a couple of pegs so you can hang your clothes and swimwear up to dry.

3. Prioritise multifunctional items

Look at the clothes and items you’re packing and ask yourself if they have at least two uses. If they don’t, hang them back up. For example, a neck scarf like a Buff can work as a scarf for warmth, an eye mask, a bandana/sun hat and earplugs, among other things.

One of our favourite items for women is a sarong. This can be used as a skirt/shawl to cover up inside religious buildings, a blanket, a swim towel, a scarf, a picnic rug, even a curtain to keep the light out of your bedroom – the possibilities are truly endless! They’re very lightweight and dry quickly too.

4. Sharing is caring

This one isn’t rocket science, but it’s worth mentioning. If you’re travelling with a friend or family member, communicate and share things like sunscreen, insect repellent and shampoo to save space.

5. Be strategic with your liquids

Even with 100ml liquid allowances, you can still overpack. Only you know what you will use but generally speaking, 50 ml of shampoo should do three hair washes easily for medium-length hair. Shower gel tends to be provided by the accommodation, so don’t waste space with that. And if you like a spritz of perfume or aftershave, consider syphoning some off into an atomiser rather than lug the full glass bottle around. You can buy 5ml atomisers on Amazon which give you enough for a week.

Those who wear liquid foundation could decant some rather than bring the whole bottle and the same goes for face wash. Work out how many pumps of these products you use with every application and count them out for a week. You’ll find it’s actually a lot less than you think.

6. Bring a filter water bottle

A reusable water bottle is worth taking up some of the space in your luggage. It will save you money and ensure you do your bit for the environment by replacing single-use plastic water bottles.

We encourage guests to go one step further and invest in a filter water bottle like a Water To Go. Tap water can be a bit hit and miss in the Balkans, particularly during summer and after heavy rainstorms. The Water To Go bottle makes a dirty puddle safe to drink in theory so you can fill up with confidence wherever you are. It’s particularly useful when we’re hiking in the mountains as you can fill up from the springs with no worries about getting sick. Worried about space? Pack your pants and socks in it!

As an Undiscovered Balkans customer, you can enjoy 15% off a Water To Go bottle by following this link.


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What to pack for a 7-day adventure in the Balkans

Woman packing a small suitcase

Women’s packing list

  • Waterproof jacket (and trousers if shoulder season)
  • 1x fleece (skip in July/August unless visiting the mountains)
  • Walking boots or good trainers
  • Walking socks
  • Water shoes (if doing water activities)
  • Backpack for day hikes
  • Reusable filter water bottle
  • Swimwear
  • Pants & socks
  • Sports bra and a regular bra
  • Lightweight microfibre towel or sarong
  • 1 x trousers/sport leggings for hiking
  • 3 x sports t-shirt/tank tops
  • 1 x sport shorts/hiking shorts Tip – A skort is great for both active outdoor days and exploring cities.
  • 1-2 x mid layer or thermal tops
  • 1-2 lightweight nicer outfits (e.g. a dress or playsuit) for evenings/exploring the cities
  • Sandals or plimsolls for less active days and evening meals
  • Neck scarf (e.g. a Buff)
  • Sun hat
  • Sun glasses
  • Ear plugs
  • Eye mask
  • Pyjamas
  • Plastic bags for wet clothes and dirty laundry
  • Antibacterial gel (this is also great on insect bites and spots!)
  • European adapter
  • Chargers (one with multiple USB ports is ideal to charge everything at once and save on the amount of heavy plugs you need to bring)
  • Phone strap or waterproof phone case with strap
  • Powerbank
  • Headphones/ear buds
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Toiletries (up to 1 litre of liquids in containers 100ml in size or smaller)
  • Tampons/moon cup – these aren’t always widely available in the Balkans but you can get sanitary towels
  • Hair brush & bobbles
  • First aid – antihistamine, paracetamol, imodium and any personal medication. Tip – take them out of the boxes to save space.
  • Dry bag
  • Tea bags and/or instant coffee sachets (not all accommodation does English Breakfast tea)
  • Safety pin and carabiner clipped to your backpack (you never know when they will come in handy)
  • Torch (if your phone doesn’t have one)
  • Reusable shopping bag/bag for life

Men’s packing list

  • Waterproof jacket (and trousers, if preferable)
  • Walking boots or good trainers
  • Walking socks
  • Water shoes (if doing water activities)
  • Backpack for day hikes
  • Reusable filter water bottle
  • Swimwear
  • Pants & socks
  • Lightweight microfibre towel
  • 1 x trousers for hiking
  • 3 x sports t-shirs
  • 1 x sport shorts/hiking shorts (if you have trousers which zip off to make shorts, even better)
  • 1-2 x mid layer or thermal top
  • 1-2 lightweight nicer outfits (e.g.polo shirt and shorts) for evenings/exploring the cities
  • Sandals/sliders or trainers for less active days and evening meals
  • Neck scarf (e.g. a Buff)
  • Sun hat
  • Sun glasses
  • Ear plugs
  • Eye mask
  • Pyjamas (if you wear them)
  • Plastic bags for wet clothes and dirty laundry
  • Antibacterial wipes
  • European adapter
  • Chargers (one with multiple USB ports is ideal to charge everything at once and save on the amount of heavy plugs you need to bring)
  • Phone strap
  • Powerbank
  • Headphones
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Toiletries (up to 1 litre of liquids in containers 100ml in size or smaller)
  • First aid – antihistamine, paracetamol, imodium and any personal medication. Tip – take them out of the boxes to save space.
  • Dry bag
  • Tea bags and/or instant coffee sachets (not all accommodation does English Breakfast tea)
  • Safety pin and carabiner clipped to your backpack (you never know when they will come in handy)
  • Torch (if your phone doesn’t have one)
  • Reusable shopping bag/bag for life

Find more tips, inspiration and travel guides on the blog and in our monthly newsletter.

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