You just found yourself beginning an adventure of a lifetime: you’re backpacking across Europe. I’m excited for you, and I’m sure you are excited too. At some point you’re asking yourself, what should I bring? Certainly you’ll be hitting up several instagramable locations, so you want to look better than your Sunday sweats. You also need the essentials, but what are the essentials? Let me break this down for you to stop this headache from growing. For crying out loud you’re backpacking across Europe, that’s enough planning.
What to Pack: (links are underlined for examples)
Backpack – (55L is perfect size) Not too big, not too small, perfect for jumping on buses and planes and automobiles. To view click here. I highly recommend a backpack with a waist belt. Trust me, after a long day of walking, your shoulders and back will thank you, and instead of managing shoulder and neck pain, you can focus more on enjoying your trip.
Water bottle – You are going to be thirsty, but you are not going to want to spend 10 euro on a water bottle every time you get caught in a tourist trap. Plus, sustainability.
Quick drying clothes and underwear – This is important because you don’t want to be carrying a whole closet’s worth of clothes on your back, and you don’t want to be spending much valuable trip time doing laundry. The quicker your clothes dry, the sooner you can wear them clean again, and the sooner you can be off exploring. Ideally, a good backpacker washes their clothes at night (in the sink is cheapest) and then wakes up in the morning to clean dry clothes. Synthetic fabrics are best, like polyesters. I recommend clothes you can mix and match, as well as wear for a night out and during the day. Layers are perfect. A light jacket, flannel or cardigan are a few items I recommend with basic t-shirts and a comfortable pair of pants.
Travel Towel – A quick drying travel towel is a necessity. They absorb liquid fast, and like the name suggests, they dry fast so you can wash up quick and be on your way.
Sleeping bag or bed roll – Something that can compress, but is warm enough to let you sleep at night. You are going to be tired from traveling, so rest well. Several hostels will provide bedding, but some won’t. Some may say they provide bedding, but upon arrival, you realize their definition of bedding is half a pillow and a sheet. If you choose to forego packing a sleeping bag, just make sure all the places you stay provide a level of bedding you are comfortable.
Passport – Don’t forget this, unless you want your trip to end abruptly. What a tragedy that would be. Photocopy important documents in case you lose them.
Toiletries – Travel size toothpaste, deodorant, hairbrush, contact solution, shampoo, conditioner, bar soap or anything in a 3 in one combo to save space. Wet wipes and dry shampoo are also essential products to have along. Living that minimalistic lifestyle.
Comfortable Walking Shoes – You are not going to want to haul around multiple pairs of shoes. They take up the most space, they’re heavy and bulky. A comfortable pair of tennis shoes or hiking boots is really all you need. If you are planning on hitting the town at night and dressing a little fancier, pick out one neutral pair of shoes or boots to wear for multiple outfits.
Flip Flops or Sandals – There will be times you are going to want to give your feet a break from your suffocating walking shoes, and in this case you may want flip flops. They double as shower or beach shoes, and plus, they are super light weight and can be clipped on the outside of your backpack very easily.
Electronics – Chargers for your phone and camera(s) are crucial to have along. The last thing you want is to get lost and not be able to get the directions you screenshotted from your phone. This is the time to invest in that portable charger, solar panel charger, or a phone case with an extended battery charger. Converters are also an essential item to bring as you will come across multiple different outlets and plugins.
Credit Card – You will inevitably be bringing some form of money with you, and a card with no foreign transcript fees or a bank with no atm fees is ideal.
First- Aid Kit – You can get everything you need in Europe, however I would still purchase the very basics. Band aids, pain medicine, motion sickness pills and maybe some tissues or hand wipes is really all you need.
Make sure your backpack feels comfortable before you leave. Walk around in it for a bit to test if it is too heavy. You may also want to pick up travel insurance beforehand, but it is not a necessity.
Now, take a deep breath. Your troubles of scrambling around deciding what to bring should be put to ease.