I only traveled through Europe for about a month, but I think these tips can help anyone backpacking across Europe for any given time. Because, realistically you want the least amount of clothes to last you a week or more. So even if you’re traveling there for just a week or so you’ll still want a light load on your back! For those of you that will be backpacking longer than a week, that just means you may do quite a bit of washing (but don’t worry, I have a few cheats for that as well).
The perfect idea is to get the most wear out of your outfits, for the least amount of times you need to wash them. This means, you need many versatile items to mix and match for your outfits.
Before traveling to Europe I did a TON of research about what to pack, what not to pack, how to pack, etc. I scanned multiple blogs and sites to make sure I was packing just enough! I tend to be a bittt of an over-packer and I did not want my back to suffer for my packing problems. Now I will be able to give you my advice as well as a lot of the research I did to spare you the countless hours it takes to find the perfect packing list.
To start off with, here is MY packing list that I used for my trip:
- Small foldable hairbrush (it broke on my last day abroad so I pictured my regular brush here)
- Small lotion bottle (remember everything has to be under 3.4 ounces if you’re bringing your backpack as a carry-on)
- Very basic make-up products
- Small bottle of perfume
- Two packages of contacts, case, and small bottle of solution
- Hand sanitizer
- Travel-sized shampoo bottles, conditioner bottle, body wash, and soap
- One pair of earrings
- Ear plugs (SO happy I brought these since the friend I went with was a bit of a snorer)
- Floss sticks
- Glasses and case
- Travel-sized toothbrush and toothpaste
- Small medical kit with bandaids, alcohol swabs, etc.
- Small bottle of Ibuprofen, anti-diarrhea pills, and allergy pills (these are a good idea to bring for those just-in-case moments)
- Melatonin pills for sleeping on the long plane rides
- 1 pair of skinny jeans
- 1 pair of jean shorts
- 1 pair of striped dressier shorts
- 1 pair of Nike shorts
- 2 sleeve-less dresses
- 1 skirt
- 1 neutral colored cardigan; to wear with everything
- 1 dressier tank top
- 1 t-shirt
- 2 nicer shirts (black and white); pocket-tees from Target
- 1 pair of stretchy yoga pants
- 1 fashion belt
- 1 bathing suit
- 2 bras
- 1 pair of thicker socks; didn’t expect to be wearing socks unless my feet got chilly in some of the hostels
- 3 pair of ‘boy-shorts’ underwear; I like wearing these to bed but didn’t want to take up too much space with a week’s worth of these plus other underwear
- A week’s worth of underwear plus two extras; I brought all thongs since they’re easier to pack a lot of
- Chaco’s Sports Sandals; gave me some grrreat tan lines but perfect for walking around in the warmer countries (You may also want to note that NO Europeans wear these, or any sports sandals for that matter. So if you’re trying to fit in, maybe find another option that’s a bit more European.)
- Nicer pair of sandals; for going out or to wear with some dresses. I suggest finding a comfy pair though because these were rough to walk around in when I wore them during the day for sightseeing.
- TOMS; perfect for walking around in the cooler countries. The TOMS I actually brought to Europe I had to toss before coming back home because they were worn out! They were also a thinner pair so I suggest a flannel top fabric more a bit more warmth.
- I did NOT bring tennis shoes. First of all, I would have only had ONE pair of pants to wear them with and those were my yoga pants (I wouldn’t be caught dead in tennis shoes and skinny jeans). Plus I didn’t have an extremely light pair to bring so they would have taken up a lot of precious space in my backpack. I just used my Chaco’s to walk around in. Note however, I did end up having to buy a warmer pair of shoes once I got to Amsterdam because I couldn’t stand walking around in the cold any longer. A thicker pair of TOMS might have done the trick but I wouldn’t know.
The REALLY important stuff:
- Credit & Debit cards
- Driver’s license; in case the passport doesn’t prove enough
- RAIL PASS. Aka my savior. Hardly had to pay for any train rides with this bad boy
- Kindle (or physical book, but I didn’t want to take up that much space in my pack)
- Journal & pen; because hey, you may become famous for your travel writings one day
The other fairly important stuff:
- Headlamp; most camping hostels don’t have lights in their tents but also you may want this when you get up to go to the bathroom so you don’t wake up some random roomies you’re staying with
- Purse; preferably one that you can tighten to be very close to your body (just in case)
- Extra flashlight
- Phone chargers (2)
- UP by Jawbone & charging accessories; AWESOME wristband that allowed me to track my steps and sleep on my journey! During a mountain hike in Innsbruck, I had taken over 29,000 steps!! The recommended amount per day is 10,000 steps.
- Big lock; used only once for a locker in our hostel in Germany
- Small locks with keys; to put on my backpack on plane and train rides (from REI)
- Camera & battery charger
- Money belt; I NEVER used this and found having my purse tight against my body worked just fine (just be aware of your surroundings). I did, however, store my passport, cards, and id in here on train rides though. I bought a nice, soft, sweat-wicking one for a decent price at REI.
- Birth control; or some other contraceptives unless you’d like a European baby 🙂
- Blow-up neck pillow; A blow-up pillow takes up MUCH less space than a stuffed pillow. I also found it just as comfy and you can adjust the air to make it fluffier or harder. I got mine at REI.
- Phone case with extra battery pack
- Water bottle
- Laundry soap pouches; I highly suggest putting these in small plastic bags so they don’t erupt in your backpack. I also only brought about six of these total since I knew I wouldn’t be doing a ton of laundry.
- Small Outlet Converter; I got a tiny one for cheap at REI and it worked perfectly.
And other essential items:
- A large ‘backpacking’ backpack! This one, I hope, is obvious. I got mine from REI and LOVE it
- A smaller ‘day-pack’ for trips during the, you guessed it, DAY! My backpack actually came with a zip-off day-pack! I HIGHLY suggest finding a backpack that has this feature. Great for plane & train rides to keep stuff handy for long trips.
- A towel (preferably thin to dry quickly). I bought an XL travel towel at REI and it’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. It just wicks away all the water on your body without even getting damp; it’s like magic!
- A rain jacket because unfortunately, it rains everywhere. A light breathable one is best for warmer climates.
- Another light jacket, in case the nights are a bit chilly.
Think I forgot anything? Comment suggestions for others or stories below! 🙂