Packing Essentials: What To Pack For A Backpacking Trip Through Europe

There is nothing more exciting and freeing than a backpacking trip to Europe. Getting to wander from place to place, enjoy the food and ambiance, and meet with locals is what can make you feel like an authentic traveller and citizen of the world. As any backpacker knows, the number one objective is to soak up the culture and have fun.

So why allow bulk to drag down your trip? Whether you’re a first time backpacker or just need a refresher course, we can give you the essentials of what to pack for a backpacking trip through Europe.

Getting Started

You’re excited and ready to go, but as a wise man once said,

“if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

Good packing is a lot like this. It involves sitting down for a few minutes and thinking about things like where you’ll be, what the weather will be like, how much money you think you’ll need, and what documents you need to bring. These are the preliminary things to think about.

For instance, if you wear glasses or contacts, will you need solution or a cleaning cloth? If you take prescription medicines those should go in the bag first. Another important thing to consider is where you’ll stay: the more you can plan ahead of time (more or less) the easier it will be to budget. This leads to the last suggestion: make sure to pack a travel neck wallet.


Clothes are the most difficult to pack on a backpacking trip. They take up a lot of space and we easily pack too many. Just remember the following: it doesn’t matter whether you’ll be gone for 1 month or 2 weeks. You only need a couple of outfits. You will need 2 pairs of pants and about 4 pairs of shirts (two with long sleeves and two with short sleeves). If you think you’ll get cold, bring a small fleece sweater or windbreaker (especially one that is water-resistant and that folds compactly).

Underwear and socks are probably the most important, so invest in a cotton-blend that will dry quickly—5 pairs of underwear and 5 pairs of socks is good enough. Lastly, make sure to have clothes to sleep in—you can designate one of your t-shirts and bring lightweight shorts or leggings for this purpose. Even though shoes should go without saying, invest in a good pair of walking shoes, plus a pair of sandals or flip-flops.

The rule of thumb is that you should worry more about comfort and convenience than looking good. Of course, it doesn’t mean you can’t at least look stylish. If you choose darker and neutral colors, you’ll have clothes that are versatile enough to travel with and for a night out.


Aside from clothes, toiletries can also take up a lot of space in our bags, so stick with the essentials. Get a small toiletries’ bag and limit yourself to just that size—a clear plastic one will help you keep track of your items. Bring travel sizes of the following items: a toothbrush, toothpaste soap, shampoo and conditioner (a 2-in-1 is great for traveling), facial cleanser and moisturizer, earplugs (if you’re sensitive to noise), sunscreen, and a comb.

Other items include travel deodorant and a stain-removing pen. These should be very small toiletries to get you started. Once you’re there you’ll be able to buy more. For women, it’s fine to bring a few items of makeup such as mascara, lip-gloss a nice subtle lipstick, and some powder.


While you won’t need to pack a lot of electronics, you do need to pack the right ones. The first thing you’ll need is your cell phone (one with an alarm), because it may actually work in Europe. Secondly, it’s very important that you buy a European plug—they’re small and let you hook your electronics into the wall.

Most electronics today are able to adapt to the power differences, so a fancy adapter isn’t necessary. If your cell phone offers GPS service, you can always update your maps to accommodate the European ones. Lastly, don’t forget to bring a charger (a universal one, if possible) and batteries. If you like to zone out during a flight or bus ride, then don’t forget the headphones.

First-Aid Kit

In addition to buying a toiletries bag, you should also get a first aid bag. This is where you can put all of your medicine and anything you may need. If you don’t have prescription medicine to take with you, consider bringing the following on your trip: pain reliever, antacids, Band-Aids, a cream like Neosporin, and charcoal tablets for upset stomach (they work like Pepto-Bismol but without the taste and weight).

The last thing you can pack on your trip is an open mind and the willingness to have fun. If you plan what to pack and bring only the essentials, you’ll have the freedom to enjoy Europe like never before.

Featured images:

License: Creative Commons image source

Georgina is a blogger who has been traveling around the world for the past few years. She’s now working with Movers BC in Surrey, BC and helping others take the plunge and travel.