Backpacking Europe Packing List

packinglistfeatured

I wrote this backpacking Europe packing list because packing for travel can often be very difficult — especially for beginners. Many first time travelers make the mistake of bringing way too much gear so travel quickly becomes tiresome. It can also make you a bigger target for thieves because you’re not able to keep track of your belongings as well. This packing guide for Europe will help you know what type of clothes and gear you should bring, but I also give tips for packing light.

ARE YOU FEMALE? Check out our new Women’s Packing List for Backpacking Europe — it is a similar guide to this one but the suggestions are geared toward women.

Table of Contents for This Guide

  1. Quick Tips for Packing Light
  2. Clothing
  3. Travel Accessories
  4. Toiletries
  5. Electronics for Travel
  6. First Aid Items
  7. What Not to Bring
  8. Where to Buy Gear

Quick Tips For Packing Light For Backpacking In Europe

First, I suggest limiting yourself to 20-22lbs worth of gear (including your backpack). If you exceed 22lbs (10kg) you start running the risk of exceeding the carry-on weight limit for budget airlines (Ryanair). Even if you don’t plan on taking planes, I still suggest keeping your weight around 20lbs.

Cut The Clothing: Pretty much all of the weight in your backpack comes from your clothes. Most inexperienced travelers bring way too much. There isn’t really any difference between packing for 6 weeks or 6 months, because you’ll just do laundry about every week.

  • You’re only going to have a few shirts/pants so make sure they all match each other. Choose dark and neutral colors (dark colors hide dirt/stains better than light colors). Most Europeans tend to wear more subdued clothing anyways.
  • If it is going to be cold, you should dress in layers. A big bulky coat isn’t going to be practical (unless you’re going to somewhere extremely cold). A thermal base layer, long-sleeve t-shirt, sweater and fleece jacket combo is much more practical than a big coat. You can always add/subtract layers if needed. Click here for the Savvy Backpacker guide to keeping warm in the winter.

Cut The Toiletries: Liquid/gels/etc. weigh a lot. Limit yourself to the very basics.

Lose The Bulky Guidebook: Guidebooks are great, but they can be heavy. Cut out the pages that are of interest to you. You’ll lose most of the bulk this way.

Special Note – Looking Good vs. Packing Light

europe clothesYou want to look good in Europe, I understand. Europeans are known for being super fashionable and you want to be the same. It just isn’t practical to wear really nice clothes as a backpacker.  You have limited space in your bag, so it doesn’t make sense to pack an outfit that you’re only going to wear once. This doesn’t mean you have to look like a slob. It is really simple to look presentable as long as you pack items that look good when worn with each other. I’ve put together an article with some general European fashion advice. Ok, on to the packing list.

Clothing Packing List for Travel in Europe

Socks and Underwear

underwearheader This is one area that many beginner travelers don’t consider, but experienced travelers know how important quality socks and underwear are. If you think about it, socks and underwear are worn close to your skin so they can be the difference between being comfortable or not. I highly suggest spending a little extra money to buy quality items because you’ll be much more comfortable.

Socks (4-5 pairs)

hiking socks for europe High quality socks are essential. Unfortunately, nice socks can be expensive and a lot of people don’t want to spend the money on something as unsexy as socks. But, I suggest you spend a little extra money to get a few nice pairs (plus, nice socks will last for years so you can still wear them when you are home). Most experienced travelers recommend quality wool socks—you can get lightweight wool socks for the summer and they’ll actually keep your feet cool and dry. Obviously you’ll want heavier-weight socks if you are traveling in the winter. Trust me about nice socks. I can’t even wear crappy cotton socks anymore. Look for socks that are:

  • Moisture-Wicking – Your feet will sweat a lot (especially since you’ll be doing a lot of walking) so you want a sock that draws moisture away from your feet. Dry feet help eliminate odor and stops the formation of painful blisters.
  • Quick Drying – It is pretty easy to wash your socks in the sink so you want a pair that will dry overnight (about 6 hours).
  • Odor Eliminating – Some synthetic socks have special anti-bacterial features that help eliminate odor. Light-weight wool socks will also do this naturally (light-weight wool can also work well in the summer).
  • Avoid Cotton! – Cotton socks soak up moisture and won’t dry well once wet. They will start to smell very quickly.

A nice pair of socks can be worn 2-3 times before they start to stink (although you’ll want to rotate the days you wear each pair).

Recommended Sock Brands:

  • SmartWool Socks (also via Amazon.co.uk) – I love my SmartWool socks. I wear them all the time. They have a wide range of socks (from light to heavy weight).
  • Darn Tough Socks (also via Amazon.co.uk) – Made in Vermont, this brand of really nice socks will last for years. They get great reviews.
  • Wigwam Soccks – Worth checking out.
  • Thorlo – Thorlo makes quality socks that aren’t too expensive.

For a more in-depth article about the wonderful world of socks check out our favorite socks for travel

Underwear (5 pairs)

exofficiounderwear I like to bring a few pairs of underwear. You can probably get away with whatever you normally wear, but I really like Exofficio Travel Underwear (here is the link for women’s). This underwear fits well, reduces chafing, wicks sweat, and fights odor. Many travelers rave about these because you can get away with wearing them for a few days before needing to wash them. They are also ideal because they dry quickly, so you can easily wash them in the sink. Exofficios are a bit pricey, but a lot of travelers say these are must-have items. Many people also like Under Armour underwear.

For a more in-depth article about travel underwear check out our favorite travel underwear!

Shoes

shoesheader I always stress that you should only pack one pair of shoes because shoes are bulky and heavy. But it is understandable if you want to bring two pairs. You’re going to be on your feet a lot while in Europe, so you really want a sturdy pair of comfortable shoes for sightseeing. Guys can get away with a pair of nice leather sneakers that are comfortable during the day and look nice enough for going out at night. Some people opt for sturdier “hiking” shoes. They’re usually waterproof and have an all-terrain sole. They’re not super stylish, but they are usually pretty comfortable. If you plan on traveling during a rainy time of year then I would suggest this option. While we’re talking about hiking, I suggest leaving the hiking boots at home unless you plan on doing some hardcore winter hiking. Throw in a cheap pair of rubber flip-flop sandals if you’re going to stay in a hostel. You’ll want them for the showers. Trust me. I highly recommend that you leave dress shoes at home. While sneakers would probably prevent you from entering any super swanky nightclubs, I doubt most budget backpackers can afford those places anyways.

Note: Americans seem to have a love affair with white sneakers/athletic shoes. Don’t wear white shoes if you don’t want to be instantly recognized as an American tourist. But if you don’t care then feel free to wear them.

For a more in-depth guide to finding the best shoes check out our guide to fashionable and comfortable travel shoes.

Shirts and Tops

shirtsheader

Button Up Shirts (4 shirts)

I think long-sleeve button-up shirts are the best option when it comes to shirts (Be sure to check out my guide on fashion in Europe for a more in-depth guide on being fashionable while traveling in Europe). When looking for a shirt you should keep the following things in mind:

  • Versatile — Don’t bring fancy dress shirts but a nice casual button up will work well during the day and at night. Basically, pick something that will look fine in a church/museum, in a cafe and at a bar.
  • Non-wrinkle — It is hard to keep clothes unwrinkled while traveling so non-wrinkle fabrics are a nice option.
  • Easy to wash — Stay away from things you can’t easily wash or are high maintenance.
  • Dark colors — Dark colors do a better job at hiding stains. Plus, most Europeans tend to wear darker colors so you’ll blend in better with the locals.

Sweaters (1 or 2)

Lightweight sweaters are nice for dressing up or for cool nights. For maximum versatility, make your sweaters and button-up shirts all look good together because you can wear them together. If you’re traveling in the summer it might be wise to save space by not bring a sweater. It is up to you.

T-shirts (3 or 4)

While I prefer wearing mostly button-up shirts, I still like the option of wearing a t-shirt. They are good for around the hostel, sleeping, wearing under other shirts and sometimes around town. I usually pack a about four solid color shirts.

Pants (2 pairs)

jeans and pants for Europe

I like to bring a pair of dark slim fit jeans. Dark jeans can be dressed up, completely casual, and they match everything. You can wear jeans for months without washing them and they still won’t stink. Plus, jeans are a staple in every European’s wardrobe (I lived in Paris and most locals wore jeans all the time).  Some hardcore travelers don’t wear jeans because they are fairly heavy and take forever to dry. While they’re right, I still think jeans are the best way to go in Europe. Also bring a pair of  well-fitting neutral/dark color chinos (light-weight cotton). These look nice if you want to dress it up a bit. Please don’t wear those travel pants that zip-off and turn into shorts — they are just way too dorky. I personally think a pair of jeans and a pair of chinos is all you need, but some feel more comfortable with an extra pair of pants.

Shorts – Most European adults don’t wear shorts. You’ll probably be pegged as a tourist if you decide to wear them so just keep that in mind if you plan on bringing them. But just stay away from khaki cargo shorts because that is the stereotypical American tourist outfit.

Swimwear – If you go to the beach then you’ll need something to wear.

Jackets and Rainwear

jacketsheader Obviously, whether you take a jacket or not will depend of when and where you travel.

Fleece Jacket – A nice fleece jacket is a great because it is very lightweight and it provides a lot of warmth. I suggest getting a black fleece jacket just because it will be the most versatile. The Patagonia Synchilla Fleece is an amazing option.

Rain Jacket – A rain jacket is one of those things that take up a lot of space and are rarely used. Therefore, I’d say this would be optional. You probably don’t need one if you’re only visiting cities (just bring an umbrella). If you plan on doing a lot of hiking/being in the wilderness then you might consider it.

Softshell Jacket – A softshell jacket is a nice combination between a fleece and a rain jacket. It won’t be quite as warm as a fleece, but it will be fairly waterproof. The Marmot Precip is an extremely popular jacket and the Marmot Minimalist jacket is a nice and sleek option.

Miscellaneous Items

Sun Glasses - Rayban sunglasses are very popular at the moment.

Scarf – Both men and women wear scarfs in the summer and winter.

Hat and Gloves 

Travel Accessories 

accessoriesheader

 

Travel Backpack

Choosing a backpack is too complicated to outline here. We have a guide for how to choose the perfect backpack for traveling Europe and our recommended travel backpacks for Europe.

Daypackdaypack for europe

A small backpack you wear while exploring the city. It should be just big enough to carry a few thing (journal, souvenirs, small umbrella/light rain jacket, those cute mini-bottles of alcohol, etc). Ideally, you want to be able to pack it into your main backpack without it taking up a ton of space. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite daypacks here.

Packing Cubes packingcubes

Packing cubes are great for keeping all your clothes organized — which is important when you live out of a backpack. There are many companies that make packing cubes, but I like the eBags cubes and the Eagle Creek packing sleeves. If you want more information about how to use packing cubes (or how to properly pack your backpack) check out our guide to properly packing your backpack.

Available via:amazonukamazoncaamazonus

Quick Drying Travel Towel best travel towel for europe

quick drying towel is one of my favorite travel accessories. To be honest, I hate the feel of these towels, but they do an amazing job. They absorb a ton of liquid and they dry in a few hours. Normal towels take hours and hours to dry and they will really make your backpack stink. This is a must-buy. Some advice: These towels are much smaller than a normal towel. I suggest buying the large or XL size—especially if you have long hair. 

Available via:amazonukamazoncaamazonus

Key Chain Flashlight flashlight for hostels in europe

This is essential. A key chain flashlight is perfect for those nights when you return to your hostel dorm room late—don’t piss off your roommates by turning on the lights at 3am. The Streamlight 73001 Nano Light Miniature Keychain LED Flashlight is an amazing little flashlight that is super bright and tiny.

Available via:amazonukamazoncaamazonus

Ear Plugs & Eye Mask

There is a 300% chance that you’ll encounter multiple snorers and people who turn the lights on at 3am. I highly recommend Hearos Ear Plugs (they’re cheap and effective) and there are a range of eye masks for sleeping.

Available via:amazonukamazoncaamazonus

Small Notebook  

It is a great idea to have a small notebook while you travel because you’ll want to jot down notes of interesting things. I prefer using a the classic Moleskine Notebook but there are other brands. Plus, this notebook will serve as a great souvenir after your journey is over. Or you can make your own travel guide — See my post about making your own travel guide.

Available via:amazonukamazoncaamazonus

Travel Sleep Sheet

I found that most hostel sheets were clean, but is isn’t uncommon to find that some are a little less than clean… If you don’t want to chance it then I suggest a cotton Sleep Sheet. Cotton can get a bit heavy and bulky so silk is another option. Not only do Silk Sleep Sacks feel really nice, they are also lightweight and compressible.

Available via:amazonukamazoncaamazonus

Flexible Water Bottle water bottle for traveling in europe

These bottles are lightweight and hardly take up any room in your pack. I prefer these to the common “nalgene” bottles because these take up much less space. I like the Platypus Sport Bottle.

Available via:amazonukamazoncaamazonus

Sink Stopper 

If you plan on ever washing your own clothes in the sink you’ll need a Travel Sink Stopper.

Available via:amazonukamazoncaamazonus

Travel Laundry Soap

You should also pick up some Woolite Travel Laundry Soap or Travelon Laundry Soap Sheets so you can hand wash laundry in a sink.

Available via:amazonukamazoncaamazonus

Flexible Travel Clothesline travel clothesline

Tie the clothesline across your bunk and hang up your wet clothes. I prefer the rubber braided clotheslines because they don’t require any clothespins—you just stick the clothes through the braids. I also don’t like the kind with suction-cups because they never seem to work well.

Available via:amazonukamazoncaamazonus

Stain Remover

Tide To Go Stain Remover Pens are great for getting stains out of clothes. I used this way more than I thought I would have. They even have mini ones that are great for your daypack. These individually wrapped Shout Wipes also work really well.

Available via:amazonukamazoncaamazonus

Padlock

Some hostels will rent you a padlock, but it is easier to bring your own. I like the kind that lets you set your own combo because it is so much easier to use—especially after a few drinks (but they are a little more expensive). Master Lock Set-Your-Own-Combination Padlock

Available via:amazonukamazoncaamazonus

Retractile Cable Locklock for traveling in europe

Retractable cable locks are amazing for locking your backpack to your bunk/luggage rack. It will deter someone from running by and grabbing your bag from your dorm or train car. I used my all the time so I am glad I brought it.

Available via:amazonukamazoncaamazonus

Duct Tape 

You never know when you’ll need to patch something or tape your snoring roommates mouth shut. Don’t take a whole roll—Wrap the tape around a pencil so it won’t take up much space. They also sell travel duct tape.

Available via:amazonukamazoncaamazonus

Swiss-Army Knife/Multitool knife for traveling in europe

MacGyver always carried his trusty swiss army knife (he also had a pretty bitchin’ hockey-haircut). You never know when you’ll have to carve a baguette into a knife so you can cut some French cheese. Unfortunately, I like to always carry-on all my luggage when I fly, so a knife is out of the question. If you want something more robust then look at a multitool device.

Available via:amazonukamazoncaamazonus

Travel Alarm Clock

Don’t forget an alarm clock because it is easy to oversleep those early morning flights and trains. Most phones have an alarm clock function, but you might want to pick up a travel alarm clock if you don’t travel with a phone. There are plenty of travel alarm clocks available so just get a cheap one.

Digital Luggage Scale

If you plan to only carry-on your luggage then you might want to get a digital luggage scale to ensure your bag is under the airline’s weight limit — especially if you purchase things as you travel.

Photocopies Of Important Documents

Make a few copies of your passport and other important documents just in case you lose them.

Gallon Size Zip-Lock Bags

These are good for your dirty or wet socks/underwear. Put any liquids in zip-lock bags. In fact, double bag them. I’ve seen many backpackers open their bags to find that their shampoo bottle had spilled all over their clothes. Also, for extra protection, put your important travel documents/passport in a plastic bag. I usually buy the Zip-Lock brand because they are better quality than the value brand.

Money Belt moneybelt for backpacking in europe

I hate money belts but some people swear by them. I think I wore mine for about 10 minutes before I threw it into the bottom of my bag and never saw it again. Just get a skinny wallet and put it in your front pocket. I always leave my passport locked up in the hostel. It is up to you to decide if you feel like you need one.

Available via:amazonukamazoncaamazonus

Collapsible Umbrella best umbrella for travel

Searching for an umbrella in an unfamiliar city (especially while it’s raining) isn’t any fun. Trust me. I suggest buying a travel umbrella before you leave.

Available via:amazonukamazoncaamazonus

Plastic Travel Utensils 

Plastic travel utensils are essential for the budget traveler. They come in really handy if you get a cheap lunch at a grocery store or you want a romantic picnic in the park with your new European “friend.” If you want to be a true baller then check out this titanium spork.

Available via:amazonukamazoncaamazonus

Toothbrush Cover

A toothbrush cover is something you’ll want to bring along since hostel bathrooms are not always super clean. I like the Steripod Clip-on Toothbrush Sanitizer covers because they sanitize the brush while the cover is on. I’m not sure how this scientific voodoo works, but it does. Or you can just get a normal toothbrush cover.

Available via:amazonukamazoncaamazonus

Lint Roller

Lint rollers are a must because all those dark clothes attract a lot of lint and they need to be spiffed up about every day.

Available via:amazonukamazoncaamazonus

Ziploc Bags

I like to bring a few quart and gallon size ziploc bags because they are great for holding damp or dirty clothes. Ziploc also makes a large 3 gal bag that are nice for storing an extra pair of shoes (so you don’t get your clothes dirty).

Available via:amazonukamazoncaamazonus

Electronics Packing List

Read my guide to traveling with electronics for more in-depth advice about using electronic devices while traveling.

Travel Power Strip

Power outlets are a hot commodity in most hostels. I’ve stayed in hostels that only had two outlets in a room with 10 people. A travel power strip can be a lifesaver when you need to charge/power all your devices. Plus, you’ll make a lot of friends when other people can plug into your power strip. This Monster 4 Outlet Travel Power Strip is my favorite (there is also a 6 outlet version). There is also the Belkin Travel Power Strip with USB ports which is also a nice option.

Available via:amazonukamazoncaamazonus

Digital Camera w/ Charger

You’ll obviously want a camera when you travel. Check out my guide to picking the best digital camera for travel. Don’t forget the extras…

  • Extra Memory Cards: Make sure you have plenty of memory cards/high capacity cards. I made this mistake on my first trip to Europe, and I had to always find a computer so I could transfer pictures off my card to free-up space.
  • Extra Battery: Buy an extra battery or two from Amazon. I bought a super cheap 3rd party battery from some seller in China and it was extremely helpful on my trip.

iPhone/iPad/iPod

You can use these to help plan your trip, find directions, listen to music and a ton more. I think these devices are going to make travel much more enjoyable.

Laptop or iPad

Laptops are becoming more popular in the backpacking world. To me, they seem like a huge hassle and people end up spending a lot of time on them (although I understand the draw of having easy access to a computer). A netbook wouldn’t be too bad, but I would buy an iPad if I had the money. Read our article about the best laptops for travel for more help on choosing a travel computer.

Cell Phone

Don’t make calls with your home cell phone because it either won’t work or it will cost a fortune. If your phone does work, you’ll need to buy a European SIM card (you can get one all over Europe).

Outlet Plug Adapter 

Plug adapters change the plug on your electronics to fit the outlet of the country (UK and Europe are different plugs). Don’t confuse these with “voltage adapters”. Read the savvy guide for traveling with electronics to find out the difference.

Available via:amazonukamazoncaamazonus

Toiletries for Europe Travel

It is pretty amazing how heavy all your toiletries can become. Between the shampoo, body wash, toothpaste and everything else it is easy to amass 5-10lbs of stuff (most of it you don’t need). Honestly, most of this stuff you can buy once you arrive. Plus, I’ve always liked going to European grocery stores to see what they have. But if you have particular needs then you’ll want to bring those things with you.

Hanging Toiletries Bag

The first thing you should get is a toiletry bag that can hang. Most hostel bathrooms are small and have no shelf space, so being able to hang up your bag is incredibly convenient. I use the Ogio Doppler bag because it is sturdy and compact, but still has a lot of room. This will save you a lot of hassle. Trust me.

Available via:amazonukamazoncaamazonus

Shampoo/Conditioner/Body Wash

Pour the liquid into one of those small travel-sized bottles. You can always buy more if you ever need it.

Toothpaste & Toothbrush

Don’t buy a travel toothbrush—they’re a waste of money and don’t really even work. I just stick with a normal toothbrush and a zip-lock bag. Don’t forget the dental floss while you’re at it.

Shaving Stuff (Razors & Cream)

I usually like to just grow a beard so I don’t have to deal with shaving. If you’re going to grow a beard I suggest starting a few weeks before the trip so you don’t have to deal with the “itchy” stage while traveling. If you’re going to shave, I suggest bringing a travel size shaving foam and some disposable razors. An electric razor probably won’t work, and it will cost too much to buy a new one, so stick with the good ol’ manual shave.

Deodorant

French cheese is stinky enough. But seriously, I’ve found that deodorant in Europe is formulated differently than in N. America. It seemed like it took my body a few weeks to get used to the new formula, so you might want to bring your own if you don’t want to chance it.

Chap-Stick w/Sunscreen

Make out sessions are no fun with sunburnt lips.

Contact Lens/Solution/Glasses

Contacts can be a pain, especially in polluted cities. Eyeglasses might be a better choice.

Makeup

I don’t know anything about makeup but try to limit it to the essentials.

Condomscondoms

Some souvenirs are no fun. If you play your cards right you might need to buy in bulk. Eighth Grade Safety Tip: Don’t keep condoms in your wallet because it makes them break down quicker.

Available via:amazonukamazoncaamazonus

Travel Febreze/Fabric Freshener 

This is good for freshening up your clothes. I like the travel-sized Febreze To Go.

Available via:amazonukamazoncaamazonus

Travel Size Toilet Paper

You never know when you’ll be out. This is something you really want to get.

Wet Wipes/Baby Wipes

Hopefully you won’t need them, but they are good to have. I like the Cottonelle Fresh Flushable Wipes because they come individually wrapped so they’re super easy to pack. 

Available via:amazonukamazoncaamazonus

Hand Sanitizer

Hostels aren’t the cleanest places you’ll ever visit…

Cologne/Perfume

Go get a few of those free cologne samples from the store or buy a small bottle. Don’t bring a big bottle because it is too heavy. I like to bring a few different colognes for night/day.

First-Aid Packing List

I would pack minimal first-aid supplies because you can get everything easily in Europe. Just get the very basics.

Prescription Drugs

The prescription needs to be on the bottle/box because some countries will check your medicine when you pass immigration. I’ve never been asked to present any medicine but it is possible. Also make sure you have enough medicine to cover your entire trip. I’m not really sure of the rules about buying prescription medication overseas but I’m sure it is a hassle.

Pain Medicine

In many European counties you can only get medicine (even basic stuff like Tylenol) from a pharmacy. This isn’t really a problem, but some pharmacies have limited open hours. Might as well have a few pills on you before you arrive.

Band Aids

For your widdle boo-boos.

Motion Sickness Pills

Don’t rock the boat—seriously, I’m going to lose it.

Anti-Bacteria Travelers Diarrhea Medicine

You’ll need to get the diarrhea medicine from your doctor, but it works a lot better than Pepto. Most likely you won’t need it in Europe but…

Pepto Tablets

Helps settle your stomach. The Pepto-Bismol caplets are much more convenient to carry in your bag than the liquid.

Small Pack of Tissues

These are helpful for when you look at your credit card bill.

Stuff Your Don’t Need

Here is a list of things that a lot of people bring to Europe but end up never using.

Sleeping Bag: Sleeping Bags are bulky and heavy. Unless you are camping or sleeping on someone’s floor, you don’t need a sleeping bag.

Sleeping Pad: There is no need for a sleeping pad if you’re staying in hostels. I guess if you’re going to couchsurf or camp it could come in handy.

Hairdryer: Buy one in Europe if you need it – they are cheap. Don’t bring your own because it will fry (even with a fancy power converter). The dual voltage hairdryers usually don’t work too well.

Wire Mesh Backpack Theft Protection (Pacsafe):  The Pacsafe Anti-Theft Bag Protector (or via Amazon.ca & Amazon.co.uk) may seem like a good idea for protecting your backpack, but you really don’t need it — especially since most hostels provide safe places to store your bags. These might be better suited for “ sketchier” parts of the world or if you are traveling with lots of expensive electronics. But, for most travelers, they just add a lot of weight to your pack. I talked to a few people who had them and everyone said that they stopped using it after a few days.

Water Filter: The water is fine in Europe. You can always buy big bottles of water at the grocery store for cheap.

A Lot of Books: Books are bulky and heavy. Many hostels have a collection of books and you’re free to swap. Travelers also swap books among each other.

Valuables: Don’t bring anything that you really don’t want to lose. Leave the fancy jewelry at home. Tech stuff is trickier because it is expensive but sometimes essential for travel. Use your best judgment.

Beach Towel: These take forever to dry and take up a lot of room. If you do bring one, make sure it is dry before you put it in your backpack. A damp towel will make everything in your bag smell really musty. Or you’ll have to tie it to the outside of your backpack and you’ll look like you’re wearing a superhero cape. I recommend a quick drying travel towel — People with long hair might want two.

Guitar: Don’t be that guy.

Hiking/Backpacking Food: You don’t need prepackaged travel meals. These are for hiking in the wilderness. There are plenty of McDonald’s/Burger Kings if you ever get really desperate (so what, I like McFlurries. Sue me).

Do a Test Run Before You Go

Load up your bag and see how heavy it is. Walk around with it for 20 minutes. You’ll be surprised how heavy all your stuff can be. You might consider repacking if your backpack weighs too much. I would try to keep your total bag weight around 20lbs. I’ve seen people with packs weighing over 40lbs and they quickly see how terrible having a heavy pack really is.

Check out my guide for how to pack your bag or backpack for traveling in Europe.

Where to Buy Travel Gear

My top choice for buying gear is Amazon because they seem to have the best selection and prices. Here are a few other companies that sell travel equipment:

MooseJaw: Hiking, camping and travel gear.

REI: One of the largest outdoor retailers.

eBags: Good selection of bags and backpacks.

 

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  • Pjmilty

    Great list, but I have to disagree w/ the suggestion for jeans. I traveled for 18 months and purposefully didn’t take a pair. They are heavy and take up a lot of valuable space.they also take forever to dry which was the rational in avoiding cotton underpants. (everything is on a clothes line, or hanging from the end of a bunk bed).

    Thanks for the in depth article – I loved your comment on “that guy” with the guitar. Our “that guy” was in a hostel in Battambang, Cambodia . . . even tried to play Pink Floyd!

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for the comment.

      Everything you say about jeans is correct but I still like having jeans. It’s totally a personal preference.

      You can wear jeans for 2+ months without washing them so you don’t need to wash them often. But, I really only recommend jeans for Europe. Places like SE Asia is probably a different story.

  • Theek

    I’m a last-minute packer, and always end up with a full 23kg backpack before I’ve even left Australia to start my trips (my shopping/souvenirs always end up in my poor boyfriend’s near empty backpack). Cutting it down to 10kg is going to be near impossible, but with your backpacking list, I might succeed.

    Thanks a lot for this list!

    • TSB

      It does take a bit of practice to get your load down but I’m sure you can do it :-)

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  • Aghogho Edevbie

    Did the Outlets to Go work with 240V without a converter? Some reviews on amazon have said otherwise.

    • James Feess

      This unit doesn’t convert the voltage. High end electronics (like laptops, cameras, etc) have converters built in. Look at the plug for your electronics and it will show its voltage range. 

  • Sprado_2

    Makeup: The basics are Foundation/coverup, mascara and eyeliner everything else is not important
    eye shadow and blush can break apart and make a huge mess.

    • James Feess

      Thanks for the tips! I’m in the process of writing a packing list for women.

  • Pab4430

    We use a regular bungee cord for hanging up wet clothes. I have to take a few clothes pins but works great. 

    • savvybackpacker

      Good idea!

  • anonymous

    Pajamas?

    • savvybackpacker

      I normally just sleep in shorts and a t shirt.

  • Dan

    Wow, thanks! This is super helpful. How big of a backpack did you take? I’ve told going above 50L might be too much, and also it prevents you from carrying on flights, so I’m aiming for 50L.

    That being said… did you ever have problems bringing a pocket knife or soap/shampoo on your flights?

  • pietro c

    i dunno how you get 10kgs i have packed pretty much exactly as you say and have over 15 kgs! any other tips????

    • savvybackpacker

      Maybe cut down on the toiletries? Those add up quickly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/michaeltorras Michael Torras

    hey bud! Excellent write up man. It was extremely helpful in deciding what I’m going to take with me when I travel over to Europe for 2 weeks in July.

    I do have a question… What did you do about souvenirs? I mean… I know this whole thing is on a budget but I’m not going to be able to stop myself from buy things for myself and/or family/friends while I’m over there.

    Is it feasible to ship them back instead of lugging them around the whole tip? I’m wide open to ideas.

    Thanks!

    • savvybackpacker

      I bought plenty of souvenirs! I mostly bought small things… postcards, trinkets, scarves, t-shirts, soccer jerseys, etc.— basically stuff that wasn’t a pain to carry around. But for two weeks it shouldn’t be too tough… unless you buy something large.
      You can easily send stuff back home. International shipping can get a bit expensive but it generally isn’t too bad. But honestly, my photographs were my favorite souvenir. I created a big photobook when I got back.

      And thanks again for the kind words. If you want to support the site you can always buy stuff through my amazon links!

      • http://www.facebook.com/michaeltorras Michael Torras

        Ahh smart man. I was going to suggest that you sign up as an Amazon affiliate when I was reading your site late last night but I forgot to mention it just now.

        • savvybackpacker

          :-) Yeah, gotta pay these web hosting bills!

  • Kevin

    Thanks for the awesome list. One question about knives/multitools. Are there any laws that would get my Leatherman confiscated and/or get me in trouble with the law? It has a 3″ locking blade. Note that I will only be traveling via train and am flying military air to and from Europe.

  • Mark

    Fantastic read, thanks for all the hard work!

  • Matt

    Amazing find (this site)! Was nervous about my first multi-week trip to Europe backpacking/hosteling with my son for his grad present. Great memories ahead and worry behind after reading all of this advice. I will definitely order on Amazon through your site. Cheers, enjoy an ice cold beer.

  • Steve

    Thanks for the list, I found it very useful. One thing you should look into including is dr bronners peppermint soap. Poured into a small bottle, it can be used as body soap, shampoo, toothpaste, mouth wash, shaving cream, and laundry soap. My “toiletry kit” was a ziplock bag with a toothbrush, disposable razor, and a small bottle of dr bronners

  • jvoight15

    Really helpful! Thank you so much! Im planning my trip right now and im going to leave in the next two years!

  • Miss Rose Mary Hebert

    Hi,
    How are you? I am fine.
    Will you send me a request catalog or newsletter?
    My address here is:
    Miss Rose Mary Hebert
    P.O. Box 1529
    Plattsburgh, NY 12901
    Then I will order it.
    518-907-0271
    rhebert726@gmail.com
    I want read and look for pictures a request catalog or newsletter book.
    What I like a pictures for something and anything and many differents & etc..
    Any Questions?
    Thank-You, Rose Hebert

  • Caspian

    Amazing ! Very helpful :)

  • Andrea

    This website is so helpfull! I am planning my trip to Europe for this coming summer. How many countries did you visit when you went?

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  • savvybackpacker

    Hi David,
    Thanks for the kind words. I agree that bringing everything on this list might be overkill for some people but I’ve also met travelers who bring 2x as much. To each his own, I guess.