Backpacking in Europe – What Should I Bring?

Europe is comprised of so many different countries, all of which offer a vivid history and a brilliant culture. On one continent, you can see some of the most ancient sites in the world, such as the Parthenon and the Coliseum, soak up the sun and the surf of the Mediterranean beaches, trek through the Alpines, tour castles and museums filled with some of the most famous relics in the world, dine on world-class delicacies and experience the traditions of varied cultures; and those are just some of the things that you can do while you’re in Europe.

Because there is so much to see and do in Europe, many people opt to backpack through the continent. Traveling this away affords them the opportunity to really immerse themselves in all that Europe has to offer; plus, it’s a very economical way to travel.

Packing for a backpacking excursion through Europe is much different than packing for a traditional trip where you would only be traveling to one or a few destinations and likely staying in hotels. Since you will always be on the move and have to carry all of your belongings with you, you want to make sure that you travel light; but, since you are going to be staying for an extended period of time and traveling throughout different cultures, you want to make sure that you have all of the gear that you need to make your trip a successful one.

To help make backing for a European backing trip a little bit easier, I want to share with you some of my insight and advice. I’ve done several backpacking trips throughout the continent, and I think that the information I offer in this guide is pretty handy.

Pack Light

One of the most important keys to a successful backpacking trip through Europe is packing light. You will be toting your gear with you throughout your trip, which means that you don’t want to be weighed down. Imagine trying to hike through the Alpines while you’re wearing a big, heavy pack on your back? Yeah, it’s not very enjoyable.

I suggest you limit yourself to a pack that is no more than 25 pounds, and that’s including your back and everything you will pack in it. So, how can you make sure that you pack as lightly as possible, yet have everything you need? Here are my tips:

  • Cut down on your clothing. Most of the weight in your pack will come from your clothing. Most travelers bring way more than they need, which will lead to unnecessary weight on your back. The key here is to bring pieces that are versatile and can be worn in different climates and different cultures. Also, choose items that you can layer so you can add on more when you get cold and remove them when you get warm. A few pairs of pants, short and long-sleeved shirts, a more formal (but not too formal) outfit, a few pairs of socks and comfortable shoes are really the only items of clothing that you need.
  • Cut back on your toiletries. You don’t need to bring a hair dryer, tons of makeup and lotions. Bring only the basics, such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant and soap.
  • Skip the bulky electronics. While it might be nice to have a laptop, you really aren’t going to want to lug it around; plus, you don’t want to run the risk of damaging it.

Must-Have Items for a European Backpacking Trip

So, what are the essentials for a European backpacking trip? Here’s a look at the items that I highly suggest you bring with you to make your excursion as successful, enjoyable and memorable as possible.

  • A travel insurance policy is an absolute must when you are backpacking through Europe. It will protect you from any unforeseen circumstances that could potentially impact your trip and put you out of money. Make sure you bring along the paperwork for your policy, or at the very least, the contact information of your provider and your policy information.
  • A day backpack is definitely a good idea. When you find a location that you are going to spend a night or two in, you’ll be thankful that you have a lighter pack that you can switch to while you explore the area you are staying in. Leave your big pack securely locked up in a hostel, bed and breakfast or wherever else you might be staying and transfer the essentials into a day pack.
  • Quick drying towels will come in very handy. These towels absorb a lot of liquid and dry in just a few hours, which means that you won’t have to deal with a bulky, damp towel in your back.
  • Travel sheets are handy, too. If you come across a hostel that doesn’t meet your standards for clean, you’ll be glad you have a travel sheet set to sleep on.