A backpackers haven full of medieval towns, archaeological sites, some of the world’s best beaches, mountains and incredible cities full of endless possibilities. Fantastic public transport infrastructure and seamless transitions between borders, this is Europe! So you’ve decided to book your trip to Europe and can’t wait to start your exciting adventure, but unsure of what exactly needs to go inside your backpack? No need to fear, we’ve got all your essential needs covered and this is our ultimate Europe packing list!
Most of our absolute favourite European destinations such as Spain, Portugal, Greece, Croatia, Italy and France are all blessed with copious amounts of sunshine, especially during the summer seasons. With the amount of time you’ll be spending in the sun, you’ll definitely need a pair of sunglasses. You’ll want to find something that’s fashionable but not overly expensive as sunglasses are often the first casualties of travelling, and are likely to get broken. So you’ll want to make sure you bring a hard case to help protect them in your bag. At most European summer hotspots you’ll be able to purchase a decent pair of sunglasses from a street vendor.
: @Christopher Czermak
While your smart phone might be adequate enough for taking pictures, take your photography to the next level and invest in a camera for your European trip. Europe is a photographer’s paradise and you’ll never be at a shortage of things to shoot. If you already own a camera and are uncertain if you’re going to bring it or not, because you’re worried it might get stolen or lost that’s understandable. However, in my opinion, what’s the point of owning a camera if you don’t take it where the opportunities are? You’ll regret not bringing it with you.
3. ME App
For most of us travelling on a shoestring budget, we like to turn off our data roaming and mostly stick to using Wi-Fi on our phones to save money on ridiculous international data roaming fees. This can make it a tad tricky when you don’t have regular access to Google Maps to find your way around a foreign city. Thankfully there’s a fantastic app you can download called Maps.Me, which is essentially an offline version of Google Maps that works without using data or relying on Wi-Fi. Sounds a little too good to be true, doesn’t it? The app is free to download, and while in Wi-Fi you will need to download the city map you’re in so it can then work offline. The app was designed for backpackers, showing you all the ATM’s, Wi-Fi points, hostels and public transport stations on the map, along with many more useful points of reference. I wouldn’t travel Europe again without downloading this little gem!
4. Beach Blanket
This is actually something that’s best saved until you get to Europe, rather than packing yourself. On any Mediterranean beach, or summer destination, it’s safe to assume there will be a lot of street vendors selling products for tourists. While most of their products aren’t of a terribly high standard, one of the best purchases you’ll make is one of their beach blankets. These are usually a large square blanket with a funky design on it, that allows up to 3 people to lounge on comfortably. They usually sell these beach blankets for around €15. They are multi-purpose, and carrying one with you during your travels will allow for easy access to picnics no matter where you might be! These beach blankets are a very useful investment and a great souvenir to bring home.
5. GoEuro App
Another great app for travelling through Europe is GoEuro, which is a super convenient and easy to use search engine that compares all major forms of travel throughout Europe. This includes flights, buses, trains and car journeys and not just in major European cities, but also the smaller, more remote areas of Europe off the beaten path. GoEuro figures out the overall travel time and cost associated with all the transport options making it easier for you to budget and plan your Europe travels! If you haven’t already, download it now for free!
: @Andrea Maschio
6. Money Belt
A lot of major European cities can unfortunately be a hotspot for pickpockets who prey on vulnerable tourists, so carrying a money belt is a great way to help protect yourself while backpacking in Europe. Most money belts are worn around your waist underneath your shirt. Although they might not be the most fashionable thing to wear in Europe, you’ll know that you’re money is safer than in your pockets.
7. Quick Drying Towel
A quick drying towel is a lifesaver while travelling, and this should be a nonnegotiable when packing for Europe. Although they can feel a tad odd against your skin after a shower, they absorb a lot more water than a regular towel and will air dry super quickly compared to a regular towel. A quick drying towel is also a good option because they’re not as bulky in your backpack as carrying a regular towel. If you’ve got long hair you might consider bringing two of these with you, one for your body and the other for your hair.
8. Reusable Water Bottle
We live in 2018 guys, it’s about time we all start to clean up our act and be conscious of our global footprint and the environment. I see way too many travellers go out and buy a plastic water bottle while exploring a city, and then throw it in the rubbish bin and buy another one a short while later. This really grinds my gears. Travelling with a reusable water bottle is a fantastic idea and should be one of the first items that you pack.
: @Heidi Sandstrom
Doesn’t matter what time of year you choose to travel to Europe, travelling with sunscreen is always a good option. In summer, sunscreen is a nonnegotiable, but even in the spring and fall the sun in certain European countries can be intense and have high levels of UV. You don’t need to go crazy with the amount of sunscreen you bring; there are plenty of travel-sized sunscreens available for purchase from drugstores and supermarkets.
Stuck on a long train and the person next to you is snoring? Yep, we’ve all been there. Or what about when that weirdo won’t stop talking to you? Ah. There’s a simple solution, headphones! In all seriousness, I wouldn’t ever travel without them. One of the best feelings in the world is just taking some time for yourself, relaxing and listening to some of your favourite music. This shouldn’t be any different when you’re travelling, if anything, it’s more important! While travelling we’re exposed to different people, cultures, foods and languages. It can be quite overwhelming and a bit daunting at times, but exciting nevertheless! Taking some time at the end of the day, to reflect and unwind is important for your mental health and well-being and one of the best ways to do this is to find a quiet spot and listen to some music. Sit on a park bench, lie on your hostel bed or go for a walk, whatever you decide to do, having a pair of headphones while you travel is a great idea!
11. Eye Mask and Ear Plugs
No matter where in the world you are, people can be loud and annoying. Picking up a basic sleeping eye mask and earplug combination is usually super cheap, and you should be able to get one from any drug store or supermarket. No matter what hostel you’re in, people will be coming in and out of the room during the night or in the mornings. Having access to an eye mask can make the world of difference.
12. Laundry Bag
When you’re living out of a backpack, things can quite quickly get disorganised and messy. It’s been a long day of travelling, and those socks you’ve been wearing all day are really starting to smell. That pair of underwear that you’ve already worn twice, once normally and once inside out (yes, you know the one) are definitely ready for a wash. Keeping your dirty clothes far away from your clean clothes is essential while living out of a backpack, and the best way to do this is by always travelling with a laundry bag, to help separate your clothes. It’s also super handy when it’s time to do your washing, as you can just grab your laundry bag and head to the washing machine. This one is essential, not just for your sake but for everyone else!
13. Basic First Aid Kit
Now, I don’t want to sound like your nagging grandmother and preach safety, but it is always a smart idea to travel with a basic first aid kit, as accidents can happen to anyone, anywhere! Some useful items to include in your basic first aid kit should include:
~ Band Aids
~ Prescription medication you might be taking
~ Small pair of scissors
~ Motion sickness tablets (if you suffer from this)
~ Basic bandages
~ Allergy tablets if you suffer from hay fever
~ Gauze swabs
~ Antiseptic wipes
~ Condoms (staying sexually safe)
~ Tampons (feminine hygiene)
14. Keychain Flashlight
This one is important and easily clips onto your backpack, making it super convenient while you travel. As a community of travellers, we understand that sometimes you need to get up early to make that flight, get to the train station or see the sunrise, and nobody likes it when you switch on the light in the dorm room. Having a flashlight in these situations will make you much more popular with other travellers. Another great use for a flashlight is late at night walking home. In some European cities, especially in the quieter suburban streets, can be quite dark, so having a flashlight can help make you feel safer, but also help you navigate your way through the dark.
: @Javier M
While most hostels will offer a padlock to rent or to buy from their reception, travelling with your own padlock is always a smart idea in Europe. Whenever I spend time in cities that have a history of pickpockets (Rome, Barcelona, Paris etc) I will always use my padlock to lock my daypack while exploring the city. Whenever you stay in a hostel, you’ll always have access to a locker to keep your valuables in, so having your own padlock that you feel comfortable and familiar with makes a big difference, even just for peace of mind!
16. Photocopies of important documents
For anyone that has ever had to deal with losing a passport or visa document, you’ll know the importance of having photocopies of important travel documents with you! Luckily this has never happened to me (touch wood) but it has happened to close friends of mine while travelling, and all of a sudden your whole trip can turn into a disaster. Having a backup of your passport, travel insurance, important ID cards and other documents is a smart idea. You can either travel with a hard copy of these documents that have been printed off, or have digital access to them as an email. Although this might take a little bit of organisation before you embark on your trip, if the worst was to happen, you’ll be glad you went to the added effort!
17. Outlet Plug Adaptor
Keeping your gadgets and gizmos in full charge while travelling is a necessity in this day and age. While abroad it’s important to know that outlets work differently. The majority of European countries (with the exception of the United Kingdom) all use the same power outlet plugs. But if you’re from any part of the world outside of Europe, none of your electronics will work in their power point sockets. One of the best purchases you can make before travelling is a “universal” outlet plug adaptor that allows you to charge your electronics on every continent. These always have a universal design that allows for a multitude of plug options.
18. Travel Insurance
Sometimes things are completely out of our control and you might need to change or cancel your plans at the last minute. We get it! We definitely recommend you get yourself some travel insurance for the duration of your European adventure! This will help cover your travel gear, flights, medical emergencies and other useful things. There are plenty of great travel insurance options out there, so spend some time finding out which one is the best fit for you. Getting stuck in a sticky situation overseas can be a nightmare, and an expensive nightmare at that. Always travel with the comfort of travel insurance.
: @Tom Grimbert
So you’re travelling in Europe in summer, well lucky you! These are some of the items you’ll definitely want to consider packing:
- Bathers: Keep it simple, 1 or 2 pairs max! You’ll be in a lot of fantastic summery destinations will options to buy more if you need to.
- Flip Flops: It’s too hot to be wearing shoes all day right? Flip flops are great shoe options for summer destinations or days spent at the beach, and it’s always nice to have access to them if you’re using a public shower.
- Underwear: It’s always a good idea to over pack underwear than to under pack. As a general rule you’ll want enough to last you an entire week, as you wont want to spend too much time doing your laundry. You’ll want to consider a range of underwear options as well, with a mixture of practical, comfortable and sexy. Any underwear that is breathable and dries very quickly should be favoured.
- Shorts/Skirts: Shorts/skirts are a great way of being fashionable while still staying relatively cool during those warm summer days in Europe. They also don’t take up too much space in the backpack.
- Deodorant: Its summer and it’s hot. We all sweat more during the summer, and carrying a good deodorant with you is just good hygiene.
- Hat: We all want to make sure we’re being sun smart during the summer months. Having a hat can be a saving grace, especially if you’re going to be spending extended hours lounging on a beach. A good hat will provide some much needed shade when there is none, and is a great way of avoiding heat stroke.
Travelling through Europe during winter can get very cold, and requires a little bit more planning due to unpredictable weather. While it depends on what region of Europe you’ll be travelling through, here are some of the winter essentials you want to bring:
- Rain Jacket: Although they can be a tad on the bulky side, travelling with a good rain jacket during winter is vital. The weather during winter is likely to be cold for the entire duration of your trip, so you’ll more than likely be wearing your rain jacket on travel days anyway, so you wont need to worry about fitting it into your backpack.
- Scarf: A scarf is a staple of any Europeans wardrobes and is a stylish and versatile accessory to travel with. They will keep you warm during your travels, along with completing that wintry look.
- Hiking Boots: Whether or not you intend to do any hiking during your time in Europe, hiking boots make for great winter shoes. There’s bound to be a lot of snow, sleet and rain during your time (especially in Eastern Europe) and even walking through some old towns can be challenging. Hiking boots are great at ensuring your feet stay warm and dry, but also helping to provide that little bit of extra grip when slippery. An added bonus, if you do decide to go on a hike, you’ll have the boots with you.
- Thermal Underwear: It can get bloody freezing at night during winter in Europe, and if you’re anything like me, I hate being cold while trying to get to sleep. Thermal underwear is literally a lifesaver and makes a world of different. Trust us on this one.
- Gloves: Gloves are a great way of keeping your hands warm while out exploring a foreign city during the winter months while in Europe.
- Thick socks: For the same reason you’ll want to bring hiking boots, having warm, thick socks can make the world of difference in ensuring your feet stay warm during the winter months. They really make a difference, and if you haven’t experienced winter in a cold climate (looking at you Aussies) you’ll regret not bringing them with you.
- Warm Pyjamas: Having something warm to sleep in during winter is a must.
About the author: My name is Louis Cuthbert; I have been travelling the globe for the last two and a half years documenting my adventures. Follow my journey on Instagram @one_globe_travels.
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