Travel Tips

Europe’s Packing Lists for Backpacking: Guide for All Travelers!

Europe’s Packing Lists for Backpacking: Guide for All Travelers!
Miriam Jaffe
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Miriam is a writer whose content focuses on travel, and other adventures abroad like studying or working as an English language assistant. Her favorite places she's visited (so far) include London, UK, Angers, France, and the entire country of Norway. She loves traveling; when she's not dreaming of new locations to explore, you can find her singing, acting, or dancing (probably all three), fueling her Harry Potter addiction any way she can, or trying to come up with clever puns.

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Getting ready to go backpacking through Europe, but not sure what to bring with you? Packing can be a stressful endeavor under the best of circumstances, and getting everything into a backpack is no different. That’s why it’s important to stick with the essentials. Wondering what we recommend packing? Read on for the inside scoop! 

Packed suitcase
Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash

Backpacking essentials

First things first, let’s talk about backpacking essentials. You’re going to want a sturdy backpack that can last you for all your trip, and one that is comfortable to carry, too. No matter what backpack you choose to use, make sure to check size restrictions for any airlines you use to know if it can be a carry-on, or if you might have to check it. 

Since the kind of backpack, you’ll need will come down to how long you’re traveling, and how much you can carry, there isn’t one specific recommended backpack. That being said, if you’re looking for reliable brands, OspreyTortuga, and Patagonia are good, reliable choices. 

Hiking in trails essentials
Photo by tamara garcevic on Unsplash

What to bring

If you’re headed on a backpacking trip across Europe, you’re going to want to pack accordingly. Since you’re leaving with just a backpack, you want to make sure you maximize your space. A way to minimize what you pack? Minimize bringing along things like toiletries that you can easily buy while you travel. 

Using packing cubes while you pack is a great way to make the most of the limited packing space you have. This is also a wonderful way to organize your backpack so you know where everything is (or a good way to separate clean and dirty clothes).   

If you have room, packing a hanging toiletry bag is also a great way to store any toiletries you do bring, while being able to keep them all in one place. This is also super handy if you’re staying at a hostel with minimal shelf space as you can easily hang the bag up and access all your necessities!

Packing checklist

When you’re packing your backpack, here are the things we think you should make sure to have! This checklist covers packing for both men and women so feel free to pick and choose what applies best for what you need. 

  • Socks (4-5 pairs): Be sure to bring along comfortable walking socks, and be prepared to do laundry/hand washing of your socks.
  • Underwear: Choose pairs in fabrics that dry easily (cotton, or synthetic).
  • Bras: Bring at least two pairs. A quick-dry sports bra is also an easy addition for comfort, or even to use as a top at the beach.
  • Shoes (at most two pairs): We know that shoes are an important part of any outfit, but they’re bulky and more importantly, add weight. You’ll want one reliable pair of shoes you can comfortably walk in (like tennis shoes), and if you have room, feel free to bring along another pair. Be sure to also pack a pair of shower shoes!
  • Shirts: Bring a mix of t-shirts, button-ups/long sleeve shirts depending on the weather. Lighter weight shirts will wash and dry more easily.
  • Pants (two pairs): Bring along your favorite pair of jeans, and then the second pair of pants for when those get dirty or need a wash.
  • Dress(es): At most two, lightweight dresses that can be both casual and dressed up for a night out on the town.
  • Sleepwear: Whether you want to pack a pair of pajamas or some leggings/an extra t-shirt, make sure you have something to wear at night, especially if you’re staying in a shared space.
  • Jacket: This will depend on when and where you travel, but it’s never a bad idea to have some kind of outerwear layer. If you’re going to a rainy place, make sure it’s waterproof!
  • Thermal underwear: If you’re traveling in Northern Europe, especially during the winter months, you’ll be glad to have these extra layers! 
  • Hat/Scarf/Gloves: If you’re traveling in winter, these layers will be a lifesaver in most of Europe (not to mention, they’re fashionable so you’ll fit right in with the locals)!
  • Travel towel: While some hostels provide towels, that’s not always the case, so bringing your own is the best way to be prepared. A microfiber towel is a great, fast-drying option to bring with you.
  • Padlock: When staying in hostels, you should always carry a lock with you to keep your valuables, and personal belongings safe. In a pinch, you could purchase one abroad, but it’s never a bad idea to be prepared.
  • Plug adapters: All of Europe (except the UK) use the same plug configuration, but if that’s not what your chargers are shaped like, you’ll need an adapter! One like this works internationally and comes with USB ports for easy charging anywhere.
  • Daypack: You don’t want to be lugging around your big travel backpack everywhere so whether it’s a purse or a small daypack backpack, we recommend you carry something smaller for everyday use.
What to pack for backpackers
Photo by Alice Donovan Rouse on Unsplash

Women’s travel clothes tips

No offense to the men out there, but when it comes to packing, women tend to have a slightly harder time. Europe can feel like a fashionable place, and as such, you want to fit in - sometimes easier said than done while traveling. Fear not, we’re here to help.

For summer weather, bring skirts along! In a lot of Europe, shorts aren’t common summer attire for women, and if you’re in a country that adheres to that, wearing them will make you scream tourist! Sticking to skirts and dresses will help you stay cool in the heat, while also blending in with the locals. 

In the winter, if you’re wanting to dress up a little, tights are a must! You’ll see loads of women in Europe wearing skirts and dresses in the winter, accompanied by tights or pantyhose. Add that to your packing list to stay warm and fashionable. Scarves are also a must! 

packing clothes using packing cubes
Photo by Sarah Brown on Unsplash

You’re a packing king/queen!

While packing can feel daunting, it’s easy if you break it down piece by piece. With our handy checklist, you can rest assured that you’ve brought everything you’ll need, knowing that most everything can be bought in Europe in case of an emergency. By traveling with just a backpack, you’ll be free to roam how you please. 

Want to go backpacking in Europe but not sure where to start? Absolutely no worries! If you’re looking for advice on what to do in Europe, we’ve got you covered. Whether you’re looking for a months-long adventure or a quick holiday, we at Pilot want to make travel a breeze. Head over to our website for itinerary planning ideas, destination inspiration, budgeting tips, and more to make your travel dreams come true, wherever you want to go. See you there!


Disclosure: Pilot is supported by our community. We may earn a small commission fee with affiliate links on our website. All reviews and recommendations are independent and do not reflect the official view of Pilot.

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