While everyone has different ideas on what counts as ‘important travel items’ and how many times clothes can be re-worn before they need a wash it’s important to have a good idea of what you will need at least a couple of weeks before setting off. This list is designed for travelling for an extended period of time and works on the principle that you will come into contact with a washing machine at least once a week or you’re prepared to wash things by hand until you find one.
While it is possible to travel without some of the items listed below in my personal experience they do make things that little bit easier and can be worth their weight in gold if you find yourself in a certain situation (think hostels without towels).Unless you’re planning on heading out into the wilderness or well away from civilisation things such as a medical kit, waterproof poncho and water purifying tablets seem a little excessive. Likewise a tent/pillow is optional but unless you’re roughing it for an extended period of time they are unnecessary.
So without further ado here is my list of things to pack for backpacking in Europe:
6 pairs underwear
6 pairs of socks
2 pairs shorts
2 button up shirt
1 pair of jeans
1 pair swim/sleep shorts
1 small travel towel
1 jacket (wear it when travelling to save space)
1 sleeping bag (optional, small)
1 belt (optional)
Printed copy of passport (handy if yours gets/lost stolen)
Cash (for use on arrival in a new country)
Money belt (If you’re feeling unsafe or prone to pickpocketing then a money belt is an invaluable travel item. Mine is used for storing currencies which are not currently required)
Phone/camera Chargers for both phone/camera
SD Card/Micro SD card for your camera (8Gb is plenty for a point and shoot camera as is 32GB for a DSLR)
Pillow case (I use it for storing my camera in during transit but it also has a wealth of uses as a bag for dirty clothes or even as an pillow case cover.
Rucksack (60 litres is ok but 80 litres is perfect)
Deck of cards (great for drinking games or to pass the time on long train/bus trips)
Keep in mind any liquids, gels or aerosols you take on the plane have to be smaller than 100ml so either put them in your checked luggage or buy small items to take on the plane with you.
Do not bring:
A suitcase. It makes travelling much harder than it needs to be.
A pillow. Your rucksack doubles as a pillow, your spare shirt doubles as a pillow, your jacket doubles as a pillow. You do not need a pillow.
Body wash, face wash, shampoo and conditioner. You’re travelling, space is limited so find something that does it all at once. If things get bad you can always buy extra items as needed.
The above is my standard travel kit and it comes in at just under 8 kilos in total weight. Not only does this fit well within checked baggage restrictions but it also ensures that, should I find myself wandering aimlessly while trying to find that hostel that ‘should be here’ according to the map, I’m not carrying around a lot of extra weight in the process and putting strain on my neck, back and shoulders.