The Ultimate Backpackers’ Essentials Guide to Europe

Everyone gets excited by the prospect of just packing their bags, booking a cheap flight and making their way through all kinds of exotic and fun places in Europe. It can provide memories that’ll last a lifetime, but before you make the journey you’ll have to make sure you have everything you’ll need, and just as importantly you have to be careful not to over-pack. Running for that train when you have a backpack full of unused trainers and jeans definitely isn’t something you’ll enjoy. With that in mind, here’s a list of essential items you should bring with you on your adventure, and some things that you should be leaving in your bedroom.


Your backpack is the most important part of your travels, and the smaller it is, the easier your journey will be. Lugging a 100 litre backpack around on buses, trains, trams and whatever else is definitely not fun, and the aim is to remain as mobile as possible when on the go. This means a 50-70 litre backpack should be more than ideal, as it provides just enough space and you won’t be knocking strangers over when you try to turn around.

Within this mid-sized backpack you can fit in five shirts, whether they’re t-shirts, polos or something smarter, which should be more than enough when you’re travelling. It may not sound like much but you can always wash your dirty clothes and dry them overnight to freshen things up. No matter what time of year you travel, you will have to keep warmth in mind. Lightweight fleeces and jackets are essential for when things get chilly, and even if you’re travelling in the summer you’ll need to stay warm at night. You should also try to pack two pairs of trousers into your bag, as long as they’re quick-drying and light. Jeans aren’t always the best choice here as they can be heavy, so chinos or cargo pants could be your best choice.

Underwear, socks and some swimwear is also a must, just remember that like with everything else, you can wash everything you’ve brought with you so keep things to a minimum. Wear your heaviest item of footwear on the plane, and pack another pair of comfortable shoes and possibly some light-flip-flops too. When it comes to towels, fast-drying, micro fibre ones come highly recommended. Fitting a big, wet towel into your bag just before you have to check-out of your accommodation can be an exercise in frustration.

Other items that could prove useful include small medical kits and wash kits. Your medical kit can include small essentials such as pain killers, plasters, motion sickness pills and whatever else you think you’ll need, but keep in mind you can usually purchase supplies and medication at your destination. You should also remember to bring your European Health Insurance Card, as this can provide access to state-provided healthcare at a discounted price, or sometimes even for free. Elsewhere your wash kit should be packed with shampoo, toothpaste, a toothbrush, deodorant and a razor, while wet wipes can also be worth their weight in gold when you want to stay hygienic.

It may seem like a tough challenge to leave your electronic devices behind, but they can seriously weigh down your bag if you bring everything with you. You just need a camera (and these days the ones in smartphones do the job just fine), your mobile, a small LED torch and maybe your music player or reading device (again, smartphones can do the trick here). Laptops are a hot topic amongst travellers, but many agree that they are too heavy to haul around and they also bring the threat of theft or damage.

These are the main items you should be taking with you to make sure you have a great trip. The lighter your bag, the more thankful you’ll be when you’re on your adventure and constantly moving from one location to the next, so leave all but the essentials at home and you’ll be able to reap the benefits later on.