The Ultimate Backpacking Packing List for Summer in Europe
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Summer is an amazing time to visit Europe. The leaves are out, the flowers are blooming, and the weather is perfect for spending time outside exploring all of the cities this continent has to offer! Collectively, I’ve spent three summers and seven summer months backpacking Europe: I’ve studied in Salzburg, Austria, Leiden, the Netherlands, and Copenhagen, Denmark; I’ve lived and worked in Tirana, Albania and Berlin, Germany; and I’ve backpacked through 12 other countries across the continent. From all of these experiences, I’ve put together the ultimate backpacking packing list for summer in Europe. This list has been perfected over the course of four whole years. Keep reading to get the best, most complete backpacking packing list that you can find for summer in Europe!
Related: Wondering where to go in Europe? Check out the top 12 solo travel destinations in Europe here!
~ The Essentials ~
All of Europe. This includes not only western Europe, but also central and eastern Europe. I realize that not all backpackers are only doing the typical tourist circuit of western Europe. This packing list takes that into account!
The summer months (May – August).
In general, the summer weather in Europe is quite pleasant. Daytime temperatures will average 70-90 degrees Fahrenheit. However, keep in mind that over the past couple years, a major heat wave has usually hit most of Europe during the summer (in the 90 degrees Fahrenheit range daily). If you’re farther south in Italy, Spain, or the Balkans, for example, regular daytime temperatures can reach well into 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Sometimes temperatures are over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in these locations. Luckily, this is a dry heat for the most part, so you won’t be dealing with the humidity you can sometimes find farther north. This ultimate backpacking packing list has taken all of these weather variations into account.
Related: Stay safe while solo traveling in Europe in one of these top 7 safest places to travel alone in Europe!
~ The Equipment ~
The foundation of your ultimate backpacking packing list is, of course, a solid backpack!
Getting a travel backpack was the single best investment in my travel gear that I’ve ever made. I’ve been traveling with the Osprey Kyte 36 (pictured here) for years and it has done me well! What I love about this backpack is that you can access the inside multiple ways: from the opening on the top and also a zipper that goes down the right side. There is also a separate bottom compartment with bottom access that’s meant for a sleeping bag, but I use it for shoes! It’s an awesome way to make sure your shoes don’t get the rest of your stuff dirty.
The top compartment on the Osprey Kyte 36 is also spacious with a compartment inside the backpack as well as on the top. The straps that tighten down from the top also allow you to pile things on top of the backpack that you don’t want/can’t fit inside. This makes it overall super versatile and therefore (I think) it can fit way more than 36 liters!
Now lemme tell you: at first I thought the same thing. But at the time of writing this, I’ve been backpacking for two months so far through Central America (also warm weather packing like for summer in Europe) with just this backpack; my favorite daypack, the 18-liter Ortovox bag; and my beloved L.L. Bean cross-body purse. It might be tight, but it’s enough! You will also thank yourself later when you have to carry your not-so-mammoth backpack on your back everywhere you go. Thanks, packing light!
This ultimate backpacking packing list is meant to fit inside the Osprey Kyte 36, the Ortovox bag, and a medium-sized cross-body bag (my beloved L.L. Bean is no longer sold unfortunately but you can find a comparable one here). So, by all means, get a larger backpack. But I just want you to know that it is possible to fit this complete list inside smaller bags than you might think!
If you’re interested in a slightly larger backpacking backpack, I would suggest:
- The Osprey Fairview 40,
- Its larger counterpart the Osprey Fairview 55 (with a detachable day pack!),
- The Osprey Farpoint 40, or
- Its larger counterpart the Osprey Farpoint 55 (also with a detachable day pack).
I’ve met many travelers with these bags who love them. I’ve also seen them widely suggested on ladies’ travel Facebook groups.
Seriously, gals. Do not continue to travel without these bad boys! Most importantly because they make fitting this ultimate backpacking packing list into your backpack possible. The medium 4-piece set pictured here is the best one I think. You get a variety of shapes that are perfect for separating different types of clothing. In my free printable packing list I detail what type of clothes I put into each packing cube to make packing a breeze! I even tell you exactly what items go where in which bag. This is the guide I wish existed when I started backpacking!
~ The Clothes ~
- Pants – 3/4
- Jeans – 1 // I looooove my Levi’s jeans. These are good staple that you can mix and match with everything.
- Lightweight cotton pants – 1 // These are great for cooler summer nights, as well as for visiting churches in Italy that require you to cover your knees.
- Leggings – 1 // Europeans generally don’t wear athletic clothing unless they’re actually exercising, but leggings are great for travel days if nothing else! I LOVE my Fabletics leggings. They’re the most comfortable pair I’ve ever found. Right now, Fabletics is running a promotion to get 2 pairs of leggings for just $24!! Their leggings are usually a LOT more expensive than that.
- Hiking pants (if you’re going to do some hardcore hiking) – 1 // You know yourself. If you’re going to be doing some hardcore hiking, a durable, lightweight pair of hiking pants is a good investment. I personally own the Patagonia Quandary hiking pants, but a cheaper alternative that’s still good is the Unitop breathable outdoor quick-dry pants.
- Shorts – 3
- Comfy shorts – 1 // You can’t go wrong with a comfy pair of shorts. These adorable beige drawstring shorts are one of my favorites (and perfect to loosen when you’ve eaten too much amazing European food!). Make sure to get a pair that can double as pajama shorts for sleeping.
- Denim shorts – 1 // My ultra-cute denim cut-off shorts are a classic. Denim shorts are also a versatile piece that can go with pretty much anything. And they definitely fit into European style.
- Athletic shorts – 1 // Good for lounging, hiking, and exploring.
- Dresses/skirts/rompers – 4
- Romper/playsuit – 1 // As long as you can get it on and off yourself (make sure to check before you buy!), rompers are magical. They’re a top and bottom all in one. Bonus points that they’re cute!
- Dresses – 2
- Sarong/maxi wrap skirt – 1 // Not only can you wear these, but you can also spread them out and use them on the beach as a towel! That way, you don’t get your actual towel that you use to dry yourself off all sandy. This is one of my top travel tips for this backpacking packing list.
- Tanks – 3 // When I’m in hot weather, I find that I only wear tank tops. Use these during really hot days! Also make sure at least one of them is really comfortable for activities like hiking or exercising.
- Tees/blouses – 3 // Mix and match short sleeve and 3/4-length sleeve shirts to bring some variation into your outfits.
- Crop tops – 1 // Crop tops are perfect for those REALLY hot days when you just can’t deal. They’re also great for those beach parties in Greece!
- Chambray/neutral button-up shirt – 1 // This is something I only figured out recently that is super handy to throw on over other shirts. The key is to layer, layer, layer, and a neutral-colored button-up shirt is the perfect thing to throw on in air conditioning or during a cooler day.
Related: Wondering what to do in Berlin? Check out my ultimate weekend travel guide to Berlin, plus a FREE weekend itinerary and interactive maps so you can see it all!
- Sweaters – 2
- If you plan on surfing:
- Option 1
- Bikini – 1 // Bring a bikini to wear on the beach or at the pool when you’re not surfing. Get 25% off the bikini linked here with discount code “CLAIRE_25”!
- Surfing swimsuit onesie – 1 // An all-in-one rash guard and swimsuit is perfect so you don’t have to worry about losing your swimsuit bottoms in the ocean!
- Option 2
- Rash guard – 1 // If you’re going to be surfing for even just a few sessions, you know that having a rash guard is well worth it! Your skin will thank you. 😉
- One-piece – 1 // Bring a one-piece swimsuit to wear underneath your rash guard. It can also be worn by itself on the beach or at the pool.
- Bikini – 1 // Bring a bikini to wear when you’re not surfing.
- Option 1
- If you won’t be surfing:
- Option 1
- Bikinis – 2 // Having two bikinis will make sure you don’t have to experience that terribly uncomfortable feeling of putting on a still-wet swimsuit the next day. Follow the link here to get 25% off all bikinis with discount code “CLAIRE_25”!
- Option 2
- Option 1
Related: Solo traveling for the first time? Don’t know where to start? Read my complete guide to traveling alone for the first time to plan the best first solo trip ever!
- Bras – 5/6
- Proper bras – 1/2 // Once again, know thyself. If you are bigger chested and/or prefer to wear properly structured bras, then bring two proper bras. Otherwise, just bring one.
- Bralettes – 2 // I am the bralette’s number one fan. Seriously – I love these things! They provide just enough support and coverage but they’re cute and lacy and you can barely feel that they’re there. They’re on every one of my backpacking packing lists.
- Sports bras – 2 // Sports bras are great for hiking and other active activities.
- Underwear – 12
Related: Below are a few tours I would definitely recommend while you’re in Europe!
- Sneakers // Bring a pair of sneakers that are comfortable for walking and running ALL over the place. Wear these on the plane ride over to save space in your bags.
- Flip-flops/shower shoes // Flip-flops that can get wet are ideal for the beach and are a must in hostel showers.
- Sandals (if desired) // If you’re like me and you don’t wear flip-flops as your everyday summer shoes, a pair of gladiator sandals are super stylish and can dress up any outfit if needed. During my summers backpacking Europe, I wore my gladiator sandals almost all the time.
- Hiking boots (if you’ll be doing some hardcore hiking) // You only need to bring these if the hiking you’ll be doing requires some solid ankle support. I’ve been wearing my Mom’s Eddie Bauers that have been in use since the 1980s all over the world. They’re still going! Really, you couldn’t destroy them even if you tried. I love these boots and I think you will too!
- Hiking sandals // I LOVE my Teva hiking sandals. They’re super useful for warm hikes when you don’t necessarily need to cover your toes, but still need a good tread. These hiking sandals are also meant for going in the water. This is perfect for crossing rivers or going into the ocean when there’s a rocky bottom!
- Slippers // Many places in Europe have cold tile floors. This might be nice during the day, but you’ll want a way to keep your tootsies warm come nighttime. These Snoozies slippers take up barely any room in your bag but still keep your feet warm. Bonus: they’re perfect for the plane ride there, too! No backpacking packing list is complete without them.
Related: See this tip about Snoozies slippers and more in my top 10 tips for flying internationally!
- Pashmina scarf // A lightweight scarf has so many uses: it can be used to easily cover your shoulders in a church. It can be a pillow or blanket on the plane or bus or an extra sheet on your bed. It can also be a cover-up for the beach or a towel in a pinch. Bonus: it’s also an easy way to add variety to your outfits! I never travel without my pashmina scarf.
- Belt (if needed) // Bring a belt if you need it for any of your pants or shorts.
- Watch // Especially when you’ve got lots of planes, trains, and buses to catch, you’ll be happy to have the time conveniently on your wrist! I love the timeless classiness of my rose gold Kate Spade watch.
- Necklaces + chokers – 2-5 // These are the best way to change up and style any outfit when packing light. Follow the link here to get 25% off all jewelry with discount code “CLAIRE_25”!
- Running armband // If you’re going to be exercising regularly, having a running armband to hold your phone (plus keys!) is super handy!
- Sunglasses // It’s summer, after all! Make sure to add some stylish sunnies to your backpacking packing list to protect your eyes from the sun. Make sure to get some that are polarized to really block out harmful rays! I really like Cassette Eyewear‘s handmade polarized sunglasses which focus on durable, high quality products made with care that won’t break the bank. Their shades have some of the strongest hinges I’ve found – no more annoying bending or breaking of the arms! Check them out here and use discount code “CLAIRE” at checkout for 20% off!
- RFID credit card wallet // I was given one of these in Denmark and it is seriously the handiest thing! Not only can you slide out all of your cards conveniently with a pull of the trigger button, but it also blocks thieves from stealing your information. Especially for staying safe while solo traveling, an RFID credit card wallet is a must for your backpacking packing list. Use it in countries that hardly use any cash.
- Change purse // For countries that mostly use cash, you need a non-bulky way to organize all of that moola. Enter: the change purse.
- Bandana // A bandana is one of my top travel essentials! I wear one on my head practically every day that I’m traveling. It keeps my hair out of my face and also blocks sweat from getting in my eyes (I know, gross – but useful).
- Hat // Bring a cute, foldable hat that will protect you from the sun while you’re out exploring or lounging on the beach.
Related: Discover Europe by rail with Eurail this summer! Pro travel tip: purchase your tickets ahead of time and save loads of money.
~ The Toiletries ~
- Makeup + cosmetic bag // Try to be minimal about the makeup that you bring, if any. You look more natural and beautiful with less makeup on anyway!
- Tangle teezer hairbrush // The tangle teezer hairbrush is the most amazing hairbrush you’ll ever try and belongs on every backpacking packing list. It gets through ANY tangles, even the toughest ones. It’s even small enough to perfectly fit in the top compartment of your backpack! I use my tangle teezer even when I’m not traveling.
- Razor + blades // It’s not fair, but believe it or not, men’s razors are both cheaper and better than women’s razors! The Gillette Mach 3 razor works well for me.
- Face cleansing makeup-remover wipes // One of the best ways to save room in your liquids bag is to bring these awesome face cleansing wipes instead of a liquid face wash. They’re perfect not just for washing your face and removing makeup, but also if you need a refresher on the plane ride over to Europe. These are a top pick for this ultimate backpacking packing list.
- Pee funnel (if hiking long distances/camping/climbing) // For my hiking ladies: stop what you’re doing right now because if you’ve never heard of the pee funnel, it’s about to change your life!! Basically, it allows you to stand up and pee like a guy behind that bush. The pee funnel has totally changed the way that I hike. It makes everything easier when you’re going camping, hiking, climbing, and more.
- Hair ties // You’ve gotta keep that hair out of your face. Make sure to bring plenty because you know how they disappear mysteriously.
- Headbands – 2 // Headbands are useful for getting your hair out of the way at night to wash your face and when exercising.
- Soap bar + container // Bring a soap bar for cleaning your body and shaving. Bonus: this one’s organic! This travel container is a perfect match and I love that it drains the water off the soap bar inside the case.
- Travel-size deodorant // Again, bring this for basic hygiene. This deodorant is organic, vegan, aluminum-free, and perfect for sensitive skin.
- Travel toothbrush // This travel toothbrush is super handy because it folds in on itself, taking up very little of your precious space.
- Feminine hygiene products (pads, tampons, menstrual cup, etc.) // Ladies – you know what you need. Keep in mind that if you particularly like tampons with a plastic applicator, many European countries don’t sell these. So you might want to bring some of your own vs. depending on buying them there. Also, many girls have ranted and raved about menstrual cups! I personally am not a fan, but that’s just me. If you’re interested, check them out! It’s better for the environment too because it produces less waste.
- Burt’s Bees lip balm – 2 // Burt’s Bees is my go-to lip moisturizer, always. It’s all-natural and feels and smells so nice!
Related: Need to book accommodation for you trip to Europe? Compare thousands of hotel deals in one place with Skyscanner!
- Travel-size shampoo + conditioner // I love my OGX organic shampoo and conditioner! It’s pretty much the only more natural shampoo and conditioner that doesn’t make my hair too dry or too oily.
- Travel Hack! The ultimate travel hack for this backpacking packing list is to bring this organic shampoo and conditioner bar duo instead and save room in your liquids bag!
- Body lotion // This travel-size orange blossom and honey-scented body lotion is made with 70% organic ingredients and rich in natural moisturizers like honey and hyaluronic acid. It’s especially important for application after days in the sun to maintain beautiful, healthy skin!
- Face moisturizer (with SPF!) // The Body Shop’s glow-protect Vitamin C moisturizers are the only moisturizers that have consistently moisturized my face without making it too oily while also fading spots and scars left-over from past acne! To save space in my liquids bag, I prefer to have a day moisturizer that includes SPF, like the glow-protect SPF 30 vitamin C moisturizer. However, if you prefer to add SPF separately, the SPF-free glow-boosting vitamin C face moisturizer is amazing too (and great for at night)!
- Coconut oil // This extra-virgin, raw, 100% organic coconut oil is an all-around beauty superpower. It works as a moisturizer, skin soother, natural highlighter, and more! I use coconut oil on my face at night. And no, amazingly it doesn’t make me break out! (And this is coming from a girl with historically very sensitive and acne-prone skin)
- Toothpaste // Keep those teeth clean – brush twice a day! Just bring a travel-size tube with you and buy new toothpaste as you go.
- Febreze fabric spray // Once you’re traveling for a week or two, especially in really warm weather, you’ll understand why this is on the ultimate backpacking packing list. Things can get a bit, erm, smelly – this travel-size Febreze spray will keep odors at bay and is a worthwhile occupation of space in your liquids bag.
- Microplastic-free, all-natural sunscreen // Here’s a not-so-fun fact! Most sunscreens contain millions of harmful microplastics that are slowly poisoning our oceans!! Do both yourself and the environment a favor and get this delicious pina colada-scented organic sunscreen from Coola! It’s a clear spray, which makes application easy-peasy, is free of nanoparticles, and is water resistant for up to 80 minutes. It’s a win-win-win-win…win! Whew, that’s a lot of wins.
- Hand sanitizer // It’s important to keep up proper hand hygiene when traveling in order to fight off infection and to stay healthy. Sometimes, hostels and other bathrooms don’t have soap. Keep bacteria at bay by bringing one of these tiny 1-ounce hand sanitizers with you.
- Any liquids from your makeup (BB cream, liquid concealer, etc.) // I can’t tell you how much room this will take up – hopefully not a lot because I told you to be minimalistic with the makeup you bring! But do yourself and everyone else in the airport security line a favor and put these liquids in your liquid bag ahead of time. Then you won’t risk getting stopped by airport security, having to ruin your perfectly-packed backpack to dig out the culprit liquids, hope that they can fit in your liquids bag, go back through security… You get the picture. And it ain’t pretty. Keep your liquids in the right-size container with this TSA-approved reusable quart bag with bonus silicone travel containers!
- Acne spot treatment // If you’re like me and you’re an imperfect human, you’ll need a quick acne spot treatment for when those annoying little zits come up, especially if you’re sweating a lot in the heat. This spot treatment from Clean & Clear is an Allure Best of Beauty 2018 award winner and features the same acne formula prescribed by doctors for over 10 years, but without a prescription!
- Dry shampoo // If your hair easily gets oily without regular washes or if you have bangs, dry shampoo is your best friend. I’ve tried all kinds of dry shampoos, and I have to say – Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak dry shampoo is my favorite! It actually works, doesn’t leave an annoying white residue, and it smells nice too.
- Bug spray (if you’re going to be hiking a lot) // You probably don’t have to worry too much about this if you’re staying in the city, but if you’re going to be out in the countryside and/or hiking a lot, buy spray will come in handy. Try an all-natural alternative to the more harsh (and toxic!) DEET bug repellents with this Bug Soother all-natural insect repellent that actually works!
A good first-aid kit is a must for any backpacking packing list. You hope that you won’t need it, but you’ll be happy that you have it when you do. Seriously – it is well worth the space in your baggage!
- Travel (medical) insurance // First, no backpacking packing list would be complete without travel insurance! Across the world, it can cost well over $100 for a simple consultation with a reliable doctor. I have had to visit the doctor for minor things in countries ranging from the Netherlands to Denmark to Costa Rica, and I can tell you that I was really happy I had insurance to cover my bills. Personally, I use GeoBlue travel insurance and have had good experiences with them. However, most travelers recommend World Nomads travel insurance, especially because it covers more than just medical care.
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- Any prescription medications you have (ex. contraceptives) // Make sure to get enough for the duration of your trip well in advance.
- Benadryl/diphenhydramine // For allergic reactions, itchiness, colds and congestion, and more.
- General painkillers (ex. Excedrin) // Bring the painkillers that you know work best for you, especially for your headaches.
- Anti-inflammatory and fever-reducing painkillers (ex. Ibuprofen) // Not all painkillers are created equal. For example, the painkiller that works the best for my headaches is Excedrin, but the acetaminophen and aspirin in that doesn’t have any anti-inflammatory effects. Ibuprofen is a great anti-inflammatory as well as fever-reducing medication. Make sure not to take more than 1200 mg in 24 hours.
- Antidiarrheals // The unfortunate truth is that sometimes food poisoning or other stomach illnesses strike while you’re on the road, usually at the most inopportune times. Have antidiarrheal medication on hand and you won’t have to worry as much about sharing a hostel bathroom with 18 other people.
- Anti-nausea pills // Whether or not you get motion sickness, having some anti-vomiting and overall anti-nausea medication is also useful for those random times that stomach illness strikes. Especially when traveling, it’s easy to get dehydrated, and anti-nausea medication will combat further dehydration from vomiting.
- Altitude sickness medication (if needed) // I’m also an imperfect human in that my body just cannot deal when I ascend more than 6,000 feet in one day. But of course that won’t keep me away from the mountains! So I bring my acetazolamide with me (prescribed by my doctor) if there’s even the tiniest chance I’ll be hiking some tall peaks.
- Band-aids (some waterproof) // Blisters, scratches, scrapes – whatever small wounds the world inflicts upon you, band-aids will keep you protected and a lot more comfortable.
- Hydrogen peroxide spray // Good disinfectant as well as for ingrown nails.
- PRO TRAVELER TIP! Getting an ingrown nail is painful in general, and is even more annoying while traveling. Take care of this by putting some hydrogen peroxide on a Q-tip and shoving it down into the side of the nail that’s hurting at least twice a day. It should clear up like magic in a few days.
- Q-tips // Good for the tip above for ingrown nails as well as for makeup, ears, or whatever else you like to use Q-tips for. They’re a very versatile first-aid kit essential.
- Multivitamins // Staying healthy on the road is of vital importance! Bolster your diet and your immune system every day with a solid multivitamin. This multivitamin includes extra vitamin B and Ginseng to boost your energy levels!
- Neosporin wound disinfectant spray // This on-the-go antiseptic and pain-relieving spray is perfect for traveling. Spray on your wound before putting a band-aid over it and infection will be out of the question.
- Vaginal antifungal cream // Not fit for polite conversation but a very important topic nonetheless is feminine hygiene while traveling. For anyone who has gotten a yeast infection before, you know it is super not fun. Now imagine getting this while on the road, when it might be difficult to get what you need right away. Just add this super-small 1.5 oz. miconazole nitrate 2% vaginal antifungal cream to your first-aid kid and you will be SO happy you have it if you end up needing it.
- Elastic bandage // You might be thinking, “Woah, Claire, you are going OVERBOARD with the first-aid stuff! An elastic bandage? Doesn’t that seem a little unnecessary?!” Listen: I get you. But no joke, the first time I went backpacking in Europe, I was frolicking in a field in Salzburg, Austria (with hiking boots on with ankle support, mind you!) and I twisted my ankle. I was really lucky I had an elastic bandage with me then. I suppose if you’re not a very active backpacker/are incredibly graceful/will be staying mostly in cities, you might be able to skip this one.
- Compeed blister cushions // A British girl I met while traveling in Costa Rica introduced me to Compeed and OMG, how did I not know about this before (shoutout to Kate!)?! Unlike so many other blister pads that claim to cushion your blisters, these actually work. They have a technology that literally puffs up at the site of the blister, completely cushioning it from pressure and pain. I went hiking for a day in the middle of the most unexplored jungle in Costa Rica with, like, four of these on, and my feet didn’t hurt at all!
- Tweezers // Not just good for tweezing your eyebrows, tweezers are also good for taking out any splinters you might get. This set is perfect for both purposes.
Related: Going to Amsterdam? Check out my ultimate female solo travel guide to Amsterdam!
~ The Gadgets ~
- SIM-unlocked phone + charger // Make sure your phone‘s SIM card is unlocked before you go abroad! Even if you’re in a country for just a couple of weeks, getting a local SIM card is often way cheaper than paying for data from your provider back home. Just double-check with your provider before you go to make sure that your phone is SIM-unlocked! Also bring a lightning-fast braided charging cable that’s long. That way, the cable won’t tangle, and you can still browse your phone even when the outlet is far away.
- A note on SIM-unlocked phones: Do not get Xfinity Mobile if you would like to use SIM cards from other countries. Even though they say you can unlock your SIM with a simple code which they’ll give you over the phone, for 9/10 people, it won’t work. This has been a well-documented problem for Xfinity Mobile customers and I can personally attest to the fact that it is a nightmare!
- Laptop + charger/tablet + charger // I love my Macbook and especially as a digital nomad, it’s a necessity to bring it whenever I travel. However, if you’re traveling for a short period of time and/or know that you just won’t use a laptop, a tablet can be a good option still for some more functionality than a mobile phone. The Asus Google Nexus 7 tablet has served me well while traveling without a laptop and is great as an e-reader, too.
- A note on buying MacBook chargers: If you need a new MacBook charger, make sure to get a genuine Apple charger. Off-brand chargers unfortunately can break very quickly, short out your computer in humid weather and/or in countries with unreliable electricity (this actually happened to me!), and more. Keep this in mind particularly if you’re traveling to eastern Europe and/or the Balkans, where the electricity can surge and go out often.
- E-reader/tablet // Do not, I repeat, DO NOT bring physical books when you travel! I know they’re a lot more lovely to hold than an e-reader, but their weight and bulkiness is just not worth it. Kindles are well-loved globally. I like the functionality of my Google Nexus tablet as not only an e-reader, but also as a mini computer.
- Action camera + accessories // Capture the moment on all of your adventures with an action camera! These little guys are great for biking, ziplining, snorkeling, surfing, skydiving, and more. And there’s an awesome selection of accessories for each one of these activities. The GoPro Hero 7 is the worldwide standard in action cameras and there’s not doubt that it’s awesome! I personally use the AKASO action camera with mount accessories and find that it generally works just as well for less than one-third of the price.
- Portable chargers // No matter where you are, at some point you’ll need more power for your electronics. Keep your devices charged with this premium charging station complete with Qualcomm quick-charging! A more affordable option is to buy a couple of the Anker lipstick-sized portable chargers instead (this is what I do currently). Keeping your phone charged at all times is one of my top solo travel tips for staying safe, and you can do that easily with one of these chargers!
- High-quality digital camera + accessories // In my opinion, no backpacking packing list would be complete without a high-quality digital camera to document your travels and capture beautiful memories that will last a lifetime. While DSLR cameras are a bit cheaper these days, if you have the money, purchase a super lightweight mirrorless camera! Currently, I use the Canon Rebel T6i and generally like it a lot, though it’s a bit bulky. However, I’m lusting after the Sony Alpha a6000 mirrorless camera after seeing so many rave reviews! Here is a list of the camera accessories I carry while traveling:
- Canon 24mm prime portrait pancake lens (Canon DSLRs) // Perfect for super-sharp macro and portrait shots.
- Sigma 30mm prime portrait lens (Sony E-mounts, including the Alpha a6000)
- Canon 10-18mm wide-angle lens (Canon DSLRs) // An all-around amazing lens for cities, landscapes, and more.
- Sony 10-18mm wide-angle lens (Sony E-mounts)
- Batteries + battery charger // Always carry extra batteries so your camera doesn’t die in the middle of the day!
- Lightweight, compact travel tripod // For taking those instagram-worthy selfies while solo traveling!
- GlocalMe portable WiFi station // Are you a digital nomad on-the-go all the time or can’t live without internet? Now there’s portable wifi stations that you can take with you to get internet pretty much anywhere in the world! Especially if you don’t get a local SIM card for you phone and/or need super-reliable internet for your computer no matter where you are, GlocalMe is a good option. Right now they’re even offering 1GB of free global data!
~ The Accessories ~
- Travel towel (comes with a free hand towel bonus!) // This travel towel has three different uses all-in-one: a body towel, a hand towel for when hostels don’t have their own, and a zipper bag with a handle that it comes in that you can use as a shower caddy! Because of its multiple uses, this travel towel is a must-have for this backpacking packing list.
- Backpack rain cover // If you get the Osprey Kyte 36, it comes with a raincover. But if your backpack doesn’t, I highly suggest getting a waterproof rain cover! I thought these were silly until I really needed one. Then I was able to keep all of my expensive electronic equipment (not to mention clothes – yeah, those are important too) dry!
- Small going-out purse/fanny pack // This just needs to be big enough for fitting your phone, wallet, and maybe some lip balm.
- Reusable bag for groceries // Save the planet (and money, and plastic!) by bringing a super compact, foldable reusable bag for groceries. In almost all places in Europe, you have to pay for a plastic bag anyway, so this is also a great budget travel tip!
- Day purse that can fit water bottle + camera // This is for exploring the city during the daytime. Make sure it can fit all of the essentials, including a water bottle, and also ideally your camera! This stylish leather cross-body bag is specially made to fit your camera plus some other essentials like a wallet and phone.
- Day bag/pack // If you’re just a city-going gal, then this theft-proof, super chic leather backpack will definitely do the trick for when you need a little more space than a day purse! If you’re also going hiking, though, opt for a small backpack that can work for both the city and the trail. You all know I like my Ortovox 18 liter daypack.
- Padlock // You’ll need this for any hostel you stay at so you can lock your valuables away! This padlock is a 4-digit code lock, so there’s no chance for you to lose any keys.
- European travel plug adaptor // European plugs are not the same as plugs in the U.S.! I love this European travel adaptor which features both a 3-prong outlet and 2 USB ports, all in one converter. You don’t really need anything more than that.
- Headlamp // Headlamps are actually super useful in hostels. You can hang it above your bed for some extra light, hands-free, and without waking up anyone else! It’s also great for more remote areas when you’re walking around at night. No more having to hold your phone and use up its battery for a flashlight!
- Lifestraw water bottle/Vapur foldable water bottle // Another great money-saving tip that’s also good for the environment is to bring a reusable water bottle! Metal water bottles are too heavy and bulky for traveling, so I suggest the 1-liter Vapur water bottle that rolls up when empty. It’s super useful for traveling and going through airport security. If you’re visiting some European countries where the tap water is questionable or unsafe to drink, though, a Lifestraw filter water bottle will save your life (sorry). I used this when I lived and backpacked through Albania for two months one summer. I never had to question whether or not the water I was drinking was safe!
- Earbuds // These super affordable Panasonic earbuds are randomly the best earbuds I’ve ever tried – who woulda thunk! Seriously, the sound is crystal clear and the bass is great, too. You’ll think you paid at least $50 for these babies.
- Important documents folder:
- Photocopy of passport ID page (the page with your photo on it) + signaure page above it
- Departure + return flight information
- Insurance cards + information
- Photocopy of all credit + debit + ID cards
- Vaccination list
- Any special prescription memos from your doctor
- Printout of your first accommodation’s information (address, phone number, etc.)
- Any transportation and/or tour reservations you’ve made ahead of time
- If you plan on applying for a residency or visa: copy of birth certificate
- List of important contact information for you + your family
- Sleep mask // A sleep mask will help you get much-needed shut-eye on the plane, bus, or hostel without having to worry about the light being on. I love this sleep mask because it has special pockets underneath the eyes to actually block out all the light! Plus, it’s silky soft.
- Earplugs // Earplugs are also important for getting sleep, especially if your hostel has loud guests or people stay up late partying. I just carry one pair of these earplugs in a small plastic bag to keep them clean; no need for a fancy carrying case.
- Smartphone necklace // I just recently discovered these through a friend who just started the company that sells them, Zazu Apparel! Basically it’s a thin rope necklace that comes in different colors and patterns and attaches to the bottom of your smartphone so that you can literally wear you smartphone and keep your hands free! How cool is that?! It takes up hardly any space in your luggage and is the perfect solution for when you want to stroll with only your phone, but don’t want to hold it in your hand the whole time! I know I wish I had this while walking on many beaches in the past. Check them out here – they’re super stylish!
- Screen glasses // If you’re staring at a screen for many hours of some days (I’m looking at you, digital nomads), screen glasses will save you from many headaches and dry eyes. My screen glasses were a game-changer when I started blogging. They block out harmful blue light from your screen, which also helps keep your sleep rhythm on-track.
- Journal + 2 pens // Document your travels with more than just photographs! I was really happy that I kept a journal when I backpacked through Europe during the summer. Not only did it help me get important thoughts out in the moment, but it’s also really nice to look back on later.
- Passport + passport cover // Of course, don’t forget your passport! Make sure that it’s valid for at least six months past your return date. I cover my passport with a passport cover which keeps it in great condition despite having to whip it out all the time while traveling.
- Umbrella // This umbrella takes up very little room so you’ll barely notice it occupying the side pocket of your backpack or inside your purse. You’ll be happy you brought this because it can still downpour in many places in Europe during the summer.
- Inflatable hybrid neck pillow // This neck pillow deflates and folds up, helping to justify bringing it. Just clip it onto the outside of your backpack. I easily get neck pain if my neck lays the wrong way, so this half microfiber, half inflatable neck pillow helps with that on long plane or bus rides.
- Travel clothesline // If you didn’t know already, you’re going to be doing plenty of clothes hand-washing in the sink, my friend. This travel clothesline is braided and comes with two suction cups, so not only can you hang it anywhere, but you also don’t need any clothes pins! I loved having this with me when I backpacked Albania.
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