8 Backpacking Essentials for Backpacking Europe

by | Jul 3, 2017 | 6 comments

Packing for your dream backpacking trip through Europe can feel stressful, but when you’re trying to bring only what you can carry on your back, packing can be a complete nightmare! The backpacking essentials in this list will help ensure your Euro trip goes as smooth as possible.

1. Carry-On Size Travel Backpack

best travel backpack by cotopaxi

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A reliable, carry-on size backpack is essential for any type of trip. You want a bag that’s comfortable, sturdy, 30-50L and has the amount of compartments you need. Bringing only a carry-on size bag will save you money, time and knock out the possibility of the airline losing your luggage. Plus, when you are hopping from place to place, you’re relatively comfortable, and not dragging a ton of luggage around.

The backpack I travel with is the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Del Dia Travel Pack. It’s over $100, but you’ll have it for years and years to come and it’s so cool looking. For an extremely affordable option that you’ll also have for many years, go with the Outdoor Products Technical Pack for under $50! The Outdoor Products Pack was my first travel backpack. It went through A LOT and held up just fine!

Related Post: Best Travel Backpack for Women Who Travel Smarter Not Harder

2. Quick Drying Towel

quick dry travel towel

Quick drying towels are amazing! They’re soft, thin and take up minimal space in your bag. Many of them even dry if you’re in a rush and pack them away while they’re still wet! I use the Wise Owl Outfitters XL Travel Towel because it’s a cost effective quick drying towel that will cover my whole body.

3. Packing Cubes

I never understood the hype about packing cubes until I bought my own for $1-5 each in a Daiso store in Seoul while I was studying abroad in South Korea. The TRIPPED Mesh Packing Cubes is the most similar I could find to the mesh cubes that I have (and love!).

Packing cubes are essential for travel because you can keep everything organized and not have a huge mess when you need something at the bottom of your bag. I also love how they keep your bag in a nice shape since everything isn’t crammed in. I like to bring two large for bottoms & dresses, two medium for shirts & underwear/swimsuits and one draw-string laundry bag to separate dirty clothes.

4. Secret Pocket Infinity Scarf

secret pocket infinity scarf

Safety is always a big concern of mine during travel. Robbery or losing your passport is an absolute nightmare, so I always look for sneaky ways to stay extra safe and hang on to my belongings.

That’s how I came across this Secret Pocket Infinity Scarf! These scarves are perfect for winter travel in areas where pickpocketing is common. I kept my passport, cards and money in this scarf and when worn correctly, you cannot tell anything is there.

5. Hanging Toiletry Bag

toiletry bag female toiletries

Having a toiletry bag that is both compact and can hold everything you need is a tall order, but the Narway Hanging Toiletry Bag has somehow done it!

It has a hook so you can hang it in unclean bathrooms, and multiple compartments to keep everything organized. I think it’s just the right size, but if you know you have a small amount of toiletries, I recommend finding an even smaller travel toiletry bag. Also, don’t forget to pick up travel size bottles for all your liquids so they are carry-on compliant (3.4 oz/100 milliliters).

Related PostNon-Toxic Female Toiletries for Your Carry-On Packing List

6. Powerbank

Portable phone chargers are convenient because often during travel you’re on the go all day and don’t have time to recharge your phone. I love the Anker Portable Charger because it’s slim and will charge your phone more than two times on one battery.

7. Comfortable Walking Shoes

No matter where you’re backpacking in Europe, you’re going to be doing a lot of walking. The main pair of shoes you wear could easily make or break your trip depending on how comfortable they are.

If you’re traveling Europe during winter, I recommend warm boots like Dr. Marten’s Leonore Fashion Boot or anything that is ultra comfortable and warm. If you’re traveling Europe during the summer, I recommend the Reef Vista Sandals. They’re so comfortable and stylish with almost any outfit.

backpacking essential for backpacking europe anti theft crossbody purse

8. Anti-Theft Crossbody Purse

Europe is notorious for sneaky pickpockets who will snag your phone, wallet or cash and be gone before you’ve even noticed. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to prevent this from happening with a quality crossbody bag and situational awareness.

An anti-theft crossbody purse like the Travelon Anti-theft Heritage purse is a true backpacking essential. On top of being a crossbody bag, it’s packed with anti-theft features like a tethered key clip and locking front pocket.

Helpful Reminder

Never forget to pack a little baggie of things like Advil, imodiom, Tums, bandaids, etc. depending on what you will be doing. You will thank yourself!

Don’t see a travel item in the list you know is essential? Let me know in the comment section below!


  1. Kayla Dissington

    Thank you so much for posting this! I will definitely be referring to it when I am packing for our backpacking trip next month! Love your blog Tara!

    • Tara

      Aw thanks girl! You’re going to have an AMAZING trip <3

  2. Josh

    Fantastic list!! I love posts like this 🙂 and you did well to keep it brief with no fluff!! A quick drying travel towel and lightweight/flexible packing cubes are a crucial must!! Maybe this goes without saying but also bringing a quality padlock or two, either combination or key ?, to use for your bag, a hostel locker, safe deposit box etc. gives peace of mind and makes traveling that much more convenient ? And maybe not essential but I’ve found that a headlamp/small flashlight, in addition to your phone, makes life that much easier. Also a (lockable) small dry sack – If anything, it serves as an extra pouch, where you know all your valuables, electronics and chargers will remain organized and most importantly DRY and safe. Pro tip: I always try to bring some clothes that are just a couple uses away from the trash. They’re still ok, usable and durable, but on their last legs. Then, you can throw them out after using them and lighten up your load along the way. Take those shirts you really don’t need/want anymore and wear them as pajamas or a base layer and then leave them behind…which opens up even more room for souvenirs! ?

    • Tara

      Thanks Josh! And thanks for the awesome suggestions 😀

  3. Keisha

    Nice! Very helpful tips and actually a little motivation tot ravel more.

    • Tara

      Thanks Keisha <3


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I’m Tara Weber, a Sarasota, Florida based travel blogger and copywriter. On She Needs Less, I share my adventures across our beautiful planet and inspire women to build self confidence and independence so they can live the life they dream of. No matter how unconventional!

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