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
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!
2. Quick Drying 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
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
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).
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.
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.
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!