Backpacking through Europe is a rite of passage that many people remember for the rest of their lives. Whether you’re taking a gap year or having a few glorious summer months, traveling and experiencing other cultures has been in vogue for most of the past 1000 years.
Making the grand tour doesn’t mean that you need to bring everything with you. Stopping off at cute shops is part of the experience. So, with that in mind, here is the minimal packing list that I use.
You don’t need to bring your whole medicine cabinet, but keep enough toothpaste and hygiene items for a week or two. Keep in mind that everything you’ll bring is also available at convenience stores on every corner, so don’t worry too much.
Do make sure to use good quality travel toiletry bags. When your shampoo or toothpaste explodes, you’ll be glad that they are in a bag that keeps the muck out of your supplies.
Backpack or Bag
Whatever you do, keep everything light. You don’t need to pack well; you just need to pack bare essentials. If you only have a few essential items, you won’t need a huge bag or elaborate packing techniques.
Decide if you need a backpack or suitcase. Both can work. It just depends on how you want to experience the city. Carrying around a huge backpack advertises that you’re a tourist, which will make you a magnet for every scammer and thief in the town. On the other hand, carrying things in a backpack is convenient if you can’t leave your stuff in the hotel.
Merino Wool has taken the backpacking world by storm over the past decade. It’s tough, beautiful, soft, warm, cool, whatever you need it to be. There are legions of people who swear that it should be merino wool if you only have one outfit.
Unless you are sensitive to wool, you’ll adore merino’s ability to breathe. Being a good insulator and an excellent moisture transporter keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Your shirt will help actively moderate your body temperature.
It’s also smell resistant. There aren’t a lot of great places for odor-causing bacteria to grow on the wool because hair has a naturally rough structure. Besides, odor-causing bacteria love moisture, and merino wool stays drier than other materials.
Cell phones are fantastic for being the computer in your pocket. They’re your personal translator/map/internet browser/emergency contact/data storage/banking app that you’ll feel lost without.
Most good mobile phones will work worldwide nowadays, but you’ll want to check that your phone is unlocked. You’ll need a new sim card and phone number in each country unless you’re willing to pay roaming charges, so keep that in mind.
Although having cell phone service is great for emergencies, we did survive and travel before cell phones. You can easily skip the phone service and simply rely on wifi, which is a good option for most people.
Getting a little lost creates opportunities to interact with locals by asking directions, and you were probably planning on hitting lots of cute cafes anyways. Honestly, wifi calling and messenger will keep you much more in touch than would have been possible ten years ago with even the best plans.