Backpacking – What to Pack

Having taken a couple of dozen short backpacking trips into Europe I’ve managed to realise exactly what I personally need and what I don’t. Although what people pack is a subjective matter, there are items everyone requires in their backpack.Passport
Don’t go forgetting this, else you won’t get very far! A leather passport cover is a great idea; it will protect it from damage.Debit Card
A debit card is the most convenient way to withdraw cash when backpacking. Make sure you know the charges for withdrawing, though; it may be a good idea to shop around and find the card that offers the lowest foreign withdrawal charges. A credit card is also a good idea for emergencies only – I keep one separate from my main wallet.Backpack
Size is important! You want a backpack just bigger than the amount of stuff you intend to bring. For this reason, make your backpack the last thing you buy. The smaller the better; if you’re carrying round a huge bergen, you’ll find it harder to stash it in trains, buses and lockers. The less stuff you bring, the more manageable your trip will be.Clothes
For protection against the elements, some backpackers just bring an umbrella; I like to have a breathable waterproof jacket instead. It depends on what season you are going. I usually have at least one long-sleeved garment, either a fleece, again dependent on the season. In terms of everyday clothes, I bring enough for five days. I find any more is overkill; any less and you’ll be doing laundry quite often (or wearing dirty clothes)!Footwear
A pair of sneakers is great everyday travel footwear for Europe. If you’re heading into the Alps, or doing a lot of walking, consider bringing your hiking boots as well.First Aid Kit
Although pharmacies are everywhere, a small first aid kit of aspirin, band-aids, anti-septic and any prescription medicines is essential.Washbag
Try to get the travel-size versions of your favourite shampoo/shower gel; there’s no need to cart about huge half-litre bottles. Bring a toothbrush, also a comb or brush, and any other little luxuries. And contraception for those wild nights.Electronics
I bring a small point-and-shoot digital camera. I can’t afford an SLR, nor would I want to bring one, given my record for breaking things! You might also consider an iPod or other mp3 player for those long bus/train journeys.Electrical Adapter
You might need a converter to use the appliances you bring with you in European sockets.Other Good Ideas
Backpackers in dorms snore, so bring some earplugs! Also a sink plug is a good idea if you’re handwashing in basins. Bring a sturdy padlock too for your locker/bag, as well as a small flashlight for coming into dorms late at night. A considerate backpacker is a backpacker people will want to get to know!Happy travels!