Looking for a great travel packing list for Europe? We’ve got you covered!
Adventure, exploration, romance, excitement, travel lust, wandering into locations off the beaten path, and finding those places only the local people know about…many people dream about everything on this list, but very few actually make the time and effort to achieve those dreams.
If you’re going on an amazing trip across locations in Europe, Africa, Asia, or anywhere else the winds may take you… you may not want to plan or decide on every stop you take along the way, leaving you free to enjoy any adventure that appears.
The same, though, can not be said about the travel gear you decide to use. When it comes to this, you will need to decide ahead of time what you plan to take with you.
You are going to need a solid travel packing list.
This is where many first time travelers and backpackers get overwhelmed and have trouble deciding what things are essential and what are non-essential when you are literally going to be carrying them around on your back for the entire length of your trip.
I remember spending months reading and researching about the things I needed for my first one-year backpacking trip to Europe.
I wanted to plan my trip right and make sure I was prepared for the long journey ahead.
I read various blogs, watched many product reviews on YouTube, and read tons of gear review sites before committing to buy the products other backpackers were recommending.
If you are like me, you like finding the best deals and do not mind investing a couple of bucks more for a quality and durable product.
Back then, I wished all this knowledge was in one place instead of spending way too much time online looking for all the scattered information.
As your fellow traveler, I want to help you save time finding the right gear for your trip.
So, what are the essentials that will help you stay comfortable on your upcoming trip?
In this guide, I will answer precisely that question.
As you go through this extensive guide, you will get in-depth information of the different supplies you’re going to need.
I will share with you the best products and gear that I have used myself and what other experienced travelers do recommend.
I will show you a list of products you can buy depending on your needs; and in case you don’t really know why you’ll need a specific item, this guide will explain that to you as well.
Above all, you’ll need to know how to minimize the weight you’ll be carrying, all the while making sure you have everything you need.
Here is my travel packing list for Europe:
The first step in your shopping should be the backpack you need to carry your belongings. Look for these characteristics when choosing your backpack:
- One that is lightweight and does not have much weight of its own.
- You’ll also need to look for one that sits snugly on your back so you don’t strain your back muscles.
- Look for a backpack that matches your body structure so you don’t feel it much when you’re walking long distances.
- It should also be appropriately sized so that it is not too empty. A half-empty backpack can be a little uncomfortable to carry.
- Search for a backpack that has lots of straps so you can attach things to it.
- Check the straps that go on your back. They should have adequate padding so they don’t hurt you when you’re carrying them.
- Make sure that you tape up the stray ends of the straps when depositing them as check-in baggage. If they snag somewhere, you might end up with a torn backpack by the time you reach your destination.
- When needed, you should be able to fold the bag.
- A good backpack should have lots of exterior and interior compartments. This will help you keep your things sorted and easy to find and access.
- Opt for backpacks with zippered compartments. That will ensure that you don’t drop your things along the way.
- We recommend buying a waterproof backpack.You also have the option of buying one that comes with its own waterproof cover.
- Aside from a durable, tough backpack, I also recommend compression sacks. These bags can pack your clothes into a small package that takes up very little room.
- Luggage cubes and toiletry kits are other essentials you need to keep your clothes sorted without wrinkling.
Keeping these criteria in mind, let’s check out the packs I recommend based on usability, quality, and price.
Perhaps, one of the best features of this backpack is that it can comfortably accommodate weight up to 70 pounds.
It has lots of pockets for all your gear with great shoulder straps. It’s economical, good value for the money, and easy on your lumbar or lower back region.
This backpack has a back panel with Lifespan foam so that it doesn’t dig into your back when you’re carrying it.
It comes with a lifetime warranty and even has an extra compartment where you can fit your sleeping bag. Choose from a range of colors.
Osprey Men’s Aether 70 Backpack
Made out of polyester with a lifetime warranty, this backpack has a capacity of 70 liters and itself weighs 4.5 pounds.
You can affix your sleeping bag, tent, or pad with the side and front compression straps. Or you could stow your sleeping pack in the separate compartment at the bottom of the bag.
Use the top and front bungee stash storage for packing away your jacket, shoes, and maybe some rope.
The side mesh pockets are roomy enough to carry water bottles and some snacks. It even has a front J-zip that provides quick access to the main compartment.
High Sierra Explorer 55 Internal Frame Pack
Crafted out of synthetic materials, this backpack has a main compartment you can load at the top.
You can seal it with a drawstring and close the top flap. The bag maintains its shape thanks to the aluminum frame bar you can position to fit securely on your back.
Aside from the molded foam that cushions the bag on your back, it also has airflow channels so the skin of your back is kept cool, ventilated, and thus, sweat-free.
Extremely versatile, you can carry the bag in all kinds of weather and over any kind of terrain. It offers good value for the money and is quite long-lasting.
An important question many travelers have is whether or not to buy a backpack that comes with wheels. Now that’s an individual choice, but wheels can be very handy.
As long as you’re traveling on plain roads, you can always wheel the bag around. And if you’re walking over uneven terrain or climbing stairs, you can carry it.
You must always work with the possibility of an unfortunate back strain or an injury, which disables you from carrying your backpack for long. In that case, having one with wheels could be a huge plus!
Why consider compression bags?
Compression bags can help you squeeze your clothes and other apparel into the smallest area possible.
If wrinkles don’t really bother you, or if you’re working with wrinkle-free clothes, the compression bag can prove to be a very handy item when you’re backpacking.
You can roll up your clothes, arrange them in the pack, and then just squeeze out the air. Though you might want to look for a pack that isn’t likely to fail because it could make repacking on the road a bit difficult.
That is why I recommend the following as part of my packing list for Europe:
Outdoor Research Ultralight Z-Compression Sack
Cylindrical in shape and waterproof, this bag is lightweight and very compact when empty.
You can pack your clothes into it and pull the drawstring closed. You can pull at the compression cord and the bag shrinks into a small pack that you can comfortably place into your backpack.
The bottom of the pack has a pocket where you can stuff the long cord.
You’ll be surprised at the number of clothes you can pack into this small sack!
Nelson-Rigg CB-02-MD Medium Compression Bag
Available in black and gray, this bag has an uncompressed capacity of 20 liters and is great for keeping your used and dirty clothes separated from the clean ones.
Made out of Tri-Max polyester, this compression bag can keep your things dry in the wettest of weather.
The bag can be compacted by pulling on the straps on the sides of the bag. It also includes a handle for convenient carrying around.
ALPS Mountaineering Compression Sleeping Bag Stuff Sack
These compression sacks are available in four sizes and in different colors.
Cylindrical in shape, these bags come with zippered openings at one end while the bottom handle has D-rings.
The seams have double stitching so you can be sure that all your things will stay in place. In addition, the stress points are bar-tacked.
Pack in your soft luggage and then pull on the side straps to compress the entire pack into a compact bag. If you intend to pack your sleeping bag, you could opt for the biggest in size.
If you like to be neat, you’ll love packing cubes. I invested in a set for the last long trip to Spain, and it came in very handy.
Packing cubes work pretty much like compression bags to help you keep your clothes and other items sorted in your backpack.
The only difference is they won’t compress into a smaller size.
Think of the packing cube as a mini suitcase with a zip up lid that you can open, place your clothes in, and rezip.
The trick here is to roll up your t-shirts, shirts, shorts, or anything else and place the rolls side-by-side in the cubes.
- Tip: You can use these very handy packing gear for your home drawers too.
Made out of Techlite Diamond nylon with mesh panels on the top lid, these packing cubes are available in sets of three in different sizes.
They come with a lifetime warranty and high-quality YKK zippers with corded pulls that are very durable.
You can choose from a range of colors that are well-suited for every kind of travel or household requirement.
An added plus is that the packing cubes are waterproof and will keep your belongings dry in every kind of weather.
Eagle Creek Travel Gear Pack-it Specter Set, Packing Cube
Available in a set of three packing cubes as well, this convenient packing accessory is ideal for laying your clothes folded and flat to minimize the possibility of wrinkling.
Made out of nylon, these cubes are 15 inches in height and 10 inches wide with an 8 inch shoulder drop.
You can zip them shut with corded zippers and they also have handles for easy carrying and stowing.
They are available in a range of trendy colors that you can choose from.
Bago Packing Cubes 4pcs Value Set for Travel
The Bago Packing Cubes set is available in a set of four cubes, two medium sized and two large sized.
One of the best things is that when you order this set, you will also get a set of 6 zip bags for additional packing and organizing.
Made of highly durable fabric, the cubes are likely to last you a good long while! Thanks to the zips that go around three sides of the cubes, you can easily flip back the lid to lay down your clothes.
Unpacking in hotel rooms is made quick and efficient, as is repacking when you’re ready to move to your next destination. Their smart sizes are perfect for stowing in your backpack also.
Toiletry kits were definitely essential in my packing list as it helped me to kept all my personal hygiene organized.
Having a toiletry kit saved me time and energy rummaging in my luggage looking for small items when needed them in a hurry.
I recommend looking for ones that come with hooks so you can hang them up in any convenient spot.
Pockettrip Hanging Toiletry Kit Clear Bag Cosmetic Carry Case
This toiletry kit is foldable and includes four compartments so you can keep all your things sorted.
It is made out of high quality cordura material–the kind that is used to make heavy duty suitcases, so you can expect it to be very durable.
The top and third compartments have zippered mesh pockets while the last compartment is see-through.
The third comes with pockets so you can slip in stuff like razors, toothpaste, and all kinds of tubes you need to carry.
The best part is, of course, the hook that folds into the kit so it does not snag on other stuff when you stow it in your backpack. Fold it up and zip it shut and it becomes this compact kit that is very handy to manage.
Eagle Creek Travel Gear Pack-It Wallaby
The Wallaby kit is decent size. It has an all-around zipper and unfolds into three compartments.
The top zippered compartment is mesh and has a small shatterproof mirror attached to the center so you won’t need to carry one separately.
The second compartment not only has pockets for toothbrushes, tubes, and bottles, but also has a zippered pocket at the back. The third compartment is see-through and smaller, and you can detach it from the kit if you need to.
The kit comes with a large hook for hanging up. In case you’re concerned about it catching on other things inside the backpack, the hook can be organized into a small loop that keeps it in place.
The kit is made out of nylon, so it is tough and water resistant.
Suitable for travelers of all ages, you can hang this bag with the hook provided or use it as a counter top travel kit.
It is lightweight and waterproof and available in a range of attractive colors. Perhaps the best thing about this kit is its versatility.
You can continue to use it when you get home from your travels. The kit includes three zippered compartments.
The first is smaller while the other two are see-through and very roomy. You can comfortably pack in bottles, tubes, toothbrushes, and anything else you need to carry along.
Whether you’re traveling by air, sea, or staying in a hotel room, this kit is just the product you need.
Toiletry Travel Bottles
When you’re traveling in different countries, it may not always be possible and, perhaps, economical to find your favorite brands of shampoo, conditioners, or any other essentials you absolutely need.
This is why you could choose to carry them from home.
While you do have the option of carrying travel sized bottles, you should also have a set of bottles in different sizes to pack other liquids, just in case. I am glad I included them in my packing list for my trip to Europe.
Many travel kits include these bottles, but they may not have the sizes you’re looking for.
Then again, if you’re trying to avoid carrying liquids because of airline restrictions, you might need the jars for alternative, non-liquid products.
2oz Clear Plastic Empty Bottles with Flip Cap
Go for this set of six bottles that you can easily fill and flip open to use.
These are firm enough so they’ll stay straight, but you can also squeeze them to get the liquids out.
Since they come in their own zip-up bag, you can slip them into your check-in luggage at the airport.
What is great about is that they are see through so you can easily identify the product in each.
Travel Bottles Silicone Containers Set
You can buy these bottles in a set of four in different colors, organized into their own see through, zip up kit. Very durable and FDA approved, they’ll last you for a lifetime.
They are made out of BPA free, food grade silicone, so after your travels you can use them to store food also.
You can stand them on their lids, and since the openings are big enough, they are very convenient to fill and use.
The walls are leak-proof, so you won’t have to worry about spills inside your backpack when you stow them. You can choose to slip them into your toiletry kit or carry just as they are.
A set of ten mini jars and bottles, the Nalgene Small travel kit is best suited for you if you like to carry a variety of products in small quantities.
Their compact sizes make them perfect for packing in your travel kit, though you can also choose the set that comes with its own bag.
They are leak proof so you can safely carry shampoo, body wash, gels, conditioner, ointments, salves, hair creams, hand and foot creams, and any other product.
The bottles are long lasting, and you can split them between your check-in and carry-on luggage when flying. Easy to fill and dispense, they make the perfect accessory for your travels.
Another piece of baggage that you should include in your packing list for Europe are carry-on bags.
While your backpack can carry all the basic belongings, you’ll need an extra bag that you can carry with you on the plane, bus, train, or any other mode of transport.
- You need a carryall that can hold all the extra stuff you want to keep with you or cannot deposit at the check-in counter. For instance, your electronics, readers, and maybe your mini-laptop.
- You’ll want a bag that can hold all the essentials you need for the duration of your flight or ride.
- The best advantage of having this holdall is that if you have excess baggage, you can move some of the stuff into the cabin bag.
- Sometimes, during the course of your travel, you hear of some location or activity that you can do in a few hours.
- Instead of carrying the entire backpack with you, you could store it in a locker somewhere and come back for it later. Carry the necessary items in the smaller bag.
When choosing carry-ons, make sure its dimensions are not larger than 21” by 14” by 8”. This is the maximum allowed by planes.
This carry-on piece of luggage is versatile and that’s what makes it a great buy.
You could pull out the handle and wheel it along or you could convert it into a backpack in a breeze. Its dimensions are ideal if you intend to carry it on a flight.
Another great feature is that it weighs just 5 pounds and includes a detachable daypack with a padded laptop sleeve. This sleeve can accommodate a 14 inch laptop or tablet.
The main compartment has a capacity of 15 liters and can hold all the supplies you’ll need for your ride.
Samsonite Wheeled Underseater Large
Made out of 100% quality poly-nylon blend, this is another versatile carry-on little suitcase ideal for those who opt for more of a compact, less bulky design.
It is compact enough to fit below the seat in an airline cabin. The best part of all is that the inner section has compartments that are waterproof and make organizing your things very convenient.
You can safely pack damp or wet items and zip them shut. You may not be able to carry liquids on board when traveling by air, but at other times, you can slip a beverage or two into the side bottle pockets.
Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45
If you prefer a bag that does not have wheels, this should be your choice.
The Aeronaut 45 has a large inner compartment that can be divided into two or three subsections by way of zippered dividers.
The entire bag can be accessed by way of a u-shaped zipper that allows you to pack in your clothes and any other items flat without them moving around in transit.
In addition to the main compartment, the bag has two end pockets on either side that can take shoes, socks, underclothes, and any other knick knacks you might want to pack separately.
Luggage Weighing Scale
Another accessory that is absolutely essential in your travel packing list are portable weighing scales. Especially, when you’re going to be flying all the time.
This little gadget allows you to weigh each bag and organize your packing between the different pieces of luggage before you arrive at the airport.
It saves you the bother of dealing with the annoyance of having to pack and repack at the check-in counter. And, of course, you’ll make sure you don’t end up paying for excess baggage.
Offering highly accurate readings, this gadget displays weight from 0.1 to 110 pounds or 50 grams to 50kg.
You can also use it to convert units between the pounds and kilos. It comes with an LCD panel that is clear and legible and stores the reading for up to 15 seconds so you have enough time to check.
The package includes batteries, and if they’re running low, you’ll see an indication on the display. Its rubber paint technology helps you grip it efficiently.
Attach this lightweight gadget by its steel hook to your bag, heft and check. That’s how easy it is to use.
Capable of reading and displaying weights from 50 grams to 50kg or 01 to 110 pounds, this gadget is very convenient to use and carry.
It has a large blue LCD screen that is easy to read even if the lighting is low. On the side of the display, you’ll see two buttons.
One of them allows you to reset while the other lets you choose the unit you want to see results in.
Once you weigh the luggage, the device will store the reading until you reset it.
It is powered with a lithium battery and the indicator will let you know if it is running low and needs to be replaced.
2. Flying & Riding Accessories
Whether you’re commuting by way of train, air, bus, taxi, or any other, you can use these accessories for a comfortable sleep and relaxation.
Here’s a list of necessary items you must carry in your cabin baggage.
Inflatable Neck Pillows
REI Self-inflating Travel Pillow
Peanut-shaped, this inflatable pillow allows for a good sleep. It is made of smooth polyester and has a polyurethane filling.
This filling makes sure that the pillow stays inflated even if it springs a leak somewhere. You can deflate it into a small, compact pack that can be easily stored in your carry-on bag.
Weighing just 4 ounces by itself, it has its own packing sack that you can pack it into after use. The back of the pillow has a silicone strip that prevents it from shifting while you sleep.
This pillow gives your body lateral support since you’ll be wearing it across your upper torso.
Your head can rest on the side and the entire pillow can be attached to your body, the head rest of your seat, or looped around the back of your entire seat.
It is collapsible and can be rolled up into a slim tube for carrying strapped to the handle of your cabin bag.
Made of velour and memory foam, it is soft and can be adjusted to suit your comfort levels.
If you tire lying on one side, you can simply switch the pillow to the other.
This pillow provides the perfect support for your neck, chin, back, and side of the head. It is also switchable from shoulder to shoulder and keeps your head from falling forward.
You can compress it to fit into your cabin baggage and hold it in place with the snap loop.
Go ahead and machine wash it when it gets too dirty. Other users have found it so comfortable that it has become the best-selling pillow not just in the USA and UK, but also in France, Spain, and Japan, and has received more than 7,000 positive reviews.
The J-Pillow is a Worldwide Patented Design and won the British Invention of the Year Award in 2013.
Earplugs are a must for travelers who experience ear pain when taking off and landing.
If this is you, you could try options like chewing gum or gently blow, as if blowing your nose, while pinching your nostrils and keeping your mouth closed.
But a better option is to simply get a pair of earplugs.
If you feel you cannot sleep around noise, earplugs can help you block out the hum of the plane engines, people talking, or even noisy co-passengers and kids.
Often times, you might have to settle for hotels and accommodations in not-so-quiet neighborhoods or if you’re camping out.
Made of super soft foam, this ear plugs are available in a pack of 28 earplugs, or 14 pairs.
They provide you with noise reduction of 33 decibels. You’ll need to twist them a little when inserting them into your ear canal, but with a little practice, they can prove to be a great travel accessory.
Each pack of these earplugs contain 10 pairs and work very well for canceling out sounds up to 33 decibels. They are easy to insert thanks to their unique contoured shape.
When backpacking and traveling you may want to catch a nap. And if you’re trying to sleep with light shining on your face, that can be quite an annoyance.
This is where the eye masks come in, A good eye cover should be the perfect accessory for “light sleepers.”
Here are our top recommendations:
Bedtime Bliss Contoured & Comfortable Sleep Mask & Moldex Ear Plugs
This eye mask has the perfect shape to fit and sits on the eye socket without exerting pressure. It’s very effective for blocking out even the strongest of light.
The entire set comprises an eye mask, a pair of earplugs, and a packing case.
Made out of mulberry silk, this eye mask is ideal for people with sensitive skin.
It comes with two soft elastic straps that fit any person, child or adult.
One band goes around your forehead and the other rests at the nape of your neck. Its smooth texture ensures that you won’t feel it even when you turn in your sleep.
Your eye mask comes with its own carrying case and a set of earplugs.
Noise Cancelling Headphones
If you’re trying to sleep on an airplane or any other ride, headphones can block out much of the ambient noise so you can rest more comfortably.
However, do keep in mind that even the best of headphones cannot completely block out crying babies, people talking, and other high-pitched sounds. But they’re good if you’re trying to listen to your favorite music.
Here are the best on the market:
Bose Noise Cancelling Wireless Bluetooth
These are compatible with your iPhone, iPod, or iPad, these headphones come with two modes.
You can choose to cancel out surrounding sounds or you can set it to “Aware” so you can keep track of what’s going on around you.
They come with a lithium battery you can recharge and three sizes of hearing tips.
Made of soft silicone, you can hardly feel them in your ears.
BOHM Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
You can use these wireless headphones connected to your PC, smartphone, tablet, laptop, and other similar gadgets even if it is placed at over 30 feet.
Available in black and silver, it’s good for people who’re not quite comfortable with the ear plugs inside their ears. These phones sit snugly on top of your ears and on your head.
The battery is rechargeable and will last 18 hours. In case you’re connected to your phone, the headphones allow you to take calls and automatically resume playing music when you hang up.
Sony MDRXB50AP Extra Bass Earbud Headset
Crafted out of ceramic and oval in shape, these headphones provide you with complete noise isolation. They also give you excellent quality sound and are great for traveling. The set comes with a mic and controller so you can use it with your phone. In addition to the carrying case, the set has five sets of eartips, a clip to attach to your shirt, and a plug adapter.
Additional Travel Accessories
Instead of carrying an eye mask and earplugs separately, you also have the option of picking up a SleepPhone. This smart gadget provides you with the positives of both accessories rolled into one compact band.
This soft band can be wrapped around your head and serves as both an eye mask and headphone.
It is available in two different kinds of fabric such as fleece and a lighter material designed for warm climates.
You can also choose from a range of attractive colors. Very comfortable and stretchable, you can play your favorite music as you try to sleep. It’s great for canceling out disturbing sounds too.
Merino Travel Kit by Parachute
Here’s another product that packs three accessories into one to make your commuting very comfortable.
It includes a very soft merino throw and an eye mask with merino lining, both of which can be packed into a merino lined packing case.
You can use the packing as a pillow for the duration of your ride. Together the three make for a cozy, comfortable airplane sleep. The whole set compacts into a small pack that can comfortably fit into your cabin baggage.
Sleeping Bag Liner
While backpacking, chances are you’ll have to rough it at times and make do with average or below average motel rooms and cheap accommodation for certain destinations.
If you’re concerned about hygiene and the rough feel of motel sheets and bedding, you definitely need the sleeping bag liner.
You could buy these sheets in large sizes to accommodate even a very tall person and wide enough so two people can share.
The positive of these sheets is that they are easily washable and you can fold them up into the size of a small pack that is easy to stow and carry.
In addition, they can wick away sweat so they’ll keep you dry and comfortable in any kind of weather.
Sea to Summit 100% Premium Stretch Silk Liner
Made of premium grade AA Grade ripstop silk, this silk liner includes polyester/lycra stretchable gussets that add to its comfort and durability. A great addition to your packing list.
The stretch panels also keep the lining in place when you move on the sheet.
You can safely wash it in the machine, and it has reinforced seams that ensure they will stay in place after repeated usage and wash.
An added advantage is that it is usable in both warm and cool weather. When it’s time to move, you can fold it up and pack it into its own carrying case.
The Cocoon Cotton travel sheet works in two ways.
Not only can you spread it to protect your skin from rough or possibly unhygienic bedding, you can also use it to as a buffer from blankets and other bed covers.
Stitched on two sides, you can slip into it from one side. It even has a pocket into which you can slip the pillow if you’re wary about it being clean enough.
Slip into one of these and you’ll never have to worry about where you’re sleeping again. It’s made of cotton so you can machine wash it and reuse it. After use, you can slip it into its packing pouch and stow it into your backpack or carryall.
If you think you might be traveling in cold places, you should consider one of the must have one of these.
This sleeping bag liner is zippered around three-quarters of the bag and is made of microfiber fleece that can keep you warm all through the night.
You can use these liners at home in your regular bed also. Available in a range of colors, you can choose the one you like best. It comes with its own carrying case in which you can place the rolled up sleeping bag liner.
3. Hygiene and Toiletries
When planning the toiletries you need to take with you on your backpacking trip, you need to keep certain factors in mind.
Focus on how to lighten the load and choose products you’re allowed to carry on board flights. If you’re going to be hiking a lot, it’s good to have biodegradable products so you can dispose of them safely. Also, look for unscented products.
Here is a checklist of the basic hygiene products that I and other backpackers recommend to carry along:
- Oral care products – Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss – Consider getting chewable toothpaste. You can reduce the weight and avoid spills if the toothpaste tube were to leak.
- Alcohol gel-based hand sanitizers are good but many users talk about how the alcohol content tends to dry out your skin. If you think you might be using it a lot, consider getting an alcohol-free sanitizer.
- Shampoo and conditioner in small bottles – Users have recommended carrying a single large bottle if you’re traveling in a group and decanting into smaller ones that fit into your carryall while some suggested eliminating the conditioner altogether. But if you feel you cannot do without it, carry a bottle.
- Toilet paper in a separate bag.
- Wet wipes – In case you’re not able to shower for a while, a quick wipe down can leave you feeling fresh instantly.
- Biodegradable soap – phosphates in regular soap are harmful for water bodies, so if you’re washing in the woods, make sure the runoff doesn’t reach water.
- Microfiber towels for drying off
- Comb – any ordinary one will do. If you cannot do without a hairbrush, look for a collapsible one.
- Soap for bathing – trying carrying smaller bars
- Moisturizers – You’ll need moisturizers for your hands and face. And if you’re traveling in particularly dry locations, you might need body moisturizers too.
- Wash cloths – While there are disposable washcloths available, I would suggest you buy the regular ones and let them hang out to dry. That will help you save on the weight you’ll have to carry before you use up the packs.
- Toiletry Soap Sheets – You can buy and use these sheets for bathing, shampooing, shaving, washing hands, and even for doing your laundry. Compliant with airline regulations, you can carry them without any problems. Remember to pull out each sheet with dry hands or you could end up ruining the entire pack.
- Single use pods – In many locations, you might just be able to find a laundromat. These pods can be easily used to wash a single load at a time.
- Lip balm
- Sunscreen / sunblock
- Body talc
- Antifungal powders or creams
- Shaving foam and other shaving supplies you need
- Women will need feminine hygiene products and anti-bacterial wipes.
- Cotton pads and Q-tips
- Disposable razors for the face and legs
- Balms that prevent chafing and blistering
Repackage the smaller amounts you think you’ll use and carry them with you.
Most hotel and motel rooms and other accommodations do offer towels you can use. But in case you want to bring your own, it is best to invest in a personal travel towel.
These are known for being soft and absorb moisture quickly. Also, pick the quick-drying variety and ones that will not smell bad if you can’t air them out properly. Another important feature would be resistance to germs if you can’t wash them often.
Aventu PackDry Micro Towel Combo Set
Available in an attractive blue color along with a range of many others, The PackDy MicroTowel is gaining popularity.
Microfiber towels are very light, soft, and can be compacted into a small space. Aside from backpacking, you can use it for water sports, working out, camping, and on the beach.
It comes with an easy snap loop for hanging up and its own packing case that has a pull cord on the top. If you haven’t had the time to dry it thoroughly, it is not likely to dampen your other clothes when you stow it in your backpack.
Made out of 85% polyester and 15% nylon, this is a great product for backpackers. It is very soft and can hold up to four times its own weight in water.
When you’re done with it, you can wring it out, and with a little airing, it’s good to be repacked right away into its carrying pack. It’s very lightweight, so it’s not likely to take up much space.
An added positive is that it has antimicrobial properties and is not likely to smell bad if you can’t air it out. You can safely machine wash it and hang it up by the loop to dry. Another great addition to your packing list.
This product is available in five sizes ranging from 36 by 59 inches to the smallest that measures 10 by 14 inches only.
When walking around in hotel rooms or in the shower, you’ll need footwear to protect you from possible fungal infections.
Having a pair of flip flops can also protect you from bugs and pebbles when walking around campsites.
At the end of a long day of walking, you’ll need to let your feet air out a little in the evenings, and slipping your feet into open footwear can help.
It’s okay to look for the cheap ones as you may lose them or leave them behind someplace.
Also, make sure they dry quickly by simply wiping them down when you need to get moving. Flip flops are typically very lightweight and don’t take up much area in your backpack.
Lightweight, comfortable and easy to use. These flip-flops combine all the essential features you may need.
Reef Women’s Sandy Flip-Flop Sandal
When traveling, in many locations you might not be able to find a laundromat, and since you’ll be packing light, you’ll have to do your laundry in the hotel or motel room.
Opt for small packs of single-use detergents, the thicker in consistency the better.
And if you can find the powder variety, that’s even better because you’ll be eliminating the possibility of spills completely. Just to be safe, it’s better to carry them in zip-lock bags.
To do your laundry, one of the basic rules is to try and use the minimum amount of detergent.
That ensures that you won’t have to rinse too many times. Also, pour the detergent on the stains and dirty patches so you won’t have to use a whole lot.
Remember to carry a drain stopper and a clothesline.
A clothesline should be one that has loops so you can hook them on any available spot in the room.
If you can find one with carabiners, that’s great too. Avoid suction cups since they aren’t as effective after reusing them.
Choose one that is made of rubber latex, and look for a line that’s braided instead of twisted. They typically have gaps that are good for holding the corners of the garments you hang up.
Try not to let your dirty clothes piled up. If you can wash up a few garments every night, you’ll have fewer items to hang up.
If possible, try to dry them in your room or balconies as bathrooms are typically not ventilated enough and your clothes are not likely to dry quickly and thoroughly.
Made of surgical latex rubber tubing, this clothesline can stretch up to seven feet. You can hang wet garments weighing up to 12 pounds.
The smooth latex ensures that any delicate cloth will not snag or tear. The line is very lightweight, weighing just 1.6 ounces, fitting easily into your backpack.
It goes without saying that a first-aid kit is indispensable for a backpacker.
Let’s talk about the absolute essentials you need. To begin with, you could look for a preset first-aid kit that you can buy online.
Just make sure that it is waterproof and contains all the supplies you could need depending on the duration for which you’re traveling and the medical status of the backpackers.
You could also factor in the terrain and the kind of place you’re traveling in.
If you think you’ll need smaller quantities, you could take along the amounts you need in the travel bottles mentioned in the chapters above.
Make sure you label each jar and bottle carefully so you know exactly what it contains. Here is a list of items to consider:
- Assorted bandages and Bandaids: For small cuts, bruises and blisters
- Butterfly closures and 4-inch long strip bandages: For closing bigger wounds
- Sterile dressing pads: 4X4 inches for pressing down on wounds to stop bleeding
- Sterile dressing in 2X2 inch sizes: Choose non-adherent ones for covering blisters, burns, and small cuts.
- Gauze rolls for covering dressing
- Adhesive tape: A small roll is enough to fix dressings
- You’ll need a knife and scissors to cut dressings. But if you’re carrying a Swiss army knife, that should work too.
- Forceps or tweezers for cleaning wounds and removing ticks.
- Safety pins
- Moleskin to prevent blisters
- Thermometer and ibuprofen for fevers
- Antiseptic wipes for cleaning wounds
- Pain killers
- Antacid tablets
- Antihistamines for allergies
- Imodium for stomach infections and diarrhea
- Check with your doctor for medication to relieve insect stings and bites, poison oak, and other kinds of skin allergies.
- Antibiotic ointment for covering wounds
- Oral rehydration or electrolytes for protection against dehydration
- CPR microshield mask: Protects in case you need to provide CPR to someone
- Crepe or ACE bandages for wrapping sprains and strains
- A small emergency handbook that educates you on what you need to do in case of common emergencies
- Mylar blanket for protection against hypothermia
4. Staying in Touch: Electronics and Gadgets
Nowadays, remaining connected by way of a phone and the internet is essential when you’re backpacking.
You’ll need it to keep in touch with your loved ones back home or to call for help in case of emergencies. An internet connection is exceedingly useful, thanks to its many facilities.
You can access the detailed map and information of local eateries and interesting places to check out. You’ll also need a brief introduction to the social norms and do’s and don’ts of unfamiliar places.
And if you’re having trouble understanding the language, use your phone or any other gadget for help with translations.
Checking for the weather of the places you’re headed can help you plan your supplies accordingly.
You could also check the blogs of other travelers for practical details and insights that could prove invaluable.
Phone with Changeable Sims
If you can, try to unlock your phone so it can work with different Sim cards. Each time you go to a new location, you’ll only need to buy a prepaid Sim and insert it.
Use it for the duration of your trip in the country. You’ll only need to provide your passport or any other ID and the store will help you activate it.
This procedure typically takes around 10 minutes or so. Many such unlocked phones are available online, and they’re economical so you need not worry, even if you lose it.
Tip: A good option is to hang on to your old phones after the two-year contract period is up and use it for traveling. Most providers allow you to unlock your phone after this time!
If you are planning on bringing your camera, phone, and laptop, you are most likely going to need these cables to charge your electronics.
The issue is always… what size to choose?
You could opt for the short ones that you can attach to your keychain.
That will save you the bother of having to untangle them again and again inside your backpack.
However, if the cables are too short, you’ll have to find a charging port close to you either at the airport or hotel/motel room so you can keep your device close to you.
This problem can be solved with the help of retractor cables that wrap around themselves. There’s an issue with these too. Many users talk about having problems with their durability.
The best solution, thus, is to opt for a good-sized cable. When you’re done with it, hold the ends together and roll it up. Pack it into a compact zip lock.
If you have a rubber band to secure the roll, that would be even better.
Compatible and certified by Apple with a lifetime warranty, this cable has a length of 5 feet.
You can use it to charge electronics like Apple iPhone 6 / 6 Plus, iPhone 5 / 5C / 5S, iPad Air, iPad mini, iPod Nano (7th generation), and iPod touch (5th Generation). In addition, you can charge and sync any device with iOS7 and iOS8.
USB Battery Pack
When you’re on the road, there’s always a possibility that you cannot charge your electronics for whatever reason. And if you want to keep using your phone, cameras, iPad, or any other gadget, you’ll need a backup power source.
This is where the USB battery pack comes in. When you’re charging your electronics, charge up this battery also. Simply connect your devices to the battery pack and you can keep using them for quite a while.
Very lightweight and compact, the USB battery is easy to carry. It can charge your iPhone up to 5 times and a Galaxy S6 up to four times. You can also charge your iPad Air more than once.
It’s tough and durable, so you can carry it in any kind of weather and use it in any travel conditions.
When you buy this portable charger, you will receive a carry pouch, but you’ll have to buy the cable you need for charging. In addition, this gadget comes with an 18 month warranty.
Power Strip with Multiple Sockets
Power strips with multiple sockets are useful when you need to juice up multiple electronics and don’t have a power outlet to work with.
Typically, these devices are so small you can pack them in your pocket or backpack without any problem.
We recommend using one of these even if you have just one device to charge. Use in a hotel/motel room, at the airport, or any other location – when you’re on the road, you make do with what you get.
Accell D080B-011K Travel Surge Protector
Available in two colors, black and white, this charger can protect your gadgets from power surges of up to 612 joules.
It can detect the surge and direct it away from your gadget by way of the electrical grounding system. It comes with two USB charging outlets and has a foldable power plug.
Its exterior is tough and durable so you can safely carry it around.
Connect it to any AC outlet you can find and you can charge your phone, tablet, MP3 player or any other gadget.
When traveling to different countries, backpackers can expect to have problems connecting their electronics, as many countries will have their own shape of power outlets.
To deal with this issue, bring along a plug converter.
Converters are typically light and small in size so fitting them into your backpack should not be a problem.
One of the better options to go is with is the Ceptics GP-5PK International Travel Worldwide Plug Adapter Set.
Their plug converters are very economical. This set has plug adapters compatible with outlets in a wide range of countries.
And if you have a fair idea of where you’re going to be traveling, you can choose to carry only the ones you’re likely to need.
Do keep in mind that plug adapters don’t convert voltages, so you’ll need to check with the voltage the outlet supplies before plugging in your gadget for charging.
For the best converter I recommend BESTEK International converter.
Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot
Nowadays, most places such as coffee shops, restaurants, hotels etc., you visit will have Wi-Fi connection. However, if you want to be safe and rely on your own gadgets, I recommend your own portable WiFi Hotspot.
These devices are compatible with any gadget you need to use. You’ll only have to buy a WorldSim Data Sim Card and insert it while traveling.
This card will help you save on the roaming charges also. Typically, these devices are unlocked, and that means you can use whatever SIM card you want.
Verizon Jetpack® 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot—AC791L
This portable hotspot has a battery life of up to 24 hours before you need to charge it again.
Organizing your Wires and Gadgets
Considering that you have so many gadgets and cables to carry, you’ll need to organize them carefully in one place.
For one, many of these devices are small in size and could get lost if you were to drop them. Finding them inside your backpack can also be difficult.
Which is why I recommend you get a kit that has pockets to hold all the devices and cables safely. Most important, you won’t find yourself untangling a bunch of wires when you need one in a hurry.
Skooba Design Cable Stable DLX
Black in color on the outside with a green lining, this kit has three mesh pockets that can hold smaller items. It also has more than 15 slots that can hold any kind of cables and wires you need to carry.
The pens, batteries, and USB drives you’re carrying can be fitted in the elastic loops inside the case.
After packing your things, you can zip up the entire kit. It also has a zippered pocket on the outside where you can stow your disks. Measuring ten and a half inches in length, it is compact enough to be carried around,
5. Capturing and Preserving Experiences and Memories
Cameras, Accessories, & More
To preserve and relive the experiences and memories of your travels, you’ll need gadgets that can help you capture every exciting moment. Cameras today are more versatile than ever.
The best ones for travelers should be compact so they can be carried easily and tough to withstand unexpected conditions when you are exploring.
The ideal camera for travelers should be a point and shoot camera, as it is easy to handle and takes the best shots outdoors.
There is a huge selection of digital point and shoot cameras and compact cameras from Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc.
I researched online for the most used point and shoot cameras by travelers, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 Digital Camera was mentioned the most.
At a reasonable price, you are getting a reliable, quality, versatile camera that can last your travels and more.
Housed in a sophisticated aluminum body, the Sony DSC-RX100 Digital Camera (Black) features a 20.2 megapixel Exmor CMOS image sensor that excels in ultra low-light situations.
It’s equipped with a brilliant f/1.8 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T Lens with a focal length of 10.4-37.1mm (35mm equivalent: 28-100mm). It also has an integrated pop up flash.
You can record ultra high-definition still images in JPEG format, RAW format, or even both simultaneously.
The camera also affords Full HD 1080p video capture at 60 frames per second (fps). Plus, it supports a full range of controls for video and still shooting that range from iAUTO to P/A/S/M (Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual).
Having a tripod can help you take steady, sharper and clearer photos and videos of your adventures.
The Professional Flexible Bendipod For Canon PowerShot S120 Camera, 13″ Tripod is quite flexible. You can place it on a table top with its very flexible legs to set up your camera and take pictures and videos.
Or you could attach it to any railing, grid, or tree branch. Its legs are collapsible, and you can use it as a selfie stick also. This gadget comes with a one-year limited warranty and is simple to use.
You only need to screw your camera or camcorder to its top. It can hold up to 2.2 pounds, so you can safely use advanced cameras also.
SD Cards can pack in lots of data and you can use them to save all the pictures and videos you want. They are small enough so you can carry a whole bunch, but take care how you store them because it’s easy to lose one since they’re so small and compact.
SanDisk Extreme Plus 32GB UHS-1/U3 SDHC Memory Card Up To 80MB/s- SDSDXS-032G-X46
Each of these small wonder cards can carry up to 32GB of data with an 80MB/s reading speed.
They come with a limited lifetime warranty and are compatible with SDHC, SDXC, SDHC UHS-I & SDXC UHS-I Supporting Host Devices.
Carry them safely with you on your travels because they are very resilient and capable of withstanding high and low temperatures, moisture and high impacts. You can also carry them safely through x-ray machines. Use them to store all the pictures and videos you want.
In today’s times, when I rely on electronics and gadgets for every little task, sometimes it’s nice to go the old-fashioned way and rely on a basic paper notebook or a pocket book.
Make sure to pick one up to write your story.
6. Other Essentials
Before I sign out, I have a couple of other essentials for you that you are likely to appreciate having with you. Take them along and see how useful they can prove to be.
Nikon 8217 Trailblazer 8x25 ATB Binocular
If you are into architecture or looking at nature, binoculars are going to come handy. Spot birds and animals from a distance or discover the finer artistic details of the buildings and monuments you visit.
Weighing just 1.25 pounds, this Nikon offering has a sleek design and Eco-Glass optics that are free of lead and arsenic. The rubber coating allows you to grip the set firmly.
It comes with a lifetime warranty, and in case you find any flaws in the materials or construction, you can have it repaired or replaced free of cost.
You will also receive a smart carrying case, strap for slinging, cover of the lens, and box for packing in.
Having to fit bottles of water in your bags can be a pain. A good idea is to carry a collapsible water bottle.
Empty it when you need to board flights and refill when you get off. While on the road, you can fill it from any reliable source you find, such as restaurants and cafeterias.
And if you’re concerned about the water being clean enough for drinking, you can invest in a bottle that cleans your water for you.
The Platypus Plus Bottle is capable of carrying a liter of water at a time. This collapsible bottle can be rolled into a sixth of its size and placed in your backpack.
Highly durable, it has a natural SlimeGuard antimicrobial that makes sure your bottle stays clean and free of odors and taste. It has a hang loop and a tapered body so you can grip and drink easily.
The cap is leak-proof so you can fill and reuse as many times as you want on your travels.
Exploring the world with all its natural and man made wonders is a truly awesome experience.
And if you’re willing to make the effort and rough it out when you need to, you can put away a lifetime of fond memories.
I hope you find this guide useful and makes your upcoming trip better.
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