Backpacking Europe Packing Tips

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If you have ever seen a movie, literally any movie, you have probably heard someone say they were going to go backpacking in Europe. Backpacking used to be known as that trendy thing that 20-something-year-olds did after college because they wanted to quote on quote find themselves. If you went backpacking, you were on a mission to figure out your purpose in life. Well, nowadays, backpacking is still trendy but it has also grown in popularity. It is not just a way of travel for those who are searching but also a fun way to travel on a budget for those who just want to see the world! I am one of those!

Two years ago I went on my first Europe backpacking trip! Overall it was an absolute blast. I mean, we drank wine on the Amalfi Coast and took beer baths in Budapest. All we did was hop from country to country, checking off things from our bucket lists. There was only one problem, we were extremely unorganized. So this year, when we decided to go backpacking again, I did a bit more research. With just a few little tips and tricks, this backpacking trip was a million times better!

So here are a few essential packing tips for your next backpacking trip!

1. Pack light

Obviously, this one should be a no brainer. I mean, if you are going to be carrying a backpack on your back all around Europe, you are going to want to make it easy to pick up. But packing light isn't just for your own benefit, airlines are also really cracking down on weight. Just this last trip I had two check my backpack two separate times because it was overweight. Limit yourself to around 20-22lbs to be safe! Now that weight INCLUDES your backpack, so pack first, then weigh.

2. Minimize Toiletries

This is the number one thing that people do wrong when they pack a backpack. Everyone tries to bring their entire skincare routine or all of their favorite makeup products. Repeat after me... YOU DON'T NEED THEM! Be strict with yourself and cut it down to the bare minimum, especially anything that is a liquid or a gel.

3. Match your outfits ahead of time

You have no idea how easy it is to overpack a backpack. You'll start with a good amount and then your brain takes over. What if it's cold? What if we go out to a fancy dinner? What if, what if, what if.. don't pack for the what-ifs, pack precisely. Now that doesn't mean you can't look good. Obviously, if you are going to Europe you are going to want to dress accordingly. All this means is that you need to strategize your outfits. I like to lay out all the pants I want to bring then match a few shirts. That way I know what outfits I am bringing instead of a bunch of separate items.

4. Create a packing list

Nothing helps me more than having lists. I swear something about seeing things written down in detail gives me a better picture of what I'm working with. So when you are packing, write down a little list to give yourself an overview.

Here is my Europe Packing List:

  • Shirts: 3 short sleeves, 2 long sleeves, 2 tank tops, 1 crop top
  • Pants: 1pair jeans, 1 pair of black jeans, 1 pair of legging, 1 pair of shorts
  • Socks: 2 no show, 2 regular, 1 fluffy (i like fluffy socks for when I get cold)
  • Underwear: 1 nude bra, 1 bralette, 1 sports bra, 7 underwear
  • Jackets: 1 rain jacket, one cute jacket (I packed a black leather), 1 sweatshirt
  • Shoes: 1 pair sneakers, 1 pair flip flops
  • Extra: 2 dresses, 2 sunglasses


I can't stress this one enough. Packing cubes are essential if you want to survive a backpacking trip. Picture this, you are in a hotel room trying to get dressed for the day. You know what shirt you want to wear but you have no idea where it is in that giant backpack that is sitting in front of you so now you have to dig everything out. If you had packing cubes, you would just pull out the 3 different size cubes, open the shirt cube, and pick out the shirt. Plus, they have a way of compressing all your clothes to make them fit into your backpack without a packing struggle!!

6. Roll your clothes

Packing cubes are only going to be effective if you know how to pack them so here are 3 easy steps to using packing cubes.
  • Step 1: Layout the clothes with the correct packing cube: You are going to want to use the biggest cube for pants, jackets, and dresses. The medium cube is best for shirts and the smallest will hold your underwear and socks. Shoes will be packed separately.
  • Step 2: Roll the clothes: Forget everything your mom ever taught you about folding your clothes. Folding is not your friend when using packing cubes. You are going to want to roll, it keeps things way more organized!
  • Step 3. Sort clothes inside of the cubes and zip: Lay your clothes into the packing cubes until they are full and zip them up!

7. Don't forget about your personal item

Airlines offer you 1 carry on and 1 PERSONAL ITEM! Use that! For me, my personal item was a small day backpack that I could carry out and about with me when we left our hotel room. It was usually packed with all of our camera equipment and extra outfits that I want to get pictures of. But many people like to use these day packs as a way to carry some heavier items like water bottles and umbrellas.

8. Extra Travel Must-Haves

So now that you feel comfortable with all of the basics of packing for your next backpacking trip, I have one more tip for you. Don't forget the extras!

Here are some things you should consider bringing:

  • First aid kit (you can get a travel kit at any drug store)
  • Tide to-go sticks
  • De-wrinkle spray
  • Padlocks (to keep your backpack secure in hostels)
  • Photocopies of your travel document
  • Headphones
  • Outlet adapters
  • Portable charger
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Shampoo and conditioner (if you aren't staying at hotels)
  • Travel size detergent (you can wash your clothes in the sink if you need to)