Backpacking – Packing List

As with every trip, my favorite planning procedure is packing. The idea that whatever I place in this bag will be what I’m stuck with for a long time. When Justin and I backpack Europe, we will be stuck with what’s on our back for a very long time. As most of you know, we’ll be there for a month or more, we haven’t decided yet. If all this talk about sojourning abroad has you yearning for the rich beauty of travel, you may find this packing list helpful in your decision-making process. Note that this is a list for backpacking for days and days. When it comes to your honeymoon in Paris, you can pack whatever you please; hopefully in that case you will be staying in a hotel. Onward backpackers!

1. Clothing – When packing your backpack to live out of, clothing must be chosen wisely, because you won’t be able to bring very much.

-Pack two pairs of pants to add to the ones you are wearing when you get off that plane. One of the pairs should be able to double as dress pants.

-One pair of shorts is advisable for the day you set aside to do some adventuring in the Swiss great outdoors. It would be thinking to bring shorts that you could get away with as being a swimsuit because there are some pretty sweet beaches in Europe too. The lady sojourners out there generally have swimsuits that can be packed easily, so I don’t need to list an alternative to save packing space.

-Bring two casual short sleeve shirts, two casual long sleeve shirts, and one dressy, button up in case you happen to catch some theatre or experience some fine dining.

-Keeping money in mind, you might not want to be washing clothes twice every week. When you pack your socks and underwear, pack as many pairs as the amount of days you are willing to go without washing clothes. I wouldn’t advise over six.

-Pack one multi-climate jacket because from chills to rain, you don’t want to go unprotected, and an umbrella is excessive.

-If you want to be easily identifiable as an American tourist, you should probably bring some athletic shoes. However, you can probably get away with a fashionable dress/walking shoe hybrid if you want to fly under the radar. Because your main mode of transportation is going to be your feet, shoes are going to be very important. This is the one thing I would not scrimp on. Get a durable $100 pair or more, so it’ll last from beginning to end. Also, a pair of sandals or flip-flops would be good to bring, especially for showering.

The big thing to keep in mind here is conserving resources. If you have one clothing item that can be used as another, go for it. It will only make your packing easier.

2. Toiletries – If you plan well enough ahead, you’ll only need to buy toiletries once for the whole trip.

-Three-in-one body wash/shampoo/conditioner is ideal for conserving space. It may not be the best considering they had to jam all three into one gel, but it does the job, and that’s all you need.

-If you get a new toothbrush for your trip, you can make it last the whole while without needing a replacement. Also, one tube of toothpaste can be stretched for a month easily. You just may have to use it less liberally. Remember, the nature of backpacking requires conservation of available resources.

-A portable electric shaver would be the most convenient way for male backpackers to keep a clean face on the go. For both male and female travelers, cheap, double blade razors are really all you need for the closer shaves. That way, you can dispose of them as needed. Needless to say, some toiletries (liquids, razors, etc.) must be purchased upon arrival in Europe due to airline precautions.

-Of course, since you may not be showering daily, deodorants and body sprays will have to be sufficient replacements some mornings.

-None of us can forget to bring a first-aid kit to top off our toiletries. You never know, a bandage and some triple antibiotic ointment may be your best friends when you’re out hiking, away from civilization.

Finally, note that all of my advice, hygienic or otherwise, is through the lens of a college student. Conservation is second-nature in my world, and I live almost as if it were out of a backpack some weeks. So if some of my suggestions seem a bit too frugal, maybe buy soap and shampoo separately. I just don’t want to come off as a caveman.

3. Important Documents and Cards – These may be the most important things on your person at all times, being your entire identity for the duration of your stay in Europe.

Your passport and your driver’s license are your two main forms of identification. Without them, you can’t get to Europe in the first place, and once you’re in, hop from country to country.

Credit/ATM cards’ importance goes without saying. They are the only way you’ll be able to get native currency in Europe.

-You’ll need your medical information in case something happens during your escape that can’t be fixed with your trusty first-aid kit.

-As nerdy as it may look to you, a money belt that can be worn under your shirt that can hold all your personal information is a wise investment to prevent theft of the things you need most.

4. Miscellaneous – Who knows? You may want something to do on the train, or something to enhance your travel experience.

-Whether on the plane ride or want something to listen to to drown out the thunderstorm outside your hostel, an mp3 player is a great companion loaded with your favorite tunes, or maybe even SojourningAbroad’s Traveling Playlist.

-You might want to bring a book for those mornings when you stop by the local café for some breakfast as you wake up. A book light may even be useful for nighttime reading.

-Justin and I are bringing a video camera to record our time in Europe, so I would definitely suggest packing one of them. However, in this day and age, every phone doubles as a camera, so your cell may suffice. It just depends on what quality you want to capture life in. Then again, as Data from the 80s film, The Goonies, says of his photographic father’s broken invention, “You can’t hug a picture.”

If there are some things that I left out, please leave them in the comments. We’d all find that useful. What are some special tricks for packing that you may have picked up in your own adventures? Tell us in the comments below.

6 Responses to “Backpacking – Packing List”
  1. redboots says:

    A swiss army knife with all the bells and whistles. I have used it to open food packages and slice food on buses and trains, make pb & j’s on trains, open corked bottles of wine, open tinned food (a lot of hostels don’t have can openers), cut loose threads, etc. If I didn’t have my knife I would probably have gone hungry most of the time. It always comes handy in a pinch and when fellow travelers find me weird for carrying one at all times they later learn that they need it as well for something and ask to borrow. It’s a good way to make friends 🙂

  2. swozy says:

    Great list! A trck for packing is to roll your clothes and place folds where we have body folds. To roll a shirt, place it flat on a surface front side up. Fold the sleeves straight in front of chest area (under the collar) then take the bottom of the shirt and bring it towards the collar (making the fold around the tummy area – body fold). Starting at that fold, roll it up towards the collar. Creasing should be minimal and you have creases only at the shoulders and tummy..
    I hope this makes sense! If it does, you can apply the rules to everything you pack.
    Enjoy your travels!

  3. Barry says:

    Hi guys, interested to know your thoughts on technology? We normally travel with a laptop and two cameras, backing them up on external hard drives and through photobucket when we have good internet! How do you do it?

    • Justin says:

      Well I bought a chromebook for this trip to have internet access and left my macbook at home because its a lot heavier and more expensive. Unfortunately that means that my video editing software has become limited to iMovie on my phone, but it is better than nothing I guess. I also brought my iPad and my Kindle. Bringing my iPad was a mistake because it is dead weight that I haven’t used once… But the kindle is great because the battery life and i don’t have to have all the book weight.

      As far as hard drives go, I thought about bringing my external for saving footage onto it, but i decided not to. I’ve been filming, editing, and uploading all from my phone (quality could be better, but its survivable) and then deleting to make room for the future footage.

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