Packing list essentials for travelling around Europe

Packing list essentials for travelling around Europe

If you’re travelling around Europe in 2018, my best piece of advise would be to travel light. Especially if you’re interrailing as you will be carrying your travel bag alot. Here are my packing list top tips to help you prepare.

Don’t go overboard on clothes – only pack the essentials. Try to rotate what you wear – find somewhere to wash your clothes once a week. Aim to pack enough clothes for about 7-8 days and you will be fine.

Should I take a bag or suitcase?

I always use a backpack as my travel bag and would recommend you do too. Travelling with a suitcase is possible, but can be a bit more awkward if you have many different stops or are inter railing!

Try to get a front loading backpack, this is much easier than a top loading backpack, you can rock up to a hostel and open it just like a suitcase. I can highly recommend the Osprey Farpoint 40 which is my go-to backpack – find the latest prices on amazon.

My friends over at have a great guide to the best travel backpacks.

Key items for your travel packing list:

  • Travel adaptors – These are generally type F with 2 pins. If you are visiting the UK, you will need a UK adaptor too.
  • Washing tablets – Hostels and launderettes will usually have washing powder available to buy, but keeping just a few washing tablets on you is a good idea.
  • Padlock – Most hostels have lockers but require you to take your own padlock – I’d highly recommend a combination lock – one less thing to lose. The lockers vary so ensure a large hoop on our lock – I use this one and has always worked fine.
  • Phone/tablet/laptop – remember the chargers too!
  • Battery pack – Definitely take a battery pack! From those long train journeys to the lack of plugs in some hostel rooms, there will be no shortage of opportunities when you will need one. There are a couple of options:
    • Large battery pack – I bought this Anker charger 2 years ago. It’s still going strong and charges my phone to full around 4-5 times.
    • Battery phone case – You can buy a case with a built in battery for extra charge on the go. You’ll need one that is specific to your device, I sometimes use this Pixel 2 battery case.
  • Towel – Some European hostels will make you pay for towels so best to take your own.
  • Clothing – see below.
  • Camera – If you’re taking an expensive camera, follow these tips to keep it safe. I generally use a smartphone camera along with these lenses.
  • Footwear – This will depend on the type of activities you plan to do. If you are just visiting cities, you should be fine with a pair of comfortable trainers for the day and something a little smarter for evenings. If you are taking long hikes, you may want to consider hiking boots and if you’re hitting the beach, throw in some flip flops.
  • Day bag – You won’t want to carry your large backpack around all the time, ensure you pack a smaller, lighter one to take out and about.
  • Standard toiletries – You can buy these in advance or pick some up on your way around – soap, shampoo, deodorant, tooth brush and paste, shaving stuff, perfume/aftershave, make up, hair products, etc. Nail clippers and tweezers are also helpful to keep in your toiletries bag.
  • Headwear – sunglasses and sun hat for hot countries or a woollen hat if you’re expecting it a little colder.
  • Passport and Interrail pass – these are the most important items on your packing list. Speaking from experience, it’s easy to forget one!
  • Other useful items: Plasters (mainly for blisters), paracetamol (for the hangovers!), carrier bags (for dirty washing).

Clothes to pack

Remember that the weather varies across Europe, in the Scandinavian countries you’ll need to take a few more layers than in Southern Europe.

Here is a rough unisex clothes packing list to keep your travel bag light:

Trousers (jeans, leggings, etc)

Shorts or skirt

Swim wear

Short sleeve tops/long sleeve tops/vests (choice depends upon weather – aim for 3-4 in total)

Something smart/casual for nights out – e.g. shirt/dress


Light waterproof jacket

Socks and underwear

Things you shouldn’t pack:

  • Heels for girls or suit shoes for guys – it’s unlikely you’ll need smart clothes
  • Books (take a kindle instead!)
  • Sleeping bag or duvet

General Packing Tips:

These packing tips apply wherever you are travelling, whether you’re packing for Europe or heading further afield:

Roll your clothes up. This is the best way to pack your clothes to save space in your travel bag and avoid too much creasing. This travel packing tip was a game changer for me.

Keep smaller items in pockets or a toiletries bag. Otherwise you could lose a lot of time searching for those sun glasses.

Try packing cubes. These help keep your luggage organised and easier to find the things you need.

Attach something identifiable to your bag – a ribbon or strap – this will prevent any mix ups.

Remember tickets and passport – don’t panic if you forget something. There will be pharmacies/supermarkets in most places, especially when travelling around Europe. If you forget something then you’ll be able to buy it once you arrive (unless it’s your tickets or passport – then panic!).

If you need help deciding where to go, check out my favourite European cities

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Why shouldn’t you take a sleeping bag?

    1. Hi Jake, I wrote the list based on backpacking and staying in hostels which is the most common way to backpack Europe. In my experience you don’t need a sleeping bag for this and it will add unnecessary weight/size to your bag. Obviously if you’re camping then you’ll need one but I’d suggest looking for a packing list more specific to camping. Hope this helps.

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