Check out this backpacking travel list and see what I packed in my backpack for our recent trip. I will also let you know what changes I will make for next trip. The free backpack Europe checklist is at the bottom of the post.
My husband and I just returned from a trip to Europe. This 8-day trip included a visit to France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.
Backpacking Essentials Europe Travel Tips
Since we were only going carry-on and using public transportation to get around in country, we decided to use backpacks for our luggage. This was a smart suggestion from my friend, Leslie. We’ve always wanted to be backpackers. World travel is best when you pack light!
While this was our first visit to Europe, I feel that I did a great job of packing for backpacking Europe. Here is what I packed in my backpack for our early October trip.
My Travel Backpack Europe
First, let us look at the backpack itself. I used this 50L daypack that I ordered online. We already had a 50L backpack at home but the measurements were slightly taller than what the airline allowed. In hindsight, I could have taken it because they were only concerned about our weight and not the measurements. I saw several passengers with larger carry-ons.
My memory foam neck pillow attached to be outside of my backpack. I loved having this pillow on the plane and used it between my knees wall sleeping in beds in Europe.
My husband used this high-quality slim backpack. It was amazing how much it held.
Water Bottle Clip
One of the best items we had with us was water bottle clips that we fastened to the outside of our packs.
We purchased recyclable water bottles at a convenience store before we left. We made sure to drink all our water before going through security each time, and then refilled them on the other side. The bottles lasted the entire trip and we recycled them when we got home. We found potable water to refill our bottles all over Europe. The 5-pack we ordered means each person in our family can have one for their backpack.
Backpack Europe Checklist
My backpack had a few different zipper compartments, which I used to divide up my belongings. The items listed below include what I wore on my body during travel.
The large main compartment held my clothing and feminine products. I took a pair of jeans and some travel pants.
I highly recommend travel pants as they are lightweight, they do not wrinkle, stains wipe right off, they are easy to wash out in a sink, and they hang dry quickly. The pants that I purchased online were not very flattering to my figure but they were extremely comfortable and functional, so I will use them again.
Backpacking Packing List Female Clothing
I also packed 3 short-sleeved shirts, 2 long-sleeved shirts, 8 pair of underwear, 6 pair of socks, 1 pair of compression socks, 1 pair of pajamas and sleep socks, a tank and spandex shirts to work out in, a lightweight zippered hoodie, a jacket, a stretch hat, and stretch gloves.
The thin wool socks I packed didn’t get used because the weather was warmer than expected, so I ended up purchasing a 5-pack of light socks in France. I also purchased a long-sleeved shirt at a resale shop for 2€ because I did not feel like washing out the shirt I wore over on the plane.
I washed two pair of underwear and hung them to dry. Otherwise, I brought the proper amount of clothing. I would recommend changing the thickness of clothing depending on the season that you travel.
Packing List for Europe Fall
The coat that I brought, which was the inside layer of a coat with a shell ended up being too much. I only wore it when we walked around outside of Chicago O’Hare Airport before we flew to Europe and when we walked around outside of London Gatwick Airport on our way back. Neither of those instances was very cold, so would have been much better with my packable windbreaker. The windbreaker would have saved me room and weight.
My friend, Susan, who just returned from Europe last month, recommended that I wear tie-up athletic shoes. Slip-on clogs are my favorite, but she warned that they would not fare well on the cobbled streets and sidewalks. I started wearing sneakers before the trip to prepare my feet for different shoes. I am so glad that I heeded Susan’s advice. My running-style shoes were comfortable and kept me from twisting an ankle, which can happen with my clogs.
Europe Backpacking List
The small outside side pocket contained one-use ponchos, which we never needed because the weather was perfect the entire trip.
The lower zipper compartment contained a pair of rubber sandals, a hot water bottle, an extra phone case, a blowup neck pillow with pillowcase, extra bags including a laundry bag, and a reusable shopping bag.
I will not bring the extra phone case on the next trip. While I did wear the rubber sandals in the shower and around inside our hotel and Airbnb, a pair of flip-flops would have worked just as well and taken up less room.
The lower front pocket contained chargers, a plug adapter, a face mask in case of illness, a nail file, a comb, my toothbrush, candied ginger for nausea, a pill container with as needed medicines, a carabineer, and a clothespin.
The plug adapter that I had purchased off eBay did not fit in any of the plugs and we had to buy an adapter in France.
Packing Toiletries for Air Travel
The upper outside pocket contained my clear quart-sized clear bag with toiletries and a small zipper pouch with other health and beauty products.
On our way to France, we flew through London and my bag was tagged for secondary inspection due to a small pair of scissors. I moved the scissors into that clear bag and had no issues the rest of the trip.
We packed hotel bottles of shampoo and conditioner, which we ditched after our last showers in Europe. We also packed three hotel size bars of soap, which we tossed before leaving each country.
I also brought a sun hat and sunglasses. My husband packed the hat in his bag.
Personal Items for Flights
My personal carry-on item was a high-quality drawstring backpack. I filled with items that I wanted to have close to me on the airplane.
Those items were my phone, headphones, reading glasses, lip balm, earplugs, gum, hand wipes, a pen, an eye mask, a blow-up neck pillow, a gallon size bag of snacks, and my boarding pass.
Secure Passport while Backpacking around Europe
Finally, I had a money belt that I wore around my neck and under my shirt. Since there was no safe available, I wore it at all times outside of our room.
As you can see, I did a great job packing for our first trip to Europe. Other than a few more pair of socks and a different jacket, I was pleased with what I brought.
Packing Light for Europe
Our weight limit for carry-on was 10 kg per person. When we checked in at O’Hare, they weighed our backpacks together and the total was 11.4 kg. I happen to have my drawstring backpack out at the time, so it did not factor into our total. That drawstring bag was in my backpack on the way back and our two packs totaled 13.3 kg.
We ditched a few items in Europe when we were done with them and only purchased a few souvenirs.
Our European adventure was absolutely magical! We will be returning to Europe in the next year or two and I will probably pack the same things. I have created a printable Europe packing checklist for you to use on your next vacation. You can download the Backpacking Europe Checklist here.
Is there anything not on my list that you would bring? Bon voyage!