What To Pack For Backpacking in Europe Alone – A 5 Minute Guide

What To Pack For Backpacking in Europe Alone – A 5 Minute Guide

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You’ve finally booked your dream trip of backpacking in Europe and it’s coming up quick. You are like most people (myself included) and put off packing until the last minute but it’s time to finally get a little organized. The question now stands.

What do you pack for backpacking in Europe?

A passport, travel documents, and an actual backpack are going to be your essentials. Add in toiletries, clothing, and anything extra you need to bring and your pack will fill up quick.

When space is limited packing can be a huge challenge. You need to find a balance between taking as much as possible while still keeping it under a certain amount of weight limit. Add in the factor of your space being limited by your pack and you will soon realize you have your work cut out for you.

When I started packing the night before I left I simply laid out everything on my bed that I thought I needed. Then I simply played a game of what can I eliminate and still survive.

In this article, I’ll tell you what made the cut and why. Moreover, I’ll let you know of the things I wished I would have taken that would have made my life a whole lot easier.

The Backpack

The first thing is first if you are planning on backpacking in Europe alone you need to get yourself a backpack. When I started my search for a perfect backpack I read way too many articles and watched more than enough YouTube videos. All that came out of it was confusion.

I had no idea what I was looking for whether that be the size or style. What did I do? Go to the place that never lets me down, Amazon.

Now, I covered my backpack situation briefly in my article How Much Does It Cost To Backpack Europe Alone? (check this article out after you’re done here, I’ll have it linked below) but I want to expand on it here a little more.

My Main Backpack

When I was searching on Amazon I found everything from main packs under $40 to ones that were $300+. If you didn’t know by the name of this blog I’m a frugal person so I tend to steer towards the cheaper side of things.

What I didn’t do was buy the cheapest pack possible though because I do believe in the fact that you get what you buy. What I did instead was opt for the low to mid price range.

The pack I settled on was the Teton Sports Scout 3400 (pictured below). Honestly, this pack was perfect. At a volume of 34 liters, it held everything I needed for my 10-day trip and then some. On top of my clothes, I had things like a laptop, a camera, cords for everything, toiletries, and so on. I’ll tell you all about that stuff later.

The pack also handled the weather a lot better than I expected. I’ve done some hiking with similar packs in the past and would always take a pack cover with me. I didn’t get one for this trip because I thought I wouldn’t need it but I underestimated London weather. It got drenched twice and both times everything inside stayed bone dry and the pack dried out a day later. That’s a huge plus for me.

I bought it for $69.99 so the backpack basically paid for itself by allowing me to avoid checked bag fees. If you want to check it out here it is on Amazon.

The Everyday Backpack

When I went backpacking in Europe alone I actually took a second backpack with me. As you have already read I avoided paying any checked bag fees but how?

Well, those YouTube videos I mentioned above actually did pay off here. Have you ever heard of a collapsible backpack? Why this seems like an obvious thing I had not even considered it until I saw it in a video.

My second pack, the Zomake Lightweight Packable Travel Backpack, was a collapsible backpack. As you can see in the pictures below it actually folds up into something the size of my hand. Of all the things I took to Europe this probably had the most positive impact on my whole trip. It allowed me to leave the big Teton at the hostel and take it when I went exploring.

It was large enough to hold my laptop, book, lunch, raincoat, and a water bottle. What more could you need for a day exploring in Northern Europe?

The pack cost me $18.99 on Amazon. If you want to check it out for your next trip just click the name above to check the price on Amazon.

The Essentials

If you are going to backpack Europe alone there are some essentials that you need to pack.

First things first let’s start off with the most obvious, a passport. If you are going to be traveling out of any country you need a passport. Simple as that. No reason to waste your time here so let’s move on.

Chances are high that you are going to either be staying in a hostel or Airbnb so while you may have cheap living accommodations they won’t supply you with everything you need.

I assumed this but didn’t fully understand it until I got there. I opted for the hostel option and while it was incredibly cheap they did nickel and dime you on certain things. For instance, renting a locker was $4 per day, a towel $2 per day, etc.

I actually never used a locker and instead hid everything under my bed and took my important things with me.


I did, in fact, take a towel with me but it was basically a kitchen hand towel. I wish I would have purchased one that dried a lot faster like the Rainleaf Microfiber Towel. For under $20 this would have been more than worth it.

Other obvious toiletries are your tooth brush, deodorant, and anything else you need to keep yourself fresh daily.

Another key thing to note is that I didn’t take any soap with me for when I showered. I’ll tell you more about this later but I did shower every day, with soap. But it is important to know that not all hostels supply soap!


If you are going to be backpacking in Europe then, of course, you need to have your electronics. Is it even possible to travel without them? I’m not sure.

In all seriousness, you are probably going to have some with you, even if it’s just your phone.

The first thing you need to remember to pack is your charging cord (no duh).

After that, you’ll need to have the right adapters to actually use your charger. This is where I messed up and didn’t realize that the United Kingdom and Europe actually had different plugins. I already had European adapters but had to put one in the UK, costing me almost $15.

I could have avoided that cost entirely by doing my research and knowing that I needed to get a changeable adapter like the JMFONE International Travel Adapter. This simple plug changes to whatever plugin you need.

The last piece of electronics that I’m glad I took was a power bank. When I was having trouble actually finding the plugin adapter my power bank saved me by keeping my phone on so I could use Google Maps. I have this Ultra High Capacity Power Bank that will charge my phone more than once. There are a lot of cheap power banks out there but I highly recommend that one.


The last essential that I’m glad I took was a lock. I don’t trust anyone, especially stranger halfway around the world so a good lock was essential. At first, I actually forgot to get one so had to make an emergency run to the hardware store before I got on my flight.

The lock worked fine but it wasn’t the best. What I wish I would have gotten was this Re-settable Combination Lock. This one would have worked on any locker as well as my backpack. Getting four of them for under $20 is a steal in my eyes.


When I packed for my trip to Europe the hardest part was without doubt packing clothes. I have a terrible habit of over packing which was eased somewhat with the space restriction I had in my backpack. This combined with knowing that I wasn’t going to be checking a bag made me really have to prioritize.

Honestly, prioritizing doesn’t fully describe how I felt while packing. I believe that if you are going to backpack Europe alone you need to accept that you are going to have to wear some clothes more than once.

Now, I’m not talking about things like socks and underwear because that’s just gross.

What I am talking about are things like your pants and sometimes shirts. My rule of thumb was that if I sweat in it then it will be washed.

For my 10 day trip to Europe this is what I packed:

  • 6 pairs of underwear
  • 6 pairs of socks
  • 5 shirts
  • 2 pairs of pants
  • 2 pairs of shoes
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • 1 pair of athletic shorts
  • 1 belt

Everything that I had I tried to make it be able to combine with something else. So, while I was wearing some of the same stuff it was a different outfit. Let’s be real though. I wasn’t going to run into anyone I knew and I think people seeing me in clothing that I wore the day before was the least of my worries.


You have everything that you need packed and ready to go but you still have some extra space so what do you take?

Well, if you don’t need it and you don’t think you will use it then take nothing else. The less weight you have to carry the better off you’ll be. My pack ended up being right around 40lbs. While this may not seem like a lot, it is. Especially when you are walking 10+ miles with it.

I did take some extra things though because I knew I would use them.

First off, I took a laptop because I knew I was going to work on YD&NB and post an article. I ended up writing this article: First Time Using A Hostel? Here’s What You Should Expect. I was a couple of beers deep when I wrote it and it surprisingly came out quite well.

The second thing I took was a camera. I have an old Sony 5000 that I was going to shoot a ton of footage with but it of course gave out on me. I have two days worth of footage but then I couldn’t get the camera to charge. In hindsight I should not have taken it.

The last extra thing I took was a book. Imagine laying in the grass in an Amsterdam park when it’s 70 degrees with no worries in the world. Having that book with me and being able to read and not being rushed was one of the most relaxing parts of my whole trip.

My Biggest Mistakes

Of everything on this list unfortunately I didn’t pack it all. Like I’ve said many times in this article I basically had no idea what I was doing and it showed at times.

First off, I didn’t pack any type of soap or shampoo. Yeah, you read that right, what was I thinking?

Well, what I was thinking was that I would buy it when I got there but I didn’t.

Before you go crazy judging me hear me out. I was expecting the hostels I stayed in to have some. The good thing is two out of the three did but the first place I stayed did not. What did I do? I just used hand soap that was already in the bathroom. Not my proudest moment but it really wasn’t that bad.

The other thing that I wish I would have packed was a better towel. Unlike the soap situation, I actually did take one after assuming no hostels would provide one. I was right but where I was wrong was taking a regular kitchen towel. The microfiber one on Amazon that I talked about earlier would have been much better.

The Bottom Line

If you have been keeping count throughout this article you are probably thinking that is quite a lot to fit into one backpack and you would be right.

While I know this article will help many of you out the fact of the matter is you’ll never know what works perfectly until you do it.

IF you plan on backpacking Europe alone then you are going to make mistakes. You are going to forget something or wish you would have left another thing at home.

You should view this as one of the positives of your trip because at the end of the day you are taking the risk and becoming better for it.

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If you liked this post then please pin the picture below and if you want to read more articles here are my latest:

If finally time to take the leap and do some backpacking in Europe but what do you pack? Here is what I would recommend for your next trip to Europe.

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