So it’s only a few weeks until you get on a plane and fly off to Europe. You’ve spent months planning your perfect backpacking Europe route. You’ve saved for your trip and know your daily budget back to front. You’ve narrowed down the list of hostels you want to stay at in each city. Yet as your trip gets closer and closer, have you wondered what you may have forgotten? Never fear! Here’s our list of ten backpacking Europe essentials that we never fail to bring on any trip. These items are often left at home by travellers who get caught up in the excitement of their trip and can be difficult to pick up on the road, particularly in Eastern Europe and the Balkans.
Backpacking Europe Essentials: 10 items not to leave behind!
1. Universal Plug Adapter
Many hostels are notorious for having a lack of electric outlets in their rooms. I’ve often stayed in dorms where, despite there being eight or ten beds, there are only one or two outlets in the room! Rather than fighting with other backpackers over those outlets, I now travel with a universal plug adapter that has additional USB slots. This means that you can charge multiple items overnight and also be covered if visiting a country with a different plug socket.
2. Power Bank
Speaking of lack of electric outlets, another great gadget to have if travelling with multiple electronic items is a power bank. These lightweight nifty devices allow you to charge items when on the move. This is super handy if you’ve had one too many beers the night before and forgot to plug in your phone before going to bed! They’re also great if you’re planning on camping throughout your trip. I highly recommend the Anker Powercore as one of my backpacking Europe essentials as it’s one of the most lightweight power banks on the market.
3. Kindle E-Reader
For a long time, I resisted the development of technology and stuck with paper books. However, a few years ago, I finally bought an e-reader to save space in my backpack and I haven’t looked back since. Not only are e-readers significantly lighter than paper books but I’m now able to load several books onto my device before beginning a trip. This means I’m no longer in danger of being stuck with the one torn paperback left in the hostel book exchange before a ten-hour bus ride. I recommend the Kindle Paperwhite as it has a backlight which is useful as many hostels don’t have bedside lamps!
4. Packing Cubes
I honestly don’t know how I used to travel without these before. My backpack was always a mess and I would have to take everything out to find the one item I was searching for. These days, even if I’m only going on a short weekend getaway, I always take my Eagle Creek compression packing cubes. They are incredibly lightweight, come in a range of sizes, compress my items and make finding things a breeze. Packing cubes are, without a doubt, backpacking Europe essentials!
5. Microfibre towel
While some hostels are beginning to provide towels for guests, this isn’t always the case which is why I always travel with a microfibre towel when backpacking Europe. These towels dry super quickly meaning you can shower without worrying about carrying a damp towel in your backpack all day. They also pack down very well in your backpack. I use this microfibre towel as it has the added advantage of an antibacterial treatment to prevent odours building up!
6. Flip flops
Speaking of showering in hostels, flip-flops are another backpacking Europe essential if you want to make sure you avoid picking up some nasty athlete’s foot during your travels. Luckily, a good pair of flip flops can serve multiple purposes as you will surely end up at beach or two during your travels. I always travel with my trusty pair of Havaianas and they have served me well! Just make sure not to wear them when carrying your backpack (as I see many travellers doing!) as this is terrible for both your back and your feet!
Backpacking throughout Europe is, for the most part, incredibly safe. However, it’s worth taking some precautions to make sure your items are safe. I travel with both regular TSA compliant locks and also a travel cable lock. The regular locks can be used for locking the zippers on your backpack and for hostel lockers – I prefer the combination locks so you don’t need to worry about losing the key! The cable locks are handy for locking your backpack to a stationary object – I often do this if leaving my backpack in a common storage area or on an overnight train.
8. Eye mask & ear plugs
When staying in hostels, you will undoubtedly encounter some inconsiderate backpackers who decide to switch on the main light at 2 am and decide to unpack their entire backpack. That’s why I consider eye masks and ear plugs absolute backpacking Europe essentials if staying in dormitories. I prefer cotton eye masks as they’re significantly more comfortable than the cheap eye masks you tend to get on economy flights. Similarly, I like to travel with a large box of earplugs as they wear out quickly and there’s nothing worse than realising they don’t work in the middle of the night!
9. Notepad & Pen
While many millennials might scoff at the idea that a notepad and pen are essential items for backpacking Europe, I can’t imagine going on a trip without them! Not only they are great for keeping a diary of your trip but I also find it incredibly useful for writing down directions in case your phone battery dies. Plus, your trusty notepad won’t let you down if you want to get the e-mail address of that cute boy or girl you’ve just met. I start every trip with a fresh Moleskine journal and don’t think that will ever change!
10. Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is a must-have item for backpacking Europe, particularly if you’re not an EU resident and aren’t covered for at least basic healthcare costs by the EHIC card. For all my trips where I take out travel insurance, I always use World Nomads as their policies have been specifically designed with backpackers in mind, however, it’s important to make sure the policy is right for you. Two great advantages of World Nomads are that they allow you to specifically to cover high-value items and you can extend your policy while on the road if you decide to extend your trip. Click here to get a quote from World Nomads.
Setting out on a backpacking Europe trip is a rite of passage for many young travellers. Hopefully, this list of backpacking Europe essentials has reminded you of some items that you might have forgotten about in the excitement of planning your trip!
What items do you consider to be backpacking Europe essentials? Let us know in the comments below!