What To Pack When Backpacking Europe

May 26, 2011 by · 7 Comments 

You’ve decided to fulfill a lifelong dream by backpacking Europe. Congratulations on your ambition and sense of adventure. Obviously, such an undertaking requires proper preparation. In the words of renowned European travel expert, Rick Steves, the key to success is “packing light and right.”

Group of American tourists encounter Rick Stev...

Image via Wikipedia. A group of American tourists encounter Rick Steves.

Whether you’re traveling with a backpack or rollaboard luggage, Steves strongly recommends limiting yourself to one bag. By doing so, you eliminate the hassles of checking and retrieving extra luggage, paying excess and oversized baggage fees, and dragging multiple bags through security checkpoints and around the countryside.

So, how do you fit a whole trip’s worth of belongings into one backpack or carry-on? According to Steves, you “bring very little.”

“Don’t pack for the worst case scenario,” writes Steves in his article Packing Light And Right, available at ricksteves.com. “Pack for the best case scenario, and simply buy yourself out of any jams.”

Some valuable tips include:

  • Review the Transportation Security Administration’s website for a current list the goods allowed and not allowed in carry-on luggage.
  • Don’t pack more clothing than you need and be sure to take neutral colored clothes that mix and match, so you have a variety of outfits. This will reduce the weight of your luggage and avoid overweight bag fees.
  • Pack using the “bundle” method. Wrap clothes around large objects (such as bags of toiletries or pairs of shoes), rather than folding or rolling clothes. The bundle method saves the most space and also prevents wrinkling.
  • Minimize the number of items that require electricity, as converters can be costly, heavy and space consuming.
  • Consider taking these travel accessories available from Austin House: portable laundry lines, travel laundry kits, sewing kits (a limited wardrobe can go a long way when you’re able to regularly wash and maintain it.
  • For your safety, don’t dress in a way that would mark you as an affluent tourist. Limiting yourself to one bag also enhances personal security, since con artists prey on people carrying excess luggage.

As Steves points out, you can’t travel heavy, happy and cheap. You have to pick two.

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