How To Pack A Two-Week Europe Trip In A 32-Liter Backpack

Tom Malone/Adventure Tribune
Want to backpack through Europe with minimal gear? Here’s what you need to pack, and how you need to pack it.

Backpacking through Europe takes effort. Travelers plan thoroughly in order to find the perfect balance between enough gear to last them the duration of the trip without bringing too much stuff so they can’t travel efficiently between destinations.

Recently, we traveled to Europe for two weeks using a minimalist method that forced us to pack efficiently: I only brought a 32-liter backpack. I found this pack size to be ideal: it fit perfectly under my plane seat, it stowed easily above my train seat, and it was light enough to carry while walking for hours around a new city. Plus, it forced me to pack only the essentials for the two weeks of travel.

Typically, backpackers through Europe take packs that exceed 50 liters, which allows them plenty of room to lug around all kinds of clothes, toiletries, and souvenirs. I’ve taken a 55-liter backpack around Europe before and it was easy, aside from the fact that I was forced to check my bag on a few flights because it was just slightly over-sized. And, the sheer weight of that much stuff weighed me down after a while.

So, if you’re looking to pack efficiently for a two-week Europe trip, here’s how you can fit everything you need in your 32-liter pack. (Each list item implies bringing one, unless otherwise noted.)

Tom Malone/Adventure Tribune
What To Pack

1. Lightweight Shirts (4)
Don’t overpack shirts. You can re-wear t-shirts while you’re traveling because no one really cares how you smell (to a point) and you can cover the b.o. Smell up well enough with some deodorant. If things get too bad, you can spend two Euros on a load of laundry at your hostel. Depending on the season, you’ll want to pack a mix of short sleeves and long sleeves. DryFit-style fabrics are ideal for packing, as they’re lightweight and wrinkle-resistant, though they tend to trap the smell more so than cotton, so take your pick.

2. Multi-Use Pants
Take one pair of pants. They take up too much room in your bag and you really only need one pair anyway. Bring a pair of pants that are comfortable to walk in, but that can also pass for dress code in a place like the Vatican or a nice restaurant.

3. Lightweight, Dressy-ish Shorts
Bring a pair of golf-style shorts that can match any of your four shirts. You can wear these on hot days while strolling around town and still look presentable, but they won’t get dirty enough throughout the two-week journey that you’ll need another pair. Just don’t wear them every single moment of every single day.

4. Athletic Shorts
One pair of athletic shorts is all you’ll need. You probably won’t wear them in public unless it’s to exercise. And, you can wear them around your room, where no one cares if you look good.

5. Basic Socks (4 pairs)
Bring a few different types of socks, from low-tops to wear with shorts, to high-tops to wear in the cold with pants. However, you don’t need to overstuff your pack with socks, as you can rotate pairs throughout the trip. When you’re in your room, let that day’s pair of socks air out, and they’ll be just fine to wear in a few days again.

6. Sweat-Wicking Undies (1 per day)
Lightweight, breathable, and one clean pair per day. Enough said.

7. Midweight Sweater/Sweatshirt
No matter what season you visit Europe, you’ll need some warmth at night. Bring a midweight sweater or sweatshirt that you can wear around town. You’ll probably feel the need to dress up a little more at night, so make sure your sweater or sweatshirt has a balance between comfort and style.

8. Lightweight Running Shoes
You’ll need a good pair of shoes with support to walk miles and miles through cities, and to potentially go on a run or a hike. But, make sure they’re lightweight enough to pack (or hang from the outside of your pack) if necessary. Also, attempt to find a pair of shoes that can pass as dressed up, since they’re the only shoes you’ll bring.

9. Flip-Flops
These are light and thin enough to pack. You can wear them around your room, around town on short adventures, or to the beach if you find yourself near one in the summer. Plus, if your shoes break, you have another option.

10. Lightweight Rain Shell
It’s probably going to rain at some point during your journey, especially if you visit Ireland. Bring a lightweight rain jacket to stuff in the bottom of your bag, just in case.

11. Beanie
Depending on the season or the weather report, you might want to bring a beanie to keep warm. Whoever “they” are, they say that about 80 percent of your body heat is released through your head. So, instead of bringing a massive snow jacket, bring a lightweight beanie to keep you warm instead. That way you won’t have to sacrifice valuable pack space.

12. Travel-Sized Toothbrush And Toothpaste
Visit the travel toiletries section at your local corner store and find a small toothbrush and a travel-sized tube of toothpaste to bring with you. You can’t bring a regular sized tube anyway, as E.U. carry-on regulations limit you to 100 milliliters per container. Plus, these smaller items take up less room and less weight in your pack.

13. Travel-Sized Deodorant
Again, find a small-sized deodorant that you can bring with you. You’ll need it to make your clothes smell good after a few days of wear, but you won’t need a bulk supply either.

14. Disposable Razor And Dry Shaving Cream
Unless you plan on growing out your beard, bring a disposable razor and shave a few times. Toward the end of your trip, you can throw it away and save on weight and space. Also, find a travel-sized shaving cream that you can use without much water, as you never know what kind of access to hot water and pressure you’ll have in your hostel.

15. Multivitamins (1 per day)
If you’re living on a diet of bread and meat (which is the cheapest way to go in a lot of European cities), you’ll be lacking in necessary vitamins and minerals. So, bring your own. Don’t bring the whole bottle of 250 vitamins. Just put enough for your trip in a sandwich bag.

16. Water Bottle
This will save you valuable money in Europe. Instead of buying a few water bottles per day, just fill up your water bottle for free in your hostel sink or drinking fountain. European water is safe to drink, so capitalize on that and bring a bottle with you.

17. Microfibre Towel
Depending on where you’re staying, you may not have access to a towel to shower. Bring a lightweight, microfiber towel, which is as effective as a large cotton towel, but it takes up essentially no room in your pack. We’ve used this Large Pocket Towel from Sea To Summit on plenty of adventures and it’s worked extremely well.

18. Large Ziploc Bags (3)
They’re not fancy, cool travel gear, but they get the job done. They’re waterproof, lightweight, and can be disposed of if necessary. You might not need them right away, but you will need them for something. We’ve used them to carry maps, toiletries, itineraries, soaked clothes, electronics, etc.

19. Paperback Book Or E-Reader
When backpacking through Europe, you’ll have plenty of downtime, whether that’s on a plane, train, or walk in the park. Bring a book (paperback for lightweight packing) and use this as an opportunity to pass the time and read. Or, bring a e-reader, like the Kindle PaperWhite, to carry more than one book.

20. Smartphone/Charger/Headphones
Even if you can’t make international calls or receive texts, your smartphone can act as a computer when connected to wifi. It can also act as your camera instead of lugging around a bulky DSLR (although I always bring my DLSR with me). Bring your charger, though. Otherwise, it’s useless. Pair your smartphone with some headphones for music-listening while traveling. You might even find yourself on an international flight that plays free movies, which you can experience as long as you have headphones.

21. Plug Adapter
Europe uses different power adapters. Bring a European plug adapter so that you can charge any of your devices. Some adapters have slots for USB outlets, which means you can just bring the cord without the America plug converter.

22. Travel Sheet
You never know what kind of accommodations you’ll have at a hostel. Bring a lightweight travel sheet with you to sleep in, just in case you end up at a less-than-pleasant hostel.

23. Compactible Day Pack
Even though you’re bringing a mid-sized pack, you’re not going to want to bring everything you own around with you while you’re exploring, say, Paris. So, bring a daypack that can compact into a small, lightweight stuff sack. You won’t even know you have it until you need it. We’ve used the UltraSil Dry DayPack from Sea To Summit and it has worked very well.

24. Passport/Money Wallet/Euros
Whatever you do, don’t forget your passport and your money. And protect it carefully. Think about a waistband passport wallet to avoid pickpockets, or a case that will carry both your money and your passport so you only have to remember one item. Also remember that most European countries use the Euro as their currency. Come stocked with at least few Euros to get you by until you can take out more cash.

25. Snacks
Though some international flights still serve meals, you’re going to get hungry at some point throughout your journey, and you’re not going to want to fork up too much cash for an overpriced airport snack. Bring a few bars to throw in your bag, but watch out for fruit and meat, as customs agents tend to frown on those items.

Tom Malone/Adventure Tribune
How To Pack

1. Lay Out Everything Before You Pack
It might seem tempting to pull items from your drawer one-by-one and stuff them into your backpack, but that’s not the most efficient way. You’ll have your whole pack filled, and then realize that you forgot the bulkiest item. Instead, lay everything out on the floor or your bed before you pack so you can proceed methodically.

2. Roll Your Clothes
Rolling your clothes and stuffing them into your pack will allow you to keep your clothes relatively wrinkle-free, while taking up the least amount of room by compacting them down.

3. Pack Bulky Clothes First
Pack items like a sweatshirt into the bottom of your pack. This way, you’ll ensure that you have room for them. And, they’ll serve as a weighted base that you can fit small items around, like socks.

4. Utilize Backpack Pockets Well
Backpacks have pockets for a reason: use them. Place smaller items in smaller pockets instead of in the backpack’s main compartment. Not using a pocket means you’re just wasting space, which you can’t afford to do in minimalist packing.

5. Often-Used Items In Easy-To-Reach Places
Make sure that you have easy access to the items you use the most. You don’t want to be in the security line at the airport and realize that your passport is at the bottom of your bag. Keep items like books, iPads, pens, and toiletries in easy-to-access places in your bag so you don’t have to unpack every single day.

6. Toiletries In Ziploc Bag
Keep toiletries in a Ziploc bag because they’re waterproof, easy to close, and lightweight. They can form to any mold your backpack may provide. At night, you can just grab your Ziploc bag and know that you have all your toiletries in the same place. And, if your toothpaste explodes mid-flight, the goop won’t get on your clothes.

7. Wear Bulky Items While In Transit
To cut down on bulk and weight in your backpack, try wearing as many bulky items as you can while you’re in transit. Wear your shoes on the plane instead of flip flops. Wear your sweater on the train, even if you know you’ll remove it. This can cut down on valuable packing space.

8. Pull Backpack Straps Tightly After Packing
Many mid-range packs come with straps that can compress your backpack. Once it’s packed fully, pull the straps so that your backpack compresses. Clothes are easily malleable and will form to any shape your backpack takes, so try to make it as compact as possible.

9. Weigh Your Pack
Just to be safe, weigh your pack before you depart. In case you have to check it, it’s comforting to know how much your pack weighs for pricing options. And, it’s cool to know how lightly you packed compared to the standard backpacking adventure.

Tom Malone/Adventure Tribune
Now, enjoy your adventure through Europe. That concludes our list of advice on how to pack light for a backpack trip through Europe. If you have an item or a packing strategy that works well for you, let The Adventure Tribune know.


Tom Malone is the Editor-In-Chief of The Adventure Tribune and author of adventure novels, like Across Americana. He is based in Denver, Colorado, where he adventures through the Rocky Mountains while not traveling abroad.
Post A Comment
  • Blogger Comment using Blogger
  • Facebook Comment using Facebook
  • Disqus Comment using Disqus

No comments :