TRAVEL: Tips for back(packing) through Europe

Community News & Features Jul 14, 2017 at 2:39 pm

Rachel MatthewsWhat to pack, what to leave behind

SAN FRANCISCO, CA/ Troy Media–Backpacking through Europe either before or after college is a time-honored tradition and rite of passage for many young people raised in western society, although, occasionally, many wait until they are older and more financially solvent so they can afford to take some real time for exploring.

No matter your age, however, figuring out what to pack can be a daunting task. You are literally going to be carrying your whole life around on your back. The last thing you want is to pack too much – or too little: figuring out what you really and truly need to bring can be confusing.

Here are some tricks and tips to pack perfectly for your trip across “the continent.”

Trick #1: Pack things that can pull double or even triple duty because they will save you a lot of room in your pack. For example: you do not need to pack your laptop, your eReader, your tablet and your phone. Your phone can usually do everything you need to do, especially if you pack a small USB keyboard to make typing easier. Alternatively, pack only a tablet and use apps like Skype or Google Voice to make any needed calls or to send texts.

Streamline your clothing needs with convertible clothing, which will save you tons of space (and weight) in your pack.

Trick #2: You do not need to pack six tubes of toothpaste. There are plenty of stores in every town you will be visiting on your trip. Do not waste valuable packing space for things – like toiletries – you can buy on site.

Trick #3: Remember how, in the Reese Witherspoon movie Wild, a savvy hiker basically saves Cheryl Strayed’s feet by telling her that her shoes are the wrong size? Maximize your comfort by making sure you have the right-sized and style of shoes for backpacking. You probably won’t need hard core hiking boots but you’ll probably want something more supportive and sturdy than your Vans.
As you’ll be spending tons of time on your feet, you should invest in some good quality compression gear to keep blood circulating in your feet and legs. Therafirm, a company that specializes in compression gear, also recommends socks and tights that will wick moisture, which helps keep your feet and legs cool and dry.

Trick #4: Forego the bulky coat that you likely won’t ever wear in favour of clothes that layer easily (and that mix and match well, to extend your fashionability). Backpacking style is all about layering your clothing properly for warmth/cold.

Trick #5: When backpacking, there is nothing so precious as your own towel. Most hostels and backpacker’s lodgings will provide at least a basic towel for you to use but never take the presence of towels for granted, especially if you’re spending the night on a train or decide to take a spontaneous swim. Plus, you never know how well the communal towels get laundered. A quick drying towel that can fold up easily is a godsend.

Trick #6: Packing cubes might seem superfluous while you’re building a supply list. And, yes, you can simply smash everything into your backpack each day. And the cubes can eat up space, right? But cubes are an incredibly valuable organizational tool for your backpack. Use them to organize your clothes or anything else and then, when you need to find something, you can find it in seconds instead of minutes. Plus, you won’t have to worry about unpacking and re-packing your whole pack every time you need to find your hairbrush.

Remember that backpacking is as much about practicality as it is about saving money and the ability to be spontaneous. There are lots of itemized lists that you can use to help you gather your supplies. Before you buy everything on the list, though, use our tips to help you pare down and buy wisely.

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