Introduction to Backpacking Checklist:

Backpacking Checklist

Holidaying around Europe is a popular summer adventure which could take a few weeks or a few months.

This backpacking checklist is designed to help you make sure you have prepared fully, packed everything you will need, and double checked it all before you leave!

Run this checklist before you dive in to anything and finish it as you leave your house to head to the airport!

To get a feel of what you may experience, watch this video below!

Vietinghoff Independent Productions - Backpacking Europe on a Budget! Trekkit TV

If you want to take your packing seriously, check out this video too!

Nick Merriman - Minimalist Packing Guide | What to Bring Backpacking


Make sure your passport is valid

You're not going to be able to leave the country without your passport, nevermind jump between a host of other countries.

Have a passport - an in-date one - is your vital number one step. 

Use the drop-down form field below to confirm you have your passport.

Obtain the necessary travel visas

If you're entering Europe from outside, you'll need to make sure you have all necessary visas. 

In fact, regardless of where you're going, you're probably going to need some kind of visa or similar. 

You can find some Europe specific information directly from the EU on how to apply. 

Plan your destinations

This is where you get to be creative and follow your heart a little. We don't provide a subchecklist to guide you for this one. 

Remember to give yourself ample time at each destination and be mindful of the total amount of time you have available.

Research the different places you want to go and plan a potential route between them.

Use the form field to record your final choices.

Check hostel availability over different dates

Use one of the different rating sites to find accommodation at your destinations.

There is a range of different sites you can use. A short selection:

Find and purchase your flights

You need to purchase your flights. There are a number of comparison sites you can use for this.

It is possible to obtain cheaper flights sometimes depending on your location when you purchase, so consider reading up on your options. As flights are large financial commitments, saving a little here and a little there can add up. 

Purchase tickets for any internal rail or bus travel

Maybe you're going to be interrailing? In which case, you'll find that getting your tickets for rail travel within Europe is crazy easy. Just buy one pass and you're good to go.

Of course, you might taking a different approach and just need to pick up bus or train tickets like normal. If so, take this moment to book your internal travel.

Visit your doctor for a health check

Before committing to an adventure like this one, be sure to visit your doctor for a check up. 

You don't want to be caught abroad with a preventable illness or without medication.

Get any necessary immunizations if you're going to a place where this could be a concern. Tell your doctor where you're going and they can advise on what you may need.

See your dentist

Make time to see your dentist before you leave. 

If you have anything of major concern wrong with your teeth, it's better to know before rather than after!

Share an itinerary of your trip with friends or family

For your own safety, and their peace of mind, let your family and friends know where you are going and your rough itinerary. 

Consider choosing two people to be your emergency contacts. You can keep their contact details in your bag in case of an accident.

Moreover, you can arrange times or dates with your emergency contacts when you can check-in. This way, everyone knows you're safe.

Purchase a sim card which will work across Europe

You might have a fantastic contract with your provider and are able to use your phone globally at no extra cost!

For the rest of us, we have to consider our options when it comes to getting a SIM for our travels

You can either purchase a new SIM for your phone or purchase a cheap phone and a European SIM when you arrive.

You could also investigate whether Google Fi could work for your needs. Though, this depends on what phone you have.

Contact your provider to see if they can give you a good deal.

Buy appropriate luggage

What luggage you buy depends on how long you're traveling and how light you think you can go.

A good backpack will store a large amount of belongings. It's also easier to carry around than many other bags. A suitcase on wheels, however, could offer a lighter way to travel. Be wary of Europe's cobbled streets! 

Check out this post on choosing a backpack.

Exchange currencies

The important thing to remember when exchanging currency is to shop around. 

You will likely not find the best rates at the first place you look.

Exchange enough cash to last the trip, as payment on card could come with its own extra costs.


Decide on a system for your packing

To pack effectively, there are a couple of different things to consider. 

Decide which things you are going to need to take and make sure that important items are easily accessible. 

You wouldn't pack your passport at the bottom of your backpack, nor would you put any books which you may want to read on the flight deep within your bag either. 

As you pack, you may also want to compile a list of each item you include. This will help you make sure you don't lose anything and can be useful if you realise your luggage is too heavy and some things need to be left behind.

Pack clothes for different weather

Here's a short list of some essentials you will probably want to take with you. 

Use the subchecklist below to check them off.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
    A coat
  • 5
    Socks and underwear
  • 6
    Smarter pants
  • 7
    A nicer shirt
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10

Take appropriate footwear

Unless you're going to be hiking or heading to snowy climes, you probably don't need to pack all weather boots.

A good pair of comfortable trainers will accommodate for lots of daytime walking around.  

If you're going somewhere hot or with beaches you may want to consider packing some sandals or flip-flops/thongs.  

Many nightclubs in Europe can have dress codes which require smarter shoes. If you want to be going out a lot on your travels, it's a good idea to pack some smarter shoes. They don't need to be brogues but something which isn't an ostentatious colorful sneaker will do.  

Include weather specific accessories

Depending on where you're going you'll want to adapt your items to suit the local temperatures

Here's a short list of a few essential items.

Use the subchecklist to tick off any applicable extras you may need to pack.

  • 1
    Warm hat
  • 2
    Baseball cap
  • 3
    Sun hat
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6

Pack toiletries

Wherever you're going, it's important to be clean!

Use the subchecklist to tick off any items you will need to take with you. 

  • 1
    Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • 2
  • 3
    Make up
  • 4
    Hair products
  • 5
    Shower products
  • 6
    Wet wipes
  • 7
    Birth control
  • 8
  • 9
    Sanitary products

Add sunscreen and mosquito spray

You don't want to get bit and you don't want to get burned.

Purchase these items before you leave so you don't get caught out!

Find a travel first aid kit

There's always a risk of injury when traveling and safety should always be a key concern. 

Pack a first aid kit to prepare yourself for any unfortunate eventualities.

Choose a good book or two

Probably don't take War and Peace. It's a very good book but it could weigh you down. 

Find a couple of paperbacks you've wanted to read for a while and pack them away.

You might find yourself with a lot of traveling time, which makes for perfect reading time!

Carry an extra day bag

A minimum of two bags is recommended. Three, if you are going to be spending a lot of time at the beach. 

A small rucksack should serve you well for all the city walking tours you're going to be going on! 

Find good guidebooks and phrasebooks

You might think guidebooks and phrasebooks have been superseeded by the internet, but you'll quickly realise how useful they can be when you're out of battery or signal. 

"I do not wish to buy the rabbit - No quiero comprar el conejo" could save you a heated exchange at the market one day.

Make sure to pack useful reference guides to carry with you.

Take a cheap mp3 player

You possibly use your phone for most music you listen to. 

Yet, the battery life on an mp3 player is significantly longer.

You'll be thankful you packed it when you're on an overnight train with no plug sockets.

Make photocopies of your passport

Just in case you lose your passport, you can use a photocopy to demonstrate who you are. 

Make multiple copies before you leave, just in case.

Safely store your euros and debit/credit card

Consider splitting your cash into separate storage locations. 

If you lose your wallet while abroad with no access to other sources of cash, it can make for a very difficult experience.

Bring any medication

If you have medical needs where occasional or regular medicine is necessary, this is your reminder to pack it. 

Do not forget your passport and tickets

Do not forget your passport or tickets.

Just don't do it.


Check you have your passport

Once more, do not forget your passport. 

Use the dropdown field to confirm.

Check you have your tickets

Do you have all your tickets?

Use the dropdown field to confirm.

Check you have your money

Have you exchanged your currency and packed emergency dollars? 

Do you have any cards you might need?

Use the dropdown field to confirm.

Make sure you have another form of ID

You could consider taking an easy-to-replace form of spare ID with you in case of emergency. 

A student ID or club ID would be useful.

You should take a driving license with you anyway if you're considering renting a car. 

Tick your packed items off your list

Tick through your list to confirm you have everything you wanted to pack. 

You don't want to panic in a hostel because you can't find those jeans which you'd actually left at home in the first place. 

Provide your friends and family with your itinerary

Check your emergency contacts are clear about where you're going and when you'll be checking in with them.

Say goodbye to your pets

Your pets will miss you when you're backpacking

Give them a big hug. They don't understand why you're leaving. 

Have fun!


Sign up for a FREE account and
search thousands of checklists in our library.

Sign up for a FREE account and search thousands of checklists in our library.