What to Pack for a Backpacking Trip to Europe: Lightweight and Minimalist

I just came back from a trip to holland which was really fun, so i thought i would make a list of everything i took with me. I only took a carry on and spent 9 days traveling in total but this list is still good for longer trips, the only difference is that you wash your stuff and might need an extra set of clothes for when you do.

First of all, if you’re going on a shorter trip you really don’t need a fancy bag from an expensive company. I used my old jansport 25 litre schoolbag and it worked just fine. I would, however, take a slightly sturdier one with better back support if i were going to travel for any longer in order to avoid back pain or having the bag fall apart. I liked blending in with the crowd and not look like a touristy backpacker, i find an ordinary bag draws less attention but that’s just my personal preference. The main pro’s of traveling like this are that it saves money, easy to go from place to place, little weight to carry and you can just lock up your entire bag in the hostel locker. Here is a list of everything i took with me, and all of these things were absolutely essential.

In my backpack:

A) Clothes:

*1 black thick sweater

*2 thin sweaters

*6 pairs of comfy cheap underwear (please for the love of god avoid the lacey ones that are super itchy, scrunch up in your buttcrack and give you a rash in places you don’t want a rash, just no. Learn from my mistakes girls, you will thank me later).

*4 pairs of regular socks

*1 pair of warmer socks

*1 bra

*For sleeping- long sleeved t shirt and thin trousers that don’t take up too much space when folded.

B) Toiletries pack:


*Travel sized hair brush (because you really don’t need a massive hair brush when traveling)

*Travel towel that dries fast- please invest in one, regular towels take up way too much space, weight and take ages to dry.

*Cheap flipflops- for hostel showers and to air out your feet after a long day.

*Pads/tampons- even if you’re not due, just in case. You never know.

  • Shampoo, conditioner, deodorant and toothpaste- i just bought there because you’re not allowed to take liquids on a plane.

C) Other important items:

*Padlock+keys- for hostel locker, very important!


*Reusable shopping bag that folds really small and weighs nothing

*Small coin pouch

*Ziplock bag with paperwork- photocopies of passport and boarding passes, receipts for hostel and prebooked activities, important phone numbers, details about activities, transport and my countries consulate)

In my moneybelt:


*Boarding passes


*Credit card- Which i ended up not using because i forgot to notify my bank that i’m flying abroad, luckily i had enough cash. Learn from my mistake, if you are planning to use a card, TELL YOUR BANK and make sure it is a card that works internationally!

Other items that are not essential but are very nice to have:

*Music player- highly recommend, listen to music freely without eating up phone battery, helps kill time on planes and trains.

*Small camera


*Tupperware+spork if you’re planning to cook/microwave stuff or eat cereal in hostels, i personally didn’t but many people do. If you take a tupperware just stuff it with clean underwear and socks to save up space.


*Light book- for flights/long train rides/chill evening inside.If it’s in a commonly spoken language you can just ditch it at the hostel or exchange with someone for a different book if you finish it before the end of your trip.

*More ziplock bags for dirty underwear

*Earplugs+sleeping mask if you have trouble sleeping

*Medication if you take any, vitamins, paracetamol for period cramps and colds.

*Makeup- i personally never use it, some people do

Outfit i came with from home- dark jeans (conceal stains), thin sweater, socks+undies, winter coat, scarf, hat, gloves, good shoes (and please take good shoes, you don’t want blisters and sore feet). Yes i only had one pair of jeans other than my sleeping trousers. No I didn’t smell, you only need to wash jeans once a week and i lived in mine for 9 days so…

You can always buy more clothes or ditch some if you need, it’s not the end of the world if you find you need an extra t shirt or pair of trousers. Just make sure to leave a little room in your bag and not fill it up completely, and color code your outfits that you can just wash everything together and that your clothes look acceptable both on a day out and a night out. Make sure to always fold your things so they take up as little space as possible. I didn’t travel with a day pack, i just used the pockets of my coat for anything essential if i left my bag at the hostel. Other times i just took it with me as it was very light to carry anyways.

I think that is all, i hope you found this somewhat helpful 🙂



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