Backpacking Europe: Ultimate Packing List For Women

When you aren’t wheeling your duffle through cobblestone roads in 90 degree heat!

gillian backpacking
PHOTO Gillian Rose

Planning on having an unbelievable adventure through Europe this summer? When traveling from country to country, a backpack is truly the best way to go. Although it can be incredibly difficult to narrow down your entire closet to fit on your back, you will thank yourself later when you aren’t wheeling your duffle through cobblestone roads in 90 degree heat!

Reasons to Take a Backpack:

Some hostels don’t have stairs! It really sucks to carry your 40 pound suitcase up multiple flights.

Save money! Many of the cheaper airlines, such as Easy Jet, will charge you extra for a checked bag.

Backpacking is incredibly freeing. You will realize how little you actually need.

The Right Backpack:

Investing in the perfect backpack for travel is essential. I use my hiking backpack from REI and it works perfectly, but there are many other options from stores like North Face and Patagonia.

backpacking europe

Daypack/Purse: No need to walk around the city with your 20 pound backpack! Bring a small bag to fit essentials and leave your backpack at the hostel/airbnb.

Bag Lock: Err on the side of caution and lock your backpack when it’s out of sight.

Packing Cubes:These are great for maximizing space and staying organized.


  • 2-3 Dresses: Choose dresses that are versatile. You should be able to feel comfortable wearing these dresses walking around the city during the day, and going out at night.
  • Jumper/Romper(s): I love jumpers because you don’t need to worry about pants and a shirt! I have a great black jumper that I live in when I travel.
  • 1-2 Pair of Jeans: One pair denim jeans, one pair black jeans.
  • 2-3 Short Sleeve Shirts
  • 1-2 Long Sleeve Shirts
  • 1 Sweater/Jacket
  • 1 Pair of Shorts
  • 1 Pair of Black Leggings
  • 1 Pair of Sandals
  • 1 Pair of Ankle Boots

**For me, shoes are the most difficult to narrow down… If you know for a fact that you’ll be doing a lot of hiking, you may want to bring a lightweight pair of sneakers, or if you know you’ll be going out a lot, it’s a good idea to pack a pair of heels. Remember also that there is great shopping in Europe, and you can always buy another pair of shoes along the way if you need.

  • Oversized Shirt/Nightgown for Sleeping
  • 1 Belt
  • 7-10 Pairs of Underwear
  • 5-6 Pairs of Socks
  • 1-2 Bathing Suits
  • 2-3 Bras


  • Toiletry Bag: Bring a toiletry bag with a hook. Most hostels won’t have a space for you to put your toiletry bag, but there are usually hooks on the wall.
  • Shampoo
  • Dry Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Soap
  • Razor
  • Hairbrush
  • Wet Wipes
  • Small Deodorant
  • Toothpaste/Toothbrush
  • Makeup: No need to bring your entire bag! I like to stick with mascara, tinted moisturizer, one or two lipsticks, and eyeshadow.
  • **Remember that there will always be a place for you to buy more toiletries. Don’t worry if you run out or forget anything.
  • Miscellaneous
  • Travel Towel: Regular sized bath towels can take up a lot of space in your backpack. Travel towels are thin, compact, and dry quickly.
  • Moneybag
  • Books: Try to limit yourself to 1-2 books to cut down weight. Kindle is ideal for traveling because it’s so light.
  • Small journal/notebook
  • First aid kit
  • Digital/Film Camera
  • Adapter(s)
  • Small speaker
  • Sunglasses
  • Swiss Army Knife
  • Photocopies of Important Documents
  • Things You Probably Won’t Need:
  • Computer
  • Expensive Jewelry
  • Blow Dryer/Flat Iron
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Water Filter

Gillian Rose

Contributing Editor

Since graduating from Berkeley with a degree in international development, Gillian has lived in four continents and currently calls Tel Aviv home. She speaks five languages and is an avid traveler, foodie, and lifelong student. As a yoga, breathwork, and meditation teacher, Gillian has a deep passion for somatic healing.

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