Backpacking across Europe has been romanticized for years. There is an entire culture built around it. There is a vast number of hostels in Europe to cater to backpacker’s needs. It can be an incredible experience when planned correctly. If you are serious about backpacking across Europe, here are a couple of things you will want to think about.
It’s hard to stress this enough. You will have exactly one bag to put your things in. For your own sake, don’t fill it with things you don’t really need. Think long and hard about how much you need cumbersome electronics. There are internet cafe’s all over Europe, so leave the laptop at home. Bring a journal and write in it (if you still remember how) and you may find it’s a far more rewarding experience. There are also many laundromats to wash clothes in, and jeans can be worn more than once, so bring less clothes. Worst case scenario you buy some in a thrift store. With a little research you can find smaller more lightweight gear that will allow more room for other things as well, like bringing a poncho instead of a rain coat.
Related: Auto Europe’s Packing List
You will need to research where you will stay. Hostels are a huge part of the backpacking experience. Ask on travel forums for advice and read reviews. You’ll get some great information, and with any luck find the room that’s just what you need.
Get a money belt and use it. There are zipper locks you can get for your backpack, however their effectiveness is debated. It may be a deterrent to avoid theft but on the other hand it may make your bag look like a more valuable prize. Label as much of your personal property as you can in case you lose anything. You also may want to consider a GPS so you are able to find your location should you get lost.
Be Cautious Of Cotton Clothing
Cotton is never the recommended material for backpacking. One of the reasons for this is because once you start to sweat, cotton will absorb it, and the wet clothing will make you cold once you stop. There are all kinds of synthetic hiking clothing available that will keep you cool, and not absorb like cotton. One popular alternative for cold weather conditions is wool. A rain parka or poncho is important to have as well. If you have ever been caught in a downpour on a trail, you already understand why.
Whatever You Do, Take Care Of Your Shoes
One of the most important elements to a good trek, is your footwear. Make sure you break in your shoes/boots if you have not yet already. Shop around until you find something that is lightweight and just what you’re looking for. Bring several pair of good wool socks.
Choose the Right Backpack
There are many, many styles and makes of backpacks to choose from. This may seem obvious, but a good fit is going to be key. Measure your torso so you buy the correct size. Adjust the straps accordingly, so that the pack fits you the best. If you’re in a store, fill up the pack to see how it feels heavy and full, and try this with other packs. Sure it’s a little time consuming, but if you’re wearing a pack for an extended period of time, you definitely want the right fit. Here is a great FAQ about how to choose the right backpack.
5 Great Day Hike Backpacks
Here are 5 excellent choices if you’re just getting started and want to know what you’re getting into as far as price and minimal size goes. 40-50 liters of space is probably the smallest you would want to go. Longer trips will require 65+ liters.
- REI Venturi 45
- Osprey Atmos 50
- High Sierra Hawk 40
- Kelty Locus 40
- L.L. Bean Bigelow 40
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