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Backpacking Checklist

With repeated trips you get a good idea of what should be in your bag and what you should leave at home. Here’s my backpacking checklist I mentally go through before each trip into Europe.

Essentials

Passport. Sounds obvious, but you can’t afford to forget this little puppy. I keep mine in a leather passport cover.
ATM/Credit Card. I bring an ATM card for cash withdrawals and a VISA credit card for backup.
Travel Insurance. If you’re an EU citizen, an EHIC card is a good thing to carry, as it gives you discounted (sometimes even free) medical care inside Europe. But I also get backpackers insurance as well to be on the safe side. It’s cheap and makes me worry less about my things. Who you go with is a matter of personal preference, but I’ve always been happy with the company Lonely Planet recommend, World Nomads. ***UPDATE*** Someone has written in drawing my attention to this World Nomads Promotional Code which awards you a 6% discount. I’ll try it for on my next trip and will let you know if it works.

I figure if you have your passport, a credit card and have your backside covered with insurance, you’re equipped to deal with pretty much anything else.

Packing List

Backpack. The smaller the better. I have a 75 litre backpack for big trips and a 40 litre for smaller hops. If I’m flying by budget airline, such as Ryanair, I only travel with a carry-on bag to save the £20 checked-in bag fee, and the 40 litre is the closest to their carry-on dimensions.
Rainjacket. I have a lightweight Goretex rainjacket that packs down very small.
Fleece. I bring a warm fleece for winter trips to Europe, and will bring a lighter long-sleeved garment for summer.
T-shirts. I bung a few t-shirts in my bag, enough for a few days. If it’s a long trip I will wash them either in sinks or at launderettes if I’m feeling lazy and flush.
Trainers. I tend to travel with just a single pair of canvas trainers on short trips. Perhaps two pairs on longer trips, the second pair being boots or sturdy walking shoes.
Underwear. Five pairs of boxers, five pairs of socks.
Trousers. Two pairs, one thick, one thinner, although this depends on season. I might substitute one pair of trousers for shorts in the summer.
First Aid. Paracetamol, plasters, antiseptic, any other personal medication.
Washkit. Travel sizes of shampoo and shower gel. Comb/brush, hair wax, toothbrush, toothpaste. Condoms.
Towel. One of those small, thin camping/travel towels. Takes up zero space and dries quickly.
Camera. A small digital camera. I don’t normally spend more than £100 on it as my insurance has a single item limit of £100.
Electrical Adapter. Plug adapter thing to convert the unsightly three-prong British plug into the more elegant two-prong European style.
Odds and ends. Elastic washing line, universal sink plug, ear plugs, padlock, torch.
Guidebook. I’m not precious about them and will rip out the relevant pages to my trip and only bring them with me.

That’s all you should need for a shoestring trip into Europe.