Backpack Through Europe
Backpacking across Europe can be a wonderful experience - or a terrible one if you don't pack correctly. Having the right items in the right quantities can lower your load, ease up your wallet, and overall let you have a great journey.
How many countries should I visit?
Europe is huge and unless you're traveling for years, there's no point in thinking you'll visit most of it in a single month or summer. Try to choose 3 or 4 nearby countries so you have the time to really appreciate each one of them; you can always pick different countries the next year.
Backpacking is cheap right?
Not necessarily. Since you won't have a car, the lack of materials you can bring means you'll have to spend money to purchase what you are missing. Train tickets might also be necessary and it's hard to ride a train if you can't purchase the ticket you need.
Don't stand out
Just because you are going traveling does not give you the right to dress ridiculously. Dress the same kind of outfits you would normally wear in your everyday life. People in Europe care just as much as the people in your town and they will treat you differently (in a negative way) if they see you are wearing silly tourist-y outfits. Be sure to pack for all sorts of weather conditions.
Think Comfort First
Walking shoes and comfortable clothes are always better than anything else. If you know you want to make a good impression somewhere, pack one good outfit that you can just wash over and over as needed.
What to Pack
Having to carry a backpack means you need to learn to pack as lightly as needed. Only the minimum and most essential items should come. Luxuries you bring along will cause regret when walking across steep hills or on hot days when extra weight feels even heavier than usual due to heat fatigue.
Items Worth Packing:
#1: Documents and Copies
Don't forget to bring all of the documents you need. Your passport, airline tickets, maybe even immunization records. In a separate pouch/wallet, have copies of all your important documents, an extra credit card, and emergency money. This way if your wallet is ever stolen, your backup wallet can still help you in a pinch.
#2: A towel
Packing a towel might seem unnecessary, but it's quite crucial. Packing one means you know you'll always have the space for one and buying a large towel might be more expensive than needed. Hostel and motels might be willing to sell you towels, but the fee will probably be high, and the towels might not be very large. Since you only really need one towel, you might as well pack it yourself.
#3: Sunscreen and Emergencies
Sunscreen is always necessary and you should always have a bottle in your bag. Having a first aid kit is also obviously important.
#4: Care Items
Shampoo, deodorant, and such might not seem like essentials (after all, every country has those). However, you don't know what kind of luck you'll have. There might be times when a store isn't available nearby and you'll need to use your own. Having a few back up items will definitely help. Don't pack bottles of shampoos or conditioner; rather, you should buy pouches that will take less space and be far less heavy.
#5: Fun Stuff
Having at least one small book or a small music player (with appropriate charger and european plug converter) will help those long nights seem less tedious. Being in other countries means you might not understand the TV shows, books, and magazines they have. So if you're really in the mood for some regular relaxation, having a few small light backup items from home can help.
#6: Language Books and Maps
Don't expect everyone to speak English in non-English speaking countries. Not only is it false as there are plenty of people who will not be able to communicate in English, but it's also rude to consider your language to be more important than the country's language. Pack a few light language books for each non-English speaking country you visit. Having a map also can't hurt.
Wait! What about a camera? And should I leave space for souvenirs?
If you're the type of person who likes to have pictures, you should indeed pack a camera. However, different people like to remember events differently. Some take pictures, others collect postcards. Just remember that if you buy souvenirs, you'll have to carry them through the remainder of your trip as well.