50 Things to Pack in Your Travel Backpack

Your go-to checklist for packing like a pro

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  • 20 March 2017
  • • 8 min read

Packing can be the bane of your life: but we’ve made the chore a little less tiresome for you and devised a COMPLETE packing list. Got a big trip coming up? Use this ultimate guide to remind you of useful essentials you need to buy for your travels whether it’s shower gel, socks, clothes or sunnies. Knowing how to pack a backpack for a long trip ain’t easy. But simply treat this as a packing checklist and tick off each item as you go. Of course, it really depends on what kind of trip you’re about to embark on whether it’s trekking a mountain, or interrailing Europe, so we’ve tried to include items that cater to every kind of trip!

When it comes to packing, the best way to pack a backpack is to save space. Our top tip is to fold your clothes efficiently. Remember: Heavy stuff at the bottom, stuff that leaks goes in plastic bags and things you’ll need as soon as you arrive at your destination (like toiletries) at the top. Roll your clothes up rather than fold them if it takes up less room.

This guide will also work for suitcases for air travel too, not just backpacks. Don’t forget anything - and happy travelling!

Haven’t got a backpack yet? 

1 PASSPORT

Could you think of anything worse than rocking up to the airport realising you forgot your passport, then missing your flight because you have to go home to get it?


2 EU ADAPTERS

Don't forget your EU adapters! Saves buying one in the airport at the hostel. On Amazon, you can buy a  two pack of EU Adapters for just £4.39.


3 UNDERWEAR

Tip: remember to pack a carrier bag for your dirty laundry.


4 SOCKS

Thick socks if you're going somewhere cold!  Ankle socks if you'll be wearing trainers around the city.


5 PHONE CHARGER/PORTABLE PHONE CHARGER

We all know the feeling when our phone runs out of battery on the road. So bring a portable phone charger.


6 CLOTHES (INCLUDING PJ'S)

Remember to take light layers and warm layers. Pack enough clothes to last the duration of your stay. But don't overpack -  it's going to be hard to fit everything in your backpack if you take more than necessary. If you're going on a long trip, be sure to check the hostel has a laundry room so you can wear clothes over again.


7 WATERPROOF MAC

The weather around Europe can be unpredictable depending on which city you're going to, so be prepared with waterproof layers if you'll be in cities prone to rain. Check weather updates throughout your trip.


8 WALKING SHOES

It’s usually best to wear your bulkiest shoes at the airport so that you can save space in your luggage.


9 SLEEPING BAG LINER

This will come in handy if you are camping or sleeping in bed that doesn't look as clean as you would've hoped. You won't have this problem at St Christopher's though as bed linen is changed on a guests arrival.


10 WATER BOTTLE

For travelling, we recommend a metal water bottle. These are more hygienic and long lasting.


11 EUROS

Put your wallet somewhere that's easy to access (or store your cash in a bum bag).


12 HAIRBRUSH/COMB/HAIR GEL/SPRAY

The essential hair products that will come in handy when getting ready for the hostel bar crawl.


13 PAINKILLERS

Painkillers will come in handy for headaches, muscle aches, period pains, stomach aches - so keep some on you just incase.


14 CAMERA

Forget this bad boy and you'll regret it forever. If you're looking to buy a new travel camera, 

And with every camera you'll need a...


15 CAMERA CHARGER

And make sure you have a spare memory card on you if you'll need one!


16 DEODORANT

It can get extremely warm in some places around Europe, so keep some deodorant to hand.


17 SHAMPOO, CONDITIONER

Small, portable bottles are better for travelling and a lot lighter than the big plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles. It would be useful to fill up smaller sized bottles with your hair products if you find you're running out of space in your backpack.


18 BODY WASH

Same goes for your body wash.


19 TOWEL

Towels can take up a lot of room. So, ideally buy a microfibre towel that takes up less room (like these awesome ones from  Amazon) . Most hostels don't provide towels so remember to bring yours.


20 MOISTURISER

The heat and cold can really dry out your skin so use your moisturiser every day.


21 GOING OUT OUTFITS

It's hard to choose what to wear on nights out but be brutal and only pack what you need.


22 GOING OUT SHOES

Don't forget to pack some shoes that can suit day and night!


23 GPS OR MAP

Having access to a GPS App on your mobile phone will be a life saver when you're trying to navigate around a city. Download Maps.me or City Mapper and you'll be sorted. You never know if you'll have good signal using GPS, or your phone battery might die so it would be helpful to pack a back-up map.


24 FIRST AID KIT

Every backpacker should carry a first aid kit - you never know when you'll need it. Especially if you'll be doing a trekking-based trip.


25 GLOVES/HAT/SCARF

Depending on where you're going, pack accordingly for weather conditions.


26 TOOTHBRUSH

Electric toothbrushes are quite heavy so if you find you're running out of space, opt for a normal toothbrush instead. These don't require a charger either so saves even more space.


27 TOOTHPASTE

If you're travelling with friends, our tip is to share toothpaste so you don't end up with a toothpaste tube each!


28 TREKKING POLES

Only really necessary for a trekking trip or long hiking adventure.


29 SUN CREAM

SPF is important. Use it generously and take sun cream with you everywhere you go.


30 EYE MASK

So that if someone does turn the lights on, you won't even notice!


31 EAR BUDS

And if a big group in your dorm room make noise after a night out, you won't even hear it.


32 SHAVER/NAIL CLIPPERS

Calling all beard gang members: remember your beard trimmer and charger (if you don't wanna rough it out)!


33 BOARD SHORTS/SWIM GEAR

Try not to pack too many as you can reuse the same one over and over.


34 GLASSES/ CONTACT LENSES/ CONTACT LENSES CLEANER

For those who need to wear glasses, the above are all SO important. You want to actually be able to SEE when you're travelling. Or what's the point?


35 MOBILE PHONE/SPARE CHEAP PHONE FOR EMERGENCIES

Get yourself a SIM card that works abroad


36 THERMAL FLASK AND CUP

If you're planning on camping out and cooking, remember matches/a fire starter, food and cooking utensils


37 SUNGLASSES

An essential for any trip.


38 EMERGENCY WHISTLE

(If you’re backpack doesn’t come equipped with one already)


39 TORCH OR FLASHLIGHT

To avoid having to turn all the lights on in your dorm room and waking everyone up (just so you could find that lost sock before your flight).


40 GOGGLES

If you like to swim in the sea, goggles will come in handy so you can see the fish underwater.


41 UNDERWATER CAMERA

Better yet, buy an underwater camera so you can take photos in the deep blue.


42 SANDALS/FLIP FLOPS

Comfortable footwear goes a long way when backpacking. Flip flop = highly recommended.


43 TRAINERS

You're going to be walking around a city A LOT. Trainers will be your saviour. Make sure that you break them in first if you buy a new pair of trainers for your trip. There's nothing worse than a blister when walking around a city.


44 PADLOCK

The last thing you need to remember. Once everything is packed, lock it with a padlock to ensure your things are safe. You'll need this padlock in the hostel too to keep your valuables safe.


45 BACKPACK RAIN COVER

Some backpacks already have one. If not definitely purchase one; the last thing you want is all your stuff to get drenched.


46 HAT, CAP

To keep you shaded


47 MEDICINES

Any medication that you'll need during your travels is perhaps the most important item to pack here. For any prescribed medicines or a tablet you take daily, set an alarm on your phone so that you remember to take it. It's so easy to forget when you're backpacking.


48 LIP BALM

SPF lip balm is also really important - your lips can be damaged by the sun just as your skin can. Keep them moisturised with a sun protection lip balm which you can buy from most pharmacies or cosmetics shops.


49 READING MATERIAL/TRAVEL GUIDE/PHRASEBOOK

It's great to use city guides and phrasebooks when you're in a new country. These can get heavy so try and limit yourself to one.


50 SNACKS!

Small snacks that will fit in your backpack. Breakfast bars, trail mix, sweets. These will come in handy if you’re going trekking/hiking. Or they can make for a quick, easy breakfast on the go.

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