If you’re just about to head off on a backpacking tour of Europe – or beyond – you need to carefully consider every item you think you will need to take. The contents of your rucksack will contain the essentials of your life and whilst many feel they can travel light, far more will try to cram in as many home comforts as possible.

Here are a few tips then as to what you need to pack as a minimum, where to downsize and what to consider when looking at your list when your rucksack is straining at the zips and you need to decide what you really should leave at home.

Size of rucksack

Buying the right size for your journey may seem a rather simplistic thing to consider. It’s vital though because choose one that’s too large for your frame and you’ll struggle to walk with it and if you buy just because it can fit a great deal in, consider the question of how will it feel when you’re running for a coach or train in the middle of summer in a hot country such as Portugal, Egypt or Morocco?

The absolute maximum size should be a 60 litre capacity and that would only be if you need to take specific equipment. Otherwise, opt for a smaller one and then an 18 litre capacity to store with it for day time use or for carry on when you’re flying.

Shoes and clothing

Take the minimum amount of shoes as they can get very heavy. Flip flops are an essential as they are lightweight and often great for exploring locations. Team with a pair of lightweight trainers for when you need to go somewhere flip flops aren’t suitable but walking trainers are too heavy.

When it comes to clothing, always remember there will be somewhere to wash such as a hostel launderette.

The essentials then are:

  • Trainer socks; looking after your feet is essential
  • Plenty of underwear changes (ideally 7)
  • 1 pair of wool socks if you’re travelling to a cooler country
  • 2 pairs of walking trousers
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 2 long sleeve walking tops
  • 2 t-shirts
  • 1 polo shirt
  • 1 zipped fleece top
  • 1 waterproof jacket
  • Sunglasses
  • Sun hat

Documentation

Your passport and any visas should be within reach at all times. You’ll also need your travel insurance policy number handy should you fall ill. Also remember to pack all the means to access cash; credit card, debit card and enter their emergency lost card numbers into your phone. Pack your driving license if you want to hire a car and print outs of flight details.

Technology

Downsizing is vital here. Laptops can be heavy so only take if you will be working whilst away otherwise a small tablet is perfect. A Kindle will replace the need for books and a smartphone with camera to record memories.

Don’t forget to take spare batteries and check out universal charger kits to save carrying lots of cables. You’ll also need an adaptor to plug items in.

Useful extras

Some creature comforts can really make your life easier, particularly if you’re wildcamping.

Pack a piece of clothes line, ear plugs, a travel pillow and a travel towel; a microfibre one will always be a great choice. A silk travel sheet is very light and will cover any not so pleasant looking mattresses. Sunscreen is an absolute and a small plastic bag will always be handy for a number of uses such as keeping electronic gadgetry dry if you’re hiking in poor weather.

Once you’re packed, you’re ready to explore and you’ll appreciate the time you took to really think about what you need in life when you’re out and about in the world discovering new and exciting destinations.