Two backpackers walking through a narrow brick alley

Backpacking Europe checklist: Beyond the basics

Most essential backpacking lists are 80% common sense (backpack, comfortable shoes, pillow) and 10% necessity (adapter, organization cubes, stuff sacks). That leaves 10% wiggle room in your pack for a couple extras that’ll make your trip that much sweeter. After all, what’s trekking through the French Alps without a few sun-warmed sessions in your hammock along the way?

For chilling beside famous monuments

Bring your chef-iest tools to picnic all over the EU like a pro, from slicing through a wheel of brie under the Eiffel Tower to grating fresh parmesan over a local pie by the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Bonus points for playing tunes to set the mood and setting up your slackline when you’re done eating.

For reliable, delicious coffee every damn day

Depending on your plans, you might not have time to make it to a local café for a fresh cup – or you might want to save your coffee money for something more substantial (see: last-minute deals to Lisbon). Pack your Aeropress to get the best of every bean, no matter where you’re staying.

Making coffee with the Aeropress outside

For crisp action shots

Selfie sticks don’t always cut it (especially when jump shots are involved) and your picture-perfect travel moments deserve more than a repetitive top-down vantage point. Bring a grippy, flexy tripod that sits solidly on uneven surfaces and can even hang from branches.

For coastal swims and surf sessions

Spy on fish in scratch-free goggles as you snorkel the bright blue waters of the Mediterranean; keep your feet warm as you catch Celtic Sea waves in Newgale, Wales; or towel off after a moonlit swim at one of Barcelona’s sandy beaches.

Surfer standing on the beach at sunset

For taking in the view

Anyone with a good pair of hiking boots and a hammock knows incredible vistas pair best with a little kick back. Whether you’re in the endless shade of Germany’s Black Forest or the rolling hills surrounding the Dolomites in northern Italy, you’ll never see two nearby trees quite the same again.

For wine country walks and tastings

If you’re hitting the El Camino, you best bring a wine vessel. You can get fancy and grab one with a nesting stem for red or white, or grab a stainless steel mug and cover it in stickers from each stop. If it’s more your thing to follow Scotland’s Malt Whisky Trail, pack a flask. Rehydrate later with a vacuum bottle that keeps water cold for hours.

For being spontaneous

Hopping from city to city? Invest in a hostel membership. With thousands of hostels all over Europe, there are plenty of options and it saves you some bucks. Don’t worry about your gadgets going dead while you’re figuring out your next stop – a powerbank keeps USB devices charged (and doubles as a flashlight).

Kim Budziak

Wordsmith, avid skier and rookie road biker. Firmly believes the best days are the snowiest ones.