Packing for a backpacking trip can be a daunting task, but can be accomplished with a bit of preliminary research.

The pack I use is the REI Women's Ridgeline 65. It’s small enough to carry on a Ryanair flight, but big enough to store all that I need. It expands as well.

I bring a backpack and never check, so all liquids are less than 3.3 ounces (100 ml). I usually store all toiletries at the top of the bag (easy access for showering) and my journal, alarm clock, and other necessities are stored in the zippered head compartment.

Here is a packing list of everything I bring. And I always have extra space to bring home souvenirs.



Photocopies of passport. You should have a photocopy of your own passport, and swap copies with your travel buddy.

At least one credit card and one debit card. Preferably Capital One, as they have no international transaction fees. And keep them separate, just in case.

Photocopies of all credit and debit cards

card with your bank’s number that you store in your backpack which you can call in the event your credit or debit card is stolen. Have it saved in your email too.

Print-out of all airline tickets. Ryanair, Europe’s biggest budget airline, will charge upwards of 40 pounds if you don’t have a print-out of your ticket.

Emergency contact information. Have a copy in your backpack with emergency contacts (phone number, email, address, allergies, etc.)


Clothes (summer list):

(Note- try to make sure it’s all wrinkle-free. But if something does wrinkle, just hang it in the shower as you are showering to steam it.)

1 lightweight jacket

5 shirts

1 pair of jeans

1 pair leggings. To wear under a dress if cold.

Several skirts or dresses

Bathing suit



2 bras. One regular, one sports.

Pajamas. Note, can use cotton shorts for bottoms.

2 pair of cotton shorts. For beach or sleeping.



1 pair leather sandals. My everyday walking shoes in summer.

1 pair lightweight tennis shoes. I use Pumas.

1 pair flip flops. For hostel showers or beach. I swear by my super comfortable Reefs.

Wedge espadrilles. (I bring them because they are cute, comfortable and summery for going out, but they admittedly take up a ton of space).



3 travel-size bottles bottles. 3.3 oz  (100 ml) or less with shampoo, conditioner and face wash (buy more if I need it).


Hair ties


Travel-size toothpastes.

Advil, Midol


Razor. (with one extra blade).

Tampons. (in plastic Ziploc bag, in case they get wet and to save space).



iPhone or iPod Touch, headphones and charger. Even without phone service, you can take great pictures, take notes, listen to music, set an alarm and use wifi. (Tip- there’s almost always free wifi, and air-conditioning, at Starbucks or McDonalds).

Kindle and charger. I’m a bookworm, so this is a must for me. If your Kindle has 3G it is really helpful to be able to use wifi on it, and unlike the iPad there is no charge.

Adapter. The U.K. and Ireland have a different outlet than continental Europe. Buy a universal adapter if you’re traveling to many areas with different outlets.

Camera, Charger and Protective Case. I always bring my small digital camera that takes fantastic pictures, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5. Leica lens, HD video, pocket-sized and 10.1 mega-pixels- best camera I've ever owned. I also bought this case and this protective screen.

 32 GB Memory Card. Lots of space for photos and great if I take videos.



Journal and lots of pens

Little Moleskine notebook When I am learning a language I use this portable, flexible little notebook to jot down new words.

Nalgene water bottle attached to backpack with carabiner (to save money, fill up water bottle in sinks, fine in Western Europe but not a great idea in certain countries).

Sunglasses in hard case

Small lock for fastening outside of backpack

Pad lock. Often needed for locking belongings at hostel locker.

Small alarm clock

Large Ziploc plastic bags. For wet or dirty clothes.

Small towel

Small pair scissors

Make-up in case. Bobbi Brown tinted moisturizer with spf 15, bronzer, blush brush, concealer, mascara, lip stain, pencil sharpener, tweezers


What I don’t bring:

Sheets. Renting  is rare and inexpensive.

Laptop. A large, heavy liability.

Shaving cream. Just shave with conditioner.

Earplugs. Some people love them but I never find use for them.

Sunscreen. I just buy it or borrow it when I get there.


Final note:

This is just a guideline which should be tailored to your own trip and your own preferences (i.e.If you’re hiking Patagonia, bring hiking boots!)

Some of the links above are affiliate links and I will receive a commission if you purchase through them. This funds both my site and my travels so please help in any way that you can!

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Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is an American travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Uganda. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Colorado. She's been to forty countries but somehow still gets lost in her home town. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour magazine.
Ashley Fleckenstein

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