As a traveler, it’s almost a right of passage to spend a few weeks backpacking through a continent or a country. In the summer of 2012 I spent four weeks backpacking through Europe. I went to Italy, Czech Republic, Hungary, Belgium, The Netherlands, Poland, and Serbia. Fortunately I have had to pack for long periods of time with small amounts of luggage before, so I had a rough idea of what to bring. I know a lot of people are curious about what to pack for their first backpacking adventures, so I figured I would put together a list of 5 must-have items for your adventure!
1) A good backpack
Technically not something to pack, but what you’re putting it in. When I first started traveling I had a pretty simple bag I used for school. After about half a day of traveling with it, I found my back would get sore, my shoulders would start to ache, and I would need progressively more breaks as the day pressed on. I decided to invest in a good backpack that has back support and cushioning. Luckily for me there was a German backpacker in my town who was selling hers for cheap, but I would recommend doing some research and taking into account your own body and needs.
2) Comfortable walking shoes and flip flops
I CANNOT stress enough how important comfortable walking shoes are. I also cannot stress enough how important it is to not buy new “comfortable” shoes and wear them for the first time on the first day of your trip. Break those suckers in. Also, a cheap pair of flip flops will go a long way. You can use them on hot days to walk, you can use them if you stay in a hostel, you can use them at the beach if you are traveling during the warmer months. You can get a pair at WalMart for less than two dollars.
3) A beach wrap
I bought a rainbow beach wrap at a market in Malaysia for about $10, and it was easily one of the best things I’ve ever purchased. In a pinch a beach wrap can be used as a dress, a picnic blanket, a towel, or something to wipe the sweat from your face. You can find them online for fairly cheap, just look around for a style you like.
It seems like a no-brainer to pack some deodorant, but trust me, it’s not something everyone remembers to bring. Sometimes you’ll have a few stretches of days where you don’t have the chance to shower, and the only way to stay clean-smelling is deodorant.
5) A lot of underwear and socks
Again, for the several stretches where you may not have the time to shower, wash your clothes, or do anything that generally hygienic people do. You’ll get accustomed to wearing your jeans four days in a row or your shirt for a week straight, but you definitely want lots of clean socks and underwear. I don’t think I need to explain why.