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Guide to Backpacking Europe- What to Pack

By Nicole Munoz

Packing for your European backpacking adventure is one of the most crucial keys to a successful and enjoyable trip. Since you will be carrying everything you pack on your back for the majority of your trip, you want to concentrate on making your belongings as light and compact as possible, only taking the very bare minimum of clothing and supplies.

The most important supply for your backpacking trip though Europe is your backpack. Click here for help choosing the right backpack. The clothing you select for your trip can strongly influence the weight of your pack so take care to only take basic items and look for pieces that can double. Consider the normal temperature of each area you plan to visit at the time of year you will be traveling and pack your clothing accordingly. If your trip will last through more than one season, you will need extra layers for cooler months.

Begin with two pairs of pants. Look for pants with plenty of pockets. Pockets come in handy for easily accessible storage on the road. Pants that zip off into shorts are great for decreasing weight, otherwise you will also want a pair of shorts. Pack two or three t-shirts and a couple long sleeve shirts or sweatshirts. You will probably buy more shirts on your trip, so don’t worry about not packing enough. You may also consider packing popular logo t-shirts and trading them along the way with other backpackers. Remember to pack 3 or 4 pairs of underwear, a swimsuit, and something to sleep in.

Take along a comfortable pair of hiking shoes. These will be your primary footwear on your trip, so remember a couple pairs of socks as well. You will also want a light pair of sandals or flip-flops for hostel showers and a pair of open-toed shoes for going out. Make use of the space wasted by any shoes you pack by filling the insides with small items.

Hostels provide bathrooms with showers, as well as laundry facilities. Most hostels do not offer towels, though, so bring along a small towel designed for carrying, like the Coleman pack towel. You will also want a small set of toiletry items, like soap, toothpaste, shampoo, toothpaste, and deodorant. A washcloth or sponge may be an item to remember as well. Most hostels do have vending machines for laundry detergent and it may be easier to buy these supplies rather than carry them.

Remember to make copies of all your important documents, like passports and any important medical information, and store the copies in separate places. Secure all credit and debit cards, traveler’s checks, and other valuable items, and don’t forget to pack an adequate supply of any needed medications. A few other items you will want to be sure to remember are a camera, a good, detailed guide book, and plenty of sunscreen.

Most backpackers who have traveled through Europe come back and realize they packed too much. The lighter your pack is, the more fun you will have on your trip, so only pack the things that you know you will need. If you realize later you forgot a necessity, you can always pick it up on the road.

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Packing For Your African Safari Holiday

The essential thing to remember is to travel light!

Be Certain to Have with You:

1. Valid passport
2. Valid visa – if required
3. One other picture identification (e.g. driver’s license)
4. Photocopy of passport page to carry in wallet
5. Air tickets
6. Expense money
7. Comprehensive Travel Insurance Policy

Dressing for Safaris

On safari, most people wear shorts and a T-shirt during the day and put on long sleeved shirts and long pants in the evening for warmth as well as protection from mosquitoes. Should you be particularly sensitive to the sun a loose cotton shirt is essential during the day. Khaki, brown, olive and beige colours are best for and safaris and game walks.

White is not a suitable colour for these activities, as it increases your visibility to wildlife you want to get a closer look at and it will get dirty very quickly. Fleece or sweater and a windbreaker for game drives, because it is highly possible that you may go out on a hot day, but be faced with a chill evening on your return. Remember that layering your clothing will keep you warmer than relying on one thick item.

Clothing to Pack for Safaris

2 pairs khaki cotton pants
2 pairs khaki shorts
2 long sleeved shirts/ blouses (for sun protection as well as warmth)
1 light sweater or sweatshirt
1 lightweight, waterproof windbreaker

Swimming costume
Sturdy walking or hiking boots
3-5 short-sleeved shirts or T-shirts
5 changes underwear and socks

Hat with a brim (baseball caps might cover your nose but not your ears and neck)
Gloves (if you really feel the cold)
Down vest or jacket (if you really feel the cold)
A sarong or kikoi type garment
Most lodges and safari camps offer laundry as part of their service. Hotels all offer laundry, at additional cost.


Toilet kit including shampoo and soap
Insect repellent
Good quality sunglasses plus protective case
Hand wipes or ‘Baby wipes’
Stuff-sacks or plastic packets; to compartmentalise items within your travel bag

Repair kit: needle and thread, nylon cord, rip-stop tape
Camera, film or memory card
Spare batteries. Film and batteries can generally be obtained at lodges, but at a price of course, so please be sure to have sufficient supplies for your needs
Paperback reading, writing material (keep weight at a minimum)

Sunscreen or block
Moisturizer, lip balm
Personal first-aid kit (headache pills, antihistamine cream etc)
Large towel and washcloth (thin, quick-drying) – if required for camping/overland safari

If you take prescription medication, be sure to bring a sufficient supply with you. If you are on a lengthy holiday, we suggest that you carry a copy of your prescription with you.

Luggage for a Mobile Safari

For Safari travel, the best type of luggage to bring is a soft bag, or backpack with an internal frame. As packing space in Safari vehicles is limited, only one bag is allowed, but you should also have a daypack for all of your personal items/camera/binoculars. Hard suitcases are usually scuffed or damaged in transit and are inappropriate for a game safari.

Light aircraft: Important note

If part of your itinerary includes light aircraft flights, there are serious weight restrictions. You are usually restricted to 10 or 12kg (22 or 26 lbs), per person, in a soft bag. Storage space in a light aircraft is at a premium, and the pilot may refuse to take on bulky or excessive luggage. The most common aircraft types used for charter work are Cessna 206 or 210, and Cessna 208 Caravans. Slightly larger aircraft are often used in East Africa, but luggage is still restricted.

A reasonable amount of hand luggage and camera equipment is generally allowed.

Remember that the charter pilot has the final say in terms of taking the luggage and you will be responsible for costs should your luggage need to be forwarded for you, or should an extra aircraft be required for transportation.

By Gerald Crawford

About the Author

Gerald Crawford: born in South Africa, studied electronics, telecommunication, eco-travel and african travel concepts. He taught responsible tourism in South Africa and the United Kingdom. If you have any questions or comments please e-mail me on. E-mail Address: Website Address: