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Monday, August 17, 2009

Backpacking in Europe - what to pack?

You are all excited about the trip, you have it all worked out and in your mind you are already on your way. Then you think of that big hurdle, the necessity that you have to do before you go and your enthusiasm dwindles. Well, packing can be bad but if you are organized and know what you are going to do on your trip, it shouldn't be too hard.

Start with your bag. It's the most important friend you have on the trip. You will be depending on this bag day in and day out and in all kinds of weather. The best thing to do is to by a proper backpack which fits your body size and has all the extras that will make the bag so much more comfortable. Choose a backpack that is big enough to fit your things but small enough so you can carry it for a few kilometers. Once you have the backpack, you are one step closer to your holiday.

Before you start putting things into the bag, write a list and place all the items on the bed. When packing a backpack you should place heavy stuff at the bottom and lighter stuff on top so that the bag won't drag you backwards. But first things first, start with the list and write down things you think you need and then you cross them out as you put them in the bag.

1. Necessities; Passport, travel documents, travel insurance, visas etc. Place all important documents in a plastic map so that they won't get destroyed. Hugely important is money and credit cards. Medicines if you have any, aspirins are always good to have. You will also find that maps and guide books are a necessity. Write down important phone numbers to family and friends, to your insurance company, hotels and embassies.

2. Clothes; Bring a pair of sturdy walking shoes, flip flops and sandals, light trousers and shorts. A few T-shirts and a couple of sweaters are necessary. Underwear, socks and PJ`s. A wind and rain proof jacket and a sun hat. Bring a pair of sunglasses too.

3. Toiletries; Bring only what you really need. Soap is lighter than a shower gel for example. Bring the 2in1 shampoo rather than 2 different bottles etc. Leave makeup and perfume at home. Bring a first aid kit and a sewing kit too.

4. Useful things; Sun lotion, mosquito repellent, a book (you can normally swap yours for another in hostels so no need to bring more than 1), a torch, your camera, mp3 player, a water bottle, a pocket knife, tin opener, fork, spoon and knife. Washing powder which works in cold water.

Once you have packed everything in the bag you might find that you have some spare space. If you feel tempted to put another pair of sweaters or jeans in the bag, don't. You have what you need, and the extra luggage will weigh a lot and the likelihood of you needing the extra items is slim. Often you buy things during your travels and then the extra space will come in handy.

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