What Do I Pack for my Backpacking Trip Abroad?

I decided I’d put together a list of my travel necessities. And by necessities, I mean just that: I won’t travel without these because of the value they add to my travel life.

If you’re getting ready for your first backpacking trip and not sure what to bring, this list may be able to help you out with at least a few ideas.

Packing Cubes. Oh dear God I cannot explain enough how much these help me keep my life organized while backpacking abroad. If you don’t want everyone in your hostel to hate you upon your 1AM arrival (and would rather have them hate you in the morning once they actually know who you are as a person instead), these are your bags!

Whether you’re getting in late at night and don’t want to dump your entire bag out looking for your PJ’s, or you’re trying to keep your things organized, these are 100% worth every single penny. I liked this one because it came with a laundry bag too, but they have lots of options. Worth the $20.

Eye-mask and ear plugs. Especially if you’re in hostels, but also for everywhere else. Traveling is awesome, but it’s also really, really tiring. Any 3D contoured eye mask is what I’d recommend. Being able to slap your mask on for a 4 hour train ride and catch up on a few zzz’s helped keep me functioning when I needed to actually be awake, like when you gotta see the Eiffel Tower or climb a mountain in Bulgaria.

Here’s me snoozing through my 9 hour flight to London- eye mask for the win!

Microfiber towel: this is another “gotta have it”. Not all hostels offer towels, but additionally, I used this when I’d spend the day at the beach. The microfiber is great because its lightweight, but also dries extremely fast, unlike cotton. I got the bigger size because, well I’m a bigger person, and I knew I’d be using it as a beach towel.  They offer a few different sizes, so get what fits your needs.

Also, don’t forget a TSA-Approved lock for your backpack! This one was easy to set your own code, but it was also the only time I ever bought one so maybe they all are?


10 Foot Charging Cord : Hostels don’t always have a plug in near you. Leaving your phone across the room to charge all night also isn’t a great idea (my external charger was taken in the time it took me to shower). I had brought one this charger on a whim, and now I make sure it’s always in my pack. I prefer the braided ones because of durability and they don’t crap out on the ends after being bent too much, but there’s lots of choices. Just don’t get a light up one- unless you really do want your hostel-mates to hate you.

Two-port base charger: This comes in handy when both your phone and your external need to charge. Or the other thousand things we use for technology.  I also found out if you need it, they have ones that have even more than two ports (you tech-addict, you)! It’s helpful not having to get up in the middle of the night to swap chargers or worse, find out your phone didn’t charge all night so no pictures for you today!

Two port external charger: However, if you do find yourself in that pickle of a dead phone- this will save your butt! I use my phone for taking pictures, booking hostels, GPS-ing sites, reserving train tickets, etc. I don’t travel with a computer at all, so I’m 100% reliant on my phone. That being said, the battery doesn’t last all that long when you spend a day at the Sagrada Familia. This portable charger was a game changer. It fully charged my iPhone 7+ two-and-a-half times before it went dead, and was 1/3 of the cost of many others I found that didn’t charge as long. This was the one that was stolen, and I bought two others since then, but none were as good as this one. I ended up buying it again.

Selfie-stick: I had sworn I’d never be one of “those” people, but when you’re traveling solo and have some really amazing views you want to remember, it’s worth swallowing your pride and just letting everyone judge you. (I didn’t bother linking this one- y’all know damn well where to find a selfie stick, if you don’t already have one.) 😉

Mini-Tripod: I got this on a whim before my second trip and it came in helpful a few times. The latest version offers a remote with it, that would’ve been way better than a self-timer. Ugh.

I took this picture with it in Vis, Croatia and it turned out to be one of my favorites! (I realize this may not be a necessity for non-picture-obsessed-blogging people, but if you want some neat pics or are going solo, I’d get it).

For the Girls:

Microfiber panties and socks: I guess this could go for men as well. Having panties that dry quickly, like- overnight quick while hanging from your bunk bed, is pretty important. Unless you like the wet panty feel, in which case- you do you!

I didn’t link this because they are everywhere and anywhere. I found what I needed at REI and also a random side street hole-in-the-wall-shop in Sophia, Bulgaria, so you have options. But I’d also bring a special cute pair in case anyone sees you in them, these hiking panties type are not the most.. err.. cute, ifyaknowhatimean.

Traveling panties and I at the Eiffel Tower:👇🏼 found those bad boys at target and while I don’t wear those, they do dry pretty quickly.

Microfiber hair towel: while space gets limited while you’re backpacking, I still opted to carry a hair towel. I have pretty long hair and hate playing the “do I want my hair dry or my body dry?” game. For me, it was 100% worth the small amount of space it took up in my bag. And the microfiber, again, because it dries wicked fast and you’ll be on the move often, probably. Maybe not. I don’t know your life.

Pixie Cup: it takes some getting used to, I won’t lie to you. But if you’re going for more than a couple weeks, you’re most likely gonna run into Mother Nature’s most blessed gift to women. Being able to go 12 hours without having to think about this was a God-send. Additionally, and at least for Europe, it always seemed to be a game of toilet-roulette (like, you never have ALL the things you expect to in the restroom) and that’s if you could find one. Seriously. Get one, learn how to cope with elbowing in to your insides, and then send me a weird thank you letter later.

Note: they have different sizes on these. I guess like a pre-blown vagina size and post-kids size. Maybe you do your kegles and you can squeeze into the smaller size like pants? I’m not sure, but I just wanted to let you know there is sizing for your cervix. 😺

Last, this was also in my blog about What’s the Best Bag to Backpack Europe?, but this is the day pack I use to carry everything I need while I’m out (see: snacks and water and anxiety medication). I love it because it weighs ounces, holds a crap ton, and wraps up into itself.

I did end up switching between this and a fanny pack my last trip, but I realize not everyone has jumped on board that fashion train wreck (YET). Unrelated, but if anyone ever finds an amazing unicorn fanny pack, please send the link my way and I’ll love you forever.

Fanny pack, unicorn tank, and me in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (You probably thought I was joking but I wasn’t.)

Well, I think that covers my absolute necessities. As I continue traveling and buying things, I’ll update this as I see fit.

As always, any questions, comments, suggestions or discounts on food items, please feel free to send them my way!



*We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

I'm a 30 year old American female that's decided to quit my big-kid job and go travel the world. I believe in being kind to everyone and I believe in laughing, a lot. Everything else is secondary.


  1. Do you take a separate camera or do you use your phone? I’m backpacking Europe next year, some people swear you need a separate one but phone cameras have great quality these days!

    1. I only use my phone. I brought a small camera the first trip and it was taken out twice, a total pain in the butt, and I didn’t think the pictures were any better. And it’s more space in your bag, and taking out, and not losing..
      Additionally, unless you want to carry around a bunch or SD memory cards or a computer to back them up to, the gamble of losing them was too worrisome for me. Now for photographers that do that for a living, I get them carrying theirs. But the ones that would make a difference in photography are those giant black ones that you’re toting around and I’d be too worried of breaking or having it stolen anyway (not that I even know how to use them). All the pictures I took were from my phone and from the specs of most these days, I think they turn out just fine for some prints or what you’d use them for anyway. I’d vote just the phone and back up your pics along the way! (I use amazon primes free storage every time I had WiFi).

Leave a Reply