Health & safety
Packing light is the (often elusive) goal. A backpack that won’t fit in luggage racks or hostel lockers is a drag, literally, and everyday essentials are widely available in most European cities. Still, it’s sensible to make space for some of these:
Earplugs – Necessary unless you’re a very heavy sleeper; a snoring dorm mate, loud music nearby and traffic noise are almost inevitable at some point.
First-aid kit – Just the basics: some aspirin, sticking plasters, antiseptic cream, sun block and perhaps, if you have a delicate stomach, antidiarrhoea pills.
Mobile phone– Get your mobile unlocked so that you can buy a cheap local SIM card in Europe to make inexpensive calls.
Padlock – For hostel lockers and train luggage racks.
Photocopies – An absolute essential. Make two copies of your passport title page, visas, travellers cheque serial numbers and tickets, leaving one copy at home and packing the other separately from the originals. Make a note of your credit card numbers and keep it somewhere safe.
Plastic bags – Just a couple to line your bag and keep the contents dry or to isolate dirty laundry.
Power adapter – Preferably with both a chunky UK plug and a continental plug with two round prongs.
Rain gear – It always rains in some parts of Europe.
Small torch (flashlight) – To prevent painful bumps in the night.
Swiss Army knife – Handy if opening tins and beer bottles; less handy if you accidentally leave it in your carry-on airline luggage – so don’t.
Memory stick – Put any documents you might need on here. You can also store photos on here when your camera gets full.
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