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Are you planning your first European backpacking travel adventure? Packing for a trip can be exciting but stressful, especially if you don’t know what to bring. Whether you’re going for a week or for an entire summer, there are a few backpacking Europe essentials for your packing list. To help you get started, take a look at our backpacking Europe checklist, which will ensure you have everything you need for your trip. 

1. Backpack

The right backpacking can make or break your trip. A backpack that’s too big can make traveling uncomfortable, while a backpack that’s too small won’t allow you to fit all your belongings in it. 

When backpacking Europe, you won’t want to bring a large, rolling suitcase. European cities were built before the age of elevators, which means that you’ll be walking lots of stairs. When navigating the metro, the old buildings, and the hotels, you’ll be happy to be able to take the stairs instead of lugging around an unwieldy backpack.

When it comes to essentials for your backpacking Europe packing list, it’s best to bring a carry-on sized backpack to avoid baggage fees on budget airlines.

Backpacking backpacks come in sizes based on the liter volume that they can carry. A 30-40 liter bag is comparable to a carry-on size suitcase, while a bag that’s 50-65 liters will be too big to take with you as a carry on.

Make sure you choose a bag that fits comfortably on your body. If you’re visiting a store, the employees will be more than happy to help you select a few bags that are suited to your body size. 

If you’re looking for the best backpack for backpacking Europe, the Osprey brand has some great all-rounder backpacks. Osprey is the go-to essential Europe backpacking option and fits most people comfortably. 

2. Day bag

When you’re taking a day trip or going on a hike, you won’t want to bring your huge backpack with you. Leave most of your items locked safely at your accommodation and take along a day bag. Your best bet would be to purchase a foldable daypack that can fit into your bigger backpack.

It will need to fit essentials such as money, a snack, water, and maybe a change of clothes, so it shouldn’t be too big or bulky.

3. Padlocks

Padlocks are a quick, convenient, and inexpensive way to secure your bags and hostel lockers. When assembling your backpacking Europe essentials for your packing list, a small item like this can be a lifesaver! You can also use your luggage lock on your backpack during travel days, ensuring all your belongings are safe, including your passport.

4. Universal travel adapter

Your Europe backpacking packing list should include a universal travel adapter, which will work for your phone charger or any other electronic devices. 

The outlets in continental Europe use the same 2-pronged plug, but if you’re traveling in the UK and Ireland, you’ll need a different 3-pronged system. Rather than taking multiple chargers with you, a multifunctional adapter will do. 

5. Camera

The best travel camera for backpacking europe

Your phone camera is sufficient for everyday life, but backpacking around the world is an incredible experience that you will never want to forget!

Your travel photos will prove invaluable once you return from your epic journey, so be sure to capture all the incredible things you encounter along the way. Bring a camera that not only takes great pictures but also fits easily into your backpack.

These days, the majority of cameras are equipped with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi capabilities, so they can be transmitted easily to your laptop or phone to post them online.

You may wish to bring a high-tech DSLR camera to take stunning photographs. For some, a more compact point-and-shoot camera will suffice, and will fit in a day pack without taking up much space.

If you want to take your backpacking adventures to the next level, then consider bringing along a GoPro, which will accompany you everywhere from underwater adventures to skydiving during your European backpacking adventures.

6. Travel towel

Your essential backpacking Europe packing list should include a quick-drying travel towel, since you will be moving from hostel to hostel as you backpack between cities. My favorite travel towel is a Turkish towel which is quick to dry and easy to fit in your backpack. You can also use the towel as a privacy screen if you secure a bottom bunk in a hostel.

7. Power Bank

A power bank is one of the essentials on my backpacking Europe packing list, for multiple reasons. While traveling, you’ll be using your phone much more than normal – for navigation, taking photos, videos, or researching travel tips. On days like this, you’ll want to have a backup battery for your phone. 

I’ve also relied on my power bank during long travel journeys when I use my phone and want to make sure I have enough juice to find my way to the next destination.

8. Change purse

Reliance on physical money is surprisingly still pretty high throughout Europe. Plus, having lots of €1 and €2 Euro coins is a good idea if you want to leave behind tips or donate to street musicians that you’ll see on your trip. 

9. The right shoes

For your backpacking Europe packing list, don’t forget to throw in a pair of rubber sandals for the hostel showers. You should also bring a pair of comfortable but stylish walking shoes. Some nightlife spots will require a certain dress code, but you can get away with leather-style sneakers. And women can get away with stylish looking flats that are secretly super comfortable.

10. Hostel survival kit

If you’ll be staying in hostels, don’t forget these 4 backpacking Europe essentials. We call it the hostel survival kit:

11. The Best Apps for Backpacking Europe

The Best Apps for Backpacking Europe

And lastly, before heading off for your European backpacking adventure, you should load up your phone with a few essential apps that will make backpacking Europe a breeze.

Apps to book transportation from place to place

Given the relatively compact size of Europe, you can travel between major cities by train or bus. There are a few useful apps for European transportation that can help make sure you find the best deal while sticking to your schedule.

  • Omio – compare trains, buses, and flight options in Europe and travel using mobile tickets
  • Trainline – a popular app in the UK to find train and bus tickets 
  • Flixbus – a long-distance bus company that is a favorite mode of travel for budget backpackers
  • Kiwi – a flight search comparison site that helps you find the lowest prices
  • Skyscanner – another classic flight search website that has powerful flexible search options

Apps for Finding Accommodation in Europe

Apps to book discounted activities and Skip the Line tickets

Apps to stay in touch with friends and family back home

If you don’t want to change to an international mobile plan, you can use these apps over free public WiFi to stay in touch with people back home.

If you have hopes of travelling to the United Kingdom, but are worried about accommodation costs, you may want to consider applying for jobs that offer free accommodation in exchange for work in the UK. 

There are plenty of organisations which provide you with a steady job along with safe and clean digs in various parts of England, Wales and Ireland. To help you understand more about the process, here are examples of how to work in exchange for free accommodation in the UK. 

Become a Petsitter

Become a pet sitter and get free accommodation in the UK

Combine your love of animals with your love of travel and become a Trusted Housesitter

There are plenty of people in the UK who are looking for trusted housesitters to stay at their place for free in exchange for watching their pets. For animal lovers who are responsible, reliable, and looking for a great way to travel around the UK with free accommodation, you can get started with the petsitting network, Trusted Housesitters. It’s the #1 platform where you can find tons of different options, from a chic flat in London, to a seaside countryhouse in Cornwall. A basic membership starts at just €99 for unlimited housesits worldwide, which is well-worth the cost when you think about how much accommodation in the UK can be!

Volunteer with a charity

Volunteer with an organization that offers free accommodation in exchange for work

Volunteer with an organisation that offers free accommodation in exchange for work

One of the most rewarding ways to earn your stay is by volunteering with a charity. There are various programmes that offer charity fundraiser roles that involve door-to-door charity fundraising to help fund the chosen cause. 

Companies such as Wesser provide charity fundraisers work that helps them earn £10 an hour plus commission, along with free access to shared accommodation. This typically consists of a large four to five-bedroom property with various communal living areas which cater to the staff’s every need. 

Work in hospitality

Some hospitality sectors in the UK offer free accommodation in exchange for work

Some hospitality sectors in the UK offer free accommodation in exchange for work

Another great way to earn and live while travelling in the UK is by working in the hospitality sector. This could include working in a hotel as a live-in staff member who takes on the role of a receptionist or even a hotel manager. 

In the UK, there are a variety of seaside and lake and holiday camps that hire seasonal workers in the spring and summer months. These jobs typically offer fair pay along with free accommodation in a cosy cabin or even a quirky tepee. 

Become a live-in nanny 

Become an Au Pair and get free accommodation in exchange for work

Become an Au Pair and get free accommodation in exchange for work

If you enjoy travelling and love kids, why not become a live-in nanny in the UK? There are plenty of vacancies available in this field. This will provide you with work in exchange for free accommodation which will definitely be a lavish and unique experience in the UK, as the majority of employers will be extremely wealthy. 

There are also financial benefits of becoming a nanny, as on average, they earn upwards of £350 per week. This works out a lot cheaper than rent and can also fund your meals, as you will likely be given extra pocket money for food for you and the children. You can also use the remainder of your earnings to fund the rest of your travels.  

Work on an organic farm

Work on an organic farm in the UK in exchange for free accommodation

Work on an organic farm in the UK in exchange for free accommodation

If your dream is to travel and stay in picturesque locations, you should consider volunteering on an organic farm. This will involve living and working in the farm, where you will get involved in jobs such as picking grapes or even milking a cow or two. 

One of the most popular organisations is WWOOF – World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, which offers global opportunities for like-minded people looking to work, stay and learn all about farm life. Workaway is another great company which allows travellers to find free accommodation in exchange for farm work, while also offering the freedom of travelling like a local.


Now you have all the information you need regarding work in exchange for free accommodation in the UK, have you decided which route is right for you? Whatever you choose, it is important that you first check your visa eligibility to ensure you can legally work in the UK. 

It is also vital that you thoroughly research the company you are planning to work for by looking at reviews and asking around for personal recommendations. This will ensure that your experience will be completely legal, safe and enjoyable. 

Are you dreaming of getting out and going on an adventure? After the year we’ve had, it’s worth taking the time to think about how we’ll make the most of any holiday time we get.

Should you be planning a getaway, look no further than hitting the road right here on home turf. The UK might not be as vast as the US, with its epic Route 66 and Skyline Drive, but there are some truly breathtaking UK road trips to uncover that are on our doorstep.

If you feel ready to get behind the wheel and see some very familiar countries from a whole new perspective, read on for some inspired road trip routes.

The North Coast 500, Scotland

The North Coast 500, Scotland, UK road trips

The Scottish Highlands near Aultbea

The North Coast 500 is a captivating trip around some of Scotland’s most awesome sights. It takes in an impressive 805km along the coastline of Inverness and follows an anti-clockwise circular route through Caithness and Wester Ross up to Wick and Aultbea, before moving west to Poolewe and Gairloch. Along the way, you’ll see castles, ruins, and beaches before looping back to Bealach na Bà and across to Inverness again.

This trip takes anywhere between four and seven days and covers winding back roads, so be ready to climb some highlands.

The Atlantic Highway, England

Tintagel Castle on the Atlantic Highway in England - UK road trips

Tintagel Castle on the Atlantic Highway in England

For a route that runs from coast to coast, try the Atlantic Highway located in England in the UK. This 275km route runs along the A39 from the Devon border at Bridgewater to Land’s End.

This four to five-day UK road trip is perfect for nature lovers as it takes in Exmoor National Park along the way and is well worth a visit if you’re itching to get out for a hike. There’s plenty for beach lovers and surfers too, as Bude and Newquay are home to surf schools, while Land’s End looks out to where the Celtic Sea meets the English Channel.

The Black Mountain Pass, Wales

Enjoy the lowlands of the Brecon Beacons before the hairpin turns of the Black Mountain Pass in Wales

Enjoy the lowlands of the Brecon Beacons before the hairpin turns of the Black Mountain Pass in Wales

This one-day road trip covers an epic mountainous route through the Brecon Beacons. It starts in the north at Llandovery before heading through Herbert’s Pass then down into the village of Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen.

This is a road trip suited to robust motors and confident motorists as there are several narrow roads and hairpin bends that need some masterful driving skills to navigate. It’s worth it for the captivating scenery, however, and is the perfect adventure holiday.

The Causeway Coastal Route, Northern Ireland

Set aside three to five days for this 195km trip from Belfast to Derry/ Londonderry. This coastal journey is filled with castles and whiskey distilleries, beaches and UNESCO sites.

Take a detour to the Dark Hedges while traveling the Causeway Coastal Route

The famous Dark Hedges near the Causeway Coastal Route

Some of the highlights to look out for include Carrickfergus Castle and The Gobbins, a dramatic cliff path that features bridges, caves and coastal views. There’s also The Dark Hedges, an avenue of trees that featured in Game of Thrones. It’s close to the route and well worth a detour if you’re a fan of the show. You can then head to Giant’s Causeway and Dunluce Castle before arriving in Londonderry.

Whichever road trip route you choose, you’re sure to see the UK in a whole new light.

Between travel bans, lockdown restrictions, and fears about the coronavirus, more and more travel enthusiasts have been embracing the classic staycation to soothe their wanderlust. Luckily for those living in the UK, there is so much natural beauty and historical locations for plenty of options for weekend breaks in England.

Even with the vaccine, it’s likely that it will still take time for everything to return to normal, and we can imagine that once the weather starts to warm up, avid travellers will be looking for city getaways and weekend trips around the English countryside. Recharge your batteries by visiting the old city centres, Roman-time ruins, or walking along extensive walking trails through the countryside and coastline.

5. Historical Bath – a Day Trip from London

As its name implies, a visit to Bath can be one of the most relaxing weekend trips in England- and for London residents, it’s only a 90-minute drive from Paddington Station. In fact, public transportation is even faster than driving.

Weekend Breaks UK - Historic Bath

90 minutes from London, discover Historic Bath

The local hot springs that give Bath its name have fascinated the city’s people for centuries. From Roman times to the modern-day, people visit Bath for its healing powers and focus on relaxation.

There is still much evidence of Roman baths and great examples of ancient architecture. Don’t miss the Roman bath, Bath Abbey and Thermae Bath Spa.

Whether you want to spend a day in the thermal spa, or would rather explore the historic centre, Although its proximity to London makes it well-suited for a day trip, we can assure you that there is plenty to do in Bath to warrant a weekend-long city break.

4. The Lovely Lake District

The English Lake District is easily accessible by train from major cities around the UK. In fact, it’s just 3 hours from central London making it a great choice for nature lovers who need a weekend getaway.

UK Weekend Getaways - Lake District

Take a weekend trip in the Lake District in Northwest England

The Lake District National Park spans an area of 2,362 square kilometres and was even announced as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2017. It includes the tallest mountain in England, and the largest and deepest natural lakes in the whole country. Outdoors and active enthusiasts will find a large network of beautiful trails and mountains. Anyone seeking to gain some elevation and stretch their hiking legs will find everything they need right here in the UK. A nice weekend trip in the Lake District is sure to quench your thirst for more far-flung destinations like Iceland or Switzerland.

For something special, get a bird’s eye view over the region by taking a hot air balloon flight. Or, take a boat cruise on Lake Windermere. Some of the most famous British literary talents also lived in the Lakeland region, and to this day, you can still visit the homes of William Wordsworth or Beatrix Potter. Because of its proximity to the sea, the weather in the Lake District is generally rainy. So, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the weather forecast while planning your trip.

3. Cotswolds: A Charming Weekend Trip in England

The Cotswolds is a large area known for its hills, medieval villages, and thatched-roof houses. The buildings in the Cotswolds are all made from local limestone, which gives them a warm honey colour.

Charming cottages in the Cotswolds

Take a relaxing weekend trip in the charming Cotswolds cottages

People love the Cotswolds for the abundance of walking and biking trails that pass through the quaint English villages. The best time to visit the Cotswolds is between June and August, when the lavender is in full bloom. Some say that the Lavender fields in the Cotswolds can compete with the famous fields in Provence, France.

Antique shoppers love the Cotswolds for the famous Cirencester Antique and Collector’s market. Every Friday you can browse the markets and discover a large selection of antique treasures and street market stalls.

Regardless of how you spend your weekend, don’t leave Cotswold without trying the famous Cotswold cheese. It is a regional cow’s milk cheese that is flavoured with chives and onions and is made from cow’s milk.



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2. Pembrokeshire – The Quintessential Seaside Weekend Trip

Even though it’s not in England, Pembrokeshire is popular among tourists from England and Wales since it has one of the most beautiful coastlines in the UK.  This region is best suited for an extended weekend trip.

With historic architecture and spectacular coastline, Pembrokeshire really has something to offer everyone. This region offers excellent food and drink, beautiful beaches, and historic Victorian-era villages. One of the most popular activities in Pembrokeshire is to hike the National Park along the coast. The Pembrokeshire Coast Path makes it accessible for casual pedestrians and serious hikers alike. 

UK Weekend Breaks - Pembrokeshire

Take in the sunset on The Pembrokeshire Coast Path

Pembrokeshire is also home to several historical architectural sites. Pembroke Castle, Carew Castle, and St. Cathedral David are the main highlights. In Pembrokeshire, there’s even “Stonehenge of Wales”, one of the best Neolithic dolmens that still exists today.

The best way to spend your weekend trip in Pembrokeshire is to rent one of the available UK Holiday cottages on the weekends. These days, most cottage owners list their places on booking.com, so you can browse around to find a place that suits your needs.

1. Cornwall – Beautiful and Unique

This county in southwestern England is surrounded by water to the north, south, and east. Cornwall features a proud Celtic culture which makes it one of the best weekend trips in England. Since there is so much to do, we would recommend taking at least a whole weekend to explore all that Cornwall has to offer.

Take a stroll on Land’s End Trail, the most south-west point of England. Cornwall has more than 300 miles of walking trails along the coastline with spectacular cliffs, dunes, and medieval villages.

Cornwall England’s Land’s End Trail 

Cornwall England’s Land’s End Trail

Cornwall cannot be mentioned without thinking of specific food traditions. Maybe you just want to spend your UK weekend break as more of a culinary vacation, indulging in Cornwall’s gastronomic pleasures — we’re not judging! From Cornish meat pasties, Cornish Heavy Cake, saffron buns, Cornish ice cream, Cornish fudge, there is more than enough regional specialities to keep you busy! During your weekend getaway, you might even want to take a cooking class to learn all about how to make traditional Cornish Pasties.

One of the unique places in Cornwall is the Eden Project. This ecological park and educational project site holds the distinction of being the world’s largest indoor rainforest. The section is full of biomes that showcase a number of the most important plants in the world. At night, the biomes are illuminated with colourful light displays and the atmosphere is simply magical.

Cornwall England’s Eden Project

Cornwall England’s Eden Project



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As you can see, there is no shortage of nice weekend trips within England. While we all wait for the pandemic to pass and for the world to open its doors again, you can rest assured that there are plenty of places to ease your wanderlust. If you’re looking for more things to do in the UK check out our UK Travel and Backpacking guide, where you’ll also find budgeting tips and advice for how to travel around for cheap.