August 12th, 2011
Gear Guide for Backpacking Across Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is an exciting place to explore with nothing to weigh you down but a trusty backpack filled with travel must-haves. Whether you want to stroll along the Charles Bridge in Prague, or experience a curative mud bath in Estonia’s summer capital of Pärnu, exploring this side of Europe is filled with unique things to see and do. We’ve put together a recommended packing list and a travel route for 10 days of adventure: What to Pack While a backpack is a great alternative to the clunky suitcase, it can become burdensome if you pack too heavily. Instead, pack lightweight fabrics – a rainproof jacket, long-sleeved sweaters or shirts made from merino wool or fleece sweater are great basics to fold up into the nooks of your pack. It’s easy to over-pack, so a good rule of thumb is to pull out everything you think you'll need for 10 days. Then, put about half of it back. After all, you need to make room for all your travel finds! Here's a list of additional backpacking essentials to get you started:
- A High-Quality Backpack – You can wear the same pair of jeans every day, but your pack is not a place to scrimp for budget’s sake. Your travel backpack should be high-quality to stand up to the rigors of the road yet comfortable enough to allow you to carry at least 20-30 pounds, and proportional to your body size.
- Clothing - Pack the minimum, but prepare for all types of weather. Include a warm jacket, sweatshirt or sweater in addition to a light, breathable rain-jacket (for women, we like the Torrentshell Jacket from Patagonia), warm socks and versatile shoes. Try to find clothing made of wrinkle-free, quick-drying materials for easy hand washing at night. Thai fisherman pants are a great solution – they come in every color imaginable, roll up in to practically nothing, and a black pair can be the perfect dress-up option for surprise nights out on the town.
- Sleeping Bag or Sleep-sack - This item is indispensable if you spend a night or two roughing it under the stars, and it can provide clean, comfortable bedding if you spend the night in a hostel.
- Converters and Adapters - To keep your electronic devices charged and ready, pack your charger. But don't plug them in after your arrival without a voltage converter. European electrical currents are typically 230 Volts while the U.S. standard is 120. An inexpensive converter will protect all of your electronics from burning out.
- Toiletries - Purchase travel-sized containers of your preferred soap, shampoos, deodorants, sunscreens, and other necessities. If you wear contacts or glasses, remember to bring backup supplies along with a copy of your prescription, just in case of an emergency. Pick up a travel-sized, first-aid kit and small packs of antacids, pain reliever, and upset-stomach remedies at your local drugstore before you leave.
- Incidentals - Pack a digital camera with a huge memory card to capture all your memories, as well as a journal to capture your thoughts. Keep your money, keys and other important items in a security belt.
- Documentation - Don't forget your passport, driver's license, vaccination record, credit cards, and ATM cards. Just in case something happens, make a copy of each and put them in a separate place in your pack.
Where to Go It’s impossible to see everything, but by concentrating on a particular region, you can pack a lot into a 10 day trip. We recommend spending at least a day or two exploring Croatia's Dalmatian Coast, Prague, Budapest, Moscow and Berlin.