Interrailing – your guide to packing

One backpack, maybe a smaller rucksack, and that’s you – all the room you have to pack every essential you will need for a two or three week trip across Europe. Easy right?

Not really. Unlike the more traditional holiday where you head off to the one sunny location for a fortnight, packing for an Interrailing trip needs a little more thought. After all, not only are you going to be lugging this beast of a backpack with you on every train journey (and onwards) but you need to think about where everything will go (that comfy foodie you might need on a chilly train platform handily tucked under everything right at the bottom of the pack? Ooops) and what you really, really need to bring.

To help you on your way here is Interrailing Packages Ltd’s top ten packing tips for dedicated Interrailers.

Top Ten Packing Tips

  1. It might sound stupid but pack, unpack, lay everything out and repack a couple of times before you go. Not only will this help you weed out items you probably won’t need to bring but it will help you get to know your pack and where everything is. Plus it will help make you super efficient at sorting and packing on the go.
  2. Europe has shops. Yip, just like home, you can buy pretty much anything you might forget or leave behind so dump that family size pack of sun lotion and buy your toiletries cheap as you go.
  3. Think about what you’re bringing and ask yourself what you will use it for – will you really need facial cleanser, moisturiser, mousse, hairspray, two pairs of jeans, ten t-shirts, a bulky jacket and back up sunglasses? Probably not and yes, one pair of jeans is enough. You can always re-wear your clothes – you probably will anyway – and some hostels offer laundry facilities. Many hostels also provide towels, or at the very least rent out clean towels and other essentials, so check before you go if you really need to bring your own.
  4. Remember – it’s ok to rough it for a while (in fact it’s part of the fun) so only bring the absolute essentials. When repacking, set yourself a target to take out roughly half what you intended to take, it will help you focus.
  5. Budgeting and bought a family size tub of laundry detergent, shower gel, sun block etc (or just nicking some from home)? Decant some into a smaller, travel tub or bottle so you only take what you need (and remember – you can buy on the go).  
  6. Consider if any of your essentials could have a double duty – a sarong is light, rollable, great in the heat and can also serve as a quick picnic blanket, privacy curtain for a bunk bed and a evening-time shawl.
  7. Travelling in a group? Maybe you could share the load so that one person carries the shampoo, another the travel wash, another the shower gel and so on.
  8. Roll, don’t fold your clothes. You can fit more in and there are less creases – win, win!
  9. Think about the clothes you are bringing – look at the fabric and the climate/weather. Ideally your clothes should be light, appropriate for the weather, comfortable, won’t crease easily and versatile (can be dressed up easily for night time, for example). Some travel experts recommend merino wool products for their lightness and wearability.
  10. Pack smart – shoes/trainers etc at the bottom of your backpack of course but also think about what you’re going to need quick and put that where you can reach it, at the top or in a side pocket. For example, if you’re packing up to head onto your next destination think about what might you need on the train and keep that accessible, for example a rain mac or hoodie, a bottle of water and a snack (or maybe some anti-perspirant!).

*Picture by Flickr user, kooikkari. Used under the Creative Commons licence:

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