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Hitchhiker’s Guide to Packing for Europe

hitchhiking europe packing list

This hitchhiking Europe packing list is brought to you by George on the Go. See all packing list posts here.

I love to hitchhike. It’s fast, cheap and takes you down roads you never thought you would travel, with people you never thought you would travel with. This time last year, I was hitchhiking from Crawley (south of London) to Zagreb in Croatia. The Key? Pack light and dance regularly. Here’s my hitchhiker’s guide to packing for Europe.

Clothes

group of hitchhikers

Ideally the fewer clothes you have on you the better. Everything should be easy to match and low maintenance. Bright colours are best so that you can be seen on the road. I wore a bright green T-shirt and denim shorts every time I was going for a lift.

2 x shorts
2 x leggings or tights
3 x vest tops/ T- shirts – long sleeves in winter
7 x knickers
2 x bras
2 x socks
1 x warm hoodie or sweatshirt
1 x sunglasses – don’t wear these when you are trying to get a lift. Potential drivers want to see your eyes
1 x bikini
1 x pac-a-mac – preferably light, warm and waterproof

Shoes

George hitchhiking

An excellent pair of hike boots is a must, you can spend long days roaming cities, and trekking down roads for lifts so you must be stable at all times. Then again if you are going near the sea you’ll want your flip flops too.

1 x good fitting hike boots
1 x flip flops

Toiletries

Let’s put this out there. You may not be able to wash everyday, as you don’t know where you’ll end up. Personally we managed to make it to a city and a hostel or our gracious driver’s house every time, so we could wash frequently, but it depends on your hitchhiking style. I brought dry shampoo and never used it but again, if you are planning on camping along the way it might be a good idea.

1 x shampoo bar
1 x diva cup – optional: you’ll know whether you need it or not but just in case
1 x deodorant
1 x toothbrush – and small toothpaste
1 x razor
Hair bobbles
Make up (optional)

Gadgets

This may be one of the few trips you won’t want to bring your laptop on as most days are spent travelling there is no time to mess about.

1 x Kindle 3G – NOT for reading in the car. Always talk to your driver. For google maps in cities you don’t know
1 x mp3 – for when you are at the side of the road
1 x travel adaptor
1 x phone – keep people updated on where you are and where you are going

Hitchhiking Specific

group of hitchhikers with signs

Certain things will help you get picked up or be useful for unpredictable stops.

1 x Large roll of laminated paper and whiteboard pen – The bigger the better so you can write down potential destinations for drivers to see.
1 x small sleeping bag – for emergencies and hostels where they charge for bedding
1 x German Phrasebook – German is more popular in Europe than you think. It’s the second language in a lot of countries, it’s useful in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Northern Italy, Hungary, Poland, The Czech Republic… I could go on. It would be my language tip
Snacks – The road is long and sometimes empty, so it’s a good idea to keep a couple cereal bars on board, but not too many.
1 x Water bottle – long car journeys make you thirsty don’t risk dehydration.
Passport – and all visas you need
1 x European Road Map – Yes it’s a big book, but it can help you see where you are going when you are travelling and give you an idea of what road you need to be on in order to acquire a life somewhere.

Do I bring a tent?

This is completely up to you. Are you planning on camping? Or is it a last resort type of thing? If you are planning on saving money by camping in parks then by all means take one, however, if you are just bringing it in case you get stranded, you can probably leave it at home. You will almost always end up with somewhere to stay.

>> Check out George’s review of her backpack.

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Written by Georgina

George is a 20-something hitchhiker, solo female traveller and cunning linguist, currently teaching in Kyushu, Japan. She circumnavigates the globe and teaches languages to all those in her wake. She has travelled Europe and Oz extensively, and has taught languages in 6 different countries and counting. Her blog is a mix of language learning, TEFL tips and general travel tales. Follow her journey at George on the Go or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Gear We Use

Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. kim says

    Great artikel! I think if you bring a tent, you also have to bring stuff to cook (plates, utinsels, pans, etc) and an airmatress, which will make everything much more havy. I would love to know more about packing tips for people who are camping!

    oh, and btw.. in Holland we speak Dutch, not German! And we speak English better than German 😉

    • Saskia says

      Of course we speak Dutch in Holland, but her tip about German is great for some older Dutch people who might not speak English so well… or in Poland, or Czech (though only as a last resort. In either of those countries I would recommend English+ charades over German, due to some historical and cultural issues with being forced to speak German….).

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