The Complete Eastern Europe Packing List for Backpackers

By on Published: December 6, 2018 | Last Updated: February 25, 2022 in Eastern Europe, Europe, Travel Gear & Packing with 0 Comments

The Complete Eastern Europe Packing List

Despite occupying a relatively small geographic area, Eastern Europe covers a surprising number of countries, terrains and topographies.

From the soaring peaks of Slovakia to the beaches of Croatia, the lakes of Bulgaria to the ancient cities of Ukraine – this part of the world packs a mean punch when it comes to diversity and delight.

But despite the obvious advantages of this for a traveller, there are some difficulties too – not least when it comes to packing for Eastern Europe!

What to try and stuff into a backpack to accommodate all these different attractions, activities and altitudes?!

Well fear not folks, I’ve backpacked this area of the globe with just a small 40l bag and can now bring you my complete Eastern Europe packing list for backpackers to help you do the same.

I’ve decided to base this packing list around the summer months too FYI – mostly because that’s when I had my adventure there, but also because that’s when most backpackers have theirs too… so read and get ready to start packing!

Winter will be a very different affair, but if you’re crazy enough to go there… good luck to ya! Ha ha!

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Serbia, Novi Sad, Me in the Fortress



1x Rain Jacket

You know, this is Europe, so it can rain anytime, even in the summer.

I recommend something thin, compact, but practical when it comes to rain jackets and this North Face Venture 2 is perfect.

1x Thick Hoodie / Sweater

Ditto the rain jacket when it comes to keeping warm in Eastern Europe!

Temperatures can drop even in summer and if you’re heading into the mountains for any hiking you want to make sure you’ll be warm enough.

1x Cardigan / Denim Shirt

Helpful in the evening and / or if you want something a bit smarter during the day.

I’m really into my denim one currently.

1x Thin Long Sleeved Top

Perfect to layer up with, thin long sleeved tops are also awesome for fresh nights and early morning starts.

Try to choose a natural fabric like cotton if you can. I love these ones from Gildan.

1x Pair Leggings

One of my travel essentials, ideal when you’re exploring everywhere from cities to national parks.

Leggings are also good under a casual dress in the fresh evenings or are comfy to wear on any long bus rides.

If you have room, take 2 pairs and always go black!

2x Jeans / Trousers

Great for going out in the evening or wandering around cities when shorts won’t do.

2x Pair Shorts

Well you’re going to need something for those beach days right?

1x Set of Activewear

Perfect for hiking or if you fancy doing some yoga, running or generally not just drinking beer when in Eastern Europe!

1x Summer Dress

A great item for beach days or if you want to hit da club in cities like Budapest, Prague or Bucharest!

2x Sarongs

You can’t take enough sarongs travelling in my opinion and, as they are so light, I recommend 2 as a minimum.

Perfect for using as a beach towel, a scarf, a bathrobe, a sheet, a laundry bag … the list goes on.

Check out my post about the 20 reasons why you should always take a sarong travelling for more ideas!

7x Singlets / T-Shirts

Choose a range of colours and styles that match the trousers / shorts you’ve selected, including more dressy tops for the evening and casual loose ones for the day.

7 is a good number as it means you have enough to survive without doing laundry for a week!

8x Pairs Underwear

Small and compact, 8 pairs is a good number to save you a lot of washing duties!

2x Bras

Try to go 1 if you think you can and make extra use of your bikini or sports bra instead!

You are a grubby backpacker after all!

1x Sports Bra

Compact and quick to dry –  a must in my travel pack, I love this black one from Nike.

1x Bikini / Swimwear

Well you need something to enjoy those fabulous beaches and baths of Croatia, Bulgaria, Budapest and Montenegro with, that’s for sure.

Hopefully, they’ll get so much use, you’ll see maybe packing 2 as worthy of the space in your backpack!

4x Pairs Socks

1x normal pair for outdoors stuff, 3x ankle-length pairs for city days.


You can always double up on your daywear here to save room if needs be!

1x Sun Hat

Whether you want to bring a cap or a floppy, large designer number, the choice is yours.

Just make sure you bring a sun hat of some description because walking all day in the summer heat here can burn!

I love this design from Hello Sunshine.

Ukraine, Kiev, Cathedral



1x Pair Trainers / Runners

Versatile, comfortable and essential if you want to see all the sights in this epic part of the world.

I highly recommend New Balance who create stylish city runners that you can still wear when doing your outdoors stuff in Europe too.

1x Pair Flip Flops

Known as thongs for the Aussies among you and Jandals for the kiwis, for the rest of us, flip flops are an essential for summer in Eastern Europe.

Personally, I love my Birkenstocks, which I basically lived in during my here.

The support they offer means you can sightsee to your heart’s content in them and never get sore soles!

1x Pair Evening Sandals / Flats

Nonessential in my book, but many people like to take them especially if they are spending a lot of time in a city or planning to go out in the evening a lot.

1x Pair Day Shoes

Either converse, pumps or sneakers for exploring cities and towns on foot while looking a bit more stylish than running shoes!

Croatia, Dubrovnik, Sunset Behind Clouds



1x Thin Toiletries / Wash Bag

To hook or not to hook, that is the question!

Either way, just make sure it is light and thin.

This one is a great option.

1x Shampoo & Conditioner

I also go for shampoo and conditioner bars to save the plastic and keep the space down!

Although they are a bit pricey, they last for ages.

1x Deodorant

I always prefer a natural crystal deodorant as they last forever and are free from many nasty chemicals.

1x Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Floss
1x Soap

Keep in a ziplock bag to prevent soap slime getting on everything you own!

1x Razor & Spare Blades
1x Nail Scissors & Nail File
1x Tweezers
Travel Handwash

Great for doing emergency washing, such as underwear in a sink, travel handwash is always a must when I backpack.

Cotton Buds
Hair Bands
Glasses / Contact Lenses if you wear them

Slovakia, Bratislava, Nedbalova Street



1x Natural Sunscreen

Choose a 30 SPF or higher for those hell-strong summer rays and go natural if you can to keep the chemicals out of your skin.

1x Aloe Vera

This doubles as a great moisturiser, soother and aftersun.

1x SPF Lip Salve

Very important for those UV conditions and salty sea swims.

Burt Bees are always my go to as they never dry out my lips.

1x Natural Bug Repellent

See my post about how to make your own DEET-Free insect spray or else there are plenty of ready-made products on the market like this great one.

1x Tiger Balm

An ideal remedy for headaches, sore muscles and insect bites, tiger balm is super versatile.

1x Tea-Tree Essential Oil

A powerful antiseptic, anti-mould, anti-fungal treatment.

Also great to throw in a few drops with your washing and ideal for freshening up smelly bags / laundry etc.

Get an organic tea-tree oil if you can.

1x Eye Mask & Earplugs

Key for sleeping on long bus journeys and in hostels.

This sleep mask from Alaska Bear is super comfy.

1x Box Paracetamol, 1x Anti-Septic Cream & 1x Box Band Aids

The only medicine you need to take!

1x Moon Cup / Diva Cup

The best way to deal with your time of the month when travelling ladies.

Check out the best prices for them here.

Safety Pins

Always handy.
Czech Republic, Prague, Malá Strana



1x Camera, Lens, Spare Battery, Cables & Chargers

I love my Sony A600 mirrorless camera, which I’ve used across Eastern Europe and beyond.

Light, compact and study, it’s perfect for travelling.

2x Memory Cards

Take large memory cards if possible – like these 64GB ones – and double up in case you lose one or fill it up.

High-speed options are also good for processing times.

Smartphone & Headphones

Taking your smartphone anywhere these days is a must to stay in touch with those at home, to upload some pics, to follow maps and show tickets.

I recommend downloading some audiobooks and music onto your phone before you leave home too – a great idea for longer journey days.

My top picks are Amazon Audible and Spotify Premium for these purposes.

1x Portable Power Pack & Cables

Portable power packs are great when travelling without a solidly reliable charging source, like when you’re out in Prague snapping all day!

I recommend the Anker PowerCore 10000 which is amazingly light and fast!

1x USB Stick

Very helpful for backing up photos and important info.

1x Adapter

How are you going to charge otherwise?

Eastern Europe has the same type of plugs across the region, so you can get one for this whole area.

However, I also recommend splashing out on a worldwide adapter – better value for many if you’re travelling elsewhere after Europe or anytime in the future!

Skross are a great brand that I highly recommended.

1 Headlamp & Spare Batteries

Never travel without a headlamp and try to choose a product that uses commonly found batteries and has a red night light function.

I love my Black Diamond Storm.

Romania, Sighisoara, Citadel



1x Travel Towel

I recommend Latrek, because they are cheap, compact, soft and don’t smell.

Love, love, love mine.

1x Day Pack

Good for hiking and beach days, this one from Berghaus is perfect.

Otherwise check out this great guide to the best travel backpacks for Europe – it has tons more info about a whole range of bags and which one might best suit your needs.

1x Notebook & Pen
1x Combination Padlock

Very useful for locking up bags and valuables when staying in hostels, these don’t have to be expensive, just reliable!

1x Multi-Tool

Lots of people say you don’t need this, but I find it very helpful.

Choose a light, inexpensive one and make sure it has a bottle opener, corkscrew and knife – like this one.

1x Pair Sunglasses
1x Water Bottle

Try to get a metal one and steer any from those nasty plastics.

Most places in Eastern Europe have potable tap water, so taking your own water bottle is a great way to save money and the environment.

Sewing Kit

Lost a button, no problem with a mini sewing kit!

Travel Washing Line

Ukraine, Kiev, Me and Cathedral


Passport & Photocopies
Flight Tickets
Visa Documentation

Depending on where you’re from of course.

Immunisation Documentation

Always good to have with you anyway,

Travel Insurance Policy

Can’t go wrong with the excellent travel insurance from travel insurance from World Nomads in my opinion.

Credit Cards and Debit Cards
Cash in Small Thin Purse




So that’s it, my complete backpacking Eastern Europe packing list.

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About the Author

About the Author: Creator of Big World Small Pockets, Stephanie Parker is a budget travel addict! Originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands, Stephanie backpacks the world collecting tips, advice and stories, to share with a smile .

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