Unless you have an incredible memory capacity, chances are you will need a documented and carefully thought out checklist before you travel on any holiday. If you're tacking a backpacking break across Europe however, that list becomes infinitely more important.
So what should you take with you to make sure that your adventure doesn't encounter too many unexpected problems?
1. Medical and first aid equipment
If you're departing on a Europe specific adventure then the good news is that much of the continent isn't as remote as, say the Amazon Rain Forest. However, you may still find that there aren't too many High Street Chemists located close to the Trans-Siberian Railway or even in the French or Swiss Alps.
If you require regular medication for an existing medical condition then it is imperative that you speak to your doctor and gain adequate supplies of your prescription before you travel. If you are travelling for a considerable length of time - a year for example - then it may not be practical or even possible to carry twelve months of your prescription with you. In that case, make sure you can identify pharmacies and medical centres on your intended route where you can collect any medicines you need.
The same principle applies to everyday items such as sun cream, plasters, anti-septic creams and so on. Take plenty of supplies and know where you can top up if you need more.
2. Excess baggage?
Airline rules on excess baggage can be confusing at times and they will differ depending on which carrier you decide to use. The costs involved can be quite prohibitive too but if you're away from home for a long period then a small holdall and a piece of hand luggage just isn't going to see you through to the end of your trip.
The first thing to do therefore is to ascertain how much luggage you're actually carrying with you so get all your kit together and weigh it. Secondly, compare that weight to the costs involved of taking it with you on the plane.
Chances are that you may find this to be an expensive method but there is an alternative to paying your airline to carry it for you. Shipping and excess baggage services exist through various operators and they will collect your extra luggage from your home and deliver it to a known destination abroad. This can often be a far cheaper way of approaching this problem so get some quotes before you depart but remember to use a fully track able service so you know where your belongings are at all times.
3. Staying in touch
It is going to be important for your safety and for the peace of mind of your friends and relatives that you are contactable as much as possible. The decision on whether you want to take expensive equipment such as a laptop is one that only you can make and as an alternative, a mobile phone can be another solution.
However, you may not want to risk taking any vulnerable items along with you so you could leave your expensive smartphone at home and take a basic device on your trip. If you decide against such accessories then find out where you can call into internet cafes or anywhere with computers and Wi-Fi access, just to let others know that you're safe.
A backpacking holiday around Europe is likely to be a trip of a lifetime so try to take in as much as you possibly can. Some travellers choose to make a journal at the end of each day via their laptop but once again, you may not want to risk taking such equipment along with you.
As an alternative, a notebook and plenty of stationery supplies can provide an easy solution or maybe you'll just want to keep those precious memories in your head. Cameras and video recording equipment should also be considered but this is another area where only you can decide how much valuable equipment you are comfortable with taking.
5. Clothing and other equipment
Your choice of clothing will depend to some extent on where you're heading to and the time of year that you are travelling. However, there will always be some basic needs such as waterproof clothing, good quality walking boots and camping essentials if you are sleeping outside.
Keep a separate checklist for your 'kit' and make extra purchases way ahead of time if you are likely to need them.
Above all, the important thing to remember is to compile your checklist in advance and keep it to hand in the weeks leading up to your departure. Ticking off your requirements one by one will then help to ensure that this is a holiday that you never forget. Have fun, be safe, and enjoy the trip of a lifetime!
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