Mastering the Elusive Art of the Interrail Packing List
I’ll be the first one to admit that a post about an Interrail packing list doesn’t sound like a hopping good time.
I know, a total yawn fest.
But a necessary evil. I mean, how many of you out have forgotten something insanely important while packing before your next Interrail itinerary?
(This chick right here, her hand shoots up!)
Yeah, I’m a disaster-prone mess so we all know that I’ve obviously forgotten something super fundamental like the perfect interrailing backpack or suitcase (FYI backpacks are always better).
Hence the whole packing list thing.
But interrailing is a special kind of trip that you need a special kind of packing list for.
You’ll be moving from country to country, via train, so you’ll want to travel light while still packing enough, in your interrailing backpack, to enjoy your trip.
Don’t Panic! Take Deep Breaths! This is NOT impossible.
Trust me, I’m here to help. Not only have I traveled extensively through Europe via Interrail, but ! have also backpacked through China for six weeks, all alone.
I am intimately aware of what you should pack and should not pack for this kind of trip.
So follow me and let’s rock this interrail packing list together!
Or you can run away screaming. Just keep that part of the DL. No need to scare the other person reading this. Lol.
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Now Time to Pick the Best Carry-On Day Bag!
People Often Ask Me:
Should I use a backpack or suitcase for interrailing?
I HIGHLY recommend a backpack. They are far superior to any other type of bag out there and can hold all of your carry-on essentials.
Just try lugging your rolling bag up five flights of stairs, across a mud puddle the size of a mini Great Lake, and along a cobblestone street when whoops, the wheel comes off (yes this has happened to me).
You’re stuck heaving this heavy ass bag along a cobblestone road when all you want to do is collapse on your bed after a 19-hour flight.
Yeah, this is no one’s idea of a good time. That’s why a backpack is the best carry-on bag ever.
But not some heinous beast of a bag that wails out “tourist” to the criminally inclined residents of your travel destination
I typically go for a bag that photographs well and that helps me blend in with the locals.
So my pick is (DRUM ROLL PLEASE)…
It’s also water repellent, has a built-in USB port, and can fit a 15.6″ laptop!
Just throw in all your essential items for interrailing and you’ll be good to go.
How to Pack a Backpack for Interrailing Across Europe (AKA a list of all your Backpacking Essentials Europe)
- Backpack rain cover and locks to protect your belongings (you want your precious electronics neither destroyed by rain nor stolen by Pablo Escobar wannabes)
- Passport and a paper copy. It’s also a good idea to save a copy of your passport in your email account as well. This way, if you lose your paper copy, you can still access your passport electronically (You can also get a passport card that you can carry as a form of ID when you’re traveling).
- Reading Material (I try and download books to save room), Travel Journal, and Pens (Always have pens just in case you need one to fill out a landing card. Trust me, you don’t want to wait an hour an a half in line just to use the three pens that they have at customs).
- Guide Book (i read blogs but this one is up to you)
- Sunglasses (Self-explanatory. Sorry, This one just felt so naked without any explanation.)
- Water Bottle (A great way to save money when you travel. I use a collapsible water bottle to save room in my bag when I’m not using it. And honestly, it’s been a total lifesaver. One of my fave items on this somewhat minimalist packing list).
- Wallet (or my interrail pass holder) with at least a debit card and credit card. And don’t forget to notify your bank of your travels before you depart!
- Snacks (protein bars are my go to), Neosporin (put a little under your nose to kill germs so you won’t get sick. You’re welcome), eye mask, earplugs, Natrol Melatonin Fast Dissolve Tablets, Strawberry flavor, 10mg, 100 Count (Natural and makes me fall asleep almost instantly. And I am a terrible sleeper in general. Just make sure that you start with a low dose because this vitamin is powerful).
- Neck pillow (My fave is the inflatable neck pillow below. Not only is it super soft and comfortable but when I’m not using it, I just deflate it and throw it in a pouch. Saves me a ton of room since I only need it during long flights or train trips),
- Noise canceling headphones. AKA the best thing that anyone has ever invented since it shields me from any ridiculousness that is going on around me, like babies crying on a plane. Yuck (slightly expensive but totally worth the investment).
- Yes, everyone needs a cute unicorn battery pack to recharge their phone while traveling.
- Glasses, Contact Lens (extras), Contact Lens Case, and Contact Lens Solution.
- Important Travel Documents (Interrail pass, airline tickets, attraction tickets, travel insurance policy, hotel reservations, etc. I always bring paper copies just in case my phone dies.)
- Toiletries (Toothbrush, Toothpaste, floss, brush, shampoo, conditioner, face clothes (reduce the number of liquids), body wash, baby wipes, Sunscreen stick (to reduce liquids), deodorant, BB Cream (or your makeup of choice), and tampons/pads.
- To reduce the number of liquids I carry, I replace my shampoo with a handy shampoo bar that I wrap in plastic.
- International SIM Card so you don’t incur insane roaming data fees while aboard.
- Camera, Camera Lens, Camera Battery (always bring a spare), Camera Case, Camera Memory Card, tripod, and selfie stick. My travel camera of choice is the SONY A6300. Super light, compact, great picture quality and easy to use. On the downside, it is pretty expensive but worth the investment.
- Mobile hotspot (So you can use the internet even if the wifi sucks in the country you’re traveling to). I have Sky Roam mobile hotspot and absolutely love it. Not only is it easy to use, but the wifi works in almost every country I’ve visited. Plus, the battery lasts a solid 12 hours before needing a recharge. To access the wifi network, just purchase a skyroam wifi card for $10. The card typically comes in a pack of five and you’ll receive unlimited data for 24 hours, on multiple devices.
First of all:
DO NOT OVERPACK! (Simple but one of the best interrailing tips I can give you)
This is the first rule of interrail travel.
Only pack what you can carry COMFORTABLY, by yourself.
Unless you want to spend an insane amount of money on taxis to shuttle you and your luggage around, you are going to have to carry your luggage, by yourself, to and from train stations, boat docks, airports, metro stations, etc.
When interrail packing, less is always more.
Worried about Forgetting Something?
Just remember that yes, they have stores wherever you go. And washing machines for washing clothes interrailing! So no need to pack three weeks worth of clothes since you can just wash your clothes during your trip.
With all this in mind, my favorite carry on bag is the:
Why do I love this bag so much?
Not only does my Cabin Zero Backpack hold everything I need for extended trips, including a 17″ laptop and tripod (not 17′), but it’s small enough to be a carry-on; a carry-on I can actually carry without slipping a disc.
The material, while not waterproof, is high quality and has endured 5 extended trips across Europe and beyond.
But the Best Part?
The price! At just $48.99 this bag is exceptionally affordable, especially if you compare it to equivalent carry-on backpacks. Oh, and before I forget, try and get a pretty neutral color to help you blend in. Just click your heels three times and say, “I am not a tourist, I am not a tourist, I am not a tourist”.
Wait, What if you have a back problem?
It’s like the best of both worlds. Just use it as a backpack going upstairs and then pull out the handle and wheel it around when you feel like your back is starting to bother you. And with a volume of sixty liters, I promise that you’ll be able to fit everything you need in here.
The Only Down Side?
It’s Expensive. At $284.14 this bag is definitely pricey. But you know what, the bag is high quality and should last you a long time.
If you decide to go with the rolling backpack, then just think of it as a long-term investment.
It’s better to buy one high-quality bag than to buy new bags every few months because the old ones are continually breaking.
Okay on to the BEST part of this packing list…The Clothes!
- Hat (This one is kind of like duh in the winter. I mean, no one wants a cold head. But hats are also super important in the summer. I mean, you may have a nice golden brown tan but I burn like a freakin’ forest fire and end up looking like a lobster. So to avoid looking like a wrinkly old prune, I to wear a hat. But not a nasty hat. A wide brim one where I look like a lady who possibly has some semblance of style. So in addition to this badass winter hat, below is the summer hat that I wear and get a ton of compliments on. And it’s only $10!!
- Microfiber Towel ( I always get a quick dry towel since they well, duh, quick dry. I also use this to sit on when I want to have a picnic in the park. One of the many essential items of take interrailing)
- Ibuprofen for those killer headaches that strike without warning. I also bring a laxative of some just in case I get backed up. The worst when you can’t go to the bathroom. Gross but I tell it like it is.
- 1 jacket. The jacket you pack depends on the season and the country that you are visiting. So if it’s frigid, I’d pack a heavy down coat with a cute foax fur collar so that I stay not only warm but mildly stylish too.
- If it’s summer, I’ll pack a light raincoat that will keep me warm but dry if it rains.
- 1 lightweight sweatshirt (I’m not a huge fan of sweaters so I usually bring a sweatshirt that is a bit nicer than a traditional one. Oh and a black cardigan to put over my dresses)
- Scarf (In the winter i’ll pack a heavy scarf and in the summer, I’ll pack a light, fashionable one so I can wear it over my head if the sun is too much.
- 4 t-shirts (I always try and bring more neutral colors that I can jazz up with a pop of color from my accessories. Not only are accessories smaller and easier to pack, but neutral colors mean that you can mix and match your clothes and create more outfits with fewer items.)
- 2 pairs of black leggings that are not yoga pants (I don’t pack jeans because they are bulky and retain odors. Instead, I pack black leggings since I can wear them with a nice top or underneath a dress if it’s cold. I also try to avoid yoga pants since plain black leggings look a bit nicer than workout gear).
- 1 skirt/shorts/skort. I’m a big fan of the skort (obviously if it’s frigid then I would suggest leaving these at home)
- 2 dresses (I never go out at night so I typically pack two day-dresses. But if you like to dress up and hit the town, then I would definitely pack a more formal dress in addition to a day dress). FYI I recently got the dress below and absolutely love it. I am a bit curvy so it may not fit you slender ladies but it’s very flattering, under $20 and comes in a bunch of different colors and patterns. Yup, it makes me feel pretty, which is what really counts)
- 9 pairs of socks (In the summer, I don’t wear socks so I typically just pack a pair of no-show socks for the airport since no one wants to take their shoes off and put their bare feet on the ground. Gross. I also bring a regular pair of socks just in case my feet get cold while I sleep)
- 8 pairs of underwear (I also typically pack a pair of Spanx that I can wear under my dresses. Yes they are kind of expensive but so worth it.)
- 3 bras ( I usually pack one traditional bra, one sports bra, and one strapless bra because I am, how shall I say, “well endowed”. Therefore, if I have a dress that exposes my bra, I can’t really go without a bra and need a strapless.)
- PJs ( I pack shorts and a t-shirt and just add layers if I get cold)
- Bathing suit (obviously for summer or if you are staying at a hotel with a pool)
- Sandals (If it’s summer, I usually pack a pair of Birkenstocks. If it’s winter and I am at a hostel with a communal bathroom, then I’ll pack a pair of flip-flops for the shower. Because yeah, no one wants to come back from vacation with Athlete’s Foot.)
- Slip-on sneakers are the perfect shoes for interrailing ( I hate traditional sneakers so I typically pack a pair of slip-on Toms since they are so much easier to put on and take off at the airport. I also sometimes pack a pair of Converse sneakers since I just love them.)
- PACKING CUBES! I love them so much. They help you save SOO much space in your backpack.
- A nice pair of shoes. If It’s summer, I’ll pack a nice pair of Cole Haan ballet flats, the only, non-blister creating, super comfortable ballet flats that I have found.
- If it’s winter, I’ll pack a nice pair of zip up, flat boots. Since they are bulky, I always wear them to the airport so that I can pack more in my backpack.
The Interrail or Euroventure Packing List Has Finally Come to an End!
I know, that list was incredibly long and not as much fun as a list about super fun things to do interrailing.
But Guess what?
You made it! Hooray! And hopefully, this list helps you pack everything you need, without overdoing it.
I have overpacked and it is an absolute nightmare.
However, if you do need to make room in your Interrailing backpack for a few more essentials:
You can try rolling your clothes, putting extra clothes in your shoes (throw in some dryer sheets so that your clothes won’t smell funky), and wearing your bulkiest clothes so that you don’t have to pack them!
if I missed anything or if you have more questions, comments, concerns, or declarations of love (I like those), you know where I’m at!
Just drop a note in the comments and I’ll get back to you ASAP.