Posted by: 2girls2europe | July 3, 2011

Tips for Amateur Backpackers or “What I Should Have Known Before I did This”

I’ll admit it, readers. Romanticism. I kinda like it.

Which might explain how this dreamy “backpacking through Europe” adventure drew me in so easily. But what Hollywood fails to show us, in such quintessential travel films as “Eurotrip,”  “Hostel,” and “Taken,” European travel is harder than it looks.

Which brings me to this post, and most likely more in the future. So that, like you do with your extremely helpful and wise parents, learn from my mistakes.

Let’s start with the basics: packing the backpack. I could give you tons of tips, but I have five here that have affected me the most… and thus warrant your complete attention. Hands and feet inside the car at all times, please.

Rule #1: You don’t need that many socks.

I brought eight pairs, readers. Eight. In two weeks, how many pairs have I worn? One.  And I could have these cottony waste of spaces at home and instead brought something I absolutely positively need. Like my hair dryer.

Rule #2: Buy a top and front-loading backpack.

If you haven’t started your backpack research yet, I’m sure this is all Greek to you. But all it means is that you can access your stuff multiple ways. Mine, for example, is a top loading one only. So anytime I need something from my backpack I basically have to take everything out of it. Really time efficient, as you can imagine. Whereas Jessie’s, which loads from the front, can lay down and open like a suitcase. How novel. Now, I borrowed mine fo’ free so I’m not complaining, but if you’re buying—spend the extra dolla bills and get a front loading one.

Rule #3: You are weaker than you think.

I don’t care if you can bench press your dad or hold a world record in anvil-tossing. If you’re moving as much as we are, you will get tired of schlepping around your pack…and fast. I considered using a 90-liter pack (again, more jargon for novice backpackers) but decided on a 65-liter one instead. The number of liters simply indicates how much unnecessary crap you’ll end up bringing. You always need less than you think.

Rule #4: Do not let the shelves full of glitzy travel wares in Wal-Mart or REI entice you into buying unnecessary items. Stay strong!

Trust me on this one… I bought a waterproof tarp for my backpack and this weird pouch thing to put valuables in when it rains sheerly because of impulsivity. Guess how many times I’ve used them. Just guess. I nearly bought several other things that I thought I would absolutely need. These included: travel sized toilet paper rolls (yep, those exist), a Tide to-go pen, a passport card holder and one of those mini fans. If you’re debating between needing and not needing something, your best bet is to not get it. Plus, you can always buy it later if you turn out to be more high maintenance than you thought.

Rule #5: Put your dirty underwear in those nifty outside pockets.

So this sounds gross, I know. But if a thief tries to get into your pack, where’s he going first? All those neat-o zippered pouches on the outside. Here’s where you put all the stuff you wouldn’t mind parting with if absolutely necessary. I just imagine the pickpocket’s face when he hastily ransacks my pack, expecting a camera or maybe an iPod and all he finds is my Tuesday underwear. And it’s Sunday. That’ll show ‘em.



  1. This post made me laugh so hard! You’re a fantastic writer and I’m so glad you guys are having fun.

  2. girl you ain’t using that tide to go pen? somethings wrong.

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