Packing for a trip to Europe
during the winter is tricky. If you’re planning a backpacking trip, the weather varies from mild and sunny in southern Italy to windswept and icy through Norway. Be prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws your way by packing a few essential items.
The key to every successful trip is making sure you’re dressed to take on the climate. When the weather’s great, you can’t really go wrong with a good pair of jeans and a favorite shirt. But if you’re planning on scaling a few snow-covered peaks, having the wrong jacket could spell trouble.
First and foremost, your choice in footwear can make or break your trip. You want a good pair of hiking boots, the kind with extra insulation and ankle support – especially if you are going to be spending a lot of time on your feet. It’s a good idea to pack some casual shoes or sneakers as well, for those nights spent in town instead of on the trail.
Picking up a pair of arch support inserts
can be a real sole-saver. You can put them in your boots or you sneakers to give you the support you’ll need hiking every day. Backpacking can be hard on your feet, and a pair of orthotic insoles will reduce the strain, letting you wake up each morning ready to hit the trail again.
After a decent pair of shoes, the next item on your “must have” list is a quality winter jacket. A down coat will be your ideal choice, as they provide warmth with the greatest level of comfort and resistance to rain and snow. Down coats come in a variety of colors and styles, but you’ll likely want something light
for easy storage. Look for coats with cuffed sleeves and a hood.
Thermals are another essential item for your trip, allowing you to add additional layers of insulation without a lot of bulk. They can also be rolled and stuffed easily into a carrying bag. Look for a high-tech fabric
that retains body heat while wicking moisture away from the skin. This fabric can be found in any shop that sells outdoor gear.
Hats, gloves, and scarves are also a must. Try finding a hat with insulated ear flaps, since exposing your skin to sub-zero temperatures is an easy way to get frostbite and be forced to end the trip early.
Pack a poncho and a small, foldable umbrella, for those days where the snow turns to sleet or freezing rain. Don’t forget to pack a few extra pairs of socks and underwear as well, since keeping yourself dry is the easiest way to stay healthy on your trip.
Don’t Forget The Small Stuff
If you’re going to hike the Alps, you likely already have a tent in mind. If you plan to swing by Helsinki, you’re likely already planning on how to pack your ice skates. It’s easy to remember the big things for your trip, but forgetting the everyday essentials can be a costly mistake if you’re forced to buy them once you arrive.
Don’t forget everyday toiletries, which include handkerchiefs and tissues, lip balm, moisturizers and skin cream. One item that’s easy to forget during the winter is sunscreen. The wind and cold might dry out your skin, but any skin exposed needs to be protected from harmful rays. If you’re looking to save space, consider picking up an SPF-rated lotion.
Don’t forget those miscellaneous items, such like a power adapter, sunglasses, aspirin, plastic bags, a travel clock, sewing kit, pens and writing materials, and a rechargeable phone card. If you’re taking anything electronic with you, it’s a good idea to pick up a travel adaptor
, since your phone charger won’t plug into their outlets without one.
Backpacking across Europe in the winter is a great way to explore the countryside, provided you spend a little time before the trip making sure you’ve packed everything you need. Whether you’re scaling the Alps, or walking across pristine Nordic countryside, you’re sure to create some unforgettable memories. Be sure to pack some spare batteries for your camera!