Best Backpack for Traveling Europe!

Choosing a good backpack is one of the most important parts of planning your backpacking trip. Whichever one you choose, it’s going to hold all of your belongings for the next weeks, months, or if you’re really adventurous, years! You’re also going to be carrying it on your back for that long too. You need to make sure you choose a good one!

For you newbie travelers, one misconception that I had when I first set out on my 2 month backpacking trip around Europe was that I’d be carrying my backpack with me everywhere I went. I don’t know how or why I thought that, but I did. So, just to clarify, you’ll only be carrying your backpack with you when you travel from one city to the next one. As soon as you arrive at a hostel, you can drop your pack off (good riddance)! You won’t need to carry it around with you while you sightsee. Then when you leave the city, you’ll pack all your stuff up and take it with you.

Just keep in mind that in order to get from one hostel to the next hostel, you’ll probably be walking, taking the metro, a bus, or a combinations of them all before you get on the train or plane that will take you to the next city. Then once you get to the new city, you’ll more than likely have to walk, take the metro, a bus, or some combination again in order to get to your new hostel. On travel days, you can have your pack on your back for HOURS! Of course, you can set it down here and there, but ultimately you’re responsible for lugging the pack around.

Key Things to Keep in Mind When Purchasing a Travel Backpack for Europe!

  • Size: I highly recommend a pack that’s no more than 46L (Liters) for females – As much as you’d like to take your whole closet with you, it’s not practical for backpacking around Europe. Whether you’re going for days, weeks, or months, you want to pack as light as possible, which means leaving things at home. Honestly, the lighter I pack, the more I enjoy my trip.
  • Will You be Traveling around Europe via Planes? – Budget airlines in Europe, such as Ryanair or EasyJet, offer great deals on flights, and they can be a great alternative to days traveling by train. However, you will need to comply with their strict carry-on baggage allowances, if you want to avoid their crazy, expensive fees. Ryan air’s carry on size restrictions: (55cm x 40cm x 20cm or 21.7 x 15.7 x 7.9 in). EasyJet’s carry on size restrictions: (56 x 45 x 25cm or 22 x 17.7 x 9.8 in).
  • How Often Will You Need to Access the Stuff in Your Pack? -You’ll be surprised by the number of times you’ll need to get into your pack. Whether you’re putting things in it, or taking things out, you’ll need to have convenient access to your pack. That’s why I’d recommend getting one that zips open like a suitcase, instead of one where you can only access it from the top. The latter makes it so much harder to find things, especially if they’re way down at the bottom of your pack! So stick with one that has a main compartment access.

Keeping those points in mind, I really believe that the Osprey Porter 46L Travel Pack is one of the best backpack’s for traveling Europe.

 

It’s the backpack I used while backpacking Europe for two months in the Summer of 2012. It’s honestly a really great pack. I was able to take it as carry on, on many Ryanair and EasyJet flights with no problems. I absolutely LOVE the main compartment zipper. It made it so easy to grab what I needed out of it, without having to dump everything out. I also had no problems fitting everything I needed into either. I still had some space left after I finished packing, and I even overpacked! Just like with all packs, you’ll feel some discomfort after carrying it on your back for hours, but that’s just part of backpacking. Overall, I can definitely recommend this pack for traveling around Europe!

You can get it from amazon for around $140 US, which is a pretty good price for the pack! Hope this helps some in regards to buying a travel backpack for Europe!

Any questions about the Osprey Porter 46L pack?

 

About Devon Nicole

Hey! My name is Devon. I'm a 20-something girl from the sunny state of Florida, USA. In 2012, I made the scary decision to backpack Europe SOLO. Now it's 3 years later and I've traveled to over 30 countries in North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia! I created this blog to inspire other young women to travel abroad solo too. There's a whole world out there just waiting to be explored!

44 Comments

  1. Great, thanks for sharing this blog article.Really looking forward to read more. Fantastic.

  2. Hi! Thanks for your helpful post! I just bought the Porter 46, but I’m a little concerned because at 22 x 14 x 9 in. it’s slightly larger than RyanAir’s size constraints. Did you have any trouble with yours? Thanks!

    • Hey Olivia,
      No, I didn’t have any trouble with RyanAir! The straps are great because they smash the pack down pretty well. And it’s a pretty flexible pack, without any hard edges. The flight attendants walked right past me when checking the size of people’s bags at the gate. You shouldn’t have any problems!
      -Devon

  3. The backpack you recommend looks awesome. Did you ever have problems bringing it on a plane? It looks like it’s exactly the limit for most airlines… did they ever give you a hard time? Last question: if it is half full (or empty :p) is it squishy/flexible? Or does it basically take up the same room whether it has stuff in it or not? I can’t tell how rigid it is from pics!

    Thanks so much! Tim :) Love the website

  4. The backpack you recommend looks awesome. Did you ever have problems bringing it on a plane? It looks like it’s exactly the limit for most airlines… did they ever give you a hard time? Last question: if it is half full (or empty :p) is it squishy/flexible? Or does it basically take up the same room whether it has stuff in it or not? I can’t tell how rigid it is from pics!
    Thanks so much! Tim Love the website

    • Hey Tim, Thanks! I never had any problems bringing it on the plane. EasyJet was a breeze. RyainAir is much stricter than EasyJet, though. At the gate, they actually came around with a box and made sure your bag fit in the box, otherwise you had to pay a hefty fine to check it at the gate. My pack was totally fine every time. The pack is squishy/flexible, but it does have basic rectangular shape. The basic shape has no problem getting on the plane. The only problem I’d see is if you stuffed it so full that the pack was bulging too far out. The pack does have great straps though, that squish everything down really well, so that helps a lot. Hope that helps! -Devon

  5. When you say “many” Ryanair and easyJet flights, were there times that you had to check the bag?

    • There were a couple times I chose to check my bag because I didn’t want to throw out some of my toiletry items (they weren’t travel size). But every time I did carry on the pack, it went on with no problems. The straps on the front, really compress the bag down. Also, since it doesn’t have any framework, it’s really easy to squish it to fit just about anywhere. Let me know if you have other questions! – Devon

  6. Devon – I’m loving all your posts! I am thinking about investing in the backpack you recommended for my upcoming backpacking adventure in Europe. I am wondering if you have tips on packing for Europe in that backpack specifically! I am overwhelmed thinking about how little I will be forced to pack since RyanAir is so strict. What clothes/accessories/essentials did you pack, what did you end up NOT needing, etc? Thanks for writing!

    • Hey Chelsea! Thanks! Glad you’re thinking about getting the osprey travel pack. I love mine! It’s really great! As for tips on packing, I’d say first get little zipper travel bags that can act as separators for all your different clothes, electronics (if you’re bringing any), etc. Like shirts in one zipper bag, shorts/pants in another one, etc. It REALLY helps keep things organized. As for packing, I’d say pack what you THINK you need (like several days before you’re going to leave), and then cut it in half and repack! lol! When I did my Europe trip, I honestly packed too much, and really regretted having to lug everything around for 2 months. Plus I didn’t have a lot of room to bring back gifts or souvenirs. It also depends on what time of the year you’re going. It sounds like you’re going soon, so you might need to bring warmer clothes. I went during summer, and I’d say bring 3-4 shirts or sundresses, 2 pairs of shorts, comfy pants for train/plan travel, a sweater/jacket, raincoat!, 2 bras, 5 pairs of underwear, sandals, flipflops (for hostel bathrooms!), closed-toe shoes!, travel size toiletries, adapters, and only essential makeup. Only bring accessories that you can wear with pretty much everything, otherwise it’s too much. The osprey travel pack looks big at first, but quickly becomes tiny when you start packing. Only pack what you absolutely can not live without. If you think you might not wear something, don’t pack it! I ended up not needing a lot of the clothes and shoes I brought, and quickly wished I had left them at home. RyainAir is strict, and I was nervous almost every time I flew with them, but luckily it all worked out fine! Hope that helps some! I’ll have to do a post on that soon! Good luck, and let me know if you have other questions. – Devon

  7. Hey! I am planning on going to Europe: Scotland, Ireland, England and Paris, France. For a two month adventure of awesome by myself!! I am female and will be about 23-24 when I go. I am trying to plan everything out and figure out how much I need to save up for my trip. In regards to transportation, food, and housing. If you have any advice for a first time backpacker in the land of Europe.

  8. Devon- This is great! I’ve been trying to figure out what kind of pack to take to Europe for a month this summer. My question is- Do you think having wheels on your pack would have been helpful? I’m trying to decide between packs with wheels or without… Thanks!

  9. Hi I emailed your facebook with some questions, hoping you could help out on my daughters upcoming europe trip….. Was lookinng for the places you stayed and what the best areas are to stay in… They are doing london…. Paris…. Switzerland.. Italy(rome, venice) any advice would be much appreciated :)

  10. I am leaving for Europe to backpack for 42 days in July I would love some advice and tips based on your experiences… I need advice on how to travel from city to city the best and when it’s best to Rent-A-Car… Is it safe to leave your backpack and hostel…. Do you have the names of hostels you stayed in that you were comfortable in

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  13. So the dimensions of the backpack you used is oversized compared to Ryanair allowance, did you have problems flying with the Osprey Porter 46L Travel Pack.? I am trying to purchase a backpack but I have heard that Ryanair is very strict.

    • Yeah Ryanair is very strict. I was nervous every time getting on the plane, but luckily I didn’t have any trouble with the Osprey Porter 46 pack. I flew Ryanair several times and carried it right on. The pack squishes down pretty well because of the exterior straps, which makes it looks smaller. The Ryanair staff would go around with a hollow box that was the size of the allowed carry on luggage and place it over people’s luggage to make sure it fit. Luckily, they didn’t even question my pack. Of course it depends how much you pack… but it should be fine.

  14. Hi, I live in Canada and would like to purchase this bag as i am moving to London, England to teach and would like to use this bag for weekend trips. The problem is that I cannot find it anywhere. I’ve looked online but it says it is unavailable or sold out. I assume it is because of its popularity and not because it was discontinued. Where did you buy yours? I’ll be in Tennessee this summer so I could perhaps buy one in the US if possible. Thanks!

  15. Hi Devon!
    I’m backpacking with a friend through Europe next summer, and I had a few questions for you:
    1. You said that you left your pack at the hostels you were staying at. How did you know that it would be safe? Or that the locker wouldn’t get broken into? Are there any tips or tricks on keeping my pack safe if I leave it behind?
    2. When you left your bag at the hostel, did you have a day pack or fanny pack to carry your passport, $, etc. Did you split the money you brought between carrying it on your person vs. in the pack? Did you carry much cash or use cards instead?
    3. I’m not worried about my pack starting off too full…but how were you able to bring back trinkets and such with a packed bag?
    4. Did you feel safe traveling by yourself? I’m just curious on this one. My friend is coming with me for three weeks, and then i’m going another month or so by myself.

    Thank you so much!

    • Hey Dylan, I emailed you my reply to your questions!
      Have a great trip!
      -Devon

      • Hey! Would you be willing to forward the email with the answers to those questions to me? I was meeting the same things… I leave next month for 6 weeks. :) I’ve been waiting for your reply! They are good questions. Thanks!! Rachel. F4ischer@gmail.com

        • Hey Rachel, I sent my response to those questions to you! Hope they help! :)

          • They definitely help! Thank you so much! Such wisdom :)

          • Hello,
            Your posts have been so helpful!
            I know it has been two months since you sent it, but I would really really appreciate it if you could forward me the answer too at fhedar.108@gmail.com
            Or if you can’t find it could you please tell me how you kept your pack safe in the hostel and how you carried necessities during the day?
            Thank you so much, I know it’s a lot but any answer would be greatly appreciated!
            Your blog is a service and inspiration.
            Love from Egypt,
            -Fahimah

      • Hi! Would you mind forwarding your responses to the above questions? I’m backpacking for a couple weeks in Europe (in November no less) and if I’m battling the rain, it’ll help if I could be lighter on my feet :)

  16. I totally thought I would have to carry my bag with me everywhere too, thanks for erasing that worry about sore shoulders away :) I do worry about one thing with the Hostels though when I’ll end up sharing a dorm with 15+ people … did you ever worry about someone stealing your things after you’d dropped them off? Did anyone ever steal from you? Thanks for all the great tips!

    • This helped so much! I left my bag at the hostels and never had an issue. sometimes I would leave it at a restaurant and pay somebody at the place 5$ to watch it for me behind the counter. Sometimes I paid to leave it at the train station. It ALWAYS worked out! I had a 65L osprey! it was a lot to carry!

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  18. Hiya,

    Did you take your laptop with you in this bag? How did you find it?

    I’m looking for a smallish backpack that comfortablY fits a Macbook Air in it!

    Thanks :)

    Jess

    • Hey Jess, I didn’t take a laptop with me on my first trip to Europe, which is when I used this pack. I used the wi-fi on my phone and the hostel computers instead. Although, a laptop would have easily fit on top of everything in this pack. Currently I use the Fairpoint 55L travel pack, which comes with a detachable day pack. I carry my 13.3 inch laptop in the day pack, which has a specific laptop space. But if you’re looking for a small travel pack to take, and to also bring your laptop, the Osprey 46L should work!

  19. Hello!
    First, thank you so much for posting info on your trip! I have enjoyed reading so much.
    Second, I have done some research on the Osprey Porter 46 and several people were saying that its hip support system was rather lacking and cause back pain. Did you have this problem?

    Thanks!
    Em

    • Hey Emily, Yeah the Osprey Porter 46 doesn’t really have much of a hip support system. You will start feeling it in your back after carrying the pack for awhile, but honestly, that’s the case with literally all packs. I mean you’re carrying a bunch of weight on your back… you’re going to feel it. I changed to a new pack, the Osprey Farpoint 55L that has a hip belt, and although I can carry most of the weight on my hips, I still feel it in my back. I would say if you’re looking for a pack that you can take as carry on for cheap flights, like Ryan Air or EasyJet, that have strict baggage rules, then the Porter is the way to go! The size of the Porter pack is great! (I have to check my Farpoint on those flights now.) -Devon

  20. This is reassuring! I initially bought the Osprey 55L backpack. I looked at it again and I didn’t think the daypack was actually something I’d really use during the day (not my style). So I went back to the store and exchanged it for the Osprey 46L one.

    I’ve yet to do a trial pack (only leaving in June) but I’m mentally preparing myself that I don’t need 4 pairs of shoes!!

    • Yeah, I have both packs, and the 46L pack is great for only packing what you actually NEED! I also love that I can take it on budget airlines, since the dimensions are small enough!

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  22. Does the Osprey Porter 46L Travel Pack meet Ryanair carry-on requirements? Is it padded in the back or will it protect my 13″ macbook at all – maybe a special pocket?

    • Yes! I was able to take my Osprey Porter 46L on Ryanair. Unfortunately, there isn’t a special pocket for a laptop, but there is padding in the back. However, you could feel the laptop slightly on your back while carrying the pack. It might be better to pack your macbook in the middle with clothes acting as padding.

    • Kristin,

      Measure the torso length (back panel) of the Osprey pack. I remember RyanAir policy was something crazy like 17″ or 19″. As long as the pack’s back panel is less than or equal to policy you’ll be fine. You may just have to fold the brain (top compartment) down so nothing sticks above the top of the back panel. My brother took a bunch of clothes out of his pack and wore multiple layers in order to get on the plane, then removed them once he was on. I have also been on several flights that didn’t even check my bag size, after we had spent time and money compressing our packs and mailing extra items back to the states, of course.

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