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Soap and shampoo
Using small packs saves weight. Bringin only shampoo is usually sufficient, as it dissolves in salt water. You can also use it for example when using the sea as your shower or washing the dishes.
If you want to shower en route, you will find public showers in most bigger European railway stations. Or just go to a public swimming pool.
One towel should be sufficient. In some hostels you also get towels provided free of charge.
One of the most important things to take on your trip is a pocket knife. You cannot only use it for cutting and eating, but also for repairing things.
Take a camera with a sufficiently large memory card. You could also bring a usb/memory stick. Usually you can burn your data on a CD in an Internet café.
MP3 player or ear plugs
In order to fall asleep in a dorm of a hostel, ear plugs are almost essential. That doens't mean it is always that noisy, but people usually come and leave the dorm.
The basis for your rail trip. Backpack or suitcase, clothing, sleeping bag, tent, camping stove, toiletries and much more.
The backpack is the ideal kind of baggage if you do not only want to travel from one big city to another, but also want to make some stops off the beaten tracks where you will find uneven ground. For example when walking to a campsite or spending a day at the beach or in a park.
A backpack is an investment you will enjoy for several years and during several trips. Therefore it is advisable to pay attention to the quality. Quality means higher comfort. Starting from 100 € you will get really high-quality backpacks. It is of course always a matter of your personal budget.
The packing volume and weight are key factors when travelling with a backpack. You should try not to exceed 60 litres of packing volume and around 10 kilograms of weight. These values are variable though. Depending on whether you prefer to camp during your whole trip, taking a tent and all the cooking equipment with you, or if you just spend the nights in hostels. Factors like the season (winter/summer) and your body stature are also decisive.
It is advisable only to bring clothes for the maximum of one week and then wash your clothers during your trip - no matter how long your journey is. Hostels and camp sites always offer laundry service.
Recommendation: pack your backpack before you start your trip and have a walk of two kilometres to get a feeling for the weight. Then you can rethink if you really need everything packed in it.
Pack the heaviest items at the height of your shoulders toward your back. It will be more comfortable to carry your backpack this way.
A suitcase with wheels is very convenient if you only travel from city to city and use public transport on flat tracks. It is less tiring than a heavy backpack to wear during the hot summer months. Disadvantage: you can not just go on the beach with it and rough paths are quite difficult to handle.
The packing volume and weight can be higher than the one for a backpack. It should nevertheless not exceed an upper limit of 15 kilograms.
The quality determines the price. Starting from 100 € you can find really good suitcases.
To avoid chaos in your backpack or suitcase, you should always have some plastic bags with you. Sort your clothes, store your dirty clothes and the extra pair of shoes separately .
A useful and quite wise saying is: take the clothes you want to bring, then remove half of them - what remains is what you will really need on your travel tour.
Of course, the clothing depends on the season.
One normal pair of pants and one pair of light or jogging pants, which you can easily put on for example in a night train. Two pairs of shorts, one pair of swimming trunks or a bathing suit or bikini.
Shirts and sweaters
One sweater and some shirts for one week. Five shirts are usually sufficient, because in good weather you can easily wash them by hand and hang dry in a hostel or a train.
Usually, a jacket is not necessary in summer. It is better to wear a sweater and several shirts at one time. In autumn and winter, a jacket is recommended to protect against rain.
Underwear and socks
Five pairs of socks and underwear should be enough. Just wash them by hand or sometimes use a washing machine in a hostel or at a camp site.
One pair of flip-flops or sandals which you can use on hot days and also for taking a shower in a hostel or at a camp site.
One pair of comfortable shoes in which you can walk long distances: trainers / sneakers or hiking shoes
You have to be aware that during your trip the sleeping bag will serve as your bed. In hostels you normally don't need one. On night trains it can be very useful.
Pay attention to the weight (less than 1.5 kilograms) and the packing volume (less than 10 litres). The temperature range of the sleeping bag should correspond to your destination. Of course, the purchase will depend on your budget.
Advantage of sleeping bags with synthetic insulation: they dry quickly if they get wet and are less expensive. Advantage of down-filled sleeping bags: the packing volume is small and they are light-weighted.
air mattress / sleeping pad
Decide between a traditional and cheap sleeping pad or a higher-quality self-inflating air mattress. The sleeping pad is more robust and you can also use it to sit down on the ground, for example when cooking outside. The expensive air mattress is of course more comfortable.
When travelling in the summer months, a simple and inexpensive tent bought at a discount for less than 50 € should be fine. And it will resist a rain shower. The most important factor is the tent's weight and volume of the package. Make sure that a two-person tent weighs around three kilograms.
Eating is an important factor for your trip, allowing you to either save or spend a lot of money.
Cooking on your own saves money, fills your stomach and is healthier. Supermarkets can be found everywhere, prices are almost the same throughout Europe. The best thing is to avoid the expensive supermarkets in train stations, rather looking for a discount store, sometimes a short walk away.
The typical homemade meal while travelling is noodles or rice with vegetables and sauce.
Important: compare the prices between a fast-food restaurant and when cooking by yourself. You will see that fast-food is very expensive.
For cases of "emergency", bring two packs of soup with you. You just need to add some hot water and you have a ready meal.
You can fill two large plastic bottles with water in your hostel. This should be enough for one full day. Everything else is available in supermarkets. Note the rules for alcohol in each country: sometimes there are special stores for alcohol only.
Recommend are a plate, a mug and a pot made of sheet metal or stainless steel. Add a fork, a spoon and a pocket knife. The pocket knife with additional can opener and corkscrew.
Use your shampoo. It cleans everything, even in salt water at the sea.
Inexpensive and sufficient is a camping gas stove for EUR 20, plus EUR 5 for a cartridge. These cartridges are available in all European countries. Caution: the gas cartridges are not allowed on aircrafts.
You should have small jars with salt and pepper or a spice mill with you. One or two plastic boxes for left-overs, open packs or vegetables and fruits can be useful.
Most hostels and campsites offer computers with internet access. Sometimes even for free. You can also find cheap internet cafés everywhere.
Internet is very helpful when it comes to booking your accommodation for the next few days and making reservations for trains or for finding train connections.
It is useful to have your own small and lightweight netbook with you. It allows you to store photos, listen to music and surf the net. However it is not absolutely necessary to bring one.