We have been rounding up Interrail train journeys and itineraries for the last few months.
Then we realised that travelers might be wondering what to pack for Interrailing in Europe.
And that is, in fact, a legit question!
So, we decided to write up a comprehensive Interrail packing list.
In this article, you’ll find all the Interrail essentials, the best Interrail backpack, and a complete guide on how to fit it all in.
We also talk about the standard luggage restrictions on European trains (which is not something you should worry about actually!).
So keep scrolling down to find more inspiration about what you should be packing for Interrailing Europe.
Your packing checklist depends a little on how long you will be going.
Whether you’re following an epic Interrail itinerary or you’re just traveling to some of the most interesting cities in Europe, this Interrail checklist will be a great asset for packing your bags.
However, if you’re going on a trip longer than a week, you WILL have to do some laundry along the way.
So we always pack for one week and try to make our outfits versatile.
Backpack vs suitcase for Interrailing
We recommend taking a backpack for train travel in Europe.
Your luggage will be with you the entire time and there’s no checking in luggage in order to be rid of it.
So you’ll have to find a spot to store your luggage inside the train compartment.
On top of that, you’ll have to carry it from one train to the next, and then to your hotel or hostel.
Unless you are a massive fan of rolling suitcases, we recommend taking a backpack or a wheeled backpack for trips like these.
Go for the backpack because:
- you have to carry it the whole time
- easier to take many stairs up and down train platforms
- easier to hurry to your next train
- convenient for stowing under seats and on top of luggage racks
- easy access on the go
- be hands-free!
Best Backpack for Interrailing in Europe
So we recommend taking a backpack, but if you always choose to go with a suitcase, you can. Another great in-between option is the wheeled backpack for those who have a bad back or want to switch between carrying and rolling.
These are the best backpacks for Interrailing!
We’ve tried a few different options with different packing loads.
Large and medium-sized backpacking pack
For a large backpack, we recommend the Deuter AirContact. It’s an awesome pack which is durable and it has a nice stretch for extra stuffing. It comes in all different sizes and a few different colors. You can also buy this pack in the women’s edition.
Smaller Backpack for light travel
You can easily go Interrailing in Europe with a small carry on backpack.
We did this once and it was such a breeze!
For traveling in Europe with a small backpack, we recommend using the Nomatic backpack.
For short to medium length train trips, we also recommend the 40L Nomatic travel bag, which has everything you might need in a bag.
It has almost as much space as the larger backpacking packs, but it looks way more slick and compact.
If you get the travel bundle, you also get a laundry bag, toiletry bag, packing cubes, and other valuable extra stuff you otherwise have to get separately.
It’s for a good reason that this bag was the most successful kickstarter campaign for ages.
Inspiration for amazing interrail routes in Europe:
Clothing for a European Interrail adventure
For most people, choosing clothing to pack for an Interrail trip is the most difficult thing in the world.
It doesn’t have to be.
Packing clothing is a very personal thing and the things you pack are different for everyone.
But I can give you a few tips which I learned during our own travels!
This is one of the most useful packing tips ever: use packing cubes!
These tiny things make your life so much easier.
It’s the difference between unpacking your entire backpacking shirt per shirt, or just going through a few neatly organized bags.
We use packing cubes and it makes it so much easier to find stuff and to keep your clothing more or less wrinkle free.
You use them to put the same sort of clothing per cube, so all of your shirts will be in 1 bag.
And you can always stow extra stuff in these bags.
They’re also great for packing more in a smaller space!
Take the shoes you use the most!
Your shoes should be comfortable and easy to wear on different occasions.
If you plan to go hiking each day or do a lot of walking, you might want to take your hiking shoes. But if you’re going city tripping, I don’t recommend taking walking shoes.
Or combine the best of both worlds with these comfortable shoes, which you can wear all day without getting sour feet.
If you have to take extra shoes, make sure they pack small.
We always take slippers or flip-flops or sandals: whichever makes you happy from this row!
They’re good for showering in hostels or to wear on hot days or when you go swimming.
Don’t take too many shoes. You all have to carry them, remember!
You only need to take clothing for about 1 week of travel. After that, you should get your laundry done somewhere. (read: in your hostel!)
We recommend taking clothing which is easy to combine with each other.
This way, you have multiple outfits that are easy to mix and match.
For me that clothing list looks like this for a summer trip:
Clothes for different weather conditions
If your trip is during the summer, you might consider taking more tank tops and shirts, instead of sweaters.
We do, however, recommend taking at least 1 warm jacket or hoodie to snuggle up during long train rides. I never travel without a hoodie sweater, because I love pulling it over my head and disappear for a while!
Plus, some trains have heavy airco, so you always want to have a warm sweater within reach to keep yourself warm on the train.
If you’re Interrailing in winter, you need to change your clothing packing list accordingly.
When Interrailing in winter, switch the shorts for (multi-functional) long trousers and take more long sleeved shirts instead of tank tops.
Your backpack doesn’t necessarily need to be larger, as most of the warm clothing will be on you when traveling.
Just swap the tank tops for a few long sleeved shirts and the shorts for an extra jeans.
Also, taking a good and compressible down jacket is a great asset for every season!
Interrail essentials besides clothing
Ha! My favorite part!
What other essentials do you need on your Interrail packing list!
Quite a few things actually! But don’t worry, they’re all small and easy to stow into your small backpack.
Here’s what I take:
I take my large DSLR camera for all travel, but you can also take a smaller camera or use your smartphone for photography.
If you want to take kick ass awesome travel shots, you should definitely check out the Canon Eos Rebel.
But if you don’t want to take the extra luggage, the Samsung Galaxy S9 has the very best smartphone camera on the market.
Another important item I never leave home without!
Whether we go backpacking, interrailing, city tripping, … anywhere! We always take our e reader with us. It’s invaluable for travel!
Have a look at these amazing books to read while traveling!
For myself, I have a tablet instead of an ereader to do all my reading. Lobke has a Kobo ereader, which is super lightweight and easy to use.
Noise canceling headphones
Ever since we both bought our noise canceling headphones, we have fallen in love with them over and over again! They are the magic!
One minute, you’re surrounded by loud kids, a crying toddler, and a group of giggling women. The next minute, you’re in your own private happy place!
We both opted for budget friendly headphones, you know, for budget reasons.
Lobke travels with the Sony WH-CH700N, which are great and easy to adjust. The side of the ear pad doubles as a control, and she can adjust the volume by swiping her finger over it. Also, the cushions on the ear pads are super soft and comfy.
I bought the Sennheiser 4.5BTNC after doing loads of research. I doubted about getting the Sennheiser PXC550, because it gets tons of great reviews. But the ones I have are way cheaper and they work like a charm. On top of that, they look super stylish 🙂
If you’re on a budget too, check out these tricks to save money while traveling!
You can charge your electronics on most modern European trains, but not always, especially the more rural you travel.
But the one thing that nobody wants to happen, is that your phone or e reader dies on you!
Pack a small but powerful power bank to cover all your electronics, or at least the ones you can’t live without!
Aside from the noise canceling headphones, earplugs are easy and small to pack.
I always have them in my backpack, even though I don’t use them as much as before I had my headphones.
But they tend to come in handy when I’m trying to sleep in a noise environment, like a night train.
Pen and paper
Yes! I know! It’s pretty old school!
Pen and paper are super convenient at times.
Not so much for writing down train time tables or phone numbers, because all of that happens in our smartphone right now.
But it’s super handy when your phone dies or the other persons’ phone did.
Just pack some pen and paper in a small side pocket somewhere.
Chances are good that it will come in handy at some point during your trip!
Padlocks have one main use: locking up stuff.
But during an Interrail trip, it can have variety of uses: to lock your dorm room, your locker, to lock up your backpack, or to lock your backpack to a luggage rack.
We never go backpacking without a padlock!
Hand sanitizer and wet wipes
Hand sanitizer or wet wipes are a quick and easy solution to clean up your hands or some mess you made.
When traveling through Europe by train, there might not always be a place to wash up nearby.
Being able to clean your hands before stuffing your face with snacks, is always a clever idea.
We usually travel with toilet paper.
Not all bathrooms have toilet paper available and I probably don’t need to explain why you might need it!
We don’t carry a big complete roll of paper, but rather a half roll, squished into a ziplock bag.
A foldable bag also has loads of uses when you’re on the road.
You can use it to stash up on snacks for the train ride or to go grocery shopping.
These bags fold up tiny, so this isn’t a large extra to add in your bag.
Take a ziplock bag or 3, folded up in one of the side compartments of your backpack.
Ziplock bags have unlimited uses. Mostly they’re good for storing items in a sealed bag.
But we once used them as gloves when collecting horse shit in the Grasslands of Inner Mongolia. Well, this is an extreme example, but hey: you never know!
Super important! Take enough snacks with you.
We usually take these breakfast cookies with chocolate and a few granola bars for extra energy.
You’re not always sure if you will get a decent meal at the time you want it, so prepare to get some snacks in between.
Water is a life saver!
Take a reusable water bottle with you, so you can fill up almost everywhere.
In most Western European countries, tap water is perfectly fine to drink.
But whenever you’re unsure about the tap water, be careful and try to find a safe solution. Nobody wants to be ill from drinking bad water while traveling.
Always research if the tap water is good in the destination you’re traveling to.
Loads of train stations in Europe have a place where you can refill your water bottle for free.
Luggage restrictions for trains in Europe
Trains in Europe don’t have luggage restrictions.
Train travel is very different from air travel and your luggage just goes inside the train compartment with you.
High speed trains tend to have some sort of luggage rack at both ends of the compartment.
Other trains have luggage racks above the seating area. These luggage racks are narrow and difficult to use with large packs.
We tend to put our luggage on the floor where we sit, if it’s not too busy.
Otherwise, it’s a bit of a search and puzzle to find a good spot for your luggage.
Must-read articles to plan a perfect train travel trip in Europe:
Conclusion - Interrail packing list for Europe
Packing your bags with some Interrail essentials is not that difficult and you can take more or less the same stuff you would take on a regular trip.
Don’t forget to take some stuff to make life on the train easier and more fun, like a book, an ereader, and headphones.
Make sure to check out these cool Interrail route ideas for Europe!