Next week I’m finally kicking off what will be the most exciting trip of 2015: Two weeks of Interrailing through Eastern Europe. Yaay! Exploring by day, sleeping on old trains by night. Pretty sure the romantic idea of ‘sleeping on trains’ will lose most of its glamour after just one night, but hey, a girl can dream.
Packing for a trip like that most definitely needs to be organised, especially since we’re not planning much else. We’ll go with the flow, won’t stress about having to see everything – until then I thought I’d share some of rather boring preparations!
1. The right backpack
That’s a no-brainer – it’s something I still don’t have. I’ve got a 65L backpack (which is more suited for trips where you have no intention of coming back anytime soon) and a small hiking version. A 45L buddy seems like a good idea for two weeks, now I just need to find one that works for me and not against my back, grrr.
2. External phone charger
On a recent press trip, a fellow blogger introduced me to the art of not letting your phone run out of battery in inconvenient situations. I can’t believe I ever went traveling without one of these tiny life savers. Charge it on your laptop (or a plug) for a couple of hours before you hit the road and off you go. Instagram, I’m coming for ya!
3. Light sleeping bag
Whether you’re sleeping in a dodgy hostel, in a cold train or bus or on the beach (fingers crossed!), a lightweight sleeping back will come in handy in any case. Other useful bits are a neck cushion and a thick woolen scarf that can serve as a poncho, blanket, cushion, and maybe, just maybe, also as a scarf!
I’m definitely taking the washing soap introduced in this post because it never fails to make magic happen; dry shampoo, coconut oil for dry and split ends (your hair probably won’t get the love it deserves on the road), make-up wipes because they have proven to even clean a dirty camera lens in the past, sun screen (remember, it’s the best anti-aging action you could take throughout the year!), mosquito spray and flip flops.
Grab a bunch of disposable and underwater cameras. Have some photography fun where you don’t take things as seriously as you would with a DSLR. I also lovelovelove the Lens Between Us project. You can do something similarly awesome by filling an entire film of you and your friend taking photos of each other at great places. That’s a memory book with a twist I’d say!
6. Kindle and guides
I’ve transferred all my Eastern European guides onto my Kindle so I can do my travel research (and finally read the books that have been patiently waiting for my attention all year) without having to carry buckets of paperbacks.
7. A bucket list
Speaking of buckets. You should make a bucket list because an Interrailing trip is most likely gonna be an unforgettable experience. Here’s an extract of my list: sleeping under the starry sky, skinny-dipping in a lake at sunrise, kissing a stranger and not exchanging numbers, leaving the camera at home one day and write about what I see and visualise the images with pen and paper instead, making up a lot of future goals and dreams, falling in love with Slovenia, portraying people in Macedonia, buy a bunch of foreign magazines and postcards and actually write and post these postcards… That list isn’t massively original but drawing one up definitely helps getting you into that certain “make this summer a good one” mode.
8. Apps and things
Without further ado, here’s a bunch of apps that you should download: The “Rail Planner” Interrail app, Findery, Trip Advisor, AirBnB, World Lens, Google Translate. Something you can’t download is an open mind, so make sure you don’t spend too much time trying to understand the world through your phone. Locals will almost certainly do a better job at that!
9. A passport holder
Weirdly enough, I’ve never had anything that kept all my documents, tickets and some cash in one space. They’re usually scattered all across my huge handbag and cause all kinds of random outbursts of swearing on a daily basis. I’ve just ordered this little bargain and can’t wait to board planes and trains with it!
10. Things not to take
A bit of a no-brainer, but less is more, especially if your backpack space is limited! Don’t take loads of accessories, anything expensive your life doesn’t depend on, or too much technology stuff that could distract you from living in the moment.
You know the deal with clothes, right!? Put everything you think you “need” in front of you, and then leave half of that at home. With a bottle of washing soap you’ll have an easy time washing everything as you go. Don’t forget a pretty party dress and some heels of course… that stuff on your bucket list needs to be ticked off after all!
Did I forget anything!? Pleaaase share all your Interrail and Interrail packing experiences below; I could really do with some advice! I will keep you updated with the exact route (and how romantic the sleeping on trains bit really is) on Instagram @carotravels.
All photos taken by Caroline Schmitt