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The Best Travel Backpack for Europe…and Beyond

So, you’re planning a trip to Europe and are searching the internet trying to find some information on the best travel backpack for Europe

I get it!  Marty and I went through several bags before we finally found the bag that we love.  Honestly, the best backpack for European travel will depend on your travel style. 

Personally, Marty and I are usually city-hopping around Europe, so we want a minimalist travel backpack that is lightweight and easy to manage.

It’s funny when I sat down to write this post, I replayed all of our backpack ‘fails’ in my head, and man was there a lot of them.  While that stinks for us, that’s great news for you because we have done the hard work for you and you can just relish in the fruits of our labor and enjoy our recommendations for the best travel backpacks in Europe.

This is the first post in a series.  After this post, be sure and read the second part of the series, How We Travel With Only a Backpack.  This second post outlines how we manage to travel for weeks at a time using only our backpack.

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    Best Travel Backpack for Europe

    Why We Choose to Travel With Only a Backpack

    Let’s face it, suitcases have their place, but lugging one up and down the step and bridges of Venice probably isn’t the place.

    I remember when Marty was trying to talk me into the idea of traveling with only a backpack, I fought him all the way. 

    Did he not know me? 

    Did he forget that I need shoes for every outfit and makeup and hair products? 

    I thought for a minute that my husband forgot who I was.  LOL! 

    He finally convinced me when he showed me our itinerary for our first trip to Europe.  Seeing all of the city hopping quickly made me change my mind.  There were times that we were checking out of our hotel and then had a 4-hour wait until our train to the next city.  I was quickly convinced to try this backpacking thing!

    I’ll tell you this, now that I have experienced minimalist travel with only a backpack, I won’t go back. 

    Not only do I not have to pay for my checked bags on the plane, or wait for them for that matter, but I also don’t have to worry about my luggage getting lost.

    Trust me, once you find yourself the best travel backpack for Europe, you will love the newfound freedom of not having to hassle with a suitcase.   An important step in this process though is to invest in a good minimalist travel backpack. 

    We wasted so much money trying to save money on a cheaper bag only to have it fall apart or be uncomfortable.  Don’t make our mistake-buy a quality bag from the beginning!

    What Style of Travel Backpack Should I Choose?

    The style of the travel backpack you choose will really depend on your travel style. 

    Like I said before, Marty and I are city hoppers so we need a bag that will hold at least a week’s worth of necessities and still be comfortable enough to carry around in between cities. 

    For this reason, we choose a panel-loading bag with lots of compartments.  If you’re really into hiking and need more gear, then you will probably want to consider a top-loading bag.  It’s really just all up to personal preference. 

    If you’re feeling like you need a backpack that rolls then check out this post outlining the best-wheeled backpacks.

    What Features Should I Look For?

    When searching for the best backpack for European travel you should definitely consider the features that are important to you, such as:

    • Waist Strap- Really, a waist strap!  This feels a little weird when you first start using it, but you will learn to love it.  A waist strap helps to distribute the weight of your pack around your whole body instead of just your shoulders. This will save you an achy back!!
    • Front Loading- We are complete proponents of front-loading bags.  Top-loading bags are just what they sound like, they load from the top and then have a drawstring to close the top.  This results in all of your stuff jumbling together and you digging around looking for stuff, that stinks!!   With front-loading bags, you just zip them open and there is all of your stuff within easy reach!
    • Carry-on Size- If possible, get a bag that is carry-on size.  This will save you money and time as you travel.
    • Laptop Compartment- Be sure that you have a cushy place to hold your important technology.  You can use this compartment for other things if you don’t carry a laptop or iPad with you when you travel.  I mean, you can protect your books or journals in here instead.
    • Locking Zippers- This is really important to Marty since he usually has his camera equipment in his bag, but not as important for me since I usually just have my clothes.  LOL!  You decide.  It’s a nice feature but maybe isn’t a necessity.

    Best Backpack-European Travel

    Osprey Farpoint 40

    Osprey is one of the best travel backpack for Europe. 

    The front panel loading is so easy to ensure that you have all of your items right where you want them.  The pack is sturdy and lightweight so it’s ideal for storing all of your stuff. 

    I love that the shoulder strap zips away as well.  This makes it super easy when stowing your pack. 

    They offer several versions of this pack, so be sure you find the size that best suits your needs.

    This pack is super comfortable as it has a padded back panel, padded shoulder straps, and an adjustable waist strap.  It features front-panel organization for easy access to small items and a protected rear panel lockable zip laptop compartment.

    Osprey Porter

    Another one of the best backpacks for European travel is the Osprey Porter

    This pack is well constructed and leaves plenty of room for your electronics and your clothes.  It’s also one of the cheapest Osprey packs that you can get your hands on. 

    That being said though, it isn’t as comfortable for a long haul as the Farpoint featured above, but it’s still a great bag.

    eBags Mother Lode Weekender Convertible

    Another great brand is eBags, and this Mother Lode bag will definitely give you plenty of room for all of your stuff. 

    I love that it has a full expansion zipper to allow for easy packing and organizing.  This bag is also carry-on friendly so you don’t have to pay those annoying baggage fees. 

    Let’s all ad that it claims to have a lifetime guarantee!  That’s money well spent!

    Best Budget Backpack:  Yorepek Travel Laptop Backpack

    We understand that the bags above are quite an investment weighing in at over $100 each. 

    Although a good bag is well worth the investment, we understand if you want to ease into finding the best travel backpack for Europe to fit your needs. 

    If that’s the case, then this bag is for you. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a great bag.  It’s actually the bag that I recently took on our trip to Scotland and Ireland, and I thoroughly enjoyed carrying it!

    This backpack has so many storage compartments, one of which is a nice cozy padded area to house my laptop.  I also enjoy that it has a padded back and shoulder straps and that it is rain resistant. 

    This bag also opens up nicely for packing and easily fits under the seat in front of you on an airplane, making it count as a personal item.  This means no extra baggage fees!!

    Packing Cubes

    To take your organizing to the next level, consider purchasing a set of packing cubes.  These handy cubes make organizing and packing light such a breeze and help tremendously when you are searching for items. 

    We use the set shown above and love them.

    Final Thoughts on Best Travel Backpack for Europe

    Of course, finding the best travel backpack for Europe for yourself is definitely a personal decision.  We hope that we have given you some good choices to choose from and have helped to narrow down your choices.  

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    Michelle Snell-Founder That Texas Couple

    About the Author

    Michelle Snell is a travel writer, history buff, wine lover, and enthusiast of different cultures. Michelle enjoys bringing places to life through creative content creation and her informative writing style on her blogs, That Texas Couple and Totally Texas Travel and accompanying social media accounts.  She is happiest sipping wine in Italy or chilling on a beach with her husband, Marty.


    Tuesday 1st of December 2020

    When I need a backpack upgrade I will definitely look into the Osprey brand, they seem to come well recommended by travellers. I also totally love packing cubes, and you can never have enough!

    Sage Scott

    Wednesday 25th of November 2020

    I'm getting better about over-packing, but I am still a ways away from being able to visit Europe with only a backpack. At least I'll know the best travel backpack when I'm ready to downsize more and take that final step! <3


    Wednesday 25th of November 2020

    Yes, it is definitely a leap but well worth it :)


    Friday 25th of September 2020

    Having packing cubes can be a good way indeed!


    Saturday 15th of September 2018

    I am impressed you travel with just a backpack. For us, we have backpacks plus a rolling bag. I need to be more of a minimalist!


    Sunday 16th of September 2018

    I actually love it, Anisa. I was skeptical at first but once I turned loose, I found it to be such a freeing experience!


    Saturday 15th of September 2018

    Packing cubes are so brilliant - whether you're using a backpack or a suitcase. I love how they keep everything organised. I need to get back to packing so light that I can put it all in a backpack!


    Saturday 15th of September 2018

    Aren't they the best, Rebecca! We love traveling light. Not only does it save money, but we also love the simplicity of it. :)