The more I travel, the more I find myself relying on a specific group of items each time I pack up to head out! Of course, this list isn't just created haphazardly; it's composed of the items that have come to Europe with me on every trip (once I discovered them!!), that I've certainly never left behind, and that I always buy replacements for if they wear out.
*This page is updated continually, so keep checking back for more travel essentials!*
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A cozy wrap
Staying comfortable, temperature-wise is always a bit of a struggle, especially when you don't know what to expect. In the summer, the AC can make indoor a freezer; in the winter, a little extra warmth is always welcome. And of course, international flights can get **chilly** when you're up at those super-high altitudes. Thus, I love just folding up a great wrap and tossing it in my bag; then, I can put it on in the middle of the flight and take it off when we get back to normal temperatures. Also not too bad to look a bit stylish! I recently splurged on two J McLaughlin wraps that I cannot live without. Amazon also offers some great cashmere options:
Doing your best: Anti-bacterial wipes
I try not to be *too* picky about germs, but if you can feel a bit more comfortable and at home on a long trip, why not? For the airplane and the hotel room, I always pack some inexpensive anti-bacterial wipes. On the plane, I wipe off the tray table- I feel like they're so dirty lately - and the arm rests quickly when I sit down. In the hotel, I usually only do the TV remote and the nightstands, but if you want to do more, you'll have the tools!
Keeping your possessions together
We received a pack of tiles as a Christmas gift and ever since, I've loved keeping track of our possessions with them while traveling. It's so comforting to be able to check the app and know that all your stuff is somewhere over Greenland, along with you! Just slip the little tile into/onto whatever items you want to track, download and enable the app, and relax with peace of mind!
Stay charged: the right phone charger
Most long-haul planes, and most international hotels, in an effort to overcome the wide range of international plug sizes, have USB holes to plug in your phone/other items, so you'll want to be sure to have a USB cord. These can also plug into different sized plug attachments, including for wherever you live, so you can still use it at home. Before buying a new cord, check the plug you're currently using - if you gently pull the cord from the plug portion, you likely will find that you already have a USB end! You'll probably also want converters for the country/region you're visiting, just to be safe and to plug in other items.
Keep yourself entertained: Airpods
Of course, to watch movies on the plane, you'll need to either bring your "old school" corded headphones, or get them from the flight attendants on your trip. However, I always also bring my airpods to connect to my phone. They're more comfortable on the plane if you're trying to sleep without cords all over the place, and, most importantly, they can function as pseudo-ear plugs on the plane and in the hotel.
As spoiled as we all are by the TV and phone options on long flights, remember - sometimes the TV system doesn't work or you may just get tired of staring at your phone! I always pack a book and magazine just in case! I have been on several flights where the TV system went down for a bit. Remember, though, during overnight East-West flights (aka flights to Europe from the US), the overhead lights will turn off so that people can sleep overnight, so keep that in mind!
Eco-friendly: a reusable cup
While they're making strides to improve, air travel, on the whole is hard on the environment. Add on the disposable items used on any flight, particularly long haul flights, and the toll mounts. So why not try to do your part and bring a reusable cup?
Nice and organized: the best packing cubes
Get your trip started on the right foot, before it's even begun! When you're going on a long trip, not only is fitting all of your items in your bags sometimes an issue, but keeping everything organized once you arrived can be a struggle! This is why I love these packing cubes - lightweight, inexpensive, and sturdy, you can use them to keep your suitcase under control throughout your trip, and to keep your drawers organized when you're abroad! Additionally, they're small enough that at the end of your trip, you can just zip them into each other and jam them into your suitcase without having to make everything fit back neatly.
Looking crisp upon arrival: clothes steamer
The reality is, no matter how carefully you pack everything, being folded up for long enough will take its toll on your freshly cleaned clothes! To keep yourself looking fresh upon arrival, I always bring a clothes steamer to give some of my better items a quick brush-up! This version is small, light-weight, and surprisingly effective! Be sure to pull lightly on the bottom of the clothes as you steam - and, after you're almost done, just lie them flat on the ground and briefly press flat to get the final wrinkles out.
Don't forget the portable perfume
When I first started traveling a lot, I thought bringing perfume was a) unnecessary; b) dangerous for my other possessions; and c) probably going to cause some sort of issue with airport security. That said, of course on longer trips, I missed it! Problem solved with portable spray perfume bottles! They don't leak (though I always put them in a plastic bag just because I'm paranoid), and they're reusable! I always put these in my checked bag, rather than my carry-on, since I'm doing more than a carry-on for Europe and I don't want to deal with any liquids issues with security in various countries.
Rollerball perfumes for a specific brand are a good option as well, especially if pouring perfume around makes you anxious - though generally they generally can't be refilled once they're empty.
Navigating unfamiliar roads: a compass
I'll admit that this one sounds a bit out there. My husband first started brining a compass on our trips as a bit of a joke, but we realized on our trip to Italy that it was actually extremely helpful, especially in cities where it's easy to get turned around! Incidentally, this one also can be engraved, which makes a great gift for your favorite traveler!
Staying organized in your hotel room with a collapsible valet tray
One of the hardest parts of a trip to Europe is staying organized in a tiny hotel room, without feeling cramped! My Husband recently bought us a matching set of valet trays - and these are collapsible. They lie flat while you travel, and then when you get there, snap up their corners and pop this fun little tool onto the dresser and you've got a handy little holder for your coins, phone, cufflinks, whatever!
Clothing essentials for exploring Europe:
No matter where I'm going, there are a few items that always make it into my bag:
Stretchy, washable pants
The heading really says it all. It's hard to stay comfortable when traveling, while also looking crisp and avoiding wrinkles. And, of course, what if you spill and need a quick wash, dry-clean only tags can put a damper on things (or cause you to let the stain sit, which is of course a no-no)! I couldn't be happier with the easiest pants I've ever purchased, from Eileen Fisher. Comfortable, stretchy, and with only a waistband (no zipper or buttons), they could not be more convenient for travel, especially if you over-indulge while sampling some local cuisine. And - the best part? They don't wrinkle after 9 hours of sitting on an airplane!
No matter where I go (aside from the beach, I suppose), I always pack my Blondo waterproof boots. I have had them in multiple materials, styles, and colors, but I always keep coming back for more. They're surprisingly comfortable, and a lot more stylish for big city travels than rain boots. One thing to keep in mind - they are slightly less breathable than leather boots, so your feet may get a bit toastier than you're expecting. Totally worth it to me, though, if they're dry!