There's no question I'm asked more than "what should I pack for my trip to Europe!" So let's discuss my ultimate list of Europe travel necessities!
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Packing for a trip to Europe?
Planning a European vacation is an exciting experience, from just starting to research the best sightseeing spots to finally sampling the local cuisine. However, the excitement can quickly turn to stress when it comes to packing for the trip.
What should you bring?
What should you leave behind?
With so many packing details, and the potential for changing itineraries and unexpected cultural differences to consider, it's easy to become overwhelmed.
Don't worry, I've got you covered.
In this article, I'll provide you with the ultimate packing checklist for your European vacation, including clothing essentials, must-have toiletries, a list of some important documents, and even miscellaneous item you won't want to forget. Follow this guide, and you'll be able to enjoy a seamless and enjoyable vacation without worrying about forgetting anything. So, let's get started!
And while you're here, don't forget to sign up for my newsletter to receive your free, downloadable guides to packing your checked bag, and all the items you won't want to forget for your trip to Europe!
Europe Travel Essentials
Packing Cubes and Luggage
Keep yourself organized with inexpensive, lightweight packing cubes and luggage. Packing cubes are particularly essential if you'll be packing and unpacking multiple times. You don't want to sit around wondering which pile of socks is the clean one...
Pro tip: Avoid hard-sided luggage that opens flat (like an open sandwich, with both sides open on the floor). They take up far too much space in the tiny European hotel rooms.
Clothing essentials for your European vacation
When it comes to packing for a European vacation, clothing is certainly top of mind for me. I want to be comfortable while exploring new places and experiencing new things, but, of course the reality is that I also want to look good in those photos that I'll be seeing for years to come. Here are some clothing essentials to add to your packing checklist:
1. Comfortable Walking Shoes: You're going to be doing a lot of walking, so it's important to bring comfortable walking shoes. Choose shoes that are stylish but also have support for your feet. And good news - the days of "don't wear white sneakers in Europe or you'll look like a tourist" are over. If Kate Middleton can wear (nice) white sneakers, we can too! Leave the shoes you wear to the gym/to wash the car at home.
I generally bring a pair of sneakers and a pair of boots/booties so I can alternative and accommodate weather changes. Skip the beach flip flops, unless you'll be heating the Mediterranean.
Want to find the perfect walking shoes for Europe? Check out the full post:
2. Layered Clothing: Europe's weather can vary greatly depending on the season and region you're in. Make sure to pack layered clothing to accommodate temperature changes throughout the day.
3. Scarf: A simple scarf is a versatile accessory that can be used to keep warm or dress up an outfit throughout the day.
4. Waterproof Jacket: Don't forget to pack a waterproof jacket in case of sudden rain showers. Look for one that is lightweight and easy to pack.
5. Something nice: If you plan on going to any fancy dinners or events, pack some formal wear. A nice, wrinkle-proof dress generally does the trick.
6. Sun Protection: Don't forget to bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun. Obviously this is less important if you're visiting the U.K./Northern Europe, but Spain and Italy can be shockingly hot in the summer, even by American standards.
7. The Right Purse: A purse that closes securely is a must, especially in touristy areas! I like something nice, like the Longchamp below, that is compact, secure, and that I don't have to worry about getting damaged during my travels.
8. Comfortable, wrinkle-proof pants
Europeans haven't really joined us in the leggings-as-pants trend. Jeans or actual pants are going to deserve a place in your suitcase. I like to include some pairs out of which I can get a few wears.
Country-specific packing lists
Packing for a trip to Europe is one of my favorite topics! I've even written packing lists for many individual countries/cities I've visited over the years:
Toiletries you shouldn't leave behind
When it comes to packing for a European vacation, it's easy to be so overwhelmed with the big ticket items that you overlook some of the most essential items, such as toiletries. Never fear - you aren't going to the moon. If you forget something, you can find most things you need in Europe, as long as you're willing to be a little flexible.
Obviously, you're going to want a small toothbrush and travel toothpaste that you can throw away at the end of your trip.
Next, don't forget to bring along any necessary medications and supplements. This includes things like pain relievers, allergy medicine, and vitamins. These are the most critical items, as European regulations on over-the-counter and prescription medications vary greatly from ours. You may not be able to access your specific medication, or even the class of medication you're looking for, when you're out of the country.
Additionally, consider packing a small first aid kit with items such as bandages, antiseptic wipes, and tweezers. You never know when you might need a quick fix for a minor injury.
Finally, be sure to bring along any personal hygiene items you need, such as deodorant, feminine products, and contact solution.
Electronics and gadgets to take with you
When packing for your European vacation, it's important to consider your electronic needs.
First and foremost, make sure to pack a universal adapter to charge all of your devices. This will save you the hassle of trying to find adapters in each country you visit.
Next, consider bringing a power bank to ensure that your phone and other devices stay charged while you're out exploring. A portable WiFi hotspot can also be a lifesaver, especially if you need to stay connected for work or with kiddos at home. That said, an iPhone can connect to your hotel's WiFi. I've never had a real problem.
If you're planning on taking photos or videos during your trip, make sure to pack a high-quality camera or smartphone with a good camera. If I'm due for a phone upgrade, I generally try to make sure I've gotten that taken care of before my trip. It's always a good idea to bring extra memory cards and batteries, too, if you don't go the iPhone route.
Finally, don't forget to bring any necessary cords and chargers for your devices. It's also a good idea to keep them organized in a small pouch or bag to avoid tangling during all the unpacking and repacking.
With your electronics and gadgets in tow, you'll be ready to capture every moment of your European adventure. And don't forget to check out our next section on packing documents and other important items before you hit the road.
Documents and other important items to pack
As you prep for your European getaway, it's easy to focus on packing your clothes, toiletries, and electronic devices. But in the midst of all this, don't forget the one thing you truly can't replace and the omission of which will almost certainly ruin your trip- important documents and items.
It's essential to have your passport, ID, and any necessary visas in order before departing. Additionally, bring along copies of these documents, stored separately from the originals, in case of loss or theft. This makes it easier to get help at the embassy, if you need it.
In addition to these vital documents, consider packing an extra credit or debit card and some cash, as well as emergency contact information and a list of important phone numbers. For added security, stash these items in a hidden pocket or money belt. And don't forget to bring a sturdy, lockable bag or backpack to keep your important belongings safe and secure.
While it feels very "old school," be sure to print out the address and phone number of your hotel(s). I have twice had cab drivers who had not heard of my hotel by name.
With your documentation and valuables safely stored, you'll be ready to explore all that Europe has to offer.
Europe Travel Guidebooks
While there's certainly no shortage of information online (as you've already found!), an actual, physical guidebook is essential not only for planning, but also for changing gears on the fly.
Guidebooks offer everything from detailed maps and city guides to restaurant recommendations and historical tidbits as you stroll around. They can also provide helpful tips on navigating public transportation and avoiding the ever-changing common tourist scams. Whether you're a seasoned traveler or a first-timer, a good guidebook can make all the difference when it comes to getting the most out of your trip.
But with so many guidebooks to choose from, how do you know which one is right for you? Consider factors like your budget, travel style, and personal interests. Do you prefer a comprehensive guide that covers multiple countries, or a more in-depth look at a single city? Are you looking for a budget-friendly option, or are you willing to splurge on a premium guidebook?
Take some time to research your options and read reviews from other travelers before making your decision. With the right guidebook in hand, you'll be well-equipped to make the most of your European adventure.
For me, you can't beat "the Rick Steves" guidebook for the specific country or city (if it's big like Paris) that you're visiting. Check out the full Rick Steves collection on Amazon.
Miscellaneous items to consider adding to your luggage
First, consider packing a portable charger for your electronics. With all the photo-taking and navigation apps, it's no surprise that your phone battery can drain quickly. Having a portable charger on hand can save you from scrambling to find an outlet.
If you plan on doing any hiking or outdoor activities, packing a lightweight backpack can come in handy. It's perfect for carrying snacks, extra layers, and any souvenirs you may pick up along the way.
Convert some currency at your local, American bank, before your trip. Currency change facilities in airports and tourist destinations often charge exorbitant fees. Make sure you don't have foreign charge fees on your credit card, if you intend to use it.
Lastly, if you're a light sleeper or staying in a noisy area, packing earplugs or a sleep mask can help you get a good night's rest. You'll wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day's adventures.
FAQ: Should I bring a water bottle to Europe?
Yes! You should absolutely bring a water bottle to Europe. There are tons of places to refill your bottle, from airports to museums, and even public fountains. Just be sure your water bottle is empty before you enter airport security.
Thanks for stopping by!
Packing for a European vacation is a daunting task, but with our ultimate packing checklist, you can enjoy a stress-free journey. Remember to pack clothing essentials suitable for the location, toiletries that you shouldn't leave behind, and important electronics and documents. Don't forget to add guidebooks and other miscellaneous items to your luggage. By meticulously following this checklist, you can prepare yourself for an unforgettable vacation. Before embarking on your adventure, add your personal touch to the list and make it more specific to your needs. As Mark Twain once said, "Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do." Go ahead and enjoy your European vacation with everything you need at your fingertips!
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