Packing Tips: What to pack for a European Vacation

Most people plan a lot of activities and desinations in one trip to Europe to make the most of seeing the continent.

No matter if you are planning a whirlwind trip as many first timers do or if you are going to take it easy and visit just 2 or 3 places to really take them in there are some packing tips that can make your trip more enjoyable. It’s just too tempting to want to see it all at once but saavy travelers know better!

packing tips

  • Packing Tip #1

Bring a bag that has room in it in order to buy gifts or something for yourself. Travelling to Paris, you’ll want room for perfume, traveling to Milan and you’ll want the latest Italian fashion designs or a pair of well made Italian shoes, travelling to Germany or Switzerand and you’ll want to buy a lot of chocolates, etc. etc.

  • Packing Tip #2

Bring disposible clothes. Do you have clothes at the end of their life cycle? Old shirts, underwear or socks? Bring them, wear them and throw them out, doing so will create more room in your bag.  Pack light, especially if you’ll be traveling around Europe and taking public transportation and luggage with wheels do not handle cobblestones to good.

  • Packing Tip #3

Use packing cubes.Our favorite is the Gonex packing cubes due to their variety of sizes and stylish, durable quality.

  • Packing Tip #4

Pack versatile clothing that can be mixed and matched. A really nice pair of blue jeans or slacks can get you by in both casual and dress up settings. If you plan on going out to a nice place pack clothing that doesn’t mean you have to dress to the max. Find clothing that is semi stylish but versitle to wear multiple times.

  • Packing Tip #5

Wear comfortable shoes that you have broken in before your trip. You’ll thank yourself when walking up the stairs of a historic hotel that you were sure would have a elevator but doesn’t, or while navigating the Metro of Paris that seems to be just one staircase after another and those cobblestone streets may look cool but are murder on the feet. Shoes are always difficult because we want to carry more than we need. A good pair of hiking shoes that look great with jeans or shorts and as a nice pair of shoes for the evening for men. While for women a pair of ballet flats, flip-flops, nice sandals and a pair of hiking shoes will normally do. Limit high heels to no more than one pair and only if you know you will need them.

  • Packing tip # 6

Laundry: If you are packing light you will have to wash your clothes more often. Hotel cleaning is ridiculously expensive. You can do it yourself in your hotel sink. Just use the hotel liquid soap or pack some Sink Suds or  small woolite pouches  No it won’t be perfect buy it’ll do. Just be sure to give yourself enough time to completely dry. Laudromats are an option but who want’s to spend their vacation in a laundromat? Take advantage of the opportunity when it presents themselves or take our previous tip and bring disposable clothes.  One last laundry tip, some dryer sheets in your suitcase will go a long way in keeping your clothes smelling nice. There’s nothing shameful about washing your laundry in a tub or sink or even spending some time with the locals at the laundromat! It could be an adventure!

  • Packing Tip #7

Bring a versitle Travel Adaptor. The UK and Ireland have different plugs than continental Europe. So you can’t just bring one all in one with you and magically have it work for all plugs.  We use the all-in-one universal Sublime adapter and it’s all we need and it can charge multiple devices at the same time.

  • Packing Tip #8

Use small containers-We put our medications and toiletries into smaller containers. You don’t need to bring a full bottle of every medicine under the sun. Take out what you’ll need on the trip and leave the big bottles behind. If you need to buy a small pill organizer. You don’t need to take a pharmacy with you-Europe has plenty of drug stores should you need anything. Most hotels will have soap and detergent, take no more than one travel size container.

  • Packing Tip #9

Think about your luggage. Before you know what you’re bringing, you should know where you’re putting them. It is best to start by choosing the right type of luggage. What is right depends on who you are, how many places you are traveling to and how you are getting around.  If you are on a tour for the most part they will drop you off door to door so it may not be that important. However if you are on your own really have you have two choices:

  • A wheeled suitcase
  • A travel backpack/Combo duffel bag

Each one of these choices has pros and cons, so it depends on the your preference.

A wheeled or roller suitcase will not put weight on your back and will generally be better organized. Hard-shell suitcases will protect any fragile items, but they crack very easy if thrown around. Soft-shell suitcases fit in most places and are not easily damaged. Both of these do poorly on long winding staircases or cobblestone streets but unless you are doing much walking from your car or train to a hotel it may not matter. Our favorite set is the Samsonite Winfield which comes in 3 sizes so you have flexibility while packing.

Travel Backpacks that you can also carry as duffles are a nice choice if you are on your own and when you’ll have to do any walking. Aim for spacious backpacks with a lot of pockets to store your things. The downside of travel backpacks is that they are heavy on your back if you failed to follow our advice of packing light. Our favorite one is the Samsonite Andante.

A hybrid is the Samsonite Ripstop Wheeled Duffel that is super versitile and lightweight.

Whichever you end up choosing, make sure it is the right size and will fit your packing list for Europe. Choose a color which stands out from all the usual black bags you see everywhere. It will be easier to notice your bag amongst many others and it will decrease the chance that someone else will accidentally take it.

  • Packing Tips #10

Make a packing list, then take less than you think you’ll need. If you’re going to Europe for more than one week, pack for one week.

Europe Travel Tips



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