This European Packing List & Packing Tips will help you organize & pack everything you need without overpacking for your European adventure.
Growing up I had a huge problem with overpacking. I seriously always overpacked. For some reason, I believed that if I didn’t bring everything I could possibly need or want I would regret it. This thought process in action not only took more time & created more work for me prior to any trip (as I worked to make everything I owned fit into my suitcase) but also on the trip, as I tried to match up items & figure out what I wanted to wear as everyone was trying to head out the door. This was definitely not an effective system.
Our honeymoon (5 years ago this summer!!) was the beginning process of me learning how to properly pack for a trip. Let’s just say I way overpacked & my new husband was not so eager to lug around my huge suitcase (that I could have fit in). Fast forward 5 years & more vacations than I can count later we were planning our 4th overseas vacation & our 2nd non-USA trip (find examples on my Instagram page for all seasons) & I was determined to pack correctly using everything I had learned from our previous trips.
And when my husband said he only wanted us to try & only take one suitcase, one carry on, along with our two personal items on our 8-day European trip, I was determined to make it work. Even though we were traveling in the late winter, early spring, which meant lots layers, umbrellas, & rain jackets. And even though I was slightly worried about the logistics, the tips I used below helped everything go smoother, both prior to & on the trip, & we even had room to bring back gifts & keepsakes!
So even though figuring out what to pack for Europe can be difficult because you don’t want to forget something, I hope these tips & lists will help alleviate stress while you pack everything you need without overpacking for your European adventure.
- If it is essential, pack it.
- If it is a want, leave it to the side until the end. Once everything is packed & weighed, & if you still want it, pack it & recheck the weight.
- Also, keep in mind souvenirs. If you plan on bringing a bunch home, make sure to preplan & leave room in your suitcase for your keepsakes.
- When picking out your clothing, don’t just pack all of your favorite items, have a game plan. If you have an itinerary (or even just a flexible itinerary) use it as a guide for packing. Pack a complete outfit for each day with what you have planned for that day in mind. By doing so you will only pack what you need & not end up lugging around 2 extra pairs of shoes, 3 extra pairs of jeans, & a whole slew of accessories that could easily get lost throughout your travel.
- Speaking of which, if the item is expensive or irreplaceable you might want to reconsider taking it. Be sure not to bring anything that if lost or stolen would ruin your day or trip. You don’t want to spend your trip worrying or ruin your trip trying to find something misplaced.
- If it is something you can buy at your destination or is already provided for during your trip (i.e. shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, etc.) save weight & don’t bring it.
- If it is big, bulky, or heavy, consider replacing it with something lighter & smaller or borrowing from a friend. For example, I bought 2 of the smallest black (less touristy) umbrellas I could find before our trip. They easily fit in the pockets of our rain jackets which made it easy to go from touring the Louvre to walking the Seine.
- Don’t bring it just because you might need it. Now I’m obviously not talking about medications or important documents, but rather things you love & really want to bring (which might feel like a need) but really is a want. For example, a second rain jacket in case the first gets wet. HA!
- Make sure you can carry what you bring. You want to enjoy all parts of your trip, even the traveling part, so make sure you can make it from one terminal to the next with all of your luggage in tow & on time.
- And on that note, make sure that all of your items are properly weighed ahead of time & meet all size requirements so that you don’t have to pay any extra fees.
1. Clothing Essentials
- Undergarments (underwear, bras, etc.)
- Dresses – I prefer to travel/adventure while wearing a dress, I feel more comfortable, feminine, & it keeps me from getting rashes on my inner thighs. You can find examples on my Instagram page for all seasons.
- Pants & Tops – Pack them according to the weather & in sets per day so you don’t over pack.
- Good Walking Shoes – These Ahnu Women’s Karma Flats are what I wore while walking & biking through Paris, Barcelona, & Rome. Although I originally bought them for our 5-day Disney vacation last year, read more here.
- Belt – Only if needed & preferably not on a plane traveling day.
2. Clothing Extras
- Proper Cover Ups – Specifically for visiting sights with a dress code, be sure to research religious site’s dress codes to make sure you bring the proper attire for them.
- Plane Clothing – For long flights 8-11 hours, especially overnight, I prefer to dress casually & comfy for a relaxing flight.
- Stockings or Tights – For under your dresses in the winter.
- Rain Jacket/Rain Boots – Depending on the season. And make sure it is a neutral, preferably dark, color so that you don’t look like a tourist & scammers/beggars don’t harass you. I found my (long) black rain jacket at Target!
- Cardigans – I pack these with the dress I plan to wear them with. The key is to plan your outfits in advance so you don’t waste time trying to match stuff while on the go.
- Light or Heavy Jacket – Depending on the season &/or weather.
- Scarfs – Depending on the season &/or weather.
- Jewelry – I’ve read that in some countries less is more.
- Hat – For style or shade.
- A fancy dress with corresponding shoes & accessories – For if you plan on going to an opera or a fancy restaurant, although then you will need to make sure you have shoes & accessories to match.
- Body Lotion – Depending on where you stay in Europe your options for all of the above might be limited. I brought some just in case & ended up using my own at one of the hotels we stayed at during our trip.
- Toothbrush & Toothpaste – And if you are married to a dentist, floss & mouthwash.
- Makeup – I wore only eye makeup on the plane so that my skin wouldn’t feel clogged after the long flights.
- Makeup Remover
- Hairbrush, Comb, & Hairties
- Feminine Products
- Shaving Products
- Perfume – I brought a roller-ball from Anthropologie.
- Blowdryer, Curling Iron, Flat Iron – I didn’t bring any of these to save on weight & time.
- Vitamins, Medications, Mini First Aid Kit (band-aids, ibuprofen, etc.)
- Chapstick & Lipstick
- Oil Blotting Paper
- Anything in Your Daily Face & Hair Routine – Although I advise trying to minimalize your morning & night routine so that you have more time to sleep & explore each city.
- Mini Mirror
- Glasses, Contacts, Solution, Eyedrops
4. Carry On Bag Gear
- Small Travel Bag
- Travel Pillow
- Eye Mask
- Phone Charger
- Notebook & Pen
- Makeup bag – TSA approved makeup only. I did this because I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to get into our hotel/room when we arrived at Paris at 5:30 am. Luckily, Marriott was awesome & we were able to check in & shower before beginning our day.
- Travel Blanket
- Ziplock Bag
- Extra outfit – In case your luggage ends up in the wrong place or lost
- Laptop, Ipad, Tablet, & Corresponding Chargers – We decided to not bring ours this time, just to be safe, & to keep me from working.
ps. You can read specifics about all of these in this post: 10 Travel Accessories You Need For An Overnight Flight
5. Daytime Essentials
- Purse – I chose one with a chain strap so that it couldn’t be easily cut off of me.
- RFID Wallet
- Money – Specifically Euros & Credit/Debit Cards. Make sure your credit card company knows when, where, & for how long you will be traveling.
- Portable Phone Charger – Plus cord for charging.
- Camera, Extra Memory Card, Extra Battery, & Charger – Although I probably shouldn’t admit I just used my phone, the new iPhone Plus has an amazing camera!
- Phone – For navigation & pictures.
- Hand Sanitizer – I brought several little bottles & always carried one in my purse.
- Visa – Rumor is you will need one starting in 2018!
- Wallet, Cash, Credit Cards, Debit Cards
- Emergency Contact Information
- Copies of Important Documents (Such as passports, IDs, Visa, etc.)
- Boarding Pass
- Important Medical Information
- Travel Itinerary – Flight, Hotel, & Transportation Information
- Outlet Adaptor
7. Miscellaneous (depending on the season & location)
- Swimsuit, Coverup, Sandals/Flip Flops
- Wrinkle Release
- Antacids, Anti-Nausea Medications, Anti-Diarrhea Medications.
- Cotton Swabs
- Small Scissors
- Maps & Travel Guides
- Business Cards
- Lint Roller
- Extra Ziplock Bags
- Travel Alarm Clock
- Luggage Tags
- Laundry Bag
- Stain Remover
What is your favorite travel gear?
I’d love to hear from you!
Feel free to comment below, email me, or tweet me on Twitter.
With love, G
The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.