Nobody likes packing. Keeping everything in mind, this is the most dreaded part of traveling. As you probably know, packing for a trip to Europe is different from traveling in your home country – you have to think about the extra documents, flight regulations, different climate, and the way of transportation. To help you keep everything in order, I created this smart, editable, and printable Europe Packing List that is easy to use! Read on to find out all of the tips and tricks along the way!
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Packing for Europe Tips and Tricks
Check Visa Regulations and Documents You Need
Are you going on a study abroad trip to Europe? Or are you going there for a vacation? How long are you planning to stay? This will determine whether or not you will need to apply for a visa. If you are an American citizen and you are planning a short vacation to Europe, you may be in the clear – depending on the country you’re visiting, all you will need is your passport. But, if you have any questions or doubts, better check with the consulate website of the country you are going to – better be safe than sorry.
Leave Some Space in Your Suitcase for Souvenirs
Pack the things you will absolutely need, you will want to buy some things on your trip. I try to buy something unusual and special in each country I go to. But don’t buy magnets and key chains. That’s one of the main travel mistakes I mention in my guide. Look for something you will actually use.
Be Aware of Pickpockets
In most European countries, especially bigger cities like Rome, Barcelona, or London, you may be a target of pickpockets. But, it doesn’t mean it’s dangerous. Always be aware of your belongings and don’t show your expensive camera, phone, or wallet unless you absolutely need to. Keep your money in several different places in case something does end up stolen.
Know What You Can and Can’t Pack
Planning ahead will ease your travel experience at the airport. Know what you can pack in your carry-on and checked bags by reviewing this TSA page. A good rule to go by is to pack all of your liquids in your checked bag and all of your valuables in the carry-on. For more carry-on and packing, see the Europe Packing List below!
Bring all the Travel Essentials
Some things you can do without, others, not so much. I always pack the items below in my suitcase and so should you!
- Good Headphones: Bring a pair of headphones, I always use them on long layovers and on flights, they cancel out the noise and are super comfortable. If I’m traveling with someone, I also grab a headphone jack splitter so that I can watch Netflix together with my travel companion.
- Daypack or large purse: You’ll need something to carry your phone, camera, and water while you’re out exploring. Here is the one I love, big enough and converts into a backpack.
- Travel Adapter: If you are traveling to Europe, you need a reliable travel adapter, one that won’t burn your expensive electronics at first use. This travel adapter can be used in the USA, Europe, the United Kingdom, and Australia, so you won’t have to buy a separate adapter for every adventure.
- SPF Cream: Grab an SPF moisturizer – and don’t forget to put on sunscreen!
- Water Bottle: Airports, trains, hotels – I always take a water bottle with me. It’s good for the environment, it reminds me to drink more, and water actually costs money in European restaurants and cafes. Get one on Amazon and always take it with you!
How to Pack for a Trip to Europe
Let’s start with the basics – choosing the right type of luggage. That depends on the length of the trip and how many places you are traveling to.
When I go to Europe, I travel for more than a month and usually take one suitcase, a backpack, and a purse (which goes inside the backpack during flights).
I prefer a large soft-shell suitcase with 4 wheels as it’s the easiest to carry and fits more with less weight. Hard-shell suitcases seem to have less space, be heavier and crack very easily.
I also take this travel backpack for my computer, camera, phone, and documents. You can have them as carry-ons for the flight (usually for free). I also usually pack one day of clothing in it in case my checked-in luggage gets lost. I prefer spacious backpacks with a lot of pockets to store everything.
A travel purse, big enough for your camera and money is great to use as a daypack when you are exploring. It will also be more comfortable than a backpack – you won’t look as much as a tourist.
Whichever you end up choosing, make sure it will fit your Europe Packing List for the time of your travels. Some other tips – choose a unique color that will stand out from all the black bags. It will be easier to notice and it will decrease the chance of someone taking it.
What to Wear on the Long Flight
With multiple layovers and a long time on the plane, always dress comfortably. Wear jeans and a warm shirt. Also, wear the heaviest shoes you are taking, I usually have tennis shoes or winter boots (depending on the season). That way you will have less to carry and more space in your suitcase.
Ultimate Europe Packing List
What to Pack in the Carry-on
- Any Other Valuables or Expensive Items
- About $200 of cash in local currency – you might need cash for a train ticket from the airport and the airport exchange rate is usually horrible.
- Documents – Check What you will need before you go. You may need:
- Personal ID/Student ID card – If you’re a student, some companies offer discount cards to help you save when you are traveling
- Frequent flyer cards and other loyalty program cards
- Cash and debit/credit cards – Call your bank before you travel to inform them (otherwise they might freeze your account)
- Travel and health insurance documents
- Reservations and itineraries
- Water Bottle – a water bottle is a must when you travel, see the water bottle I recommend above.
- Daily Medications – even when you are traveling, stay on top of your daily medications and have some extras in case of emergency. This year I took melatonin which helped me sleep on the plane and get over jet lag in one day!
- Underwear and One Day of Clothes – great to have in case your checked bag arrives late or is lost.
- Face Wipes – always nice to freshen up when you travel!
- A pen (always grab a pen when you travel, you may need one if you have to fill out customs forms)
- Chapstick and lotion (the air is always so dry in-flights, you’ll be glad you had it!)
- A good snack – as long as it’s wrapped and isn’t liquid, it can go through security in your carry-on. It’s cheaper and better than buying a snack at the airport or in-flight. I take nuts, a protein bar, and Trail Butter, my newest find – it’s 750 calories in one serving and the coffee and dark chocolate flavor is addicting!
Clothes to Pack in the Suitcase for a Trip to Europe
Clothing Tip #1: See the extended weather forecast for your destinations on Accuweather.com.
Check it a couple of days before you leave, too. Your clothing will depend on the season, the weather, your destination, and the length of your stay. Generally, pack a couple of pants and several shirts to match. Also, grab a couple of dresses and comfortable walking shoes. You should be set to go!
Clothing Tip #2: Europeans have a different clothing style.
Cargo shorts, tennis shoes, and baseball caps will make you stand out. Go for loafers like this with thick soles to stay comfortable on cobblestone roads instead of tennis shoes. Or, wear a blouse instead of a T-shirt. That way you will not stand out and will be less likely to be pickpocketed.
Clothing Tip #3: Take some special occasion clothing options.
If you are planning on visiting churches, grab a headscarf you might need to enter. If you are going to a Viennese opera, bring a nice outfit and shoes to wear. Think about the experiences you would enjoy and pack accordingly.
What to Wear – Europe Packing List
- Lightweight clothing that can be layered
- Long-sleeved shirts
- 1 Sweater or jacket (depending on the weather)
- Pants and/or shorts (depending on the season)
- Dresses and/or skirts (depending on the length of stay)
- Walking shoes
- Nice shoes
- Scarf (in case you visit a church or get cold)
- Rain jacket or umbrella
Toiletry Bag Checklist
If you’re flying, make sure to put your toiletry bag in your checked luggage. You can only bring liquids, gels, aerosols, creams, and pastes of 3.4 ounces (100ml) or less per container in your carry-on. If you do, put them in a clear, plastic, ziplock bag.
Instead, take a hanging toiletry bag on your trip – it will help you keep all of your toiletries organized and it’s so easy to pack up and go. If you are planning to invest in something new for your vacation, this toiletry bag is life-changing!
Pack these essentials in your toiletry bag:
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss
- Hairbrush, hair ties, and bobby pins
- Conditioner (could be provided in the hotel)
- Sunscreen and face lotion with SPF
- Face wash and/or makeup remover wipes and Q-tips
- Personal hygiene items
- Contacts and solution
- Prescription medicine with the label
- Personal mini mirror
- Hair products
- Nail clippers and tweezers (also in checked luggage)
Travel First Aid Kit
- First aid kit (bandages, gauze, adhesives, etc.)
- Cold medicines and throat lozenges
- Diarrhea/laxative medicines
- Allergy medicines
- Hydrocortisone cream/antibacterial ointment
- Sunburn relief
- Insect repellent
- Motion sickness pills or bands
- Eye drops
What Not to Pack for a Trip to Europe
Here is a list of items you shouldn’t take with you, they will just weigh you down:
- Too many electronics
- Too many clothes – you might want to get something while you are there
- Hair straighteners, blow dryers and other small electronics – they will burn out because of the power differences
- New Shoes – bring your most comfortable shoes, you’ll be doing a lot of walking
- Towels – hotels and hostels usually provide them
- Fanny Pack
- Too much cash
- Expensive jewelry
I recommend taking as little as you can – go through your packing list and take out everything you can live without for a couple of weeks. I included a laptop just in case you need it for school or work, otherwise, keep it at home as well!
Overpacking is one of the Common Travel Mistakes we all make! Keep them in mind!
Get this free smart, printable, and editable Europe Packing List! You will be able to change the days of stay on your trip and it will tell you exactly how much and what your need to pack for your trip! Pretty handy, huh?
Ready to go? Here is your last-minute checklist:
- Double-check that your passports and IDs aren’t expired.
- Inform your bank about the countries you are visiting so they don’t freeze your credit card.
- Email yourself a copy of your passport, driver’s license, medical cards and itinerary, so that you always have it handy.
- To prevent pick-pocketing and stay safe, keep your valuables underneath your clothing. Check out this Money belt, neck wallet, or a Bra Stash to keep your valuables close to your body and away from pickpockets.
- Save this Printable Europe Packing List to refer to as you are packing.
The best thing about traveling in Europe is how easy it is to travel from one country to another, going from one unique culture to the next. Once you get there, you can go by plane, train, bus or car and within a few hours you can reach your destination. Here are a few tips for your upcoming trip to save money and enjoy your stay! Do you want to know my secrets about how I travel abroad every year while working full-time? Read my tips on how to travel more and how to travel on a budget!
Use Buses and Trains Between Destinations
Each European country has very easy-to-use and fast bus and train systems. They are usually pretty cheap and you can use them to go on day trips from one place to another without spending your entire day in the airport.
On my latest trip to Europe, I took Flixbus from Prague to Vienna to Budapest. It’s very affordable and easy to hop on and hop off in a new destination.
Do Not Take a Taxi
Don’t even take a taxi from the airport. Most airports have a cheaper way to get from the airport to the city center. Last time, we got from the airport to our hotel in Barcelona for 1 Euro on a train! It would have been over 30 euros if we took a taxi! Do some research about the city you are going to and buy passes. It will save you money while you are using public transport!
One other pro to using public transport in a new country is a new adventure and seeing the way locals commute there. I love comparing public transport in different countries and no one can compete with Europe on that.
Be Picky About the Place You Eat
Millions of tourists visit Europe every year and restaurants have found the best ways to make money on it. There are high chances of falling into a tourist trap if you don’t do research on places to eat in each destination. Use platforms like Likealocal.com or just Google reviews before you decide to eat somewhere. This tip will save you a lot of money and add great food experiences to your trip.
Travel in the Off-Season
Traveling during the off-season is the only way to avoid crowds and save money on tickets and hotels. While most places are open year-round, they are usually booked in the summer. If at all possible, go for a month before everyone else arrives or choose less touristy destinations.
Bring Comfortable Shoes to Walk Everywhere
I’ve mentioned this before and will say again: you will be glad you have comfortable walking shoes. Bring your favorite pair – you won’t regret it.
Don’t Plan on Using Credit Cards Everywhere
Bring a couple hundred euros on hand for tips, public transport, and purchases at local markets.
Order foreign currency at your bank, don’t use the currency exchange at the airport upon arrival. Airport ATMs don’t always have the best exchange rates, so plan ahead if you like to save.