Heading to Europe on vacation? Don’t start packing without first looking through this great packing list for a trip to Europe, tons of things you need as well as tips on what to leave at home!
I first started thinking about what to pack the day before my trip. Probably not a good thing, but luckily I had the majority of these things already in my apt. Looking back after our trip, there are definitely things I’m glad we had and things I don’t think were really necessary to bring. I did feel like we were always prepared for anything but had a little too much to haul around. So here goes my take on the perfect packing trip for Europe. And any other trip you may go on. It’s a little (well really) long, but I didn’t want to leave things out and leave someone stranded.
- Shirts, preferably ones that go well with a lot of different things for mix and match. I brought a total of 8 shirts for the two weeks and we did laundry once in the middle.
- Pants/Shorts/Skirts – preferably ones that go well with for mix and match as mentioned above and ones that dry quickly. Make sure to take into account what you’re doing as you choose which bottoms to bring, for instance you probably don’t want to wear a skirt for canyoning in Switzerland and you’ll probably want to wear something a little nicer if you’re doing a fancy dinner in Italy.
- Sweatshirt/cardigan- I was always very grateful for my sweatshirt on the train
- Swimsuit– depends on where you go, we never made it to the beach but if you’re going to somewhere in Europe that has a beach, bring 1 or 2.
- Underwear/bras/socks– Again we brought 7 sets and did laundry
- Shoes– I brought two pairs; one pair of super comfortable padded Oakley flip flops, a pair of flat tennis shoes that I bought in Europe. It was really nice to switch off from open to closed toe shoes to give my feet time to breathe. Just make sure whatever you bring that they’re comfortable to walk in.
- Slippers– Even with the comfortable shoes, your feet will get sore. Bring them if they fit.
- Light jacket– It was really hot in Spain and Italy but rained the entire time we were in Paris. We were definitely grateful (especially on the Eiffel Tower) to have something waterproof.
- Money Belt– I actually used this running belt that worked perfectly. I kept my ID, credit cards, and a big chunk of cash in it at all times and didn’t have to worry about it.
- Important Docs and Copies– This is probably a little overkill, but we kept our passports and credit cards on us and had copies of everything stored safely in our room. We also gave a copy of our docs to friends and family at home just in case. While we were traveling, I stored our passports in a tampon box. They fit perfect and didn’t think anyone would want to steal tampons.
- Small Tote/Backpack– I just used my normal purse (since all of my valuables were in my money belt), and it worked out perfectly. I kept chapstick, the camera, bottled water, and snacks in it at all times. And since there was nothing valuable in it, I didn’t have to worry too much about it getting stolen.
- Camera- Make sure you bring extra cards or at least the cord and jump drive to download the pictures onto a computer. I didn’t have an extra card and brought the wrong cord so we were deleting pictures halfway through.
- Watch- If you’ve got one bring it. Richie carried his cell phone around because neither of us has any sort of watch. I definitely would’ve preferred a watch.
- Earplugs- They give you cheapie ones on the night trains, but I would definitely invest in a set of your own before coming. This helps a ton when people are waking up and moving around at 7AM and your train doesn’t get in until 10AM. Or you have a noisy hotel. And they’re small, so that’s a plus.
- First-Aid Kit- Really the only thing we used were the bandaids, but we definitely used them. Especially on our feet.
- Toiletries- Bring what you individually will actually need and use. I packed a lot more than I ever used and just ended up carrying it around with me. I’d consider just bringing a small amount of makeup, hairspray, etc. I did end up having to buy shampoo and conditioner in Paris and wish I’d just brought it from home because getting the kind you’re used to in Europe is expensive.
- Hair Electronics- I brought a blow dryer and straightner and didn’t use either once. Just wasted space for me, but I’m happy to just put my hair up or scrunch it. Definitely your call here but all I needed were some ponytail holders, bobby pins, and a brush.
- Plastic Baggies– This is a big one that most people don’t think about. Bring sealable ones in all shapes and sizes. We used these all the time for everything from bringing home leftover bread to filling them with tissues to take on the road.
- Clothesline- I didn’t think it was necessary and didn’t bring one. We got to see firsthand why they were recommended. The laundromat drying machine in Italy don’t work. We used door knobs, coat hangers, and lamps instead.
- Guidebook- More on this later but get one. And use it.
- Small notepad and pen- I didn’t bring one and ended up buying one there that would fit easily in my purse. This was great for writing down what we did during the day, what we ate, and how much we spent in each place.
- Travel Itinerary- Again might be overkill but I made copies of everything we needed for each location (hotel info, direcctions to the hotel, museum info, train tickets) and threw it all into a binder neatly organized by city. It made it SOOO much easier to keep track of.
- Tissues- I brought an entire box, which might have been a little much but we were defintely grateful to have them. European napkins are similar to the sheets we use for donuts (scratchy not soft) and don’t do anything for getting rid of the stuff on your hands. We also used these as paper towels, toilet paper, tissues, and ways to wrap up leftovers.
- Travel Pillow– I bought one of the go around your neck travel pillows when I first went to Spain and was converted to always having one. This was so helpful on the trains and planes that give you pillows that don’t do anything except take up space. It was also helpful on the 2-3 hour train rides where there were no pillows involved.
- Kindle or other E-reader – I typically read fast so I brought 4-5. I really didn’t have a whole lot of downtime that I wasn’t sleeping so I only ended up reading 1 and ignoring the other 3. Again this depends on your trip but you really don’t need a whole lot to entertain you. The countryside, people, and food are entertaining enough.
- Umbrella- Nobody likes walking around soaking wet. Bring a small one if it fits or you’re going to end buying one there.
- Sunscreen- We brought it and never used it, but I would definitely bring some just in case, especially if you’re traveling in the summer.
So that’s it. That’s everything we brought with us, and we were grateful for the majority of the items. We packed fairly light (other than the empty extra duffle to bring things home), and it definitely made the trip more enjoyable not having to drag around a ton of heavy suitcases.