As a travel advisor, I get so much joy out of helping people plan aspects of their trips to Europe and sharing tips about my favorite destinations. One question I get the most is about what to pack. This is why I create so many seasonal Packing Lists for popular European destinations. Packing for Europe is an art form and sometimes can be one of the most daunting tasks when it comes to traveling abroad. Packing the right things helps to ensure your trip overseas is fun, safe, and stress-free.
I generally stick to a few self-imposed rules when it comes to packing for Europe and after many years of travel, my formula is down rather pat at this point. If you have European travel on the horizon, my packing tips should be helpful to both inspire and help you plan.
What to Pack for a Trip to Europe
Mix and Match Outfits
When deciding what to wear in Europe, one of the keys to packing is to choose items that you can mix and match. I recommend you bring several pairs of pants or shorts (depending on the season) that can be dressed up or dressed down, dresses or skirts for evening, a trench coat, a leather jacket or some other mid-layer depending on the time of year, a neutral blazer or tweed jacket, one pair of shoes for evening and 2-3 pairs of comfortable shoes for daytime.
Makeup and skincare
I like to buy minis of my morning and evening skincare routine products to bring with me. For a toiletry bag, I store them all in Truffle cases (seen in All My Travel Essentials). Many European countries are incredibly strict with their liquid restrictions (more so than TSA) so keep this in mind if you’re carrying-on for your return flight.
If you’re spending time in a city, you’ll likely encounter noisy evenings so I always travel in Europe with a pair of earplugs.
But of course! Remember you’ll need to bring this with you to fly but also to do any luxury shopping (for VAT refunds if the country you’re visiting allows) and to check into your hotel.
Many European countries have lifted their restrictions so you likely won’t need this moving forward, but I keep mine in my passport cover just in case.
Carding isn’t really a thing in Europe, but since you won’t want to be out and about with your passport it is good to have your license with you – especially should you need to go to the doctor or hospital.
If you’ve purchased travel insurance, be sure you have documentation of your policy.
Bring along the credit cards you plan to use that don’t have foreign transaction fees. And if you want to get cash out, be sure to have a debit card with you as well. Don’t forget to upgrade your card to a tap-to-pay if you can!
I like to keep photos of all my important documents on my phone in a folder so I can easily access them.
Electronics & Accessories
Remember that Europe is on a different electric system than the US, and even within Europe there are varying systems. The UK and Ireland have a three-pronged outlet, while the rest of Europe has a two-pronged outlet. You’ll need to bring converters, and things like your Dyson Airwrap or steamer or blow dryer won’t work even with a converter. Leave them behind and instead bring dual voltage electronics.
Having a portable charger is a must! This one is my preferred model as it is slim enough to fit in purses without taking up much space. This is a great USB plug to have on hand for your hotel room or Airbnb in the UK, and this one for the rest of Europe.
If you also worry about losing your luggage, buy a few Apple AirTags and pop them into your suitcases so you can track your luggage.
If you want to capture family photos or the likes and don’t have time or the budget for a professional photographer – don’t forget the power of a handy tripod to do so!
If you’re traveling to Europe in the summer, keep in mind that air conditioning is not as widely employed as it is here in the US. So if you run hot, I’d recommend bringing a portable fan to help cool off.
Many European cities are making a conscious effort to be more green, so I always try to bring a reusable water bottle with me (plus I don’t have to waste money buying water when I’m out and about). Just don’t forget to empty it before you go through airport security!
I always bring this collapsable duffle with me when I go to Europe to fill up with whatever shopping I do. It fits a lot and easily goes over your suitcase handle as well. I’ll bring it back with me along with the tote I bring on the airplane as my personal item.
If your luggage is over weight you will endure an extra cost so it is a good idea to have a back up bag in case you need to put overflow from your suitcase in there.
Good luggage is a must. I swear by Away luggage. I have the Bigger Carry On, the Medium and the Large which is my preferred suitcase for when I spent time in Paris. They fit so much! The link included should score you $20 off of your first purchase if interested!
And don’t forget to add luggage tags to them, too!
I’m not a backpack girl myself, but I know some people love them for traveling! I’ve heard great things about Calpak’s travel backpacks.
I know things like money belts used to be considered a “must-have” item for travel to Europe, but nowadays I find a crossbody does the trick. It keeps my personal items close to me and still looks cute. I love the Senreve Aria belt bag that you can wear a few different ways, and if you want to make it more nighttime just add a chain strap!
Best Packing Tips For Europe
Consider the weather
Of course the biggest consideration when packing is the weather. Be sure to check the weather forecast as you are packing! Usually a few weeks out from my trip I begin looking at the weather to see how things have been – has it rained a lot? Has it been colder in the evenings?
Prepare for rain
Regardless of the time of year, I always prepare for rain – that way, I’m not disappointed! Don’t forget to have a good umbrella (this is the one I bring) in your suitcase and pack a chic trench coat.
Consider getting around
Be sure you check to see if where you’re staying has an elevator. Many places in Europe don’t, so you’ll want to plan (and pack light) should you need to be carting suitcases up narrow stairwells. Also keep in mind the type of public transportation you’ll be using and how accessible it will be with a luggage – this may also affect how you pack.
Stick to a color palette
I always stick to a color palette when I pack for Europe. I want my looks to be stylish, yet comfortable and extremely ready for mix and match wear. I’ll pack a blazer that can go with jeans as easily as it can go over a dress or pair with dress shorts or dress pants.
I’m a neutrals person when it comes to my wardrobe so usually my looks fall in a variety of color palettes such as the neutral colors of Black/Ivory/Camel or Black/Cream/Navy.
Don’t forget the power of accessories
A purposeful accessory can change an entire outfit – a silk scarf can be donned on your bag or around your neck to switch up the look of the sweater you’ve backed. Or a broach could add a bit of glam for evening on the blazer you also wore during the day time.
Be thoughtful when planning what shoes to wear
We’ve all heard horror stories of people being unprepared for the miles and miles of walking that come with visiting Europe, so be sure you’re not bringing new shoes that need breaking in. Prioritize comfort but also give consideration to what shoes won’t have you looking like a tourist. Say it with me: comfortable walking shoes are a must. You will be doing lots of walking – trust me.
Make a packing list
As you prepare for your trip, begin a packing list for Europe in your Notes app to outline the pieces you’d like to bring. Then reference that list when it comes time to pack so you won’t over pack.
Write down your outfits
I always write down my outfits for both daytime and evening when I go to Paris. This ensures I actually wear what is in my suitcase and don’t forget what’s in there. This also helps me not overpack. I have friends who also try on and take photos of the outfits they’re packing to have handy on their phone. You can also organize packing cubes by outfit to keep things organized. Pro tip: if you’re an iPhone user, use the “touch-to-copy” feature and copy the outline of your outfit photos and paste them into the Notes app.
Europe Packing List
Pin this image for later and shop the pictured styles here.
Pin this image for later and shop the pictured styles here.
You May Also Like:
This post contains affiliate links. Should you purchase something from an affiliate link, I may earn commission, at no cost to you. Thank you for your support of my work!