As a travel advisor, I get so much joy out of helping people plan aspects of their trips 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 in particular.
Things To Pack For International Travel
Packing for international travel 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. This post will help you with handy packing tips and I share a lot of my travel essentials I always have with me when I head out of the country. There is even an international travel checklist you can save down for future trips!
I generally stick to a few self-imposed rules when it comes to packing for my overseas trips and after many years of travel, my formula is down rather pat at this point. If you have interational travel on the horizon, my packing tips should be helpful to both inspire and help you plan.
What To Pack For International Travel
Mix and Match Outfits
When deciding what to wear for international travel, 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.
For makeup for longer trips, I rely on the Cuyana makeup cases.
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 foreign 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 many international destinations, 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 or 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 many countries are 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.
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 travel packs 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 foreign travel, 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!
International Travel Packing List
You can save this PDF down to your phone or pin it for later! Consider it your ultimate packing list.
Depending on where you are traveling, you may also want to consider traveling with a print out of your emergency contacts, a first aid kit, a reusable water bottle, hand sanitizer (always a good idea) and printed out copies of your passport and visas that may be required for your travels.
International Travel Packing Tips
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
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 checked bags or carry on bags 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 which I think is a great travel packing tip.
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.
Leave some space in your luggage
If you have a checked bag with you, be sure to leave some room in it so you can enjoy shopping and picking up special souvenirs. You may want to consider packing cubes as well to maximize your space.
Related: My Travel Essentials
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I hope you found this post helpful! Do you have any great international travel tips you can share in the Comments?
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