Packing advice for Europe

Packing advice for Europe

Europe is a big place and it has varying climates depending on which country(s) you are visiting and when you are planning on visiting. In this post, I’m going to cover some general packing advice for Europe. If you are only planning to visit the south of Spain in Summer you will only need warm weather clothes. However, you are planning a trip to Finland in the winter you are going to need to pack your thermals! In this post, I’m going to talk you through the middle of the road packing list for Europe that will be suitable for most places in both summer and winter. You will just need to adapt slightly if you are going anywhere with extreme weather.

What to wear in Europe

Adventures in Europe | A Beginner’s Guide to Traveling in Spain

Europeans have a lot of style so you want to make sure you pack a few accessories that will dress up and add style to your outfits. It’s much better to do this than to overpack lots of items that you will only wear once.

It is also worth mentioning that the shopping in Europe is pretty amazing so it’s worth leaving some room so you can pick up a few items on your travels.

Mix and Match

This is rule number one and it’s an important one. You need to make sure that you don’t have any single wear items packed. Everything in your bag should be mix and match. I  normally include only 1 patterned top and 1 patterned bottoms so that everything else will match. If you pack lots of patterned tops and bottoms you are going to be limited to what you can wear together. Before packing lay everything out and do a practice mix and match just to make sure everything goes well together.

Packing Cubes

Want to pack more but you don’t have space? Don’t worry just get yourself some packing cubes. Problem solved! These are the ones I use and love, I wrote a post on using them which you can read here.  If you are backpacking the slim ones are better for fitting into a backpack.

Easy wash and quick dry

When choosing clothes I always try and choose things that wash easily (leave the dry clean only at home), don’t need ironing, are lightweight and will dry quickly. I also try not to bring anything heavy as it will also take up more space. I prefer to pick thin light clothing so I can squeeze a few more things in rather than larger heavier material that takes up space.

Europe Travel essentials

Adventures in Europe | A Beginner’s Guide to Traveling in Spain

Travel Insurance

First things first, you are going to need some solid insurance. If you don’t believe me then read this. I personally use SafetyWing Digital Nomads Insurance which is an ongoing policy that just renews each month. But before that, I used World Nomads who are the company I would highly recommend if you are backpacking.

Reusable Water Bottle

In most cities in Western Europe (Paris, Berlin, London, Madrid, etc) you can drink water directly from the tap. Always check with a local first though. So having. a good reusable water bottle is essential in Europe as you can buy large bottles of water and refill. . If you are still a little worried then get a water bottle with a filter like this for peace of mind.

Bug Spray

Not so essential in Bogota, but travel to Minca, Salento, Cartagena, or Amazonia and you will need a bucket full! I suggest getting an eco-friendly one for your body and then getting something a little more aggressive like this to spray on your clothing.

Vaccines 

To travel to Europe you should make sure you have had all of the normal childhood vaccines ((Tetanus and Diphtheria, Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) in addition it is recommended to have both Typhoid and Hepatitis A. Although you should never take medical advice from a travel blogger, so please check in with your doctor’s office as they will be able to give you the most up to date advice. 

You will not need malaria pills in Europe.

Download my packing list

Luggage for Europe

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If you plan on covering a lot of ground then I would personally suggest a 65L backpack and a dry bag backpack as your main two bags. Then have a small daypack that can easily be packed when traveling. I’ve added images and links for the luggage I have tried and tested in Europe below. 

If security is a concern for you then I highly recommend getting in Pacsafe backpack for added security and peace of mind. I also wrote this blog post on the best digital nomad backpacks and this one about carry on luggage, just in case they are useful to you.

You are also going to need some packing cubes to help keep all of you things organized (and squeeze in a few extra items of clothing). Plus a good laundry bag, toiletry bag, and of course a shopping bag.

Other Useful Things to Pack for Europe

Over the years backpacking the world I’ve got packing down to a fine art and I have some essential items in my backpack that you might not think of. So here are some things you are going to need that you might not think of!

Laundry Soap and a Nail Brush – Unless you want to be doing laundry every few days, it’s best to just wash out your underwater in the shower each night. To do this I always travel with a bar of laundry soap and a nail brush. It also comes in handy to clean off marks and stains from clothes you are washing.

A Travel Washing Line – I love mine, it’s so handy and takes up no room at all.

A Sewing Kit – When you are traveling sometimes you need to make-do-and-mend.

Mini First Aid Kit – Goes without saying really! I also add in some extras like activated charcoal and other useful pharmaceuticals. 

Carabiner clips –  So useful for attaching things to your backpack!

Head torch – Equally as useful for camping as it is for reading in bed, or trying to find your way home in the dark.

Ear Plugs – If you are planning on staying in hostels you are going to need these!

A Whistle – I know many people worry about safety and want to protect themselves. I like to carry a whistle just in case I need to pull attention. It might not be as effective as pepper spray, but as that is illegal to fly with too many countries, this is a good alternative.

A Door Stop – Worried about safety in your room at night? Use the doorstop to block the door from the inside and make it harder for someone to enter the room.

Silk Sleeping Bag Liner – Another thing that doesn’t take up so much room, but will give you a lot of peace of mind if you need it. Sometimes you might either find yourself chilly or just not wanting to sleep in the bedsheets. So hopping inside a sleeping bag liner helps you get a good night’s sleep, wherever you are…

Umbrella – If you are traveling somewhere tropical it’s likely to rain, but still be hot. Having an umbrella in your bag will keep you dry without making you feel like you will collapse from heat exhaustion!

A padlock – I recommend getting one of these locks so you don’t need to worry about keys. They are TSA approved so you can use them to lock your luggage when flying as well as using it to lock your locker at the hostel.

USD – I always keep an emergency $50 USD hidden somewhere, just in case. USD is the most widely accepted currency, but you will need to ensure the notes are clean and crisp. Many places won’t accept them if they are marked at all.

Quick-dry towel – I have 2, a large one and a small hand size one that I keep clipped to my backpack.

A sarong – I never travel anywhere without at lease 2 sarongs. I use them to replace my towel, hang over my bed in a hostel for privacy. Wrap around my hair when it’s wet, sunbathe on… I could go on and on. I even make a dress out of mine when I’m at the beach.

A scarf – Another multi-use item that doesn’t take up much room. Scarfs are great for covering shoulders from the sun, or when entering churches. It will also help keep you warm, and they look cute!

Yoga Mat – I never travel without my yoga mat. I wrote a whole post to help you choose the best travel yoga mat here.

Spice Bag – If you are planning to do some cooking then I recommend making a spice bag so you don’t end up wasting lots of money or herbs and spices, or eating bland food for the whole of your trip. I put my spices into ziplock bags and then keep them in one of these clear bags

Ziplock Bags – I know, I know, more plastic. But they do come in really handy when traveling and you can wash and reuse them so you aren’t throwing them away.

Coffee Flask – Great for keeping hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. It also saves you having to use disposable cups when you buy a takeaway coffee.

Aeropress – I do love my coffee, so traveling without my Aeropress is not an option haha. This is also another great portable coffeemaker/ mug if you aren’t a fan of the Aeropress. 

Clothing to Pack for Europe

You can see my full Europe packing list here on Amazon, and you can also download my free Europe packing list here. So I’m going to try and keep this section brief.

1 pair of Skinny Jeans

I’m obsessed with DSTLD jeans they are the best pair of jeans I have ever had. They have a high waist and are perfectly fitted. Although you might not want to wear these so much in the day they are perfect for dressing up with a nice top and jewelry if you are going out somewhere.

1 pair of leggings

Love them or hate them, they are comfortable and perfect for traveling or going for a run. I can’t get enough of Girlfriend Collective Leggings, they are so comfortable! They are also lined but breathable so perfect for summer and winter. They have a super high waistband and a hidden pocket at the back where I like to keep some money and my bank card. Oh, and as they are made from recycled water bottles they are also good for the environment!  They are also perfect for hiking volcanos or exploring ancient Mayan ruins in the jungle if you want to cover up from the mosquitoes.

Shorts – denim tailored and sports

I can’t travel without my denim shorts, I don’t care that they take up space and are heavy. If it’s hot they are perfect for every occasion. I can dress them up with a nice top and some nice jewelry and sandals. Or during the day I can wear with a plain top and sneakers.

As well as a pair of denim shorts or other casual shorts you should pack a more tailored pair of shorts and a pair of comfy shorts. The tailored shorts can be dressed up for evenings and the sports shorts can be worn to the beach or lounging around the hostel.

2 skirts

I like to pack 2 skirts that are lightweight and suitable for wearing during the day but can be dressed up in case I go anywhere. I like to have one long one short/ mid-length.

4 or 5 Tops

I always have 5, 3 plane T-Shirts and 2 more dressy/ stylish tops. This gives me plenty of options. Although I always have 2 nicer tops I make sure they match with most if not all of my bottoms.

Jumper/ cardigan / shirt

I like to have one of each, and I normally wear all of them to travel haha. Make sure they are all lightweight and will go with (almost) everything you have. I travel with a black fleece jumper, a denim shirt, and a black wool cardigan and they all go with everything in my backpack.

1 or 2 dresses

I like to make sure both dresses are lightweight and can be worn in the day and in the evening. I personally have 2 short dresses just because longer dresses take up too much room. But if you can find a lightweight maxi dress grab it!

If you are planning on taking advantage of some of Europe’s amazing hikes make sure you have a quick try top (or 2) and some hiking pants. I know they aren’t very cool, but I do love my Craghoppers zip-off pants!

Bras

If you wear them you will want 1 or 2 bras and a sports bra. I personally don’t bother anymore. I prefer something a little boob friendlier than having metal jabbed into my ribcage!

8 pairs knickers

I know a lot of people say 5 but I like to just do laundry once a week so I always have enough for a week and a spare pair. They don’t take up much room and it saves me washing my panties in the sink each night! Laundry is very cheap in most Central American Countries. My normal laundry bill is $3 a week for all of my clothes and towel to be washed, dried and folded up. So you won’t need to worry about hand washing your clothes unless you are really on a tight budget!

Thermal Underwear

If you are going to Europe in the winter don’t forget your winter underwear. You are going to need it!

Swimwear

I like to have 2 tops and 1 pair of black bottoms plus a swimsuit. If you are just planning on visiting cities then just pack one or the other but if you are going to be heading to the beach take both. Swim Suits are great if you are going to be doing any adventuring and a MUST if you are planning to go to Marbs!

Sleepwear

Lightweight PJ’s are fine everywhere should have heating/ AC in countries where you are likely to need it.

Coats / Outerwear

I have two coats my Down Jacket that goes into a little bag and a waterproof coat that also goes into a bag. If you are traveling in the Summer you may not need these, however, if you can get compact ones that don’t take up much space it’s worth having both.

Shoes

The most important thing about footwear is that it is, comfortable! If you are going to Europe you are going to be doing some serious walking. I always like to have one solid pair of closed-toe shoes that are suitable for heavy-duty walking and then a pair of sturdy sandals for when it’s too hot for shoes. If you are going to be hiking then think about investing in some good hiking boots.

Optional are sneakers and Flip Flops. If you are more of a sneakers girl then ditch the shoes for sneakers of converse. I like to have a pair of flip-flops for the beach and showering in hostels. I normally don’t travel with them though I just buy cheap ones when I arrive.

Socks

It’s always with investing in at least 3 good pairs of socks that are quick drying and of good quality. I travel with 3 hiking socks and 3 normal pairs.

Hat

Depending on how stylish you are feeling pack something more in fashion or a simple baseball cap to keep the sun out of your eyes and your face. I have no room for a fancy hat so I just have a simple black baseball cap.

Sunglasses

Always check the UV protection even if you get a cheap pair. I travel with a nice (expensive) pair for walking around the city and a cheap pair for the beach.

Toiletries to Pack for Europe

You can very all of the travel toiletries I recommend here on this Amazon list. Many things you can actually buy in Europe easily, so I wouldn’t stress too much about buying a lot of toiletries to travel with. But there are some things that are harder to get hold of and expensive in Europe, like shampoo! It’s all imported and I’m always shocked at how much it costs. So I always try and travel with my own.

Technology to take to Europe

If you are stressing about taking your smartphone to Europe, don’t. Most Europeans do have smartphones, so you aren’t going to stand out having one too. You will need to be careful about flashing your expensive digital gear around Europe though. Take a read of these posts to help you prepare if you are worried.

Here are some digital things I’d recommend packing for Europe.

Smart Phone – If you don’t want to take your fancy iPhone traveling, then this is a great phone with a very good camera for under $300. It’s what I personally have and shoot a lot of my vlogs on.

Kindle – Save space by investing in a kindle and kindle unlimited. You will find most of the lonely planet travel guides are available to read for free with the plan. 

Lightweight laptop and external hard drive – I have a MacAir which is perfect for traveling. After losing all of my photos a few years ago I also always travel with a heavy-duty external harddrive.

Camera and Tripod – I travel with this DSLR but I also have this mirrorless camera which I often take if I want to use something more discreet. I also love this tripod as I can use it with all of my cameras (even my phone), plus it’s small and light enough to fit in my daypack.

Backup charger – I have these two and always keep one in my bag.

Travel adaptor – Get a worldwide one like this so you can use it wherever you travel to.

Portable WiFi – I never travel without my TEP wireless device. If you can’t live without WiFi I recommend buying or renting one.

Check out My travel books

The Solo Girls Guide to Traveling Without Fear

The solo girls guide to becoming a digital nomad

Book your trip now

Are you ready to book your trip?  To help you get the best deals and service here are the companies that I personally use to book all of my travel online. I always shop around before booking anything, but these are my tried and tested starting places.

  • Skyscanner – I’m a bit fan of Skyscanner, it is who I use to book all of my flights. I often will check other like Google Flights or Momodo, but I always go here first and it is who I book 99% of my flights with. 
  • Booking.com – I LOVE booking.com especially when I can book and cancel free up until a certain point, mostly because my plans are forever changing. It’s easy to use and has one of the widest selections. 
  • Airbnb – I’m not a huge user of Airbnb, but sometimes I do like to use it, and I ALWAYS check it before I book anything else. You can get some really cool places to stay here, and it is especially good in places like Cuba. If you don’t have an account and you click on this link then you will get $36 off your first booking.
  • Hostelworld – If you are looking for hostels then this is a great place to check first. They often have additional places that you won’t find on Bookin.com.
  • Agoda – Although I don’t use it as much as booking.com, Agonda is especially good if you are traveling in Asia as they really do dominate there. 
  • Worldpackers – If you want to travel on the cheap and save money on accommodation then you need Worldpackers in your life. You can read more about it here. If you click this link to sign up and use the code CLAIRESITCHYFEET then you can get a 40% discount on your membership! 
  • Book a Way – If you are traveling in Asia and want to pre-book your transportation then bookaway.com is a fantastic site to do so. They have buses, trains, and cars.
  • RentalCars – Looking to rent a. car while you are away? I always book through Rental Cars as they do a search of all of the big sites and find the best deals. 
  • Welcome Pickups – Very occasionally getting from the airport to my accommodation is a total pain in the butt, or I’m traveling in a group and it makes sense to arrange a pickup. When I do I use Welcome pickups.
  • World Nomads – If you are looking for flexible travel insurance then it’s World Nomads all the way. I wrote all about insurance here if you want a more thorough review. 
  • SafetyWing – AsI’m a Digital Nomad and not moving around quite so much anymore I personally use SafetyWing now for my health insurance. I wrote a full review here
  • Viatour – Sometimes it can be a little expensive, but I like Viatour for somethings, especially if you can get a discount code! It’s also great for inspiration. 
  • Klook – If you are traveling in Asia, then Klook is great! You can book all kinds of tours, activities, and train tickets, plus they even have sim cards and WiFi.

Claire Summers

Dancer, producer, traveller, photographer, cake maker, dog lover and knitter of Christmas scarfs.

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