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.
Packing advice for Europe – when and where?
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.
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.
Here are a few rules for packing for a backpacking trip around Europe
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.
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.
The best luggage for Europe
Right now I personally travel with a Mountaintop 70L because I was on a pretty tight budget and it was only $75. It is still going strong after a year and a half, although you can tell that it isn’t great quality so if you can stretch your budget my next buy will be an Osprey Women’s Aura. As well as my backpack I have also added a Chester Suitcase to my luggage… it’s been a lifesaver for my back, and I love the builtin lock to keep all my gear safe!
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.
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!
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!
If you are going to Europe in the winter don’t forget your winter underwear. You are going to need it!
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!
Lightweight PJ’s are fine everywhere should have heating/ AC in countries where you are likely to need it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I have two and I use them all the time! They aren’t just great to cover-up at the beach they are also perfect to replace your towel. I don’t have a microfiber towel anymore I just use my sarong. I also take them to the beach to lay on and I even use them to tuck under the top bunk bed to give myself some privacy while sleeping in dorm rooms.
I have both! I love my tan crossover bag but I can’t travel without my Kanken backpack. It folds up small so it doesn’t take up much space and it looks good with everything.
If you prefer a towel to a sarong then make sure it’s a quick dry space-saving microfiber towel.
I’m an adventure girl, so I never travel without my head torch. If nothing else it’s good for getting home at night and reading in bed! But if you do decide to go in any caves or hiking up any volcanos then you will be glad you have it.
If you are staying in hostels you need earplugs….that is all!
You will find water filters in most places so make sure you take a good BPA free water bottle. Less plastic people, save the planet! I love this stainless steel one as it keeps my water nice and cool no matter how hot it is.
Swiss Army Knife
I don’t go anywhere without mine! You have no idea how many showers, plug sockets, and doors I’ve fixed using it! Plus you never know when you might need a knife (or a bottle opener). Be the kind of girl who carries a Swiss Army Knife.
Bamboo cutlery and copper straw
I’ll say it again. Less plastic, save the planet! Single-use plastic is the devil and should be avoided at all costs haha. No, but really lots of places are now banning single-use plastic (hurray) so do yourself a favor and get ahead of the game by getting a bamboo set and a copper straw for your mojitos.
See above. Always carry a foldaway shopping bag. Great for shopping and laundry.
Soap bar for washing clothes
A bar of laundry soap is less likely to leak and saves on your liquid allowance. I also like to pack a fingernail scrubbing brush for washing clothes. I use this for scrubbing the areas of my clothes more prone to soaking up smells.
They come in handy for everything from storing food to protecting your toiletries from leakage. Make sure you wash and reuse though!
Depending on what country you are traveling from make sure you have a multipurpose travel plug adaptor.
Hanging Toiletry Bag
It’s always good to have a hanging one so you don’t have to put your bag down in communal bathrooms.
First Aid Kit
I like to make my own and I always have activated charcoal, antihistamines, and anti-inflammatories in there as well as the usual, bandages, mini scissors a small bandage, steri strips, diarrhea tablets, constipation relief, and rehydration sachets. If you prefer more natural remedies then take a read of this post I wrote on essential oils.
Always carry Activated Charcoal with you, in case you want to know why read this.
I never travel without at least 2 carabiner clips – 1 big one and a few smaller ones. They come in so handy for everything from attaching my sandals to my backpack to clipping on my GoPro.
You can make your own or buy one with a decent amount of DEET in it.
I always like to keep a little pack in my bag, just in case.
Again just in case!
I’m a total hippy and don’t like to use anything with too many chemicals in. If you like going natural like me, here is a list of my favorite products you can find on Amazon.
Or if you are more into DIY then take a read of this post on Natural Products for travelers.
Other Useful Stuff
If you are staying in hostels it’s worth bringing one of these with you just in case. I actually used mine quite a lot because I was cold at night rather than the bed being dirty.
Obviously this is optional. But I prefer to have my own. I love this 2 man tent but they also do a 1 man if you need to save on space and are traveling solo.
Blow up Pillow
If you are going camping then a blow-up pillow is a must and doesn’t take up much room. If you’re not then skip it.
I always have a plastic poncho, always!
Mobile wifi hotspot
I don’t ever leave home without my TEPPY. It’s amazing for times on the road, sketchy hotel wifi issues, and as an emergency back up.
If you want to get your own then use CLAIRESITCHYFEET for a 10% discount on sales and rental, (only valid for 100 uses so be quick).
Photocopies of passport
I am obsessed with this. I have photos on all of my devices and photocopies in each bag. You never know when you will be asked for this and if you lose your passport having a photocopy makes it much easier to get a replacement.
I like to carry a fake wallet with some old bank cards and a small amount of money that I can hand over in case of an emergency. I always keep my cash and bank card separate. When possible I leave my bank card safely locked up.
Don’t forget insurance!
Whatever you do, don’t forget about insurance. I personally use Safetywing insurance for Digital Nomads. But that will only cover your medical expenses. So if you need something more comprehensive then it’s World Nomads all the way!
Mobile wifi hotspot
I don’t leave home without my TEPPY. It’s amazing for times on the road, sketchy hotel wifi issues, and as an emergency back up.
If you want to get your own then use CLAIRESITCHYFEET for a 10% discount on sales and rental, (only valid for 100 uses so be quick).
I hope this post has been helpful in planning your trip to Europe. If you are traveling as a family then this post will talk you through all of the gear you need to travel Europe together.
Make sure you check out my other posts
7 Things to see and do in Mijas (Pueblo)
How to spend a day in Malaga
This post was proofread by Grammarly
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.
- Workpackers – If you want to travel on the cheap and save money on accommodation then you need Workpackers 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!
- 12Go – If you are traveling in Asia and want to pre-book your transportation then 12Go is a fantastic site to do so. They have buses, trains, and air travel.
- 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.