Summer is just around the corner and you know what that means? It's time to travel to Europe. Summer is the most wonderful time of the year to view all the historic European sites and we've rounded up our best packing tips for Travel to Europe to make your like easier.
Paris on a sunny day is like no other place on earth. Sipping Cava on the Spanish coast while watching the sunset is something you'll never forget and getting the chance to visit London in July without the grey fog and rain turns makes the city come alive with colour. Most people plan a lot of activities in one trip to Europe to make the most of seeing the continent. There are bus tours that take you quickly from place to place, you can rent a car and be in a different in mere hours, or you can hop on the train and see the ever changing European countryside.
Enjoy our latest video: Packing Tips for Travel To Europe
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There are plenty of ways to see a lot of Europe in a short time, and I can understand why people do the whirlwind trips. Dave and I couldn't help ourselves our first couple of times we travelled to Europe. We wanted to see so much, we kept running off to the next stop before we even had a chance to soak in the site we were at. It's just to tempting to want to see it all at once!
So we could tell you that it's better to travel Europe slowly and take your time to live like a local or pick and choose a couple of things to see, but I know the majority of people will make their first travel to Europe all about seeing a lot of things. So you have to be prepared. You'll be walking up several flights of stairs to your hotel room, you'll be lugging your bags through airports and you'll be needing a change of clothes for the ever changing climates. It will be unbearably hot in Rome but it could be cool and wet in Dublin.
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Packing tips for travel to Europe
If you are planning to travel to Europe for the first time, we highly recommend packing light. Pack versatile clothing that can be mixed and matched. You'll thank yourself when walking up the stairs of an historic 5 star hotel that you were sure would have a functional elevator, or while navigating the Metro of Paris that seems to have one staircase after another.
A few wrinkle free, microfibre shirts, a couple of pairs of pants (or skirts for the ladies), two pairs of shorts and you are good to go. Choose complimentary colours so you can change up your look every day.
For more packing tips, check out our page How to Pack for Travel rounding up all our best posts.
Shoes for European Travel
Shoes are always difficult because we want to carry more than we need. Dave has it easy, he brings a pair of flipflops, a good pair of hiking shoes that look great with jeans or shorts and a nice pair of shoes for the evening. All he has to pack are his flipflops and dressier shoes and he wears them others on the plane or travel days. I'd say for men to just bring one pair of running shoes, but seriously, when you go out at night, you want to look good. European men have style and you'll want to feel stylish too when eating pasta on the Italian Riviera.
Check out our suggestions for Travel Clothes for Guys
I bring a pair of ballet flats, flip flops, nice sandals and a pair of hiking shoes. My feet are small compared to Dave and ballet flats, flipflops and sandals all take up very little space, so I have an extra pair. I like having a choice with my skirts or shorts but Dave and I always do something adventurous when we travel so I need my hiking shoes (notice I say shoes not boots) they are lighter and unless I'm doing multiday rugged hikes, I don't need the ankle support of a hiking boot) for things like horseback riding, coastal walks, or even exploring some remote castles.
- Sporty Zippy Skort – Perfect for sightseeing during the day but can be dressed up at night with a nice scarf and strappy shoes. It a pair of shorts and skirt all in one.
- Scarf – I like to dress up my outfits with a silk wrap. It can turn a simple pair of pants and plain shirt into a night out worthy dinner outfit.
- Shoe Dave – Clarks Wave Trek Sneakers. These shoes make you look great while making it seem like you are not trying. Going out at nights says, I'm comfortable and stylish in leather sneakers and don't need a full on dress shoe.
- Margaritaville Reversible shorts – Two shorts in one and they look great yet very different each way. If you want to really scale down, these shorts give you an extra set of clothing without having to pack more.
- Laundry tips for travel
Since you are packing light, you will have to wash your clothes more often. We've been to laundromats all around the world when we've had enough of washing in the sink and often times apartment rentals and AirBnBs have a washing machine right in your room. Take advantage of these and do your laundry whenever you are lucky enough to have one nearby.
Worried about Safety when you travel to Europe? Read our 9 Anti-Theft Travel Accessories for Safe Travel
If we don't have a machine, we often wash in the sink. Since we have lightweight quick dry clothing, it doesn't take long and are clothes are ready to go the next morning. Often you don't need to wash your pants, shorts and shirts each night, but clean underwear is a must. That's why we recommend Exofficio underwear. It was made for easy watching and quick drying. Think about all your clothing when packing, will it be easy to wash in a hotel sink? If not maybe you should leave it at home.
Check it out! Our Ultimate List of Travel Gear to Help you Pack Smart!
Hotel Washing Items:
- Universal Sink Stopper – This plug will fit any sink and keep the water in. Don't count on your hotel having a stopper, have a backup plan and use your own.
- Pegless Clothesline – You don't want laundry draped all over your hotel room, we use a pegless clothes line with rubber stoppers. The suction cup stoppers stick to the shower wall, and you can hand your clothes to try with ease without having to search for clothes pegs.
- Detergent Sheets – detergent sheets are lighter and more potent than carrying a bottle of laundry detergent. Go for travel size whenever possible.
Adapters for Travel
When we used to travel, we'd carry a bag of different adapters for every country. The UK and Ireland have different plugs than continental Europe. So you can't just bring one with you and magically have it work for all plugs. But you can get all your adapters in one place now. We use the all-in-one universal adapter and it's all we need.
Even though we carry a lot of electronics, we use one adapter, plug in a Belkin mini surge protector and we now have four different outlets and three different USB chargers all in one place.
That lets us charge our cell phones, computers and cameras all at once. Isn't technology grand? See our Electronics Travel Gear List
Need more help packing? Check out 6 Packing for Travel Tips to Make Your Life a Breeze
We used to be off the roll or stuff variety of packing for travel, but we've found that we are a lot more organized and everything fits better with packing organizers. Dave is a huge fan of the TravelSmith Smart Envelope for all his shirts. He now wears more short sleeve button up shirts than T-Shirts. They are more versatile and can be worn hiking or out for dinner. He keeps them neat by folding them into the envelope. They stay wrinkle free and each one stack on top of the other taking up far less space than rolling them side by side. One pack it folder can hold six shirts and honestly, six shirts is all you need.
Other packing recommendation: Packing Cubes. These can be colour coded, there are compression cubes that can shrink down bulky items and you can smush more clothes into the cubes to take up less space.
When traveling to Europe, it is not the time to go big or go home. Instead, think small. We put everything in Travel Size bottles. Hotels often have shampoo and conditioner you can use, but if they don't you can dip into your own carryon items. The Gotoobs are the best for this. We love these small bottles that are easy to refill, and don't leak.
We also put any medications like Advil or antihistamines into smaller containers. You don't need to bring a full bottle of every medicine under the sun. Put a few of each in a pill organizer for those emergencies when you feel nauseous or get that rare headache. You don't need a pharmacy with you.
We then put everything into one toiletry bag to make everything compact, organized and easy to find. When you are organized for your travels, you are a happy traveller.
Our Travel Bags
And finally, choose the right bag. We used to be fans of the backpack, but we've moved to the lightweight rolling duffel instead. We now like to put our carryon bags on our backs (since they are the heaviest as they have all our cameras and electronics in them) and we pull our clothes behind us. Our duffel bags are light and easy to navigate and most of all they are durable. They are also easy to organize. By using packing cubes, toiletry bags and the shirt folding envelopes, they all fit into our rolling duffel perfectly just like pieces to a puzzle.