Packing for Europe – Tips That Will Make Your Travel Life Easier

Written By: The Planet D

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 how someone can start organizing and packing for Europe to make life and travel 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 color. The last thing you want is to lug around a bunch of suitcases. We’ve rounded up the must have travel essentials for Europe to make your travels more enjoyable and easy.

Packing Tips for Europe

Packing For Europe – Multiple Destinations

packing for Europe
Different dining options in Europe

Most people plan a lot of activities in one trip to Europe to make the most of seeing the continent. 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 traveled 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 too 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.

Top 8 Packing Tips For Travel To Europe

packing for europe
See Beautiful views from San Marino

We travel to Europe quite often and have come up with a packing list that works for us. Here is what we take when we are heading across the pond.

Women’s European Packing List

European packing tips
Looking good at the airport

For summer Travel

  • Sporty Zippy Skort (1)- Perfect for sightseeing during the day but can be dressed up at night with a nice scarf and strappy shoes. It’s a pair of shorts and skirt all in one.
  • Scarf – (1)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.
  • Convertable Skirt (1) This versatile skirt can change into a dress.   Lightweight skirts take up very little room so I pack an extra all the time.
  • Pants (1) – I love my Mesh Sandal pants in Khaki because I can roll them up or wear them down. They can be dressed up or down and are lightweight.
  • Shorts – (2) I have one pair of board shorts that I can wear if we go surfing, paddle boarding or anything else in the water, and one nice pair of Bermuda shorts to walk around town or the resort.
  • Smart Shirts – (2) I love the Royal Robbins brand for fashion and function.
  • LIGHTWEIGHT SWEATER – We both use lightweight merino zip-up sweaters. You’ll hear it from us again and again, but layering when traveling is key.
  • ExOfficio Underwear (4-6)- Quick drying, odor resistant and lightweight. We both love ExOffcio’s line of underwear because we can pack less.

Mens Packing List for Europe

packing tips for europe
Dave is ready for a night on the town
  • BluffWorks Pants (2) These are versatile pants that rarely need to be washed are odor resistant and can be worn on the trail or in the city.
  • SHORT SLEEVED COLLARED SHIRTS (2)
  • LONG SLEEVED COLLARED SHIRT (1) – breathable, lightweight and great for a night out or for hiking in extreme hot sun.
  • LIGHTWEIGHT SWEATER – We both use lightweight merino zip up sweaters. You’ll hear it from us again and again, but layering when traveling is key.
  • LIGHTWEIGHT SOCKS – for those times when you need a pair of socks to walk around town or go for a run.
  • ExOfficio Underwear (4-6)- Quick drying, odor resistant and lightweight. We both love ExOffcio’s line of underwear because we can pack less.
  • 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.

1. Versatility Is Key

European packing tips
Taking in Meteora Greece

Pack versatile clothing that can be mixed and matched. You’ll thank yourself when walking up the stairs of a 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.

Our Recommendation: 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 complementary colors 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 travel gear and gadgets.

2. Pack The Right Shoes For European Travel

european packing tips electronics
Don’t miss photographing the incredible views of Europe

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 normally say for men to just bring one pair of running shoes. But, 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.

Choose lightweight packable shoes

I like having a choice with my skirts or shorts but Dave and I always do something adventurous. With our array of activities, 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.

Worried about Safety when you travel to Europe? Read our 9 Anti-Theft Travel Accessories for Safe Travel

3. Don’t Forget About Laundry

packing for european travel
Meeting up with friends
European packing tips
Europe has a lot of outdoor activities

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.

We always make sure we are prepared for the worst. To wash clothes in your hotel room, get a universal sink stopper for any sink and a pegless clothesline to hang your clothes. We also carry a little bit of liquid detergent with us that we pack in GoToobs. 

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 our 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.
  • Goo Toobs: Perfectly measured out bottles that never leak and take up next to no space.

 4. Don’t Forget The Right Travel Adaptor

packing tips europe travel adapters
Many adapters and plugs for our electronics

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.

Buy on Amazon: Eagle Creek Universal Adapter & Belkin Mini Surge Protector

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 for more great ideas!

6. Packing Organizers Make Life Easier

packing envelopes work great for european travel
Dave loves his packing envelope

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 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 “PackIt” folder can hold six shirts and honestly, six shirts is all you need.

Packing Cubes are another life saver. They help keep things nice and organized. 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.

Read: 8 Great Travel Organizers for Better Packing. 

7. Think Small

packing tips for Europe
Toiletry bag that hangs is awesome

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.

Small Containers

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.

8. Choose The Right Travel Bags

European packing tips duffel bags
Rolling Duffel works best for us

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.

Well, that should do it. With this advice, you should be on your way to traveling in Europe with a lighter bag but still everything you need.

Packing Tips for Travel To Europe

packing tips for europe
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Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • World Nomads - Digital Nomads or Frequent Travelers.
  • Allianz - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

Leave a Comment

15 thoughts on “Packing for Europe – Tips That Will Make Your Travel Life Easier”

  1. I am glad to find it. You share the tips are really very useful for packing. Packing is not an easy work it’s a very confused how to pack this. I am happy with your blog. I get the right information on this blog. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  2. That’s quite an interesting article Dave & Deb, and I find it really useful, As a corporate traveller, packing things is literally hectic work, and I am going to follow your tips for my upcoming travels. Hope this parking trick could save some space.

    Reply
  3. A couple things I really like to do when packing is to take somewhat older shirts that I haven’t worn in a while, it doesn’t mater if they are out of style considering I will be thousands of miles from home. After I have worn the shirt I just throw the shirt away, I do the same with anything else i have that has almost outlived it’s usefulness. This does two things it makes room in my closet and makes room in my suitcase for the things I will end up buying while vacationing,

    Reply
  4. Packing cubes are fab, used them on the last trip and made it so much easier. Love that hanging toiletry bag tho, going to get one of those for the next trip for sure! Thanks for the tips 🙂

    Reply
  5. Very good tips. But it seems travelling around world is depends on how much money you have.

    Do you know any tips or article on how to travel the world in just few hundreds $? 🙂

    Reply