Less is more! Europe Packing List & Insider Travel Tips

Less is more! Europe Packing List & Insider Travel Tips

Indeed, traveling with less ‘baggage’ is the way to go! Take a close look at our Europe packing list and tips. We’ve been there, some of us still overpack after two decades of traveling the world, but we know you can do better.

For most travelers, packing your suitcase is one of the more overwhelming aspects when preparing for a European adventure. Nowadays, the weather is so unpredictable that the classic season packing tips won’t always apply: e.g. be prepared for heavy rain in spring, or choose sandals as your primary footwear for summer…

a brown leather bag in the middle of a road illustrates this story on Europe packing list

Is packing as much as possible the best choice? NO!
If there’s one travel tip we all agree upon, it’s indeed: Less is more.
And yet, almost everyone always overpacks. Except for Ted.

Layering your clothes is a great way to be prepared for any weather!


Our main recommendation for you is to stick to the essentials and bring only what you really need. Plus, layering clothing is a great way to be prepared for any weather!

Believe it or not, some of our Europe Insiders even manage to pack for eight days in Europe with just a carry-on. And no, it wasn’t just the guys who were able to pull this off! However, the carry-on approach does significantly limit the number of shoes you can bring. Maybe that’s a good thing after all?

Best Europe Packing Tip: Less is more!

Our ‘best’ packing tip for Europe: “Pack as lightly as you can.”
Choosing a smaller suitcase can also prevent you from bringing way too much. Most agree that the best way to ensure that all of your garments fit into your suitcase is to fold everything nicely. Additionally, you can tightly roll each piece of clothing and pack them into your suitcase, providing more overall space and organization in your luggage. “Think of packing your bag as if it were a puzzle.”

If Tetris is not your game, packing cubes are an excellent option. They come in a variety of colors, sizes and styles for your unique needs. They help keep everything separated (even clean from dirty), organized by clothing type, and further compress the clothing, creating more space in your bag.

Dress like a European: Smart-Casual

Keep in mind, however, that Europeans in general dress more formally than most people in the U.S. or Canada.

Especially in the cities, the every day attire for most locals is ‘smart casual’. In addition, sacred spaces like cathedrals and churches have strict dress codes and will not allow anyone to visit/enter who is not properly dressed. Wearing tank tops, shorts, mini skirts or gym attire may result in being denied entry. Shorts, skirt or dress hems should always go below your knees, or at least to the knee if you plan on visiting places of worship. When in doubt, play it safe and opt for capris — an ideal and fashion forward option for either gender when traveling in Europe.

Ladies: Sometimes a scarf or a pashmina may be sufficient to cover exposed shoulders or a deep neckline. However, this is dependent upon the guard at the entrance of the particular religious site you are visiting. He/she has the final say, and there is no guarantee that a scarf will be acceptable. We recommend bringing a cardigan in addition to a scarf. 


Our Packing Tips for Europe

Here are a few things that we consider to be essential to your comfort iN any weather, no matter the season. Weather changes are frequent and can be quite drastic. Planning ahead is great, but check the forecast close to your departure date for the most up-to-date weather predictions!

Clothing Essentials to bring along:

  • Rain jacket, ideally with fleece insert (especially when traveling in spring, fall or winter)
  • Two pairs of pants, ladies may want to bring a couple skirts or dresses, as well.
  • A sweater or two (or three, if you tend to feel chilly).
  • Plenty of shirts, we recommend polos and at least two dress shirts/blouses. Darker colors, prints or florals are more forgiving than crisp whites.
  • Plenty of undergarments and socks for daily changes
  • Pajamas
  • Don’t forget shoes! We recommend a maximum of three pairs (tennis shoes, good everyday shoes with rubber soles and dress shoes). Make sure that you will be comfortable walking long distances. However, we suggest you DON’T bring flip flops. Europeans do wear them, but only to the pool, spa or at the beach. Perhaps it would be wise to leave your nicest pair of shoes at home. Walking along the prevalent cobblestone streets may ruin them, especially high heels.

Other Essentials to include:

  • Phone (with international data plan should it be used overseas)
  • Refillable water bottle (plastic or metal) . Why not personalize it with a sticker or a decal?
  • A watch (in case your phone runs out of battery)
  • Deodorant, cosmetics, toiletries, personal hygiene products, razors and medication
  • Put all liquids (3.4 ounces max) that are in your carry-on into a one-quart zip-lock bag. And remember the 311 rules: TSA | Transportation Security Administration | 3-1-1 on Air Travel
  • Sharp items such as scissors, fingernail clippers, etc. must be packed in your checked luggage along with liquids over 3.4 ounces. Bring enough contact lens solution and prescription medication for the entire duration of the trip.

Some Things are Easily Replaced

If you forget something, most things are easily replaced abroad. There are plenty of shops where you can buy shampoo, toothpaste, etc. However, we highly recommend that travelers bring all essential personal hygiene products with them as overseas items vary greatly and may be somewhat different, or perhaps even uncomfortable to use (deodorant, pads, tampons, etc.).

What essentials are generally provided at the hotels?

  • Soap, shampoo or shower gel, however not necessarily conditioner. If you prefer bar soap, we suggest bringing yours along. Shower gel is the preferred choice for Europeans.
  • Towels
  • Blow dryer (however, usually not high quality devices)

What we suggest NOT to bring:

  • Straighteners/Curling Irons (unless specifically approved for European usage)
  • Attire that can be considered disrespectful or overly patriotic
  • Expensive high heels (as they may not survive the cobblestone streets)
  • Expensive jewelry, family heirlooms
  • Gum (opt for mints instead)

Five things to bring from home

An important part of traveling is to experience cultural differences. However, some adjustments to the local way of doing things may be more challenging than others. From our experience, here are the top five things to bring from home when visiting Europe:

  • A wash cloth or two as they are not common in most parts of Europe
  • Ziplock bags of various sizes
  • Second set of charging cables for your most used electronic items
  • Back-up battery pack
  • Ear plugs

We wish you a safe journey to Europe.
Remember to leave some space in your suitcase for souvenirs and other treasures you may find while exploring those beautiful destinations. ‘Helping’ the local economy is always appreciated.

For a more specific Europe packing list for singers in a choir or musicians in a band, take a look a our iNCANTATO packing list for your next European concert tour.

#travelbettertogether #wheretonext #makeEuropeyourstage #traveltips #localguides #europeinsiders


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