Europe is a large and diverse continent, with attractions ranging from luxury beach escapes on the Mediterranean to rugged mountaineering excursions in the Alps. However, the bulk of European tourists tend to casually meander the historical cities and take in the local culture. Because vacation time is limited, most travelers try to fit as much into their Euro-trips as possible. While your itinerary may be packed to the brim, your suitcase should not be. Over-packing just leads to added stress and uncomfortable transfers. With that said, it’s often hard to know what to pack for a European vacation. Read on for the ultimate summer in Europe packing list.
As always, read up on your destinations beforehand. While most of the following items are needed throughout Europe in the hot summer months, your exact itinerary will ultimately dictate your packing list. Think about the number of days you will be gone, and the places you plan on staying. How do you plan on getting around (train, rental car, taxi)? Are you visiting more than one country? Will you be staying at a lot of different hotels? All of these questions should play a role in your packing list.
Next, pick the right suitcase. The previous questions should help with this choice. If you are staying at a different hotel every other night and exploring wide swaths of the continent, a small carry-on is an ideal option. However, if you’re largely staying in one area, a larger suitcase on wheels is most likely your most convenient bet.
Smaller carry-on luggage provides an easy to carry or roll option. This luggage is perfect for cobblestone streets, crowded trains or walking up to your hotel room. On the other hand, they can be harder to pack and unpack as they don’t provide a lot of space. Conversely, larger wheeled suitcases provide more space for clothing, accessories and souvenirs. They are ideal for longer trips or when you will be staying in one location for a longer period of time. However, they are generally heavier, and Europe’s many cobblestone streets and public transportation options are not exactly friendly to having to maneuver larger suitcases. Decide if the benefits of each outweigh the negatives. Whatever your choice, make sure you buy or bring a luggage lock. This simple little device does loads to dissuade pickpockets.
Pack a Backpack for the Flight
Flights to Europe are long, but packing a backpack for the flight can make all the difference. Start by packing your passport! Keep additional photo copies in your suitcase, and bring your driver’s license or state ID, as well. Next, bring a copy of your itinerary. Since the air on planes cruising at 35,000 feet tends to be incredibly dry, bring eye drops, body lotion, and facial moisturizer (make sure they are less an 3 oz). A cozy pair of socks and a warm wrap or cardigan is also advisable. The temperature in planes tends to vary, with some blasting the air conditioner a lot more than others. Next, something to do while you’re on the flight – book, music or movies are all great options.
Summer in Europe Packing List
- Underwear and Socks. The number depends on your itinerary.
- 3-5 Short-Sleeved or Sleeveless Tops. Summer in Europe can be hot. Plus, short-sleeved or sleeveless tops are easy to layer, if needed.
- Lightweight Cardigan or Sweater. If you brought one on the plane, it will also come in handy on your trip. “Bring layers!” is probably the most common response to those seeking advice on packing for a European vacation. Layers provide a multitude of various outfit options and allow you to quickly shed or add more clothing throughout the day. Many cathedrals and churches do not allow shoulders to be showing so, it’s best to pack at least one sweater or cardigan.
- Waterproof Jacket or Raincoat. It does rain in Europe, so a waterproof outer layer is ideal.
- 1-3 Pairs of Shorts. Depending on your trip, think about bringing one or two casual pairs of shorts and a pair for hiking or other outdoor activities.
- Jeans or Other Lightweight Pants. For chilly nights or rainy days, make sure you have at least one pair of pants. Jeans are also easy to dress up at night. Many cathedrals and churches will not allow knees to be showing so, having at least one pair of longer pants is advised.
- A Dress. Again, depending on your trip, it’s likely you will enjoy a few nice dinners out. Dresses are easy to pack and throw on.
- Comfortable Shoes. This is easily the most important item on this list. You will do A LOT of walking on your Europe trip. Comfortable shoes are an absolute necessity. From hiking up a mountain to exploring cobblestone streets in most European cities, your feet will get a workout. Blisters from uncomfortable shoes will undoubtedly put a bit of a damper on your vacation.
- Swimsuit and towel. Seas, lakes and hotel pools are great places to cool off from the hot summer sun. Swimsuits are also a commonly forgotten item, so make sure this is on your list.
- Universal Travel Adapter. Invest in one of these handy little tools, and never worry about whether your electrical devices will work in a foreign country again.
While packing, think about coordinating the colors of your items. While whites, blacks, and grays might seem boring to some people, packing in similar colors allows you to mix and match your entire suitcase. If all of your items go together, you will be able to create different outfits out of the same clothes each day.
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The bulk of planning for your upcoming European vacation should be focused on your destinations and activities — not your suitcase and packing list. Remember, just because an airline allows 50-pound suitcases, doesn’t mean you should pack that much. Hauling bags down narrow train aisles and hotel stairwells shouldn’t be overly stressful. If you follow this summer in Europe packing list and add on additional items to meet your needs, you should be comfortable, while simultaneously blending in with all those effortlessly stylish Europeans.
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