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Planning your summer trip and don’t know where to start with your Europe packing list? I got you covered!
After six years of hopping around this beautiful continent, I have sort of nailed down the art of packing. Stick around until the end for some pro packing tips to travel light and save money!
Shirts or blouses. Pack five to ten short-sleeved or long-sleeved shirts or blouses in a light- weight fabric, depending on how long you would travel. A good rule of thumb is to have versatile clothes that you can layer and match with various other things that you pack in your luggage
Pants/shorts/skirts. If you travel during summers, be sure to pack at least two pairs of shorts, especially since you’ll be walking around a lot. Cotton or linen pants are also a good option. Girls can alternatively also pack dresses or skirts.
Travel Shoes. At the very least pack one comfortable pair of walking shoes, one pair of formal evening shoes or sandals (for summer), so you can dress up a bit if you hit fancy places. Flip-flops are always a good idea especially if you plan to stay in hostels and share bathrooms.
Jacket. Bring a light and water-resistant windproof jacket, preferably with a hood. Denim and leather jackets are also quite popular in Europe if you’d like to stay on the fashionable side. Add to this a winter jacket or coat, if you plan to travel in winter.
Light Scarf or Muffler. A good lightweight accessory, especially as it can double up as a good way to protect your face from the sun, or keep your neck warm, depending on the season.
Swimsuit(s). To use public area pools, you’ll need a swimsuit. No one would care much if you didn’t wear a swimsuit at the beach, but if you bathe in a dress, expect to get stares. It’s quite the opposite of what one would expect in conservative countries, but then again, most of Europe is anything but.
Sleep/loungewear. Comfy sleepwear such as shorts, leggings, T-shirts, tank tops, yoga pants, and other lightweight clothes make for excellent down-time clothing.
Fast dry towel. Irrespective of whether or not you live in hostels or hit the beaches, it’s always a good idea to pack a lightweight, fast-dry towel for emergencies. As a backpacker, this can save you a lot of time, pain and money.
Money. Bring a mix of an international debit and credit card, and a mix of cash in USD or EUR, just so you have enough no matter which situation you find yourself in.
Documents. Take your passport, plane, train, bus and rental car documents, driver’s license (international permit if applicable) and any other useful cards (student ID, membership cards, etc). Photocopies and a couple of passport-type photos should always be with you as well as an online version on your phone. Make sure to also add insurance policies and all major tickets in your luggage. Ideally, each person travelling should have one copy of these major documents.
Local guides or maps. Although most hostels and hotels where you will stay will provide this for free, it doesn’t hurt to keep an extra copy. Who knows, you may be stuck in the middle of nowhere in the Italian countryside, with no internet and this old, road map just may come in handy!
Notepad and pen. This should always find a way in your bag, no matter whether you are in your home city or out travelling.
Journal. If you like writing about your travels, or want to make notes and plans as you go, this would come in really handy!
Travel backpacks. A lightweight backpack is a good idea to keep your scarf, sweater, maps, camera, money and water bottle.
Water Bottle. An essential travel accessory and one that helps reduce waste. In Europe, especially in the western region water is edible even from toilets at railway stations. You can refill your water bottle on the go, and save a couple of euros per day on having to buy a mineral water bottle. In eastern and southern Europe, I would stick to buying mineral water.
Toiletries. A small pack with basics in a hanging or foldable toiletry kit is always an excellent idea. For your international flight, put all bottles (100 ml max) in sealable plastic bags to prevent leaks, and breeze through security in Europe. Girls may want to keep enough space to add tampons, sanitary pads, etc.
Medicines. Carry your usual medicines with prescriptions, multivitamins and any other over the counter medicines that you may need in Europe. Translating a simple medicine that you may take for granted might be a nightmare to find in a small village in France. Do keep some medicines with you in your carry on or handbag for emergencies.
First-Aid Kit. Need I tell you why you need this?
Glasses or Contact Lenses. Contact-lens solutions are easily available in Europe. Carry your lens prescription, as well as extra glasses, in a protective case. If it’s a sunny season, pack along sunglasses, although you can pick up cheap sunglasses along the way in Europe too.
Sealable plastic bags. It is always a good idea to take a couple of sealable plastic bags in different sizes. You can pack leftover food, liquids, even small socks or clothes that may be dirty, this one item is a life saver.
Laundry soap. If you plan to travel long keep some laundry soap. Laundry service in hotels can be extremely expensive and laundromats hard to find. You can easily do small laundry in the bathroom sink if you have some soap or detergent along with you.
Sewing kit. Another lifesaver. Do not forget to pack safety pins as well.
Tissues. Carry a few small packs, including one in your backpack. You can use it as toilet paper in case it is not available.
Earplugs. If noises tend to bother you, pack on two pairs of expandable earplugs. They take almost no space but can be great when you have that noisy neighbour in an airplane or a bunch of drunk teenagers in your hostel dorm.
Wet wipes. Another item I almost always pack. Everything from wanting to wipe a body part, to feeling refreshed on a sunny day, wet wipes can be a great companion during travel.
Smartphone. To keep costs low, bring a mobile phone (unlocked) that you can use during your travels to access the internet, maps and calling.
Camera. If you only take pictures with your smartphone, you can skip this. Make sure to carry an extra battery and a cover to protect your camera from damage.
Laptop. If you need to work during the trip, or want to blog along the way, do make sure to pack in your laptop.
Headphones/earphones. Listen to music while walking around European streets, drown annoying noises or simply use as a pretense when you want to be left alone, do pack a pair.
Plug Convertor. Unless you are travelling from within Europe, chances are high that your regular chargers won’t work with European sockets. Make sure to carry a plug converter.
PRO TRAVEL PACKING TIPS
Roll your clothes instead of folding them.
This will save you a TON of space and the more space, the better! 😉
2. Use your shoes to store small items such as socks, underwear etc.
This is a great hack to save space especially when you can only take a carry on bag with you!
3. Don’t forget to double check your luggage allowance in ALL airlines.
Flights such as Ryan air often have specific carry on luggage sizes. Pack accordingly!
4. Use packing cubes to pack efficiently.
Want to save space within your suitcase? Use packing cubes to make sets of your belongings and have them efficiently organised. Planning freaks, you gonna love this stuff!
5. Pack your essentials and one extra outfit in your carry-on bag.
After having my luggage delayed and lost three times in the last few years, this is such an important tip. ALWAYS carry your basic essentials, a fresh change of underwear and an extra outfit, so worst case you have something to survive.
Also carry your basic medicines and documents with you in the carry-on bag.
6. Separate liquids in a transparent plastic bag.
In Europe, security staff will always ask you to keep your liquids separate for checking. If you haven’t done this before hand, it’s going to be a mess. Pack all your small liquids (less than 100ml) in a plastic bag up to a maximum of 1 litre.
This also includes things like liquid foundation or any other liquid makeup you may have with your carry on.
7, Leave some extra space for shopping!
As a hoarder, I always leave at least 1/5th of my luggage empty, because I KNOW I will carry back some stuff that would need space. Better yet, carry an extra foldable cloth bag just in case you need that extra space!
That’s all for this post!
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My detailed, 90+ page guidebook is made for budget travelers like you! It cuts out the fluff and gets straight to the practical information you need to save time and money while planning a trip around Europe. You’ll find suggested itineraries, budgets, ways to save money, how to apply for visas, which mode of travel to pick, top European highlights, where to stay, what to eat, what to pack and so much more!Learn More
- How To Apply For A Schengen Visa And Tips For Success
- Top 10 Cheapest Countries To Visit in Europe (and around) in 2019
- The Ultimate Travel Europe For Cheap Guide
- What’s The Best Time To Travel To Europe? Answered!
- The Ultimate Europe Backpacking Route
HEADING TO EUROPE? Check out the following platforms I love and recommend for saving money and time:
A multi purpose flight search and booking platform. The biggest advantage this platform offers is the Kiwi guarantee. This means that if your flight gets delayed, postponed or cancelled, Kiwi provides you either an alternative flight or refund the cost of the flight. I don’t know any other provider that offers such a guarantee. I highly recommend booking a flight with Kiwi, especially if you have multiple layovers and are travelling alone.
A popular flight search engine, when you can’t find what you need on Kiwi, you should check Skyscanner. A very handy tool is the ‘Everywhere’ function which shows you the best deals across the globe for your chosen month. This function is also available on Kiwi under ‘Anywhere’ function.
Another amazing platform I discovered recently, aimed at students under 26, but functional for people of any age.
Student Universe has special offers with multiple international airlines, and offers excellent discounts for student travellers.
By far the cheapest, and most well-connected flight, this should be your first search option for booking flights within Europe.
A new carrier, popular for connections to Eastern Europe. If you are planning to hit eastern Europe, this is definitely worth checking out.Useful Link: Destination Checker
Flying to over 100 destinations, this is another cheap flight provider worth checking out for connections.
Useful Link: Destination Checker
The best place to start planning, searching and booking for individual connections all across Europe.
Rail Europe also sells Eurail passes (that we’ll cover in detail later), sometimes they may run discounts, but other times it may be cheaper to buy it at the Eurail website directly.
This is also an excellent site to find more information on country-specific regional trains, high speed trains and reservation policies, which may differ from one place to another, and is often difficult to find on local train websites.
Another good alternative to plan trains, buses and routes across Europe is GoEuro. The advantage this platform has over others is that it offers a comparison between flights, buses and trains, telling you the best option to get from point A to B and the timeline for the same.
A Eurail pass, as a non-EU resident, allows you to travel for a specified period of time to a specified number of countries, in the Schengen zone at a predetermined bundled price.
You can look for the pass that fits your need online. Some of the various types of passes include: individual country passes, multi-country passes and global country passes.
The most comfortable bus service I have used, Flixbus is my go-to bus planning and booking service. They also offer a 5-trip pass for $114 that is valid across all their bus routes, provided you don’t circle back to where you started.
If you book early enough (at least a month in advance), you may even find one-way tickets for $5-$10 and this is also an excellent way to take day trips especially if they are last-minute.
Popular in the US, this platform also offers regular discounts for early bird and specific location bookings.
Originally from Europe, Sixt has emerged as one of the best rental car providers in Europe with an extensive network. You can also pick the car at one place and return it at another which is a huge advantage for a flexible itinerary!
The best and most convenient platform to look for hostels in Europe, if you can’t find it on Hostel World, you most likely won’t find it elsewhere. I also love that you can book most hostels with a very nominal fee to hold you reservation, although cancellation policies depend entirely on the hostel.
The top budget hostel chains I recommend in Europe are:
Generator Hostels: London, Berlin, Vienna, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Dublin, Hamburg, Madrid, Paris, Rome, Stockholm. Venice.
St.Christopher’s Inn: Barcelona, Berlin, Amsterdam, Bruges, Copenhagen, Interlaken, Prague, London, Edinburg.
PLUS Hostels: Berlin, Prague, Florence
Wombats: Vienna, London, Berlin, Munich, Budapest
A&O Hostels: Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Amsterdam, Venice, Stuttgart, Salzburg, Vienna, Copenhagen, Dresden
A platform I very often use to find hotels, guest apartments, luxury hotels, et al. Booking is the largest online travel aggregator and one where you can almost always start your search. The hotels listed here are generally listed at the best prices and offers and many of them can be booked at a 100% refundable cost or free cancellation.
Another popular option to explore a region, is through the shared rentals platform called airbnb. If you book far ahead, you can access beautiful private apartments in city centers for a cheaper price than a hotel. Airbnb also offers shared apartments, where you are expected to share the space with other guests or the local hosts. Choose the experience based on how much privacy you need.
The only insurance I recommend and use when I am traveling solo, is the World Nomads Travel Insurance. It is easy to get a quote, to redeem online and has one of the most flexible travel insurance policies I have come across.
For a step by step guide to plan, research and prepare for your Europe trip, check out my Europe Trip Planner Guide.