The Ultimate Europe Packing List

Get ready to explore diverse cultures, breathtaking landscapes, and fascinating history on your next European adventure with this ultimate Europe packing list!

Embarking on a long-term, slow travel adventure across Europe is an exciting opportunity to immerse yourself in diverse cultures, breathtaking landscapes, and fascinating history. This Ultimate Europe Packing List will help you prepare for any European vacation, ensuring you have everything you need while treading lightly on the planet. 

From essential items to eco-friendly alternatives, let’s dive in!

Two people clinking cups on an airplane, on the way to travel Europe!

Table of Contents

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Weather & Seasons

Depending on the time of year you’ll be in Europe, your packing decisions will vary significantly! As you can see from the map below, there are very different climatic regions across the continent, and your luggage should be filled with items that fit that terrain.

Luckily in Europe, it is pretty easy to travel between countries, especially if they are in the Schengen Region. That is useful to plan your travel accordingly and focus your exploration on a region, rather than the whole continent!

Source: Britannica

Summer

Summer in Europe boasts lush green trees, waterfalls, warm weather, and long days. In fact, some parts of Northern Europe have 24-hour days where the sun never sets! This is the best time of year to explore Europe, especially for the outdoorsy ones who can’t wait to jump in a lake or camp under the stars. 

This is a perfect time of year to focus on travel around swimming in alpine lakes in central and eastern Europe or relaxing on the coast of the Mediterranean in Southern Europe & Iberia. 

Autumn

Autumn in Europe is a perfect place to see the leaves transition through colors of crimson and gold as the days get shorter and colder. 

Autumn is a great time to visit Europe since the cost of travel is lower than in summer, but it is still relatively warm and beautiful to explore the natural landscapes and history that was founded here. 

Winter

Winter in Europe hits differently at various latitudes. Northern Europe gets very cold, reaching sub-freezing temperatures as early as October. In contrast, winter along the Mediterranean means brisk days and a lot of rainfall. 

Visiting Europe in winter is great for those who want to ski in the Alps, see the Northern Lights, or take advantage of the insanely low prices! Take the chance to check out the famous Christmas Markets and take part in local traditions. 

Spring

Spring in Europe is filled with wildflowers, blossoming trees, wildlife, and fresh streams and lakes filled with recent snowmelt. This time of year is when everyone appreciates the longer days, the warmth of the sun, and the feeling of summer around the corner. 

Visiting Europe in spring is perfect for those looking for a mellow retreat in quiet towns, and for those that love the sweater weather and the sun all at once. This is the perfect time to dive into the cultural history, castles, and museums that cover the European continent. 

Top Packing Suggestions

Packing for a trip is a personal decision, and while there are tons of lists that tell you how many shirts to bring, everyone has their preferences. However, the items that are essential to bring to Europe, should be highlighted above all else.

Every destination has its ‘things’ that you learn once you’re there – the atmosphere in crowds or the accessibility to amenities. This list covers the things you learn you need in Europe, only after you’ve been!

1. Comfortable Shoes

You’ve probably heard it before about wearing good shoes in Europe, but wow that is accurate. So many of the best areas in Europe can only be accessed by using your feet, make sure to keep them comfortable and protected!

I’m pretty active, but when I was suddenly walking 10+ miles a day (16 km) on hard ground, my body felt it. As much as you’re attached to those dirty white Vans and Converse, they will not do you any good in Europe.

If you’re limited on space and don’t have the perfect pair that is versatile and comfortable, fear not. Europe is known for its footwear quality and design, so you can pick up something when you’re there! 

2. Coin Purse

Something that is overlooked is how you carry your money in Europe. If you’re from the US, you may be used to not really bothering with coins, or leaving them in a jar at home. However, there are 20 countries in Europe that all use the Euro. The exchange rate fluctuates, but it hovers around $1 = €1.

Unlike American bills, the Euro has €1 and €2 coins, so suddenly the coins are worth a lot more, and they’re in circulation a lot more too. For any American male, when was the last time you had a zipper pocket to store coins? 

Having a small coin purse, or even a random bag to collect them will be useful to have! This is especially important for using public restrooms. They often cost some money, anywhere from 50 cents to €2, and many only accept coins!

 

3. Pickpocket Safety

And on the topic of money, pickpocketing is a common profession in many European hotspots, and wow they are good. Be aware of your surroundings, and who may be seeing interested in you and your things. Don’t flash your money and valuables around, and keep things tucked away in safe bags in public areas. Also, be aware of any distractions that are designed to lower your guard and awareness, they can be sneaky!

I personally have some emergency money and essential document copies stored somewhere safe when I travel. It is also a good trick to not keep all your cash in the main slot in your wallet. Fold up a few bills and tuck them behind your insurance card or in your phone case in case someone forces you to give you money, you have some extra stashed away. 

4. Outlet Adapter

Nowadays, we rely on our devices to help us navigate, as a source of education, and so much more. Having a reliable way to charge your electronics and connect to power is essential. 

While it can be easy to just go to an electronics store in your destination, not all adapters are created equally. Getting 1 quality wall adapter that can be used in every country, and has multiple ports will save you a lot of headaches when trying to charge everything!

5. Local SIM

Connecting to a local phone plan is essential to stress-free travel. Whether you go into a mobile phone store and start a short-term travel plan, or purchase an eSIM online to manage your data usage, connecting to the internet will allow you to immerse more and get off of the beaten path. 

Luckily, Europe is very dense with people, creating a ton of locations to connect to wifi in public areas, cafes, restaurants, and shops. While this is a useful solution to staying connected online, it can be a headache, especially when things go unplanned. 

Unsure where to start? Check out this article for more information on getting an International Phone Plan!

6. VPN

While you are connected to the internet, it is essential for your virtual privacy to be protected. Using the public internet can be dangerous as it creates a bridge of connection between this open-end source, and your device. Unfortunately, there are many people trained in accessing that bridge, and thus accessing your devices and the information on it. 

Using a VPN (virtual private network) is quick and easy, and will save you time, stress, and money in the future if someone attempts to hack into your devices. Especially if you work remotely, a VPN needs to be a part of your travel kit for virtual (and physical) safety.

As a reminder; when you are on any public WiFi, make sure to use a VPN to protect yourself online! Learn more here.

Best Luggage For Europe

Regardless of where you’re going, packing starts with the luggage that holds it all together. Generally, you have 2 options; a wheeled suitcase, or a trekking backpack. While it doesn’t matter too much which one you choose in the scheme of things, it may contribute to a more or less enjoyable and comfortable experience!

Typically, most long-term travelers will use a backpack between 35L-60L. These are great for organized storage, ease of movement, and potential budget opportunities since they can often pass as a carry-on, or comfortably sit on your lap in transit. 

Especially in Europe, wheeled suitcases are not ideal. Some of the best areas in Europe are along cobblestone roads, and nothing announces the arrival of a tourist like the rumbling on cheap wheels over historic walkways. 

The staircases and hallways in buildings are smaller, cars are smaller, literally, everything is smaller… which will make wheeling a massive block of a suitcase a complete headache. 

Ultimate Europe Packing List

Essential Items

  • Passport
  • Entry Documentation
  • Copy of Important Documents
  • International Driver's Permit
  • Travel Insurance

These are essential items to bring to every international destination! Make sure to check the embassy of your destination to see what entry requirements there are before you arrive. 

It’s a good practice to have a digital and photocopy of important documents such as your passport, visa, driver’s license, and international driving permit.

Find the right Insurance Plan for you!

Health & Safety

Being prepared for the elements helps you enjoy your experience a lot more. Avoid itchy (and potentially dangerous) bug bits, and sunburns with these items!

Be sure to look into the natural hazards and threats of where you will be visiting, so you can be prepared! This is especially true if you’re traveling to Europe in winter when the elements are much harsher. 

Clothing

  • Shirts & Tank Tops
  • Shorts & Pants
  • Dresses & Skirts
  • Layers for warmth
  • Jacket
  • Scarf
  • Tennis Shoes / Hiking Shoes
  • Comfortable Sandals
  • Bulky Jacket
  • Heavy Boots

Clothing is always a personal choice, so this is just guidance. Your clothing choices will depend on where in Europe you will be, and the time of year. 

In general, the attire in Europe is well-dressed but comfortable. Business casual, but on a Friday. Of course, there are always differences (bright & bold colors in Spain vs. muted & natural tones in Austria). 

Focus on versatile clothes that you can use for any adventure, and it helps to have a general color scheme that is easy to mix and match within. If something can’t be worn for 3 different occasions, or doesn’t match 3 different outfits, it’s probably not the best choice!

Toiletries

Luckily most of Europe has many of the basic amenities and products you are already using at home.

While traveling long-term, I focus on items that are reusable vs. single-use to cut down on space, cost, and waste! I couldn’t imagine traveling with a box of tampons or makeup wipes.

European countries have very proud cultures and indulge in the natural beauty of things. Don’t worry so much about having the perfect products and always being perfectly styled.

Check out my top toiletries I couldn’t imagine traveling without!

Electronics

Staying connected is important in this electronic world. It is essential to have a quality adapter that works in all the countries you will be in. 

It can be easy to overpack electronics since we’re so used to having them everywhere. Be selective about what you bring and make sure it will work for what you need.

Opt for items with longer battery life, lightweight, and only the essentials!

Some of these are self-explanatory, and up to each traveler to decide what would be beneficial vs a waste of space.

A string & carabiners are so helpful to set up your space and stay organized. Whether you need a makeshift curtain at a hostel or a way to hang your bags, we always use these!

We also couldn’t travel without our microfiber towel for a quick dip in the river, a picnic blanket, or to complete that hostel curtain!

Some other things to consider could be a journal, an art set, a yoga mat, outdoor adventure gear, or whatever else you want to make anywhere feel like home!

 

Summary - Ultimate Europe Packing List

Taking off on a slow travel adventure across Europe presents an opportunity to not only explore captivating destinations but also prioritize environmental conservation and minimize personal impact. It is essential to understand the natural environment where you will be exploring, and what additional considerations are necessary regarding the weather, seasons, cultural practices, and personal preference.

The choices we make while traveling have the power to shape a brighter and greener future. So, pack your bags responsibly, explore with curiosity, and leave only footprints of admiration behind!

What other destinations are on your bucket list? Find your Travel Inspiration here. 

Posted by Taylor Mallaber

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