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River Cruise vs Ocean Cruise: A Comparison of European Travel Experiences

When it comes to exploring Europe, there are a multitude of options available to travelers. Two popular choices are river cruises and ocean cruises. While both offer unique experiences and stunning views, there are several key differences that make each type of cruise appealing to different types of travelers. In this article, we will compare European river cruises and ocean cruises to help you decide which experience is right for you.

Itinerary and Destinations

One major difference between river cruises and ocean cruises is the itinerary and destinations they offer. European river cruises typically focus on inland waterways, allowing travelers to explore the heart of Europe’s most picturesque cities and towns. These smaller vessels can navigate narrow rivers, offering a more intimate experience as they sail past charming villages, vineyards, and historic landmarks.

On the other hand, ocean cruises cover longer distances and visit multiple countries in one trip. They often dock at major port cities along the coastlines of various countries. This allows passengers to explore a wider range of destinations but with less time spent in each place. If you prefer to see many different cities during your trip or have a specific country or region in mind that is not accessible by rivers, an ocean cruise might be the better option for you.

Size and Atmosphere

Another important aspect to consider when comparing river cruises and ocean cruises is the size of the ships and the atmosphere on board. River cruise ships are generally smaller than their ocean counterparts, accommodating anywhere from 100 to 200 passengers. This creates a more intimate setting where passengers can easily mingle with fellow travelers.

Ocean cruise ships, on the other hand, can carry thousands of passengers at once. With larger public areas such as theaters, casinos, and multiple restaurants on board, these ships offer a wide range of entertainment options for all ages. If you enjoy the hustle and bustle of a larger ship with more amenities, an ocean cruise might be the right fit for you. However, if you prefer a quieter, more relaxed atmosphere where you can truly immerse yourself in the local culture, a river cruise is likely to be more appealing.

Scenery and Sailing Experience

One of the main highlights of any cruise is the stunning scenery that accompanies the journey. European river cruises offer breathtaking views of charming landscapes as they wind their way through rivers and canals. Passengers can enjoy panoramic views from their cabins or from various vantage points on deck. The close proximity to land also allows for a more immersive experience, with passengers being able to see and appreciate every detail of their surroundings.

Ocean cruises, on the other hand, offer vast open sea views that stretch as far as the eye can see. While some ocean cruises do pass by coastal areas offering picturesque vistas, most of the time is spent sailing across open waters. If you enjoy the feeling of being out at sea and witnessing dramatic sunsets or spotting marine life along your journey, an ocean cruise may be your preferred choice.

Activities and Excursions

The range of activities and excursions available on river cruises versus ocean cruises is another factor to consider when choosing your European travel experience. River cruises often focus on cultural immersion, offering guided tours to historical sites, museums, and local attractions along the route. Wine tastings at vineyards or bike rides through quaint villages are also popular activities during river cruises.

Ocean cruises offer a wider variety of onboard activities such as swimming pools, water slides, fitness centers, theaters with live performances, and even rock climbing walls. Additionally, shore excursions during ocean cruises often include options for adventure sports like snorkeling or scuba diving in exotic locations.

In conclusion, both river cruises and ocean cruises provide unique travel experiences in Europe. If you prefer a more intimate setting, with a focus on cultural immersion and picturesque landscapes, a European river cruise may be the right choice for you. On the other hand, if you enjoy larger ships with more amenities and the opportunity to visit multiple countries in one trip, an ocean cruise might better suit your preferences. Ultimately, your decision should be based on your personal preferences and what you hope to gain from your European travel experience.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.


essential items for european travel

essential items for european travel

15 essential packing items for a Europe trip


So you’ve booked your dream tour and organised your flights… Now you need to pack! Europe is a massive continent with all kinds of different climates, cultures and landscapes. So where do you start? From what to wear in Europe to gadgets and medical essentials, here is our guide to everything you need to pack when planning a trip to Europe .

1. Versatile clothing

Europe has a reputation for being fashionable, from the minimalist clothing of Scandinavia to the elegant style of the Mediterranean. While you don’t need to walk around in haute couture, you also shouldn’t wear sloppy clothing or gym wear everyday. If you want to blend in and be comfortable, go for casual yet refined options. So what exactly do you wear in Europe? 

In general, go for versatile layers that can take you from day to night. For example, you can wear dark wash jeans, a light t-shirt and sneakers during the day, then dress it up with a nice jacket, accessories and sandals by night. Or, go for trousers, dresses or skirts that can easily be dressed up or down. Of course, what you wear in Europe will change depending on the season (it can go from blazing hot summers to freezing snowy winters), but in any season, remember to pack light and choose layers you can mix and match. 

We think you’ll also like: Top 10 Hidden Gems in Europe

tulip garden Keukenhof Gardens Netherlands

2. Comfortable shoes

Although you’ll want to blend in with the stylish locals, the top priority is comfort when you’re planning a trip to Europe. You’ll be walking a lot, often on bumpy cobbled streets or hillsides, so you’ll need a comfortable pair of shoes to carry you through your trip.

Depending on the weather, that may be sneakers or sturdy sandals, or you may need hiking boots if you plan to hit the Alps. It’s also good to bring sandals or flip-flops for lounging by the pool or the beach. Whatever shoes you bring, make sure you break them in before you leave to avoid any nasty blisters.

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Neuschwanstein Castle rising out of the forested mountains Germany

3. Accessories

When you’ve got minimal clothing options, accessories are a great way to jazz up an outfit. You can pack light, colourful scarves, hair ties, hats and sunglasses, or throw on some jewellery (don’t bring any expensive stuff) like earrings, necklaces, bracelets or even use belts to stand out and complete your look.

We think you’ll also like: Where to travel in Europe in your 50s, 60s and 70s

blue ocean cliffside Greece planning a trip to Europe

4. Sun protection

Whether you’re travelling in summer, winter or somewhere in between, you always need to bring sun protection for your trip to Europe. Bring a hat, sunglasses and plenty of high SPF sunscreen.

Discover Europe in 14 days on European Whirl

5. Rain protection

You also need to consider the rain when planning a trip to Europe. Come prepared in any season with a raincoat, small travel umbrella or rain poncho.

red cottages by the ocean northern lights norway

6. Day bags

When you’re planning your trip to Europe, you’ll probably want to dedicate most days to sightseeing and different activities. Since you’ll spend so much time out and about, you’ll need a secure bag to hold all your daily essentials like your water bottle, sunscreen and camera. Whether you bring a backpack or cross-body bag, make sure it’s lightweight, waterproof, theft-proof and has plenty of pockets. For the evenings, you might like to bring a smaller bag or purse.

We think you’ll also like: 21 random fun facts about Europe you never knew

7. Toiletries

Your toiletries are up to you, but we always recommend pouring your products like shampoo and moisturiser into smaller, reusable travel bottles, to save space and produce less waste. If you don’t want to bring a bunch of liquids (that always seem to explode in your bag), you can try solid toiletries, like shampoo, soap, moisturiser and deodorant bars and toothpaste tabs. It’s also handy to bring a hanging toiletry bag to make it easier to reach in the bathroom.

Go back in time on our Traditional Europe tour

canal gondolas historic buildings Venice Italy

8. Medical kit

While you can usually find everything you need once you arrive, it’s always useful to bring a small medical kit when planning a trip to Europe. You’ll firstly need to pack any prescription medication you need and bring enough for your whole trip.

Other handy items include hand sanitiser, painkillers, electrolytes, antiseptic ointment and bandaids, eye drops, insect repellent and travel sickness tablets. If you’re a light sleeper, bring earplugs and an eye mask. Be sure to consult your doctor for specific travel health advice for your trip.

dog perched in front of blue Oeschinen Lake and mountains Switzerland

9. Reusable water bottle

You can help reduce plastic waste and save money by bringing your own reusable water bottle. You can refill it in destinations where it’s safe to drink the tap water, or use the filtered water at your hotel, or drinking fountains and refill stations found across Europe.

Curious as to whether it’s safe to drink the tap water in Europe?

10. Smartphone or camera

This is one of the most essential items on anyone’s list when planning a trip to Europe. From the icons like the Eiffel Tower and the Colosseum to the magical landscapes like the Swiss Alps and Amalfi Coast, you’ll want to take hundreds of stunning photos on your Europe adventure. Whether you use your smartphone camera or bring a separate SLR camera, make sure you bring extra memory cards, chargers and waterproof cases.

We think you’ll also like: Stays with Stories: 5 Unique Accommodations in Europe

Tower Bridge in London by night

11. Travel adaptor and power strip

Speaking of gadgets – you can’t leave home without a travel adaptor. Check the plug type and voltage of the destination you’re visiting before you go, or bring along a universal travel adaptor if you’re visiting multiple countries with different plug types.

If you have a lot of electronics, or you’re travelling with other people, a power strip is very handy. You can charge everything at once, or if you only have one outlet in your room, you won’t be fighting over who gets to use it first!

waterfall green landscapes Iceland

12. Entertainment for the road

When you’re planning a trip to Europe, you’ll probably have some long plane rides or coach journeys. Come prepared with some light entertainment like headphones to listen to music, or an e-reader stocked with books. While paperbacks are great, they can be very heavy, which isn’t ideal when you need to pack light.

Take our Travel Quiz: Where Should I Visit in Europe?

13. Sealable bags

It’s always a good idea to bring a few waterproof, sealable bags. They can be small dry bags or toiletry bags, and they’re great for storing wet clothes, liquid containers to prevent spillage, or valuables like your passport, cash or phone. 

Eiffel Tower Paris planning a trip to Europe

When you’re planning a trip to Europe with Trafalgar , most of your expenses will be covered before you go, including hotels, transport and some activities and meals. But you’ll still need to bring some extra money for things like souvenirs and extra activities or meals. We recommend bringing your debit and credit cards, and some extra local cash. UK pounds and euros will get you across most of Europe, however you’ll need to check your specific destinations for their local currency.

We think you’ll also like: 15 European destinations that really come into their own in the winter

15. Important documents

You probably won’t leave home without your important documents like your passport and visa (we hope!), but you should also bring photocopies of these documents. In the unfortunate event you lose or damage your documents, the photocopies will be very useful in getting replacements or important information. We recommend bringing copies of your passport, visas, travel insurance and any tickets. It’s also handy to write down local emergency numbers on a small card and keep it in your bag on your trip.

Are you planning a dream trip to Europe? What essentials will you pack for Europe? Let us know in the comments below!


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The Globetrotting Teacher

Travel Tested Europe Travel Essentials: The Only Checklist You Need!

You’re planning a European trip and you need a Europe travel essentials checklist with all the travel-tested essentials for traveling to Europe so that you can have an amazing, stress-free trip. Well, good thing you landed exactly in this spot!

We all know planning a trip to Europe is a big deal and usually, it’s a bucket list travel goal getting checked off. The last thing anyone enjoys is the hassle of not having something they need!

The good news is I’ve traveled to Europe hundreds of times and along the way, I’ve made my fair share of Europe travel mistakes. But, they were all learning experiences! (Can you tell I’m a teacher?!)

So, I’ve put together everything I’ve learned in this ultimate guide of essentials for European travel so that you’re 10 steps ahead of the game before you even arrive at the airport.

Travel-Tested Europe Travel Essentials: The Only Checklist You Need!

5 Days in Portugal Itinerary Lisbon Tram

You can fill countless suitcases ( spoiler: don’t do this) with whatever and however much you want but without the right things for your trip, a potential headache can steal all the fun from seeing the Eiffel Tower or Rome’s Colosseum.

So, let’s skip the headache and build your European travel checklist the right way!

Essentials for Traveling to Europe: The Fundamentals

When planning a trip to Europe, there are European travel necessities that fall into a few categories. Some are absolute musts while others are more personal or for comfort.

Let’s start with the fundamentals. After all, it doesn’t matter if you’ve packed the perfect outfits if you can’t get past airport security.

Whether you’re heading to Italy , Iceland , or Spain don’t leave home without using this guide as your Europe packing list!

Obvious, but a total deal breaker if there’s an issue with yours. Be sure it’s in good condition with no visible damage. Also, check that it has at least 2 pages with no stamps and 6+ months until its expiration date. I always keep my passport and important documents in this protective cover , but also for my sanity so I always know where they are! This passport case is great if there are multiple passports to store.

Driver’s License

If you’re renting a car, you will need to show this to pick up your vehicle. But even if you’re not, it’s smart to have another official form of identification with your photo on it in case something happens to your passport.

Maps for Driving & Getting Around

If you’re driving in Europe, download Google Maps for the area(s) where you’ll be driving before leaving home. From the Google Maps app, click on your name or initial in the top right corner. Select “Offline Maps.” Then, click on “Select Your Own Map” at the top. Highlight the area(s) where you need a map and download it. When you arrive at your destination, you’ll be able to navigate in the car even without an internet connection. Similarly, the Maps.me app allows you to download maps to use offline. These maps can be especially great for when you’re out walking in a city because they show local shops, restaurants, walking paths, and more.

Using your debit card at a local ATM once you arrive is the savviest and most convenient way to get local currency at the best possible exchange rate. Also, debit cards typically have a Visa or MasterCard logo on them and require a PIN. In some cases, a purchase you need or want to make will require a card with a PIN like getting gas in a remote part of Iceland or buying entry tickets to a castle in Germany. ProTip: The Charles Schwab debit card refunds 100% of any ATM or withdrawal fees no matter where you are in the world. Don’t have an account? It’s free to set up. Plus, you can deposit a small amount into your newly created “travel account” to use for your trip. If your wallet gets stolen or you encounter any fraud, only this account with a small amount of money is at risk instead of your main bank account.

Travel Rewards Credit Card (with no foreign exchange fees)

For 95% (if not all) of your purchases in Europe from restaurants to shops, hotels, top sights, and museums can and should be made with a credit card. I recommend you use your travel rewards credit card for every purchase possible for fraud protection (i.e. when that bowl you shipped from Tuscany never arrives) and for the best possible purchase exchange rate with no fee. ProTip: When making credit card purchases in Europe, you’ll be asked if you want to pay in Euros or U.S. dollars. Always choose Euros. The credit card processor is secretly charging you a convenience fee that’s baked into that seemingly helpful U.S. dollar conversion.

International Driver’s License

If you are renting a car in Europe, some countries like Italy, Spain, Greece, Germany, and others require this document. The confusing part is car rental companies will let you rent your vehicle even without this document. You only discover that you have a problem (and possibly a hefty fine) should you be pulled over by local police. Apply through AAA , either at their nearest branch or by mail. It costs $20 + tax. You’ll also need 2 passport photos which they can take for you at the branch for a small added fee. The permit is good for a year and can potentially save you a lot of money if you get caught without it.

Travel Insurance

Important, especially if you don’t have a travel rewards credit card that offers at least some basic protections. But whether something happens before your trip and you need to cancel or you fall on some uneven cobblestone and break a wrist, you want to make sure you’re ok, as is the travel investment you made. Plus, most multi-day tours require that you show proof of travel insurance .

Photos/Copies of Important Documents & Travel Bookings

Take photos of your passport ( a must! ), driver’s license, credit cards, travel reservation confirmations, etc, and store them in a cloud-based place like Google Drive or Dropbox. If you lose anything, you can access the photo from any device with an internet connection. You can also print copies of flight, hotel room reservation(s), and activity bookings if it adds peace of mind.

And even though the things above will help you navigate all the logistics of international travel, don’t leave home without the Europe travel essentials you personally need for an incident-free trip.

Prescription Medication

Contact lenses + at least 1 extra pair, feminine hygiene products.

Ladies, whether you use this , this , these , or something else, be sure to take what you need to be comfortable.

First Aid Kit

This does not need to be overly extensive. I typically pack tablets for headaches, stomach troubles, a cold, and in case of an allergy, some Benedryl. I also like to carry a few throat drops with me, even if just for a dry mouth or throat, and a couple of band-aids for cuts or a blister. You’ll find pharmacies everywhere you go in Europe with everything you’d find at your pharmacy in North America. The idea here is just to pack a few of these things to hold you over should you need to get to a pharmacy in Europe. For reference, my first aid kit for European travel fits into a small plastic sandwich baggie.

Kylemore Abbey Connemara Ireland

Must-Have Travel Europe Essentials

The next part of the list covers Europe travel essentials that are important to have whether you’re road-tripping in Ireland or sightseeing in Budapest.

These important travel items keep you safe, and connected and help make your travel days to, in, and from Europe smooth and hassle-free.

Portable Power Bank

Keep your phone charged and ready to go whether it’s to take photos or to use a navigation app as you explore a new European city. And, even though most do, don’t assume all airplanes have a charging port for your phone. This is especially true on inter-continental flights where shorter-haul planes are used to go from one European country to another. (It’s not a good feeling to arrive at your destination airport with a dead phone!) I bring this portable charger with me on every Europe trip. Fully charged, it can refill my phone’s battery dozens of times before needing to be recharged.

Plug Adapter

You’ll need to have the right plug adapter(s) to plug your devices into European outlets. I have an older version of this plug adapter set that I have used to travel extensively throughout Europe and have never had a problem. The mini power strip is perfect for charging multiple devices at once. ProTip: If you’re going to multiple European destinations, check the plug type for each country. They aren’t all the same.

Luggage Trackers

If you’re checking a bag for your trip to Europe, Apple Airtags are great for keeping track of your luggage and can even help you locate your bag should the airline lose it. You need to have an iPhone to track the airtag. If you don’t have an apple device, try the Samsung SmartTag or Tile Mate.

Wire/Gadget Storage

You could choose a traditional wire organizer to manage cables, your portable battery, and other gadgets. They are extremely useful for storage and sanity! I also love these mesh packing squares . I’ve had the same set for years and they’re so versatile! I can use them for my cords, plug adapters, and portable charger. But they’re also great for just about any small, loose objects you need to pack. They keep everything together so you can find whatever you’re looking for quickly and without unpacking half your bag to find it!

SIM or eSIM Card

Staying connected is one of the most important travel necessities for Europe! European restaurants, cafes, shops, and hotels tend to have decent to good WiFi. However, free public Wifi isn’t the safest or most reliable way to connect your device to the internet. Not to mention, you probably still want a connected device even when you’re not in one of these places. For U.S. travelers, your phone’s wireless provider likely offers a travel pass. But these are typically very expensive (i.e. $10 a day!) and come with very limited amounts of data. Put another way, this isn’t a great option for staying connected while in Europe. The better option is to purchase a SIM card when you arrive at your destination. Most airports will have them available for sale, as will shops in most major cities. Even better is to buy an eSIM before you leave so it’s ready to go when you arrive. An eSIM comes with the added advantage of not needing to buy and install a physical card once you arrive. Either way, SIMs and eSIMs cost less and can be purchased in different data amounts depending on how much you’ll need. I use Holafly to purchase eSIMs when I travel. If you use code, THEGLOBETROTTINGTEACHER, you’ll get 5% off your purchase.

Luggage Locks

These durable locks are TSA-compatible so you can lock your checked bags. If they’re inspected, the TSA agent can unlock it and the lock will leave a red indicator letting you know your bag was inspected. Beyond that, these handy locks are perfect for backpacks and a variety of other bags whether you want added security in your hotel or you’ve stowed your bag in a luggage rack on an overnight European train.

Secure Money Storage

From the airport to full days of European strolling and sightseeing, you want something to keep your money and credit cards safe. Whether it’s a moneybelt , a neck wallet , an anti-theft bag , or a scarf with a hidden pocket , take some precautions to deter pickpockets. From Barcelona to Paris , would-be thieves are more opportunistic than anything. Be alert in touristy areas and on public transportation. (Direct eye contact works wonders to let someone know you’re paying attention.) Add extra layers of security to avoid looking like a target and it’s unlikely you’ll have any problems. ProTip: Only take 1-2 credit/debit cards and a little cash with you when you head out for a day of sightseeing. Extra money and credit cards, as well as your passport, will be safest locked in the hotel safe.

Travel Day Bag

You want a small bag or backpack that you can use to store your belongings and comfortably walk and sightsee. This has been my go-to daypack whether I’m hiking along the Slea Drive in Ireland or standing in awe as I stare at the Mosque-Cathedral in southern Spain . It’s compact and holds a lot more than it seems it would. I typically pack this inside my carry-on, which is also convenient later if I need an extra bag for souvenirs. For something a bit more fashion-minded, this messenger bag is both stylish and functional.

Reusable Water Bottle

Most European countries have clean, drinkable tap water. While you should always check the countries you’re planning to visit, rest assured you can safely refill your water bottle in most places. I’ve used the fountains in Italian cities and while hiking in the Cinque Terre, as well as filled up while driving Iceland’s Diamond Circle. So, save money and reduce plastic waste with a reusable water bottle !

Flight Creature Comforts (a.k.a. Things to Keep you Comfortable!)

Long flights across the Atlantic Ocean can be uncomfortable depending on what type of flyer you are and where you’re seated on the plane. But the good news is that small comforts go a long way! You want to arrive as rested as possible so that on your first day in Europe you can last the full day and adjust to the time zone. Ear plugs , an eye mask , cozy warm socks , and a neck pillow can all help you sleep on your overnight flight.


Whether you have a Kindle to read or you want to downloaded audiobooks, podcasts, music, or your favorite shows on your phone or laptop, plan to do this in advance. Anything that needs to be downloaded should be done before you leave home so you don’t use up data or rely on slow hotel wifi once you arrive in Europe. With these things set up on your electronic devices, you’ll be ready for that long train ride or just lazing away an afternoon at a cafe in Paris .

Polignano a Mare Italy

Europe Travel Packing: How to Pack for Europe

One of the essentials when traveling in Europe is to pack light.

If you’re like most people, you probably have at least a couple of European cities or areas on your travel itinerary. Dragging and lifting big, heavy suitcases from airports to hotels onto trains and along sidewalks is a stressful hassle that’s just not worth your energy.

So, let’s cut to the chase. You need a few important items to pack lightly, a sturdy piece of luggage, a carry-on bag, and packing cubes.

Rolling Suitcase

This is the rolling suitcase I’ve used for nearly all my trips to Europe over the past several years. And let me tell you, I’ve put this bag through the wringer! It’s proved its durability by being checked at countless airports and rolled through train stations all over Europe, as well as hauled in and out of hotels, metros, and more. Put any doubts aside about whether this piece of luggage can hold everything you’d need for a 2-week trip to Europe. I’ve done it numerous times and even stayed for up to 3 weeks without really needing to do a big batch of laundry. I’ve used a couple of other bags, too, if I’m taking a shorter trip. These honorable mentions go to this 19″ carry-on roller or this backpack which I’ve used for more outdoorsy European adventures.

Packing Cubes

These are the packing cubes that quite honestly I couldn’t live without. They are what makes the above suitcase possible. Depending on how I want to pack, I use 3-4 of these packing cubes to hold all my clothes. The magic comes from the compression. Once you’ve rolled everything inside and zipped the cube, the 2nd zipper compresses the cube down to half its size. If necessary, you can smooth out any lumps by pressing on the cube to even things out. ProTip: Think about how you’ll manage dirty clothes. You could bring an extra packing cube or a laundry bag. You could also shift clothes around as you travel, moving dirty clothes to a single packing cube and clean clothes into all the others.

Carry-on Bag

Without hesitation, this carry-on backpack has been my go-to for years. I absolutely love it. This bag has the perfect combination of smart storage compartments, style, and comfort. In fact, this is the most comfortable expandable backpack I’ve ever worn. I store things like my laptop, important travel documents, a change of clothes, and a 1-quart toiletry plastic bag with some necessities for the flight. Fully expanded, it can even hold a few days’ worth of clothes or those extra souvenirs you want to bring back home. ProTip: I like to pack a few extra plastic bags in case something leaks and for things like wet clothes.

Hanging Toiletry Bag

Not only does a hanging toiletry bag keep everything organized and easily repackable for European city-hopping, but it also allows you to keep things like toothbrushes and contact lens cases off the limited counter space around hotel sinks. You can still have all your toiletries hanging in the bathroom when you need them without worrying about knocking them off the sink.

Mini Travel Bottles

No need to take up space in your luggage with full-sized toiletries or create more waste with travel-sized (3.4 oz.) toiletries. These mini travel bottles are all TSA compliant, as well as easy to fill and easy to dispense. Best of all, they’ve never leaked into my bag!

Clothes for Your Europe Travel Checklist

Open suitcase with packed things on bed for Europe travel essentials guide

This section is a bit subjective because the clothes you pack will be dependent on the time of year you travel, what you’ll be doing, and your own style. But what to pack for a Europe trip is one of the most common questions I get, so I’ve compiled my best tips and recommendations below.

The most important thing is not to overpack. I know, easier said than done!

One way to avoid this is to plan your outfits, or if that is too difficult, pack clothes in a similar color palette. By doing this, you’ll inevitably have numerous pairings because most of the pieces will go together.

As you begin to pack, lay everything out first. You’ll likely be able to eliminate things that are duplicates (no, you do not need 3 black tops.) or items not in line with the majority color palette of the rest.

There are cliche items to avoid in European cities like flip-flops, workout clothes, or anything too casual like sweatpants or sports jerseys, shorts, super dressy clothing, or clothes meant for hiking and other outdoor activities. Not only will avoiding these items in cities be more fashionable, but they also help you blend in more. When you blend in more, you’re less of a target for a potential scammer or pickpocket.

Think more along the lines of classic pieces in neutral, soothing, or dark colors. For example, navy, black, beiges, white, and soft pastels. Also, be mindful of clothing that is too revealing, especially if you’re planning to visit cathedrals or other religious sites like in Rome or Seville .

The shoes you pack are also (so!) important.

First, pack at most 3 pairs of shoes including the ones you wear on the flight. Think smart casual and comfortable when choosing which to pack to find a balance between fashion-friendly and comfortable. You’ll likely be walking a lot and oftentimes on cobblestones.

And ladies, unless you have a specific formal event planned, you won’t need high heels. Even if you’re thinking they would be nice to wear for dinner, high heels are near impossible on cobblestone streets and take up valuable suitcase space! Instead, opt for a boot with a chunkier heel if you feel you need something dressy.

The items below are meant to be ideas to help you see what’s typically in my suitcase.

Except for the hottest days, jeans always work. They can be dressed up or down and worn with every top you pack. Everyone has a favorite pair of jeans they love so I want to give a shout-out to mine. These Duer Performance jeans are perfect for travel. They have a good amount of stretch and are very durable. What I love is they never seem to stretch out after multiple wears and they’re great for both city sightseeing and hiking. No matter which jeans you pack, go for a pair of dark-wash jeans. They’ll look cleaner for longer! Leggings are timeless, comfortable, take up little space in your luggage, and can be part of a smart casual or even dressier look. In other words, they’re perfect for travel! Other pants I’ve included in my suitcase and are versatile enough for a range of temperatures have been these Duer No Sweat Everyday Pants , these 7/8 joggers , these Bluffworks Chinos , and Eddie Bauer Departure pants . For hot summer days, go with wide-leg linen blend pants instead of shorts.

No matter what the season is I like to bring tops in different sleeve lengths that can be worn on their own or under a layer like a cardigan or a blazer. For summer European sightseeing, short sleeves that cover the shoulders will be ok for most Cathedrals. Lightweight and loose-fit tops will be the coolest for walking around a European city. Generally speaking, I pack these 3/4 sleeve shirts or these shirts with long sleeves. Lightweight sweaters are perfect for spring and fall and can mix and match with many different types of bottoms. They can be dressed up with a scarf and boots or worn with jeans and sneakers when you want to be more casual. Classic fit tees always work. And of course, a long flowy top pairs perfectly with leggings.

A top or a bottom layer can make all the difference for both style and comfort! For winter travel in central and southern Europe, a thin, effective base layer becomes your secret weapon. It keeps you warm while you’re walking without adding bulk to your overall look. In northern Europe, like Stockholm or Finnish Lapland , a baselayer top and bottom are essential! For shoulder seasons, a casual blazer that can pair with nearly all of your outfits is a win-win! Cardigans, either lightweight , open front , or something chunkier , go with most types of tops and bottoms and are great for added warmth even for a breezy evening by the sea.


A scarf is an absolute Europe travel essential! It can add to your overall look and even provide warmth when needed. I always have 1 (or 2) with me when I travel to Europe. Longer scarves create that perfect fall or transition season look. These square scarves are so fashionable and can double as a headband! If you’re looking for something that can double as a scarf and a wrap, these pashmina scarves are perfect. ProTip: As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to wear little jewelry when traveling to avoid being a target for potential theft.

Comfortable Shoes!

Perhaps the most important Europe packing decision you’ll make is the shoes you’ll bring. European travel inevitably comes with a lot of walking which will become difficult or even painful with uncomfortable and unsupportive shoes. A Chelsea-style boot works in every European city and can be worn day and night. (In Italy, I think it must be obligatory for every Italian woman to have a pair in black!) These winter boots are stylish and warm in the colder months. Allbirds are some of the most comfortable sneakers I’ve ever worn. Vionic shoes like these and these are great, too, and come with extra arch support. For summer European travel, I never leave home without these sandals . They’ve been an excellent investment and have saved my feet compared to other non-supportive summer shoes.

Europe Travel Essentials FAQs

Medina Azahara Cordoba Spain

Is it better to travel with a backpack or suitcase in Europe?

There are pros and cons to both. Personally, I prefer a rolling suitcase and have never found it to be a problem even when traveling from city to city. Yes, there are cobblestones and sometimes no elevators when you need them. However, I’d rather lift my suitcase for a moment just to get up or down some stairs than always carry it on my back.

What size suitcase is best for a 2-week trip to Europe?

I’ve typically traveled with a 24″ suitcase for 2 weeks in Europe with the help of my packing cubes. If you need a bit more space, look at a 26″ or a 28″ but I wouldn’t go any bigger than that. Otherwise, it can become a real chore to move from place to place.

Is it better to fold or roll clothes in a suitcase?

Without question, it’s better to roll clothes in a suitcase. It saves space and protects against wrinkles. When rolled clothes are packed within a packing cube, it’s often possible to have 2 layers of rolled clothing inside.

How much should I pack for a 2-week trip to Europe?

In general, you’ll want to pack 3-4 bottoms and 5-6 tops. Dresses are also helpful (but not required) because they are complete outfits that can be dressed up or down. I’d bring 1-2 dresses if they match your style. For shoes, 2-3 pairs are plenty. Above all, comfortable shoes are absolute Europe travel essentials!

Also bring a scarf to use as an accessory, to cover up in conservative places, or for a little warmth. And unless you’re traveling in the absolute heat of summer, pack a blazer or light jacket (jean jacket, trench, etc.), as well as 2 sweaters or items for layering over a lighter top. Be sure the top layers go with the majority, if not all, of your clothes.

If your trip is in the winter, be sure to have a packable winter coat , a warm hat, waterproof boots , and layers. One of my hacks is to pack a couple of base layer tops so I can get added warmth without adding too much bulk to my bag or body!

Essentials for European Travel: Bottom Line

View of the Paris Skyline from the Pantheon.

Your travel packing list for Europe needs to include a combination of fundamentals, gear, gadgets, and clothes. If you take the time to get yourself set up and packed before your trip to Europe, you’ll have done everything you could to ensure a hassle-free, comfortable, and amazing trip!

So, what’s on your checklist for European travel?

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10+ Europe Travel Essentials: Must-Haves for Your Trip

|| We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post. All opinions are our own. ||

Embarking on a European adventure in 2023 or 2024? Are you curious about what Europe travel essentials you should pack? Well, our family just returned home from a two-and-a-half-week trip to Europe. We spent time in Paris, Brussels , Bruges, Amsterdam, Bath, and London, which was incredible.

I am excited to share our adventures in several blogs and Instagram posts in the coming weeks. Follow along here at OurLittleLifestyle.com and on social media for all the photos and fun details.

BLOG: European Travel Essentials Shopping List

And I am seeing more and more people on their Bucket List Europe trips this year! Do you remember how I predicted this in my 2023 travel predictions blog post ?

So, if you are one of those planning or considering planning a trip overseas for your family, you have come to the right place! 

Blog post about things not to forget when traveling to Europe.  The image shows a dad and two kids standing in central Paris, France.  They are standing in front of the back side of the Louvre.

Preparing For Your Trip To Europe

Things went incredibly smoothly on this trip. We didn’t encounter any delays or travel-related issues. I credit that to some simple planning and preparation. Before sharing our adventures, including everywhere we stayed and everything we did, I want to share a handful of items essential to a successful European vacation.

There is a lot to consider when packing for a three-week trip to Europe . Today, I want to share some of my travel tips and part of my Europe packing list.  In addition, you will also need basic luggage !

Photo of Oia on Santorini taken by Sarah Blevins.

Europe Travel Essentials: Must Haves For Your Trip to Europe 

I want to stress the importance of having the necessary essentials to make your trip hassle-free and enjoyable. In this blog post, we will explore the top Europe travel essentials you must pack to ensure your family can make the most of your trip. From electrical converters to Apple Pay, I’ve got you covered.

Here are nine items that you should not go to Europe without in 2023 /2024!

Portable Charger

A reliable portable charger is one of the most important items to have with you in Europe. With all the photos, maps, and navigation tools you’ll be using on your smartphone, keeping your devices fully charged throughout the day is essential.

And as I will mention in just a while, almost everywhere uses Apple Pay. You will want your phone usable at all times. And trust me, you don’t want to miss capturing those stunning European moments due to a dead battery.

A must have europe items blog post.  Image shoes a portable charger and small USB charging cables.

Opt for a high-capacity portable charger that can provide multiple charges and has compatibility with your device. Make sure it can fit in your bag or purse. My family uses this  Anker Slim Powerbank , which I highly recommend.  

If you want a more slimmed-down version, try this  credit card-size portable charger . However, having one great charger that can power up multiple devices, such as the one we have, can be overall easier than everyone having their own to keep track of while out and about.  

We have these  mini usb cords  on hand to use with ours. Another option is to buy a  portable charger with built-in charging cables . 

Travel Wallet

Ok, this is neither fashionable nor sexy, but hear me out. A dedicated travel wallet will make your life so much easier. We use the  ZOPPEN RFID Travel Passport Wallet & Documents Organizer Zipper Case with Removable Wristlet Strap , and it is where we store our passports, vaccine cards, travel insurance documents, travel-related credit cards, foreign currency, and important documents at all times.

And I must mention that it is the perfect place for my Southwest Airlines drink vouchers. Because until now, I only had them when I needed them! 

Image with three photos of a travel wallet.  This European Travel Essentials blog post suggests buying one before your trip to Europe.

I always keep this somewhere safe, like the back zippered pocket of my  Way B Ready to Roam backpack , which I never travel without. Using a travel wallet helps me keep our travel documents organized and easily accessible.

Look for a wallet like the  one we have , with RFID-blocking technology to safeguard your cards from unauthorized scanning, providing an extra layer of security against potential digital theft.

I want to add that you should also have digital copies of your passports. Before your trip, please take a minute and scan each passport into your phone or simply take a photo of it. If you ever lose a passport or find yourself in an emergency, this will be very helpful to have at your fingertips.

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Electric Converter

Europe operates on a different electrical system than many other regions, so packing an  electric converter  is vital if you want to do anything beyond just charging a mobile device. A converter is different than a simple European plug-in. This device allows you to safely plug in and charge your electronic devices, regardless of the voltage differences.  

We learned this the hard way after not purchasing one before our family trip to Greece last November. We lost our favorite CHI hair straighter after it melted. Luckily, the smell of melting plastic made us aware that our daughter had plugged it in downstairs. 

This blog is about a Europe Packing List focusing on extra essentials.  The image is of an electrical converter by All Wei.

Ensure you choose a converter that covers many plug types commonly found across Europe. We purchased the  ALLWEI International Travel Adapter  for our recent Europe trip, which worked perfectly. I liked how there were numerous plug-in types on the device and for the device itself since the UK uses a different type of plug than the rest of Europe.  

European Plug-Ins

Besides an electric converter, a set of European plug adapters is necessary. Europe uses various plug types, such as Type C, Type E, and Type F. Carry a set of adapters to ensure you can plug in your devices and charge them seamlessly regardless of your destination. Adapters are small and lightweight, making them easy to slip into your luggage or day bag.

What plugs should you bring to Europe?  This image shows an example of a set of Type C European plugs by Tessan.  The blogger recommends these for a trip overseas.

We have several TESSAN European Travel Plug adapters , which worked great for us in Greece, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. But always double-check which type of plug is used in the country or countries that you are visiting. For example, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands used the  Type C plug  on our recent trip, but when we went to England, we had to use the  Type G plug . We didn’t buy an extra set and just used the converter mentioned above for everything since it had a Type G adaptor.

Cross Body Bag 

You do not need a large or oversized purse when traveling in Europe. A  cross-body bag  or a fanny pack is an excellent choice for your European journey. It offers both convenience and security, allowing you to keep your essentials close at hand while keeping your hands free to explore. Look for a bag with multiple compartments, sturdy zippers, and an adjustable strap for a comfortable fit like  these .

Cross Body Bag for Trip to Europe, photo taken in Greece

An added bonus would be a waterproof bag to wash after your trip, such as the  Lululemon Belt Bags . I have found myself using a small cross-body purse daily these days. It’s so nice not to be bogged down with a bunch of extras when out and about. If you want to invest in a luxury bag for both everyday and travel, the  Saint Laurent Lou Mini Quilted Leather Camera Bag  is one of my favorites! 

I was very surprised to see that Apple Pay was the preferred payment method almost everywhere we went in Europe. We even used it to board the local transportation trams and trains in most places, including Amsterdam . 

In recent years, contactless payments have become increasingly popular across Europe. Apple Pay can be a lifesaver when you want to make quick and secure transactions without worrying about carrying cash or dealing with foreign currency. Before your trip, make sure that you are comfortable using Apple Pay and set it up on your phone for easy and hassle-free Visa, MasterCard, and American Express payments.

Also, do some advanced research, determine which of your credit cards do not charge foreign translation fees, and always use those. And when given a choice, always process the transaction in the local currency and not USD to save a little money on the conversion.  

We do make sure to bring some foreign currency along with us and like to order it in advance through our bank, Bank of America. It is delivered in a day or two, and the conversion rates are usually the best you’ll get.

Packable Jacket 

Unless you are 100% certain you will not need one, a packable, lightweight puffer jacket is a smart buy. I have the  Pack it Down jacket from Lululemon , but we have also bought the  Amazon Essentials coats . And Abby’s is just a basic one from TJMaxx.

A father and daughter leaving a museum in Athens, Greece.

We used these throughout our November visit to Greece and brought them to Europe this summer. They came in handy on a few chilly mornings and doubled as pillows on long-haul flights. Make sure to buy one with a hood for rainy days! 

Comfortable Tennis Shoes

Many of you are shocked when I mention on social media that we only use carry-ons when we travel! One of the secrets to doing this boils down to shoes. Having a  great pair of tennis shoes  for day-to-day wear and a cute pair of  neutral flat sandals for everything else  would be best. Packing bulky shoes like wedges and boots not only consumes quite a bit of your luggage space, but you will likely not even wear them. 

A photo of a father and daughter at the Acropolis.  Both are wearing tennis shoes.  This is a blog post about European Travel Packing Must Have items.

Plus, Europe is known for its charming cobblestone streets and extensive walking tours. We walked over 15,000 steps most days on our recent trip. To ensure your feet stay happy throughout your journey, invest in a comfortable pair of tennis shoes and make sure to break them in before your trip. Opt for lightweight, breathable options that provide excellent support and cushioning. I love wearing my  On Cloud tennis shoes  when traveling. 

And one not too glamorous thing to point out is that the streets can be very dirty in these big cities, especially after some rain. So, leave the fancy shoes at home. 

Packing Cubes

This is one of those “once you know, you know” things.   Color-coded packing cubes  make it easy to pack and unpack while on the go in Europe. We use  these exact ones , and everyone gets a color. This allows me to combine suitcases along the way yet still keep everyone’s clothing organized.

I have recently discovered these  compression packing cubes  and plan to invest in those in the future. 

This image shows a small portable laundry bag and a set of packing cubes.  This blog post about Travel Essentials for Europe suggests both.

Laundry Bag 

I always travel with two  portable laundry bags . It keeps dirty clothes separate from clean ones and makes it easy to transport items to a laundromat if you want to do a mid-trip load. As we moved from city to city on our last trip, we merged our packing cubes of clean clothes into fewer suitcases while stuffing our dirty laundry into the others. 

Additional Europe Travel Essentials

While the abovementioned essentials cover the basic needs for a trip to Europe, every traveler has unique requirements. Depending on where your travels take you, consider packing a few extra items like a  compact umbrella , a versatile scarf, a universal travel adapter,  microfiber beach towels , a reusable water bottle to save money with tap water, and a  small first aid kit .

I also put a small roll of 3-4 trash bags in my bag as well. I typically use these for wet swimsuits between stops and to put dirty shoes in between cities.

Considering and packing some of these extras can enhance your travel experience and prepare you for unexpected situations.

Below, I made a printable checklist for you with a couple of extra slots for these items!

Europe Travel Essentials Checklist. This image shows a printable packing list for Europe

What Shouldn’t You Bring On Your Trip to Europe

It can be tempting to pack everything under the sun, but remember that there are many things you can buy while overseas, such as toiletries, especially when visiting big cities.  

What is not a Europe Travel Essential?

When embarking on a trip to Europe, it’s important to pack smart and avoid carrying unnecessary items that could weigh you down or hinder your travel experience. Here are a few things you should consider leaving behind:

Don’t Bring Bulky Guidebooks : While guidebooks can be informative, carrying heavy guidebooks can become burdensome. Instead, opt for digital travel resources or lightweight, pocket-sized guides that provide essential information.

Leave Excessive Valuables at Home : Avoid bringing expensive jewelry, unnecessary electronics, or flashy accessories that may attract unwanted attention. It’s best to leave valuable items at home to minimize the risk of loss or theft.

You Don’t Need Multiple Pairs of Shoes: While comfortable shoes are essential, packing an excessive number of footwear options can take up precious space in your luggage. Stick to versatile and comfortable shoes suitable for various activities and occasions. Two or three pairs are enough!

Ditch the Full-Sized Toiletries : Travel-sized toiletries are your best friend when saving space and adhering to airport security regulations. Leave behind full-sized bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and other toiletries, opting for travel-sized alternatives or just purchasing them upon arrival.

Skip the Bulky Towels and Blankets: Most European accommodations provide towels for guests, so there’s no need to pack large, bulky towels. Instead, carry a lightweight, quick-drying microfiber towel that takes up minimal space in your luggage. And, on pretty much every long-haul flight, the airline provides guests with a small pillow and blanket to use.

Avoid Packing Excessive Clothing: Resist the urge to overpack. Europe offers numerous laundry facilities and services, allowing you to refresh your wardrobe during your trip. Pack versatile clothing items that can be mixed and matched to create different outfits, minimizing the number of clothes you need to bring.

Remember, traveling light and efficiently can enhance mobility and enjoyment of your European adventure. Focus on essentials and prioritize comfort, flexibility, and convenience when deciding what to bring along.

Blog post about travel necessities for Europe Trip.  This image was taken in Amsterdam and shows a building with beautiful flowers on and around it.  A woman was riding by on her bike at the same time the photo was taken and is passing by in a blur.

Grab these Europe Travel Essentials and Enjoy Your Trip

Don’t overthink, and don’t stress while preparing for your trip to Europe! But by packing these Europe travel essentials, you’ll be well-equipped to make the most of your journey and avoid any unexpected surprises in European countries. 

Bon voyage, and enjoy the trip of a lifetime! 

Europe Packing Items Blog Post Pinterest Image

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Last Updated on September 20, 2023 by Sarah

Asher & Lyric Travel & Family Journalism

27 Top Europe Packing List Items for 2023 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

27 Top Europe Packing List Items for 2023 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

From London to Lisbon and Istanbul to Iceland, Europe is extremely varied. It’s important to know what to pack because in a single trip, you may find yourself trekking up the snowy Swiss Alps, sunbathing on the Mediterranean coastline, then trudging through the rainy cobblestone streets of Paris. Even destinations only a short flight away can feel on opposite ends of the Earth.

Asher and I have been to Europe 9 times and used our extensive experience to compile this list of items that we feel are useful on any European trip. I’ll also cover what to wear in Europe , what items NOT to bring, and some important FAQs. Bon voyage!

asher in europe

What to Pack for Europe – 27 Essentials

1. neck wallet.

Europe is notorious for its pickpockets, especially in cities like Paris, Rome, London, Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Dublin. An RFID-blocking neck wallet allows you to easily conceal your cash, credit cards, phone, eyeglasses, and hotel keys while not screaming, “I’m a tourist!” How? The neck wallet can comfortably hide under your blouse, t-shirt or jacket, making it next to impossible for pickpockets to reach. This particular brand is extremely well-made and affordably priced.

Neck Wallet

View on Amazon.com ➜

2. Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger

Getting lost in Paris at night with a phone that just ran out of batteries was a pretty frightening experience, and not one I’d like to repeat. That’s why I always carry this tiny lipstick-sized portable charger in my purse or neck wallet. It’s super reliable and ensures I will never be without a way to look at a map, call an Uber, or to communicate with my family or friends when I’m in a pinch.


3. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

A high number of websites (or parts of websites) get blocked in many European countries. For example, often, music videos and movies on YouTube or Netflix won’t be viewable. A good VPN like NordVPN will make it possible to visit every website without censorship.

Perhaps more importantly though, is the security that a VPN gives you. We learned this the hard way in Paris where we had our credit card number stolen after using what we thought was a secure WiFi network at an Airbnb rental.

Whenever you go on someone else’s WiFi, whether it’s at a café, airport, Airbnb, or hotel – you’re potentially putting your passwords, credit cards, and identity at risk of being hacked. With a VPN, you protect your sensitive data on any device with just 1-click. And it’s super affordable!

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

View NordVPN.com Options ➜

4. Universal Power Adapter

European plugs and outlets are about as varied as their terrain. The most common outlets in Europe include Type C, E, F, and G. To ensure you don’t get stuck in a country without a reliable way to charge your phone or laptop, I recommend bringing a universal power adapter that will work in all European countries (except for Italy ). This one pictured comes with two USB ports, a built-in fuse to protect your devices in case of a power surge, and a lifetime replacement guarantee .

Power Adaptor

5. Natural Jet Lag Relief Pills

Jet lag is rough when flying to Europe, so I was completely overjoyed when a friend told me about NO JET LAG. Not only is it 100% natural , but it has literally zero negative side effects. The groggy, fuzzy, heavy, exhausted feeling lifts faster and allows me to get on the move upon arrival.

Pro Tip: If you find yourself anxious or jittery during flights, another solid way to stay relaxed is with this Jet Lag Relief Essential Oil . It’s mild, soothing, and combats frazzled nerves. Put a few drops on the outside of your sleep mask and feel your body start to settle down.

Natural Jet Lag Relief Pills

6. Travel Insurance for Europe

We never go to Europe without travel insurance. Since your domestic provider typically does not follow you overseas, we recommend protecting your travel investment against situations like cancellations, delays, theft, baggage loss, medical transports, and international hospital expenses. We had a friend break her arm hiking in Europe. Luckily she didn’t have to pay the $35K airlift or $8K in medical bills because she had insured her trip for peace of mind.

We use Faye because they are revolutionizing the insurance industry! Instead of filling out piles of tedious paperwork, jumping through hoops, and crossing your fingers to someday get a reimbursement – Faye handles everything on their mobile app so you can get wired the funds when you need them most. It’s more affordable than most travel costs, and even covers you in case of ‘trip cancellation for any reason.’

Faye Travel Insurance

Get a quote in less than 60 seconds with Faye ➜

7. Quick-Dry Travel Towel

Having your own travel towel in an unfamiliar hotel or B&B can be a lifesaver. These microfiber towels weigh less than half a pound and are ultra-packable. You will find yourself using them to dry off after showering or swimming, as a picnic blanket, a beach towel, or to face whatever moisture you come up against ! They dry 10x faster than cotton and without a doubt, are perfect for day trips and general travel alike.

HERO Travel Towel - Blue

8. Packable "Just In Case" Bag

This bag is genius because it takes up literally no space. Collapsed, the “Just in Case” bag is about the size of a folded tank top — but when full, it’s a large personal item bag that fits under your airplane seat. It also attaches to the handle of your carry-on luggage for smooth airport transit. Throw it in your larger suitcase at the start of the trip – it’ll come in handy for all the souvenirs (and chocolate!) you will inevitably pick up along the way.

Just in Case bag

9. Windproof Travel Umbrella

In order to be able to enjoy yourself even in the midst of rainy days, you need a good quality travel umbrella like the one pictured. I prefer bringing this puppy along instead of buying an overpriced one from a side street vendor that is sure to break. This one is windproof and super compact at only 12-inches when collapsed. It also comes with a lifetime replacement guarantee !

Pro Tip: If you’re heading to an extremely rainy climate like Ireland or Iceland and want to be sure to stay dry even in unpredictable storms, throw these disposable ponchos in your daypack and wear them under your umbrella. Here are our favorites for adults and children .

Hero Umbrella

10. Prepaid Europe SIM Phone Card

Don’t pay the ridiculous roaming rates that your current provider will charge you when traveling abroad. This is a simple and easy way to have a local number and high-speed data on your phone the moment you get off the plane in Europe. We used it heavily on our last 2 week trip through France and Italy and it worked perfectly. In fact, this one is compatible with 30 European countries and comes with 20GB of data! All you need is an unlocked phone for it to work. Voila!


11. Packing Cubes

Europe has so many climates (cool, desert, alpine tundra, highland, and Mediterranean) . Prepare for any scenario with these packing cubes that are a total game-changer! You can easily categorize your suitcase for a stress-free traveling experience (use one cube for tops, one for bottoms, one for dresses, swimsuits, etc.) Gone are the days of digging through your luggage to find that long-lost sock . We also love the two bonus laundry bags that keep your dirty clothes from intermingling with your clean ones.

It’s available on HeroTravelSupply.com with an exclusive 15% discount using the coupon code “ HERO ”.

Hero Packing cubes

Or view on Amazon.com ➜

12. Discounted Tickets on European Attractions

Whether you are climbing the famous Eiffel Tower , trekking the Acropolis of Athens , standing in awe of the Roman Colosseum , or witnessing Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia – Europe has a plethora of history and magic to offer you. Where else can you swim in a geothermal spa , explore medieval castles , or stare into the eyes of Da Vinci‘s beloved Mona Lisa ?

Get Your Guide is our favorite booking service for top-tier excursions that really bring your trip to life. Building a dream itinerary is easy since you can compare reviews to ensure you’re reserving the best activities. GYG even offers cancelation up to 24-hours before your tours, making it a flexible option for all adventurers.

get your guide

See all European attractions at GetYourGuide.com ➜

13. Cooling Towel

Does anyone else get a bit crabby when they get hot? (Hands please!) This cooling towel is great for the entire family because I think we all hate memories of near melt-downs in 90-degree weather. All those potentially disastrous moments — waiting in line to see Big Ben with crying little ones with no shade in sight… or walking to get the Barcelona Metro mid-August in a humidity-induced daze have since faded away merely because I discovered this remarkable little towel! It’s non-toxic, chemical-free and once you wet the material, the ice-cold cooling effect lasts for 30-60 minutes before you simply wet it again to restart the process.

towel pink

14. Motion Sickness Patches

For those that suffer from motion sickness, these Anti-Nausea Motion Sickness Patches are amazing for planes, trains, and automobiles! Winding European roads can be especially curvy with lots of bends and turns, many of them carved into the sides of vertigo-inducing mountains. These patches are a miraculous herbal remedy that saved me on many occasions – trust me, they work. Don’t call in seasick or carsick to your vacation, use these instead.

Motion Sickness Patches

15. Luggage Locks

These TSA-approved luggage locks will protect your valuables from getting stolen while your luggage is in transit. I also like to use one on my backpack while exploring crowded cities to keep pickpockets’ hands out of my stuff and they’re perfect for locking lockers in hostels or tourist sites. I seriously never travel without at least one or two combination locks, it truly helps with my peace of mind.

luggage locks

16. Hanging Toiletry Bag

European “water closets (W.C.)” and bathrooms are considerably smaller than the ones in the U.S. — and full of charming quirks! This said, you might find your B&B in Prague or a tiny hotel in Rome won’t have ample counter space for your makeup and skincare routine. I like to bring this toiletry bag that easily hangs on any door or hook to ensure I always have as much space as I need to stay happy, sane, and organized.

Hanging Toiletry Bag

17. TSA-Approved Silicone Travel Bottles

Try these cute travel-sized bottles that will give you the perfect amount for a normal length trip abroad. They are TSA-approved so you won’t have to throw away any part of your precious regimen and all bottles will fit easily in the hanging toiletry bag (or keep them in their own case). It’s always more challenging to find the products that you might love at home while overseas, so if you have skincare and haircare products that you like, it’s best to bring them along.

TSA-Approved Silicone Travel Bottles

18. Travel Daypack

If you’re planning any day trips, a good foldable daypack should be at the top of your packing list. This Venture Pal backpack is the perfect blend of features, quality and affordability. We’ve found it to be comfortable, durable, and has numerous little compartments for all our needs. It’s also super lightweight and folds into itself so that you can store it easily when you’re not using it. Available in many colors.


19. Wellies (AKA Rain Boots)

Wellies are essential footwear for Europe since many hot spots are rainy year-round (London, Paris, Zurich, Milan, etc.) But even sunny destinations have a wet season. These rain boots are made to withstand the elements, keeping your feet dry in surprise downpours and combating any muddy terrains with non-slip traction. Add waterproof shoe bags to your suitcase to ensure you don’t get any dirt, mud, or street funk on your clean clothes!

wellies rain boots for europe

20. Water Bottle with Built-in Filter

Water quality is tough to predict in many parts of Europe – some places have delicious, drinkable tap water. Others have little to no drinkable water available without buying expensive pre-bottled water that is bad for the environment. I always recommend that travelers bring their own water bottles with a filter, to ensure that their water is comfortable to drink. This water bottle has a built-in filter so all you have to do is fill and drink.

pink water bottle

21. Gorgeous Outfit

Europe’s restaurant scene is killer , and there are endless opportunities to enjoy the nightlife. Even if I’m planning a fun family trip, I always pack at least one or two outfits that I would feel beautiful wearing in the evenings. It’s not always easy for me to find clothes on Amazon that I like, but I LOVE this jumpsuit because it’s easy to pack, doesn’t wrinkle if it’s tossed into my bag, and looks great on so many body types.

Gorgeous Outfit

22. Women’s Comfy Flats

Many say that Europe is best enjoyed on foot. From museums to cafés to just taking in the architecture, you will be walking A LOT. Summer months can be hot with high chances of humidity and rain. You’ll want something breathable and comfortable, especially if they get wet in a sudden downpour. These Crocs (yes, Crocs?!) are actually super cute cozy and cool on muggy days. They are my feet’s most-loved flat choice.

Croc flat womens

23. Activated Charcoal (Food Poisoning Fix)

Europe boasts countless adorable restaurants and cafés, but… many won’t be as clean as the places you frequent at home and food poisoning happens. The most surprising was when I actually got SO sick from a $250 Michelin-rated meal in London. (Ok, I did eat roast pigeon, but I thought while in London, why not try some of the local fare!) Please don’t ruin your trip by not bringing these along. They will shorten the duration of the food-borne illness dramatically and in many cases, can alleviate the problem immediately.

Activated Charcoal (Food Poisoning Fix)

24. Cheers Hangover Relief

These supplements use vitamins and liver-detoxing herbs like milk thistle to remove alcohol from the body more quickly. Asher and I aren’t big drinkers, but the wine in Europe is divine. When making the most out of pub tours, vineyard stops, and gourmet dining – keep your body in tip-top shape with these hangover-prevention pills. You don’t want to spend long days in museums or on historical tours with a looming headache and fatigue. If you’re planning to drink, give them a try!

hangover pills

25. Deodorant Wipes

Europe in the Summer is a hot and muggy wonderland. While you’re immersed in the historical beauty all around you, you do NOT want to worry about dripping through your couture. I personally hate reapplying deodorant to my already sweaty armpits, and I will no longer succumb to washing my face and underarms in a sink that has no paper towels to dry myself. These non-toxic, natural wipes do the trick! They fit nicely in my purse or day pack, and with a quick wipe, I’m as fresh as a daisy!

Deodorant Wipes

26. Rolling Suitcase

Choosing a good suitcase is like choosing a good partner – both will need to be durable, reliable, secure, and ready to come on many adventures with you (and look good while doing it!) The apple of my eye is this Wrangler Rolling Suitcase . It is massive and really exceeded my expectations. Made of 100% nylon, it has the lightness of a duffle bag but the sturdiness of a regular suitcase. It will be a breeze to maneuver through crowded airports and cobblestone streets (or hauling up typical 5-story buildings with no elevator; you will thank us). Arrive at your hotel in utter comfort, at an even more comfortable price!

soft shell rolling suitcase

27. Reusable Wine Bags (Leak-Proof)

Since these prevent bottle breakages in transit, these reusable leak-proof bags are great for drinkers and non-drinkers alike. I use them for souvenirs and family gifts like French perfume bottles, Italian olive oils, delicate ceramics, literally anything made of glass ! With thick bubble padding and a double seal, you can get a ton of use out of them. And of course, between the Chianti, Bordeaux, Champagne, Cava, and any other European spirit you stumble upon – these will be a thoughtful addition to your checked luggage.

Wine wings

1. Travel Stroller or Double travel stroller

ZOE XL2 Double Travel Stroller

Pro Tip: If you have older children (ages 5+) consider bringing along a double-seated stroller. You’ll be walking miles and miles in Europe and kids get tired easily. Give their little legs a rest and your sleepy tots will probably take a nap on the ride home.

View on Amazon.com ➜

2. Travel Car Seat and Stroller Combo for Infants

Travel Car Seat and Stroller Combo for Infants

Note: All airlines will check your car seat at the ticket counter free of charge. View on Amazon.com ➜

3. Travel Carseat for Toddlers and Little Kiddos

Travel Carseat for Toddlers and Little Kiddos

Pro Tip: A Car Seat Luggage Belt is an ultra-portable travel solution to work with what you already have. The strap allows you to attach your car seat to your suitcase. So in a matter of seconds, you have an effortless mode of getting your kids from airport to airport without having to push a heavy stroller around (plus all carry-on luggage). Works like a charm!

4. Stroller Clips

stroller clips

5. Woolino Sleep Sack

Woolino Sleep Sack

It’s a great way to keep babies cozy on an airplane and ensure they feel safe during long travel days. It’s also helpful for unpredictable temperatures in hotels. It’s a bit expensive but also worth it since it replaces loose blankets you would otherwise need in the crib. We don’t have to travel with many blankets, which also keeps our luggage weight down.

6. Baby Bjorn Travel Crib

Baby Bjorn Travel Crib

Pro Tip: Before you travel, have your tot take a few naps using this travel crib and create a consistent routine around it. Your babies will come to perceive it as a place of solace. This at-home practice will be invaluable to them connecting with it in new and unfamiliar settings.

7. Homeopathic First Aid Kit

hylands gas drops

We try to opt for the homeopathic approach to medicine because it is a natural and often botanical way to treat the underlying cause of conditions – aiming to get you off the medicine sooner rather than becoming reliant upon it. We love that these natural, safe, effective remedies don’t cause harmful side effects and are safe for children. Natural remedies actually stimulate the body’s ability to heal itself and boost your baby’s natural immunity. They have saved us repeatedly during teething, tummy aches, or sickness. I can’t recommend them enough.

  • Natural Gas Relief – We have many Hyland baby products and love that they are formed with NO artificial flavors or dyes. They relieve the pains of gas, stomach pressure, burping, constipation and bloating, and restlessness.
  • Echinacea Drops – We give our children these immune-boosting drops before any trip and they’ve yet to become sick while traveling. They taste like nature’s candy and can be given to children 6-months+. Crafted with wild echinacea flower, it provides natural health in a bioactive compound.
  • Baby Calm – As the name indicates, these tablets are wonderful for calming your little one and keeping them relaxed. For a baby that is restless, teething, or gets fussy and irritable while traveling – these are a lifesaver. They instantly reduce baby’s irritation so everyone can get back to sleep!
  • Earache Relief – By age 3-5, nearly every toddler has had an ear infection and it is one of the most common reasons young parents go to the doctor. These all-natural drops are a must-have for parents; they will reduce symptoms like pain, irritability, fever, and sleeplessness, providing a safe application in the form of a dropper.
  • Baby Vitamin C – Mary Ruth is one of our favorite brands because it’s organic and what you see is what you get – the only ingredient in this product is organic Vitamin C. It is an incredible immune booster, powerhouse antioxidant, and protects against free radicals. I start to give our children this a few days before we travel.
  • Camilia Teething Relief – Prevent teething pain before it begins with these natural relief drops. We aim for homeopathic solutions that target the root cause of the pain instead of just masking the symptoms. These droppers also alleviate digestion issues related to teething, restoring peace for the entire family.

See more tips on traveling with babies in our guide on best baby travel gear ➜

Other Europe Packing List Items Not to Forget

  • Travel First-Aid kit
  • Compression Flight Socks
  • Facial Cleansing Wipes
  • Affordable Underwater Camera
  • Reusable Travel Wine Bags
  • Steripod Toothbrush Cover
  • Dental Floss
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Mini Hairbrush
  • Nail Clippers
  • Insect Repellent
  • Loofah Glove
  • Noise-Canceling Headphones
  • Headphone Splitter
  • Flash Drive
  • Memory Card
  • Electronic Organizer Case
  • Travel Toilet Paper
  • Shoulder Bag Women
  • Shoulder Bag Men
  • Waterproof Phone Case
  • Travel Pillow
  • Travel Sheet
  • Personal Item Travel Bag
  • Passport photos
  • Other European packing lists you may like:
  • Amsterdam |
  • Barcelona |
  • Camino de Santiago |
  • Castle Trip |
  • Copenhagen |
  • French Riviera |
  • London & UK |
  • London/England Study Abroad |
  • Mediterranean Cruise |
  • Santorini |
  • Switzerland |

What Should I Wear in Europe?

Europe’s weather varies a lot by country and by season, so it’s a good idea to do a little research on your specific destinations. Three things you should expect with a trip to Europe are:

Walking: You’ll be doing a LOT of walking. Bring shoes that are comfortable but that still look nice.

Fashion and Style: No, you don’t need to dress like a model, but you should look nice to fit in. Choose mainly dark colors, especially dark jeans if you’re wearing jeans.

essential items for european travel

The weather often varies a lot across Europe so you will want to pack clothes that are versatile. European women are quite stylish so choose outfits that are more on the smart casual side. Ankle boots are very popular and a pair of nice sneakers or flats are great to have while exploring around. Choose dark colored pants, jeans, or leggings to wear with camis, blouses, long knitted sweaters or cardigans, and dresses. Outside, leather jackets are popular and a scarf is essential. Accessories to add to any outfit include retro shades with a leather saddle bag or vintage rucksack to carry your things. What should MEN wear in Europe? – (Click to expand) Below is a sample men’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).

essential items for european travel

Packing for the Seasons in Europe

Spring – march, april, may.

Spring counts as one of the shoulder seasons for Europe, and is an ideal time to travel to many locations which will have sparser crowds and still agreeable weather. Although, some places will be wet and dreary at this time, so check the specs on your destination before you pack.

Rain gear is absolutely crucial during spring, so bring a quality windproof travel umbrella and a good rain jacket . Boots are a good idea in most places, just in case you find yourself slogging through mud or wet grass. Temperatures average between 41°F and 58°F (5°C to 14°C).

SUMMER – June, July, August

European summers are lovely, and typically comfortably warm – though parts of Europe can endure searing heat during the peak of summer.

The downside of this nicer weather is that the summer is when most tourists visit, making it high-season. If you can handle the crowds and the inflated prices, it’s a gorgeous season to visit!

essential items for european travel

You probably won’t need any heavier outerwear unless you’re traveling to destinations farther north or at higher altitudes. Temperatures average between 59°F and 78°F (15°C to 26°C).

FALL – September, October, November

Fall or autumn is the second half of the shoulder season in Europe, and brings milder weather and again, smaller crowds. Prepare for some precipitation (usually drizzle) and chill, but expect tolerable to fair conditions. As always, check on averages for your destinations to be sure!

Autumn in Europe calls for a light jacket , dependable waterproof walking shoes , and a couple of scarves to keep warm should a chillier day arise. Temperatures average between 45°F and 60°F (7°C to 16°C).

WINTER – December, January, February

Winter in many areas of Europe is cold, but generally mild. Depending on your location, you may experience anything from chilly seaside winds to blustery gales and everything in between. Mostly, you’ll see days that chill you and necessitate hot chocolate and warm jackets .

Europe winter

Churches – Europe doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the number of beautiful, magnificent churches and other holy sites. From the medieval cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris to the world’s largest church at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, and the 700-year-old Westminster Abbey in London, there’s a lot to see! With any religious site, it is important to dress conservatively. Shoulders need to be covered and women should avoid wearing anything with a deep v neck or tops that expose the midriff or back. Dresses, skirts, and shorts can be worn if it goes below the knee. Keep in mind, many places have now banned selfie sticks so leave them at home.

Museums and Galleries – You can find some of the world’s best museums in Europe. What was once a medieval fortress now houses the most famous painting, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, at the Louvre in Paris, France. There’s also the Rosetta Stone at The British Museum in London, and insights into Athenian life at The Acropolis Museum in Athens. Dress smart casual if you are planning to visit any museums or galleries. It can often get quite chilly so bring a shawl or sweater to stay warm. You will also be doing a lot of walking, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes such as flats, loafers, or sneakers. Museums tend to be very quiet so avoid anything with a heel that makes a lot of noise while walking.

Eating Out – Europe is a food lover paradise offering the best of French, Italian, Greek, and Spanish cuisine just to name a few. From traditional markets offering local products to the best of fine dining, you can find an array of foodie experiences. If you are looking for the best of the best, book a reservation at a Michelin starred restaurant such as Arpège in Paris, The Ledbury in London, or La Pergola in Rome. Europeans tend to dress up in the evenings so pack a few nicer pieces for dining out. Men can wear leather shoes with trousers or dark fitted jeans with a button up shirt and blazer jacket. Women can wear wedges or a pair of nice flats with maxi dresses for warm weather or dark slim fit trousers with a nice blouse on top and a few accessories during colder months.

What NOT to Take to Europe

1. don’t bring lots of electronics.

I recommend packing a camera and a Kindle , and maybe your laptop, but don’t bring much more than that. Unless you have other electronics you’ll really need on your trip, it’s just not worth the risk of them being lost or stolen.

2. DON’T PACK a bath towel

It’s a good idea to bring a towel with you to Europe, but regular towels are bulky and heavy, and take way too long to dry. Take a quick-dry travel towel instead – they’re much lighter and smaller, but still plenty absorbent.

3. DON’T TAKE expensive jewelry

Similarly, you don’t want to risk valuable or sentimental jewelry getting lost or stolen on the road. Plus, wearing a lot of flashy jewelry can make you a target. Pack a couple of pieces you’ll want to wear on your trip, and leave the rest at home.

4. DON’T BRING lots of cash

Except for in very rural areas, nearly any place you visit in Europe will have ATMs, and many spots take credit cards, too. There’s no need to take a ton of cash and risk it being lost or stolen.

5. DON’T PACK a bunch of books

Some hostels and cafes in Europe have book exchanges where you can pick up a free paperback and drop it off at a future exchange when you’re done. Or, you can simply load up a Kindle , and do your reading on a lighter device that’s easier to pack.

6. DON’T TAKE a Europe-wide guidebook

Lonely Planet and many other publications have a guidebook that covers all of Europe, but they rarely have sufficient detail on any individual place. Do your generic Europe research online, and get the guidebooks for the specific countries or regions you’ll be visiting.

7. DON’T TAKE too many clothes

Pare it down to a few outfits, and if you run out of things to wear, it’s not hard to find a place to do laundry in most parts of Europe.

8. DON’T PACK overly casual clothes

Europeans tend to dress well and dress up more than North Americans do. While you’ll want some casual clothes for hanging around your hostel or hitting the pool or beach , I’d suggest bringing slightly nicer clothing for your Europe trip.

FAQs About Trips to Europe

1. is the tap water in europe safe to drink.

You can drink the tap water in most of Europe. However, that is not true for countries in the Balkans and the Former Soviet Union. In those areas, travelers should be careful to avoid tap water unless it has been treated. In Eastern Europe, you may also want to avoid untreated tap water outside the major cities to be safe. With this being said we recommend you always use a filtered water bottle to be sure.

2. How prevalent is English in Europe?


Among European countries, English is the primary native language only in the U.K. and Ireland, but it is widely spoken as a second language elsewhere. In Nordic countries and the Netherlands, a large portion of the population speaks English well, even in smaller towns. In Western Europe, you won’t have much trouble finding English speakers in major towns or popular tourist sites, and most people who work in the tourism industry speak English.

The farther east you go, however, the less English you’ll encounter (though hotel staff still commonly speak English). English speakers can certainly still travel in those countries, it just might be a bit more challenging.

3. What countries in Europe are the cheapest to visit?

In general, Eastern Europe is significantly cheaper than Western Europe. Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, and the Czech Republic are especially popular budget travel destinations, but Slovakia, Serbia, Latvia, and Ukraine are also very cheap to visit.

4. Is it safe for women to travel alone to Europe?

europe solo female

Yes! Women should have no more fear about traveling alone than men should – especially when traveling to places in Europe. Stay in areas that are safe for tourists, don’t flaunt the fact that you’re a tourist, and take standard safety precautions with your money. The one thing that may be more applicable to women than to men is that you shouldn’t go walking alone at night, but that’s standard anywhere.

Don’t carry excess cash, take familiar routes when possible, try to avoid out-of-place clothing, and relax! You’re more likely to blend in instead of sticking out as a tourist if you look like you belong there. It will likely make you more comfortable to research current country-specific travel notes here .

5. What vaccines or medicines should I get before traveling to my destination?

Since each country will have its own regulations and mandates, stay up-to-date through the CDC’s Destination Tool . It allows you to select the countries you are visiting and check real-time updates on the vaccines and medications that you need for your next trip. It is also recommended to consult a physician at least one month before you depart to ensure you are current on all required vaccines and medicines for that particular destination.

If you are traveling to several countries with unique vaccine requirements, confirm the cross-over and discuss your specific travel plans with your doctor. If you’re only in a country for a short duration or you’re only remaining in the touristic area near the coast (for example, while cruising ), certain vaccines may not be necessary.

6. Is it worth getting a Eurail pass?


Europe’s train systems are highly lauded, and many backpackers and other travelers in Europe plan their trips around riding the train from country to country. But many find themselves wondering, “Is a Eurail pass worth it?” Whether a pass is the cheapest option depends on how many train rides you’ll be taking, where you’ll be riding, and how far in advance you could book tickets.

In general, a pass will save money if you’re visiting a lot of different countries and/or taking long train rides, while buying individual tickets is cheaper if you’re booking far in advance or if you’re traveling exclusively in Eastern Europe. But, one of the biggest perks of using a pass is the flexibility: last-minute train tickets are expensive, so if you want to be able to travel with more spontaneity, a pass is the way to go.

7. Do I need to tip in restaurants in Europe?

Restaurants in Europe often note on the menu or bill that a service charge is included, in which case an additional tip is not necessary. Otherwise, tipping is not required but it’s customary to round up the bill. If you do decide to tip, make sure to do it in cash and hand it directly to your server. The major exception to this rule is Scandinavian countries, where tipping is not generally practiced.

8. What is the best way to get around Europe?


Public transportation is well developed throughout most of Europe, and it’s generally easy to get from country to country. Most trains in Europe are comfortable and efficient, and train travel is probably the most popular way to get around, whether you opt for a Eurail pass or individual tickets (see above). For most routes, though, the bus is cheaper than the train, and Eurolines is the main network of international buses in Europe. With budget airlines like Ryanair and EasyJet, flying between countries can be an affordable option, too; just check Google Flights or a site like Kayak to see all the flight options.

9. Where can travelers get off the beaten path in Europe?

In general, Western Europe is much more traveled than Eastern Europe, and capital cities and historical sites are often heavily visited. To get off the beaten path, head to rural areas or to countries in the Balkans or the Former Soviet Union, which see relatively little tourism.

10. Do I need a visa to visit Europe?

do americans need a visa for europe

To visit countries in the Schengen Area, which currently includes 26 European countries, citizens of the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, and most of Central and South America do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 90 days (within any 180-day period). The U.K. is not part of the Schengen Area, and allows citizens of most of the same countries to visit visa-free for up to six months. Check here to verify the current requirements.

11. What is the best time of year to visit Europe?

In general, the best seasons to visit Europe are the spring and fall, particularly in May, June, and September. During these months, prices are lower than during peak season, and the weather is agreeable in most areas.

12. Are there any good Mediterranean cruises?

italy coast

Absolutely! Apart from the Caribbean, we believe the Mediterranean is the best place to do a cruise. Why? Well it’s simple, you often get to see six different countries in the space of 10-days and many itineraries have only a couple of cruising days. This means you can be out exploring the ports every day and finding the best food and best excursions to do while enjoying such an array of different cultures in such a short time. If you’re wondering what to pack for a cruise , read our full guide.

13. Are there any recent travel restrictions to be aware of?

The European Union (the political union of 27 major European countries) applied a wide range of safety measures regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. These requirements have varied from negative diagnostic tests to not allowing in non-citizens for non-essential travel, essentially locking down the borders.

As of late 2022, Travel restrictions are lifting more and more – France, Finland, Greece, Croatia, Portugal, Denmark, and others are relaxing the vaccination requirements. Iceland and Norway have removed nearly all COVID-19-related travel restrictions.

If you intend to travel in the E.U., you should check the European Commissioner’s Platform for real-time border updates. You can also visit Travel.State.Gov for a traveler’s checklist on documentation requirements and they are a great resource for Country Specific COVID-19 Information .

14. How can I save money while traveling in Europe?


There are lots of ways to save money in Europe. For starters, stick to hostels or try couch-surfing to cut your accommodations costs. Car rentals and taxis can be pricey, so use trains and buses to get around instead, or just walk. Limit eating out, and pick up groceries for some of your meals; look for hostels or vacation rentals that have kitchens where you’ll be able to cook.

Try eating out at lunch instead of dinner too, as many restaurants in Europe have good-value (and filling) lunch specials. Skip the bottled water, and just bring a reusable water bottle that you can keep filling up. And of course, putting a limit on your alcohol consumption will always save money.

Lyric Fergusson

Lyric Fergusson

ETIAS.COM logo - EU Travel Information & Authorisation System

10 essential items for your trip to Europe

10 essential items for your trip to Europe

Whether you're backpacking through Europe or going on a luxurious vacation, there are certain travel items that you should always bring with you. From healthcare pieces to items that will make your journey more comfortable, here are 10 essential items to pack for your next trip to Europe.

[1] A valid passport and an approved ETIAS or Schengen Visa

Depending on your destination, you will most likely need an ETIAS or Schengen Visa is when travelling to a Schengen country . It is important to research beforehand so that you understand the requirements for either travel authorisation if you are not an EU citizen. An ETIAS can be obtained through an online application as it is a digital travel authorisation. It takes approximately 96 hours to process and once approved, is valid for 3 years and valid for stays up to 90 days per 180-day period. A Schengen Visa , however, will require a visit to the embassy and additional processing times for the application. Also, if you’re renting a car make sure to bring your driver’s license, as your passport is usually not a sufficient document for car hire. ETIAS will be a travel requirement for visa-free travellers starting in 2025.

[2] Travel insurance

Travel insurance is a great way to get protection against unexpected events before or during a trip. It provides assurance when it comes to the financial losses you can incur during your travels, as well as offers assistance and support if something unanticipated happens while you are away from home. When selecting a travel insurance policy, it is important to consider factors such as the length of the trip, your age, medical history, travel companions, the purpose of the journey and other potential risks you could encounter along the way. Having the right coverage in place can make all the difference if you ever find yourself in an emergency situation.

[3] Eurail pass for train travel

A Eurail pass allows you to explore Europe aboard comfortable, reliable trains while visiting the vibrant cities and stunning landscapes. With a variety of pass options available, you can pick the one that fits your travel plans and budget. Reap the benefits of flexibility as you hop on and off beautiful train rides between your destinations with ease. Above all, enjoy the convenience of unlimited train travels around dozens of countries across Europe.

[4] Comfortable walking shoes

Investing in a set of comfortable walking shoes is an essential part of any sightseeing trip. When you have the right footwear, you can explore for longer without sore feet. Good quality walking shoes are designed to be both supportive and lightweight, making them perfect for everything from a leisurely stroll around the block to an all-day sight-seeing tour. Walking shoes with ergonomically designed contours enable your feet to move naturally and can help reduce fatigue, stress, and strain on joints. With breathable materials and ample cushioning, comfortable walking shoes provide the perfect balance of supportiveness and flexibility for long-term wearability. Investing in a good pair may come with a price tag, but they will be worth it in the long run as they will provide lasting comfort and prevent painful blisters or sores when you’re out exploring the world. Comfort is key, so we recommend investing in a pair of walking shoes that are light but supportive. This way you'll feel comfortable enough to go on long walks.

[5] Quality luggage or suitcase

When traveling by air, it is essential to select a suitcase that offers durable construction and excellent performance. A good quality suitcase should be designed with tough materials such as reinforced sidewalls and extra padding to absorb shock during handling. It should also feature lockable hardware that securely fastens zippers, sturdy wheels to manage weight and robust handle systems which allow for easy manoeuvring while also maintaining its strength over time. For those who need a bag that offers protection against the hustle and bustle of air travel, investing in a well-crafted suitcase can make all the difference.

[6] Appropriate clothing for layering

Travel clothing should satisfy three criteria; it should ideally be lightweight, wrinkle-proof and weather-appropriate.

Lightweight - High quality, lightweight clothing provides an ideal solution for layering an outfit. With lightweight clothing, the layers won't weigh you down for an easy and effortless style no matter where you go. Lightweight clothing, such as cotton or light synthetic fabrics, are ideal during hot, humid days as they are breathable and wick away sweat but also provide good coverage. Whether you're looking to add warmth or a splash of colour, layering pieces together can really transform your look.

Wrinkle-proof - A good wrinkle-free material allows clothes to be packed down easily and stay wrinkle-free whether you’re wearing them or carrying them in a bag.

Weather-appropriate - Having clothing that is appropriate for the weather can make a world of difference in comfort and daily living. Additionally, appropriate outerwear is important to keeping warm on chillier days, such as a lightweight jacket or parka with a hood and insulation. Research the weather for your destination a few days in advance so you bring appropriate clothing in case of weather surprises.

[7] A scarf or shawl

The right accessory can make a difference in your comfort throughout the day. For example, a scarf or shawl is an excellent choice to boost any look, while also helping to keep you warm and cosy when temperatures dip at night. With so many choices in materials, colours and patterns available, you are sure to find something that complements your wardrobe and adds an extra layer of cosiness when needed. Investing in a scarf or shawl is a no-brainer for anyone looking for an easy-to-throw-on item that offers both style and functionality.

[8] Raincoat or umbrella

Being prepared for a sudden downpour is always important. No matter the forecast, having a raincoat or umbrella with you when you go out means that you can always be ready for anything. In the event of an unexpected rainstorm, having some kind of protection can make all the difference in how enjoyable your day ends up being.

[9] Travel adapter

International travel adapters are must when visiting Europe. The UK has different plug outlets compared to other European countries. The UK operated on a three-pin plug outlet, whereas other European countries operate on a two-pin prong outlet. Many travel adapters available for purchase allow for a single plug to satisfy the physical and electrical requirements for both the UK and EU.

[10] Personal items such as medication, toiletries and sunscreen

You may not be able to find your favourite toothpaste, lotion, shampoo, conditioner, soap or sunscreen while visiting Europe. Furthermore, getting prescription medications can be tricky if they are critical to your health. You may want to consider bringing a bag with your personal items, including medication, and make a list of the essentials so you don’t leave behind anything that is important or hard-to-find.

No matter where you're headed on your next adventure, be sure to pack smart and bring along these items that will make your trip more comfortable. Remember to pack light, yet thoroughly as you don’t want to be running around a new country trying to find essentials.

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essential items for european travel

The ULTIMATE Packing List for Europe – Essentials for 2023

Planning a trip to Europe? Our guide covers the essentials you will need in your packing list for Europe.

This continent is one of our favourites regions of the world to explore.

Hi, we’re Rach & Marty!

We’ve visited every country in the world, and we want to help you get the most out of your travels, trips and vacation!

Whether you’re looking for a delicious food adventure , you’ve got a destination in mind and need an expertly planned itinerary , or you’re just looking for experienced hints & tips , we’ve got you covered!

We may earn affiliate commissions from websites we link to, at no cost to you. Click here for details.

packing list for europe suitcase items

Post updated Sept, 2023

Furthermore, if you’re searching for a Europe packing list that will be light enough to carry so you can easily move around from country to country, then you’re in luck. 

Items on the list below are more focused on a packing list for Europe summer. It’s the ideal Europe backpacking packing list too, as it’s light to carry, yet comprehensive.

However, you may need a few extra layers if you’re travelling during winter. We’ve got a few suggestions to complete the ULTIMATE packing list for Europe for any season.

Travelling around Europe is thrilling! Expect your trip to be full of diversity, adventure, warm hospitality, many beaches, world-class cities, and amazing food! You need to read our food map of Europe before you get there.

With so many countries packed into one amazing continent, do you know how many countries are there in Europe? 44, 45 or 49?

The best part about travelling here is if you forget something on your packing list for Europe, you can easily pick it up on the way. 

Our best tip for your packing list in Europe is – Keep it Light!

Our best tip for preparing your packing list for Europe is that less is more! Trust us, a packing list for backpacking Europe or travelling with a suitcase is much easier when your  backpack or luggage  is light. 

When travelling around Europe, believe us, you will use many forms of public transport. We firmly believe that travelling in Europe by train is the best, yet the bus network is fantastic to travel between countries too.

We know that each and every traveller is different. If you’re planning to fit as much in as possible and breeze through many countries, it’s critical that your packing list for Europe is similar to this one.

We’ve prepared our packing list for Europe summer so many times as we used to work as tour guides here for many years. Trust us, everything included in our packing list for Europe below gets used frequently. 

At the same time, if you’re planning to go a little slower and stay a little longer in each country, our packing list for Europe has you covered. 

packing list for europe suitcase with stickers

Ok, let’s get to it! Your Packing List for Europe for 2023

Table of Contents

Choosing the Right Travel Bag

Ok, some people are backpack travellers and others are suitcase travellers. The type of luggage to carry items on your packing list for Europe is up to you. To help you out though, we cover the pros and cons of each travel bag in our post  Suitcase Vs Backpack – Which one should you choose?

In saying that, choosing a backpack over a suitcase for your packing list for Europe will give you more flexibility. The reason for this is that you will encounter many cobblestoned streets, countless stairs, super small elevators at hotels, or none at all (so heads up for carrying your own suitcase up four flights of stairs).

It is a little easier to navigate all of this if you have a backpack rather than wheeled luggage. Nowadays, you can buy some awesome travel bags that offer both options, like the Osprey Wheels 36 Bag . You can wear this bag as a backpack and then convert it to a rolling bag too. 

packing list for europe martys backpack

We’ve used many travel bags over the past twenty years. The one we use now is the Osprey Farpoint 40L Backpack and we love it! This is the ideal backpack for your packing list for Europe. 

Do you need a small day pack?

Travelling with a small day pack is a personal choice. We travel with one as we prefer to keep our valuables with us at all times. This is especially important when taking overnight train/bus rides.

We carry this small Osprey day pack

We often lock our large 40L backpack to something stationary when we sleep on overnight trains and our small daypack containing our valuables will remain on our person, inside our silk sleeping sheet while we sleep – it feels much more secure to do this to deter any opportunistic thieves.

When we’re on the move, our small Osprey day pack sits on the front of our body with our Osprey 40L backpack on our backs, this makes it easy to quickly access passports or money.

Make sure you get Travel Insurance before hitting the road. Trust us, it’s one of those things you don’t want to leave home without. We recommend Heymondo & SafetyWing Travel Insurance.

Click here and get 5% off Heymondo insurance from us!

Choosing your Travel Clothes

As I mentioned at the beginning, this packing list for Europe is focused on being a packing list for Europe summer. The European summer runs from late June to late September and the majority of European countries receive high temperatures during this time. Temperatures range between 25 and 35 degrees Celsius.

The best clothing to choose for your packing list in Europe is light, breathable cotton, clothing you can mix and match, and items that dry quickly.

And, we must admit that our compression packing cubes have been a lifesaver in keeping things organised.

Packing List for Europe: Clothing for WOMEN

  • 1 pair of  black skinny jeans
  • 1 pair  Columbia zip-off long trekking pants  OR  Lululemon travel pants
  • 1 North Face  lightweight jacket/fleece
  • 1 Light Rain jacket
  • 1 pair of black  loose cotton pants
  • 1 light  long-sleeved cotton shirt
  • 4  basic t-shirts
  • 3 loose  singlets/tanks
  • 1  denim shorts  
  • 1  cotton shorts  (H&M brand or similar)
  • 1  light short  (wear as pyjamas or to the beach)
  • 2  nice tops  to wear out
  • 1 little  black dress
  • 2 pairs of  ankle socks
  • 7 pieces  underwear
  • 1  bikini   (we love Roxy brand swimsuits)
  • 1  Ripcurl cap
  • 2 bras  and  1 sports bra
  • 1  headscarf   (to visit places of worship)
  • Birkenstock Sandals
  • Havaianas – Slim Black flip flops
  • Merrell Women’s Black Hiking Shoes  or Nike Women’s Black Running Shoes

Packing List for Europe: Clothing for MEN

  • 2 pairs of Quiksilver Boardshorts
  • 1 pair of Travel/Hiking Shorts
  • 1 pair of Long Trousers
  • 2 pairs Smart Chino Shorts
  • 3 Tank Tops
  • 1 Long Sleeve Cotton Shirt
  • 1 Smart Shirt
  • 1 Casual short-sleeved shirt
  • 1 Warm Fleece
  • 1 Light NorthFace Waterproof jacket
  • Salomon Hiking Shoes  or Mens Nike Black Running Shoes
  • Underwear & socks

essential items for european travel

Toiletries for Women

We’re lucky to be able to share some toiletries on the road – so it gives one of us a little more room in our backpack. If Marty carries the toiletries, I’ll carry our  espresso machine  and fresh coffee to share the load.

packing list for europe toiletry bag

We try to keep toiletries to a minimum as they can be heavy. We also travel with carry-on baggage, therefore, all of our toiletries must be 100ml or less. If you plan on staying in hotels (and even some cool hostels) around Europe, small toiletries will usually be provided.

  • Hanging Toiletry Bag
  • Compression Packing Cubes
  • Small containers  (100ml) for refills
  • Shampoo/Conditioner  100ml each
  • Bar of  soap
  • 1  shaver/razor  (we never have a problem at airports with this in our carry-on)
  • 1  hairbrush
  • Roll-on deodorant
  • Toothpaste & toothbrush
  • exfoliating shower glove  (we found these in Morocco..love them)
  • 100ml sized  sunscreen  – We like Nivea or Neutrogena brands
  • Nivea face moisturiser SPF30
  • Blistex  and lip balm
  • A few pieces of makeup (which we rarely use, but sometimes it feels nice to dress up) 1 tube of  foundation , bronzing powder, and brush,  1 mascara

Toiletries for Men  (as suggested by our male travel buddy)

  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Moisturiser
  • Shaver/small shaving cream
  • Mosquito repellent (with DEET!)

 Accessories/Extras for our packing list for Europe

  • A  pouch that holds my passport, different currency, bank cards, passport photos, copy of my passport, driver’s license, and a copy of our Heymondo travel insurance  policy
  • Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker
  • Silk sleeping sheet  – For those overnight trains or airport naps.
  • Sarong  (our shower towel, beach towel)
  • Frank Green Portable Coffee/Tea Cup
  • LifeStraw  filter water bottle (this lives in our small day pack)
  • Oakley Sunglasses  & Protective Case
  • Travel clothesline
  • Travel Sling Bag


If you’re a photographer, digital nomad, or simply can’t live without your MacBook and other electronics, we understand.

We need these things as we work online as we travel the world. Here’s what we take as part of our Europe Packing list, in terms of electronics.

packing list for europe macbook

  • 13″ Macbook Pro   with charger
  • iPhone 13 Smartphone with a USB charger.
  • Apple  AirPods  for iPhone
  • Old-school  iPhone headphones 
  • Sony RX100 Mark III Camera   with leather case
  • Sandisk  2TB external hard drive
  • Worldwide adapter plug.
  • GoPro Camera  – a waterproof stick/few extra clips for it
  • Belkin  Powerbank 
  • Small portable  USB drive
  • Small pouch  that holds all cords for cameras etc
  • Gorilla tripod  for our Sony camera

Safety in Europe

Travelling around Europe is regarded to be relatively safe, but it’s best to read our  12 Tips for Safe Travel. The same goes for  travelling anywhere in the world, accidents do happen.

Some cities in Europe (Rome and Barcelona in particular) have a higher rate of pick-pockets and petty thieves, so you need to be a little more cautious of your belongings.

And it goes without saying that common sense is essential to take in your Europe packing list and beyond.

We 100% recommend Travel Insurance 

We highly recommend you sort out some good travel insurance to cover you when things go wrong.

It will be one of the most essential things on your packing list for Europe. We use Heymondo to cover us on our world travels. We recommend adding one of their comprehensive travel insurance policies to your packing list for Europe. Get 5% discount on your travel insurance policy from us!  

Transport and Getting Around Europe

packing list for europe train travel

Getting from A to B in Europe is easy. Read our best tips about travelling around Europe by Train , it’s a great way to travel this continent.

The ONLY website we use to make reservations for train tickets is Trainline . They offer the cheapest fares, you get instant confirmation and their booking platform is so easy to use.

The best part about travelling Europe is that you can also find some incredibly cheap flights with low-cost carriers.

We book all our flights around Europe on CheapOair . The prices are unbeatable and you can choose to pay in the currency of your choice. 

The bus network in Europe is wonderful too! The best website for checking buses, and other forms of transport is Omio.  

How to Book Accommodation in Europe

We always use the same websites to book accommodation in Europe.  Booking.com  is our number one choice for booking accommodation in every European country.

Apps to download for Europe

Download these apps on your phone to make your travels in Europe much easier.

  • CheapOair (to search flights)
  • Booking.com  (to book accommodation on the go)
  • XE.com (to check the latest exchange rates)
  • Maps. me (the best offline maps to help you navigate around)
  • Google Translate (while English is widely spoken in Europe, this app is so useful when you get lost in translation)
  • Omio (book buses, ferries and trains on the road)
  • Trainline (book train and coach tickets all around the world and save up to 60% discount on average per ticket).

RELATED POST – 20 Best Travel Apps in 2023 (Plus They’re Free)

southeast asia packing list apps to download

Staying in Europe long-term?

If you’re considering staying longer in Europe (and you’ve got the right visas to do so), check out the Trusted Housesitters  website for saving loads of money on accommodation. Become a house-sitter in Europe, (and all over the world) if you’re considering staying in one place for a little longer.

Being a house-sitter means free accommodation for you in return for looking after different homes around the globe. This was one of the best things we ever did! Join now with our personal invitation and receive a massive 25% off your membership!

Travelling Beyond Europe?

Travelling beyond Europe or need some suggestions for warmer items to add to your packing list in Europe? Our  Ultimate Packing List for every traveller includes the items we carried as we travelled to every country in the world.

We moved between all types of weather, from very cool temperatures to sweltering hot ones. And, we still manage to travel with carry-on baggage only, often less than 10kg.

We’ve also put together our Complete Packing List for Africa and the Essential Packing List for Travelling in Southeast Asia .

Group Tours in Europe

And, if you don’t have the time to travel slowly in Europe but really want to discover more, then a group tour could be the answer.

We recommend Expat Explore. They offer a variety of coach and rail group tours around Europe to suit everyone, and you’ll have a fantastic crew to take care of all the details. Your only task is to turn up and have an amazing time.

Check out  Expat Explore , and if you see a tour that you want to book, use our promo code  VERYHUNGRYNOMADS  at checkout for an additional  5% discount off your trip !

My other suggestion is GAdventures for awesome small-group adventures in Europe.


  • ROME 3 Days Itinerary
  • VENICE 1-Day Itinerary
  • FLORENCE 2 Days Itinerary
  • AMSTERDAM 3 Day Itinerary
  • PARIS 4 Days Itinerary
  • BUDAPEST 2 Days Itinerary
  • PRAGUE 2 Days Itinerary
  • LONDON 1 Day Itinerary
  • ATHENS 1 Day Itinerary
  • BERLIN 2 Days Itinerary
  • VIENNA 2 Days Itinerary

Travel Tips & Inspiration

We love to share our knowledge and advice about travelling the world. You may enjoy reading our best-ever travel tips to help your budget to stretch further on the road.

Perhaps you’re travelling on a budget? These  10 cheapest countries in Europe to visit may be just the tool you need to start planning an epic trip. Don’t forget to check out our  Ultimate Food Map of Europe .

And, for all of the food lovers out there, don’t miss our top 10 best countries for foodies! And, if you’re more interested in history, these 30 amazing historical places in the world  will fascinate you!

But, here are  8 things to know about traveling to Eastern Europe  and it’s good to know these  7 misconceptions about Eastern Europe  too.

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Expert travel tips, resources and exclusive discounts worldwide

Or, perhaps these  21 Cheapest Countries to Visit Right Now  is just the thing you’ve been searching for.

We’ve got a bunch of  tips for how you can save money to travel the world , and even when you’re out there travelling, maybe these  20 jobs that PAY YOU to travel the world  will help you travel longer. It worked for us, and we bet it can work for you too.

Finally, these  top 6 travel hacks to save you money  are great to read when planning your travels.

And, if you’re planning a new trip, whether it’s for a week, a month, or even a few years, consider  buying an eSIM to stay connected . This is our favourite travel product, and you can read more about what is in eSIM and  why eSIM is so convenient for International Travel .

Check out the  travel gear we use on the road, and for the products and websites we recommend to plan new trips, head to our  Travel Resources Page .

Travel Planning Resources

✈️ Flights : We use Skyscanner to book cheap flights worldwide.

🏨 Accommodation :  Booking.com is our preferred platform to book hotels and accommodation at the best price.

🏥 Travel Insurance : We recommend Heymondo (Get 5% off Heymondo from us!) & SafetyWing

🚌 Transportation : Trainline is the best website to reserve trains. We use Omio to book transport worldwide. For travel in Asia, we use 12Go.  

🚘 Car Rental : We use DiscoverCars to book rental cars worldwide.

👫 Group Tours :  G Adventures OR compare multi-day tours worldwide with Tourradar .

📸 Day Tours & Trips :  GetYourGuide  & Viator are the only two platforms you need.

🎒 Luggage :  Osprey Farpoint 40L Backpack  or  Samsonite Luggage Range.

🛄 What to Pack:  Don’t forget your Universal charger and a good  power bank .  To help you pack the essentials, here is our ULTIMATE Packing List for all Travellers .

🐶 Become a House Sitter:  Join Trusted Housesitters and enjoy FREE accommodation worldwide. Use our invite to receive 25% off your new membership.

💰 Send Money Anywhere: WISE  &  Revolut  are the best online accounts that let you send money, get paid, and spend money internationally. Both are so easy to use and way cheaper than any bank transfer.

📶  Stay Connected: Airalo eSIM allows you to get connected the moment you land at your destination, and you can avoid those expensive data roaming charges. We LOVE this product! Use promo code NOMAD15 for 15% off ALL eSIMs (new Airalo users only) OR use promo code NOMAD10 for 10% off ALL eSIMs (for existing Airalo users)

✅ Check out our Travel Gear  and  Travel Resources  for more useful tips to save you money!

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