Ten Essential Things You Will Need When You Travel to Europe
Traveling to Europe is exciting, but it can also be nerve-wracking. It’s far enough from home that you don’t want to be caught without something important and different enough that it can be hard to guess exactly what those important things are. For the most part, though, the things you should take to Europe are the things you use every day. And a passport.
The first thing you’ll use on your trip to Europe is probably a plane ticket. Since airfare within Europe can be inexpensive, it often makes sense to choose the cheapest ticket you can find to a major European city, even if you plan to travel on to another destination immediately.
If you plan to see a lot of Europe in one trip, you may also want to buy a rail pass, which is often the most affordable way to travel between regions.
All U.S. citizens entering European countries need passports. For normal travel purposes in the EU, no visa is required. Americans traveling to Turkey need a visa, but it can be purchased at the border. Russia and Belarus also require visas, which must be obtained in advance.
Credit and ATM cards are handy for traveling abroad, because you don’t have to change any money. Credit cards, especially Visa (Visa.com) and MasterCard (MasterCard.com) are accepted throughout Europe. Some European countries are in the process of switching to a system of cards requiring microchips, but in most cases there is an alternative, such as a nearby cashier who can run the transaction manually.
In a few cases it may not be possible to pay by card, which is one reason it’s always good to have some cash on hand, too. You can get local currency — euros, in most cases — from an ATM, or from a currency exchange in the U.S. or Europe.
Backup Money and Documents
Some travelers like to carry money and documents in a money belt or pouch that can be worn underneath clothing. That’s not strictly necessary, but it is a very good idea to keep spares of important items in an alternate location. For example, a spare credit card, a traveler’s check or money stash, a copy of your passport and plane tickets and an alternate ID like a driver’s license should be carried in a different place than your wallet, and possibly left in your hotel if it seems secure.
Packing light is a good idea, so versatile clothes are best. A few tops and skirts or pants that are neutral enough to be appropriate in different situations can get you a long way. Accessories to dress your outfits up or down, plus a couple of sweaters or jackets round out the basics. The weather can vary a lot throughout Europe, so light layers are very appropriate. Good walking shoes are essential, too.
You may prefer to buy toiletries in Europe, especially if you’re packing light or flying with your suitcase as a carry-on, in which case the fluids you can bring will be restricted. On the other hand, your preferred brands may not be available in Europe. European hotels often have shared, minimal bathrooms facilities, so a supply of your own soap and a universal stopper for sinks and bathtubs are worth having. A pair of slippers or shower shoes is also something to consider.
Other personal items to be sure to have plenty of are medications and contacts or glasses. Packing extras is often worth it, if only for the peace of mind.
You will almost certainly want to bring a camera, plus a charger or extra film and batteries.
A smartphone can come in handy, since besides taking pictures it can store information, access wireless internet, work as an alarm clock and provide entertainment. However, roaming charges for calls and data in Europe can be very high, so use phones with caution.
For a camera charger or any other electronics, you will need an adapter, because plugs are different in Europe. The UK also uses a different style of plug than continental Europe, so you might need two.
Most travel devices like cameras, phones and laptops can run on the different voltage levels found in Europe, but other appliances like hair dryers can require a converter in addition to the adapter.
A guidebook should tell you about things to see and do, but it’s also important to choose one with good maps and a phrase section if traveling to countries where you don’t speak the language well. For trips through many different countries, a general European guidebook is often sufficient, and can save you some space. To save even more space, tear out the sections for countries you don’t plan to visit, or use digital guides on a smartphone.
Something to Do
Even in Europe, traveling can mean lots of extra down time. Bring a good book, or two, or a sketch book or journal to document your experiences.
The Ultimate Europe Travel Packing List
So you’ve finally decided to take that Europe trip you’ve been planning for ages!
You’ve booked your flights (if you haven’t yet, then find out “How to Book Cheap Flights to Europe“), you know where you’re going, and where you’re staying. This will be the trip of a lifetime and you can’t wait to leave. There’s just one small detail…you still have to pack.
To save you time and stress from this task, we’ve compiled an ultimate guide on the things to bring to Europe. We’re covering everything, from how to pack for Europe to the best travel accessories.
All of our tips and tricks are also summarized in the Europe Trip Packing List at the end of the article.
Where Do I Pack Everything? – Your Luggage Guide for Europe
First things first! Before you know what you’re bringing, you should know where you’re putting them. It is best to start by choosing the right type of luggage. What is right depends on who you are and how many places you are travelling to.
But in general, you have two choices:
- A wheeled suitcase
- A travel backpack
Each one of these choices has pros and cons, so it depends on the preference of the person.
A wheeled suitcase will not put weight on your back and will generally be better organized. Soft-shell suitcases fit in most places and are not easily damaged. Hard-shell suitcases will protect any fragile items, but they crack very easy if thrown around.
So think about what you will be doing during your trip and decide. We recommend a soft-shell suitcase since it provides more flexibility.
The cons of wheeled suitcases are that they are difficult to move in Europe’s cobblestones and long-winded staircases. That is where travel backpacks perform better. They are easier to carry and do not take much space. You can have them as carry-ons for the flight or check them in.
Aim for spacious backpacks with a lot of pockets to store your things.
The downside of travel backpacks is that they are heavy on your back. They also become very uncomfortable if a lot of things are put in it and they are more difficult to pack than a suitcase.
Whichever you end up choosing, make sure it is the right size and will fit your packing list for Europe. Choose a colour that stands out from all the usual black bags you see everywhere. It will be easier to notice your bag amongst many others and it will decrease the chance that someone else will accidentally take it.
How Do I Look? – Your Clothing and Style Guide for Europe
Europe has a notorious reputation for the most fashionable people. So when people make travel plans, they stress a lot about what to wear in Europe. Europeans claim they can guess someone’s nationality just from looking at what shoes they’re wearing (hint: American sneakers). So if you want to blend in, we’ve got you covered.
While you want to look stylish and nice, you also need to be comfortable. We’ve put together tips that will answer what to pack when travelling to Europe.
A general piece of advice is to pack light. Everyone has the urge to pack a lot of things. But what usually happens is that we either wear them only once or we end up not wearing most of the things at all. So the best way to go about packing is to mix and match clothes.
Try to create outfits based on the weather and the destination. Make sure that whatever you bring, you can wear it more than once and it will look different. One such piece is dark wash jeans that you can wear during the day with sneakers and a casual t-shirt, but you can also wear them during the night for a more refined look.
You should always start with the basics. If you are on the lookout for a packing list for Europe for spring or summer, then t-shirts are a must. Whether you are a man or a woman, a white or grey t-shirt will always look stylish if paired with the right accessories. So try to mix and match 3-4 t-shirts in different colours.
For women, blouses and shirts will also be comfortable and will break the monotony of t-shirts. A few of these, like 2 to 3 will most likely come in handy and create fashionable outfits you can wear while sightseeing or out at a bar.
For men, packing lightweight shirts is also a good idea. We recommend 2 to 3 long-sleeved ones so that they are more versatile. When it’s warm, you can roll up the sleeves and fit right in with the European men.
Everyone should also bring something to layer up with. Europe’s weather is constantly changing and you’ll be sweating while walking into a museum and start feeling chilly once you step out of it an hour later. So make sure to bring a cardigan or a sweater, as well as a lightweight jacket. We recommend windbreakers with hoods so that you are protected in case it starts raining.
Finally, you might want to bring an elegant outfit. You never know whether you might end up deciding to have a fancy dinner somewhere or there will be a dress code in one of the cool bars you’ve planned to visit. A nice dress for women and an elegant shirt for men should be in your suitcase.
Depending on the time of year you are visiting Europe, you should also have a mix of comfortable and fashionable trousers.
You can start with a pair of dark wash jeans which as we mentioned above can be worn whenever you want to. Try to fit in another pair of lightweight trousers if you know the weather will be warm.
Shorts are not much used by Europeans, but you can bring in a pair just in case it is too hot and you cannot be bothered to wear long or Capri trousers. For men, shorts could also be used as swimming trunks, but just make sure they are not heavy cargo or chunky shorts.
For women, skirts are also easy to pack. They do not take much space, so you can bring 1 or 2 with you. Combining a skirt and casual t-shirts will look good no matter where you go. Make sure you bring different lengths that you can wear in different situations.
If you are making a packing list for Europe for autumn or winter, you should make sure to bring something warmer. Wool leggings or long underwear will keep you warm and comfortable when visiting your planned sightseeing destinations.
Europeans always stand out with their choices of shoes. So travellers are always stressed out about them. Well, we are here to tell you comfort is key. You will be walking a lot and going through different streets, so your feet must feel good. You won’t enjoy anything when your feet are in pain and all you want to do is lie down.
Shoes also take a lot of space in your luggage, so we recommend bringing 2 pairs. One pair should be the most comfortable walking shoes that you will wear during the day. These might be tennis shoes or sandals, depending on the weather. Another pair can be used to wear during the night when you go out.
Also, make sure to bring a pair of those cheap flip-flops. You might be staying at a hostel or Couchsurfing, so you never know how clean the showers are.
Whatever you, do not, and I repeat, do not bring new shoes. They will cause blisters and take time to break-in, which will completely ruin your trip. Your shoes should be well broken in so that you are comfortable and enjoy your trip.
Since you will spend much of your time outside sightseeing and doing different activities, you will need something to hold all the necessary things. We recommend a small backpack that you can put your daily necessities in.
This includes things like your money, documents, toiletries, electronics, and so on. There are many choices in terms of these backpacks, but we recommend theft-proof ones to keep your things safe.
For when you go out at night, you can get a small crossbody bag to look more stylish.
Accessories can make or break an outfit. For long trips like this one where you will have to pack light, stylish accessories will make you feel like you’re wearing a brand new shirt, even if you’ve already worn it three times.
Accessories to pack include things like:
- Jewellery – you can mix different earrings, necklaces, and bracelets to create a more complete look.
- Watches – most people have a smartphone to check the time, but a good watch is still trendy, especially in fashionable European cities.
- Scarves – you can wear what you think are the most basic and casual clothes, but a good scarf with interesting patterns will make you stand out.
- Sunglasses – this is extremely important during spring and summer, and if you have vision problems, you can get vision corrected sunglasses.
- Tie – for men who have planned a fancier evening, a tie is a must.
Underwear and loungewear
What people can see on the outside is important, but it’s what’s underneath that matters more. If you pack uncomfortable underwear, you will end up being uncomfortable the whole trip.
We recommend packing around 5 pairs of underwear. Make sure they are breathable and will dry quickly. Good travel underwear is pricier, but it is worth the investment. Since they are easy to wash, you can wash them in your hostel sink and they will dry by morning.
Additionally, pack a pair of leggings and a tank top to use as loungewear or pyjamas. You might want to be more comfortable at the end of a long day and these will help you feel better than if you wear a pair of jeans.
Similar to underwear, socks must also make your feet feel comfortable. Invest in breathable material for your travel socks. The investment will definitely pay off. You do not want to come back to your hostel at the end of a long day and have cracked and sweaty feet. Good travel socks will keep your feet dry and healthy.
Again, we recommend bringing around 5 pairs, which you can wash and dry as needed.
What Do I Take Awesome Pictures With? – Your Electronics Guide for Europe
In this day and age, we don’t go anywhere without electronics. But for an important trip such as this one, electronics are a must-have. You will be left wondering what to take and what to leave, but we’ve compiled the most important electronics on how to pack for Europe.
This item is number one on anyone’s list. You will be able to connect to public Wi-Fi or get cheap travel data to plan to post all your perfect travel pictures, or call your family and friends and tell them of all the fun you are having.
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Lately, most people are choosing to bring a tablet with them instead of a phone. Since you can now talk to people through different apps, you won’t even need a phone to call. You can simply connect to Wi-Fi and do everything you need to.
Paperbacks are great, but they are heavy, especially when you need to pack light for a trip to Europe. So instead, you can bring an E-reader such as a Kindle which can hold your books for when you’re on the road or want to take a break from the walking. Additionally, you can put maps and travel guides there which will be helpful and better than packing them in your suitcase.
Laptops can be great to bring with you, especially if you are planning to do some kind of work during your travel. They are on the heavier side and we would not recommend it, but if you must bring one, try to bring one that will not make your bags too heavy. Also, if you are bringing a tablet, you might not need a laptop and vice versa.
This is probably one of the most important pieces of electronics you will bring. If you do not like taking pictures with your smartphone, then a camera will be great for you. You will be visiting amazing places, so make sure to capture all of your memories on it.
Outlet plugs, power strips, and chargers
European outlets and voltage are different from other countries, so you want to make sure your electronics will fit. We recommend bringing a few voltage plug converters to protect your devices from frying and breaking due to differences in the electricity.
Also, if you have many electronics, bring a small power strip. You might not have enough space to charge everything during the night if there are only two outlets in your room. And as a final reminder, pack your chargers. You do not want to arrive at your destination without them and spend money on getting new ones.
So Is That All I Need to Pack? No, Not Even Close – Your Guide to Travel Accessories for Europe
Besides looking nice and having all your electronics, there are also some other things you must pack. These are the more boring, but nevertheless, extremely important items.
Tickets and travel documents
You cannot leave without your tickets and travel documents. You will absolutely need your passport if you are travelling by air, especially if you need a Schengen Visa on it. Additionally, take the originals and make copies of all your aeroplane, train, and bus tickets as well as your accommodation confirmations.
Online reservations for Hotels in Europe and WorldWide – Find & compare the best deals
Needless to say, you won’t be able to do much without some money. Take your debit and credit cards with you, but make sure you also have some extra cash just in case of emergencies.
Safety padlocks and accessories
If you are travelling with something valuable on you, do not forget to bring a small padlock. You can program it however you want with a safety code and have some peace of mind that your things will be safe.
Additionally, invest in some good wallets or money bags. People use different things, such as small pouches around their waist or their neck. Pack whatever is more comfortable for you, just as long as your money and documents will be safe.
Just because you are travelling, does not mean you need to disregard your health. Packing your health-related products is extremely important and you won’t enjoy your trip if you are sick or in pain.
First of all, bring any prescription medicine with you. You do not know what the policies of each country are, so instead of risking your health, you might as well bring your own.
Second, bring any vitamins that you regularly use. You don’t want to waste time looking for a pharmacy in a city you do not know, and working hours will be different, so you don’t need the extra stress.
Finally, bring a few painkillers. You never know when you might need them, so you might as well pack a few pills.
Most people bring their own toiletries on their travel. Unless you are going to a remote place, any store will have shampoo and toothpaste. If you are bringing your own, then make sure to do it in a hanging toiletry bag. This will make it easier to organize everything and ensure they are within reach in the small European bathrooms.
Having a few sealable bags is always a good idea. You can put any liquid containers you have with you in them and make it spill-proof. Bring a few of different sizes, since you never know when you might need them (hint: you can put your passport in one to prevent anything from damaging it).
You might have booked a nice hotel that has all the amenities you might need, but most people will travel on a budget. This means hostels, Couchsurfing, or cheap hotels, and these places might not have everything.
So you can bring some toilet paper just in case you need some, wet wipes, and tissues. They will always come in handy, whether you’re on the road or you need them where you are staying.
If you are planning to do any laundry, then items for it are essentials for travelling to Europe. You can bring a small laundry soap or packet of detergent, a portable clothesline, and some stain remover. There are great choices in grocery stores and they will not take much space but will be incredibly useful when you need to wash your underwear or socks.
What if I Get Sick? – Your Guide to Travel Insurance for Europe
While planning a trip, people are excited and optimistic about how it will go. It is great to prepare yourself for having a great time, but you should also take some precautions if something goes wrong. Like your health.
You won’t be able to enjoy your trip to Europe if you have an accident or get sick. So to make sure that you’re covered in case something happens, it is best to take out travel insurance.
Travel insurance will cover you if you have an accident and need emergency medical attention. This is one of the most important aspects because you never know what might happen. If you don’t have insurance and you need to go to the doctor somewhere in Europe, it might cost you thousands of dollars.
Travel insurance will also cover any personal liability issues, such as getting sued or causing any injuries. Finally, some travel insurance might also cover the costs of getting your bags stolen or lost and if your trip gets cancelled or delayed.
So you should hope for the best, but also prepare for the worst. Find yourself good travel insurance that doesn’t break your bank and you are set to start your journey to Europe. We recommend Europ Assistance and Mondial Care.
The guide to ultimate Travel Essentials for Europe packing Checklist
Many guides tell you what to pack for Europe, but through this one, we’ll show you how to pack your travel essentials for Europe trip. It’s natural that we want to prepare well because preparation lets us make the most of every moment.
So, we stress out and pour over so many blog posts, articles, and guides in hopes of finding practical advice. This can get overwhelming especially for first-timers because of the surplus of resources. We also end up a lot more confused because they all tout to be the ultimate checklist.
But you don’t need to stress because it really just boils down to what’s essential and what’s not. Meaning, what’s relevant to you and the kind of trip you’ll be going on.
What Are Europe Travel Essentials?
Merriam-Webster defines essential as something that’s basic, indispensable, necessary. Something that’s so important your trip won’t happen or won’t roll out well.
Examples of necessary, indispensable, and basic travel essentials are:
- Visa, money, travel insurance, clothes, and travel advisory knowledge.
Why should you include these in your things to pack for Europe? Here are a few Europe travel tips that will help you get the principles behind essential and non-essential.
The Schengen Visa is your document for entry to European countries in the Schengen area. Entry isn’t possible without it. Northern region countries like Denmark, Finland, and Sweden require a Schengen Visa. Southern region countries such as Italy and Spain require this visa too.
But you won’t need a visa for entry if you’re from a country who has an agreement with the European Union (EU) for a visa-waiver. Read more about Schengen Visa requirements on the European Commission’s official website.
Opinions vary whether travelers should purchase Euros before the trip or simply withdraw via ATM upon arrival. A good rule of thumb is to have enough cash to get you by. Pro Europe travel tips are bringing cash and your credit card too.
Bring cash that’s at least a day’s worth of meals and transportation in case the ATMs or your credit card won’t work. Then upon arrival, withdraw in local currency using the ATM. Use your credit card to pay for larger expenses like hotels and restaurants.
Additionally, make sure your cards (ATM and credit) are activated or eligible for international use so you can withdraw and swipe without hassle.
This will cover the costs of any mishap that may occur (that’s included in the policy) like accidents and hospitalization, lost or stolen items. An insurance is a travel essential you’d want to keep handy so you’ll always be ready.
If you travel without one and then something unexpectedly happens, you might end up spending your budget on those mishaps. Save your money and spare your piece of mind by letting a travel insurance cover you for those.
Packing the right kind of clothes for the season will determine how much you’ll enjoy your trip. The chill factor of winter is different from the climate of fall.
And so is the breeze of spring different from the balmy weather of summer. You’d want to have the appropriate clothes in your travel essentials so the weather won’t get to you. But rather, add enjoyment to you and your trip.
Travel Advisory Knowledge
Get to know the European Commission’s latest travel advisory. Travel advisories are like your Europe travel guide, they update visitors about official tourism information about the country. Knowing the allowed activities will help define what items you’ll need to prepare for your Europe travel revenge.
You’ll also get to know what countries are allowed for non-essential travel to Europe. And also, the specific travel guidelines of each European country.
- Pro Europe Travel Tips
- Check out the European Commission’s website for these. It’s best to get info from an official source.
- Additionally, visit the Re-Open EU website. This is the European Commission’s official website that gives travel advisories for the European Union’s reopening. Updates are per country. Just click the dropdown list, choose the country, then you’ll find the travel advisory of the country you’re visiting.
Travel Essentials for Europe Starter Pack
In this section, we’ll share Europe travel essentials in context of its top destinations. We’re sharing these Europe travel tips because we want to set you off on a great start. Let’s go!
As you choose what to pack for Europe, keep in mind the European country you’re visiting because each one’s local setting has its own needs. Bring this together with the country’s current season or climate and this will help you narrow down to only the most essential.
Northern Europe Top Destinations: England, Scotland, Norway, Iceland, Sweden
This region is where you’ll find the Northern Lights, the London Bridge, the Midnight Sun, endless hills to ski, beautiful fjords and landscapes amidst bustling modern cities.
Being up in the north makes these countries really cold during spring and winter so make sure to bring layers like coats, jackets, gloves, and sweaters to keep you warm. Remember to pack clothing items that are neutral in colors as well to blend in with the European fashion style. Pops of color are alright as long as they’re in taste.
Umbrellas and rain jackets are a must too because these areas experience moderate amounts of rain.
- Wind-breaker jacket, rain jacket
- Coats, gloves, warm jackets, thermal tops and pants, long sleeves
- European power adapter
- Sturdy city boots or hiking boots
- Comfortable and stylish loafers, boat shoes, ballet flats
- Light-weight backpack for nature trips, stylish daypacks for the city, backpacks you can wear in front
- Sunglasses, sunscreen
Southern Europe Top Destinations: Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Croatia
Southern Region offers a Mediterranean Europe travel experience that indulges you with fresh seafood, turquoise waters, warm summers, and mild winters.
Things to bring for Southern region involve a more relaxed checklist for the warm enjoyable weather. Include your trench coat, gloves, jackets, and boots if you’re visiting during winter.
- Sunscreen, sunhat, umbrella
- Stylish sandals, loafers, walking shoes and flats
- Plain tops and bottoms in neutral colors, avoid shirts with graphic logos
- Beach wear: shorts, swimsuits
- Power adapter, power strip
- Light scarves, sweaters
Eastern Europe Top Destinations: Hungary, Poland, Russia, Romania, Czech Republic
Eastern Europe is where you’ll find Europe top destinations like Budapest in Hungary, Russia’s historical and richly cultural St. Petersburg, and the fascinating architecture of Prague at the Czech Republic. Art, history, culture, and panoramic nature scenes greet you in Eastern Europe.
Eastern Europe enjoys a continental climate where winters are colder compared to other its Mediterranean counterparts. But summers enjoy some heat too which makes for pleasant walks around the city.
- Jackets: Parka, hoodie jacket, down jacket, insulated jacket, rain jacket
- Dark or neutral-colored t-shirts and dress shirts, long sleeves, slacks
- Sunhat, sunscreen
- Beanie hat, ear muffs for winter
- Sandals, ballet flats, comfortable dress shoes
- Walking shoes
- Hiking boots, snow shoes
- Thermal socks
- Daypack or small backpack you can wear in front
Western Europe Top Destinations: France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland
Home of the iconic Eiffel Tower, the majestic Swiss Alps, the medieval architecture of Belgium, and the awe-inspiring blue mountains of Austria. Western Europe enjoys a generally mild climate throughout the year in its cool summers and comfortable winters. You’ll get to enjoy warmth and chill in Western Europe.
You might notice that the list will contain clothes that are a notch higher than the usual casual. It’s because the locals’ way of styling in Europe is a bit dressier than normal.
Blend in like one by dressing up in classic shades, staples, and shoes. It will be good for the pictures too! Additionally, having a light carryon daypack will make transit in between cities easier as you tour Eastern Europe.
- Wool coat
- Dress shirts, slacks, elegant dresses or outfits
- Sweaters, cardigans, scarves, neutral-colored t-shirts, pants, jeans
- Dress shoes, pumps, stylish walking shoes
- Rain jacket, umbrella
- Water bottle
- Power adapter
So there you go, travel tips and travel essentials for Europe trip! We hope you learned a lot from this article. Bon voyage! You got this! If you have any ideas to share on travel essentials or travel experiences, please share them in the comments below or contact us