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
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.
Europe in Winter Packing List: 32 Essentials for Him & Her
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Living in California makes us antsy for winter. We crave snow and Christmas weather and yearn for hot mulled cider. But other than watching cheesy Christmas movies and crying into our peppermint bark every night, the only way we can get our Christmas fix in is to travel! So for the past few years, we’ve been escaping to cold places in the winter seeking snow, cold, short days, and warm comfort food.
The one problem with our Christmas in Europe habit is that it’s … er, not exactly inexpensive. Europe in the winter isn’t high season, but it’s also not low season, so while tickets are affordable (especially in early December) they’re not exactly CHEAP. That means we definitely can’t afford to splurge on a nice place to stay.
So, we strap on our backpacks and head to one of the many excellent Europe hostels. We eat our meals at the Christmas Markets – always the cheapest place to get food, and also hello, SO GOOD – and take advantage of the cheap inter-European transit options available to hop from place to place. Backpacking Europe doesn’t have to be a rite of passage, or something you only do when you’re in college – we are living proof that full-grown, late 20’s/early 30’s people can, indeed, go backpacking in Europe! Like the youths!
Whether it’s your first or your fifth trip to Europe, if you’ve never visited in the winter you might be in for a surprise. Namely: it’s cold. Surprise! But hey, we’ve gotcha covered.
In this post we’re laying out all of our favorite, field-tested essentials for visiting Europe in the winter, from gear to clothing. If you’ve ever read any of our packing lists before, we’re REAL persnickety about stuff, so please excuse us if we nerd out and like, wax poetic about the scientific properties of merino wool or whatever. We live for that sh*t. Spoilers: you’re gonna learn a lot about merino wool in this post.
Table of Contents
Looking for more inspiration for your winter trip to Europe? Here are some of our favorite destinations – or you can just read all of our posts about traveling Europe in the winter (you get bonus points for binge reading, y’all)!
Hey, need a handy dandy checklist to help you pack? We’ve got a printable version of this post that includes EVERYTHING you’ll need for your trip. Sign up in the box below and we’ll deliver it right to your inbox. Just call us Amazon prime for packing lists!
Just bein’ mushy in our warm winter clothes in Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic.
Europe Winter Travel FAQ’S
How cold does Europe get in the winter?
Honestly, that completely depends on where you’re going. Some parts of Europe are actually not cold at all during the winter (like Spain or southern France, which are quite temperate) and some areas are frozen tundras (like the Nordics).
As a general rule, the further north you go, the colder it gets. Southern areas – particularly on the coast – will be warmer – think Los Angeles in the winter kind of weather, like you’ll need a light jacket but you’ll be comfortable.
As you head north, the temperature plummets and the days grow shorter and shorter, until you’re literally at the North Pole, sitting on Santa’s lap in the dark as the northern lights dance above you somewhere in Finnish Lapland. (That sounded … weirdly romantic, but what we meant is that Finland is the home of Santa Claus).
For a nice balance of daylight hours and snow, head to the mountains in central Europe! It won’t be CRAZY cold, but it will be nice and snowy and … well, mountainy.
Is there like … daylight?
Yes! Much like the temperature, daylight hours in Europe get shorter as you head north. In Paris, France you’ll get about 8 hours of daylight in the dead of winter – a perfectly reasonable amount. Stockholm, Sweden will give you 6. If you’re up in Helsinki, Finland night falls around 4pm. Plan for shorter hours the further north you go!
Which European destinations should I visit in the winter?
All of them! OK, not helpful. We’ve spent a few years exploring Europe in the winter, and we’ve got some suggestions from our travels:
- Best for Christmas Markets:Bremen, Germany
- Best for Romance (and Chocolate):Bruges, Belgium
- Best for Medieval Charm and History:Český Krumlov, Czech Republic
- Best for Real Life Christmas Village Scenery:Hallstatt, Austria
- Best for Coffee, Comfort Food & Culture:Vienna, Austria
- Best for Christmas After New Years … and Beer:Prague, Czech Republic
- Best for Actual Reindeer:Norway
- Best Overall:Copenhagen
One place we DON’T recommend visiting in the winter? Southern France. It’s not just that the lavender is all dead. It’s also that there are no people (just cats, oddly enough), everything is closed (including restaurants, aka the best part of visiting France) and you might get stuck in a castle. OK, that’s probably just us.
Still, save Provence for another season and visit Colmar instead, which we’ve heard has an AMAZING Christmas Market.
I packed everything I needed for a month in Europe in this tiny backpack. No, I’m kidding, you guys. That’s … like even if that was possible, no thank you. This is just my day bag!
Is it actually possible to pack light for winter travel? … How?
Yes, it IS possible and you can absolutely pack winter clothes in a carry on! The trick is to wear all of your heaviest stuff on your travel days – like your bulky jacket, that scarf that’s as big as a blanket, and so on. Other than your bulky stuff, you want everything else to be soft, lightweight, and travel friendly – and you want your clothes to pull double duty so you don’t need as many of them.
We’ll talk more about this below, but in order to achieve the difficult goal of packing light for winter travel we get REAL nerdy about textiles. And no, it’s not just because Lia has a degree in fashion design. Well OK, that does help a lot, actually. Like, a merino wool sweater will keep you roughly 86252526x as warm as an acrylic sweater, meaning you have fewer layers overall that you need to bring.
The beauty of winter travel is that 99% of the time, all anyone is going to see is the very outer layer of your clothing. So as long as you’ve got clothes that can withstand being worn over and over again, you really don’t actually need to bring very many items. Our typical Europe in winter packing list looks something like this (we’ll get into specifics in the next section).
- Base Layer. This is the most important part of your outfit! On a cold day, you’ll want the layer closest to your body to be warm and insulting – think merino wool or silk, not cotton.
- Two pairs of pants. We both bring our favorite pair of travel jeans. I bring a pair of warm leggings, and Jeremy brings a pair of chinos to spice things up.
- 2-3 Sweaters. We look for a few neutral-colored sweaters that are made from at LEAST 20% merino wool and aren’t bulky.
- 2-3 Collared Shirts. These get layered under the sweaters for a variety of spiffy sweater/collared shirt looks. I dress mine up with statement necklaces and Jeremy dresses his up with scarves and a well-groomed ginger beard. You’d hardly even know we were backpackers! ... Except for the fact that we’re carrying backpacks. And sleeping in hostels. Still, though.
- 1-2 T-Shirts. These get layered underneath our other clothing as needed and worn to bed. I also bring a cardigan so that I can mix things up from the whole sweater/collared shirt situation on those warm, balmy 40 degree days.
- 1 Skirt: To switch things up from the ol’ sweater routine, I bring a cute skirt that I can wear with my t-shirts, button-down shirts, or sweaters. I wear leggings or tights underneath to keep my legs warm, and a little belt to dress it up. Bam: that’s like, TRIPLE the outfit options.
- 1-2 Scarves. You’ll be wearing these every day and they’ll be in every picture. So if there’s one accessory you’re really going to be extra about, make it your scarves! I have a scarf collection that spans every color, so I usually match her scarves to her sweaters when deciding which to bring. Jeremy … has one scarf. It is a good scarf. It is dark grey.
- 1-2 Hats. Jeremy brings a gray beanie that goes with everything, and I bring a couple of hats in different colors. You know, for accessorizing.
- 2 Jackets: We each wear our bulky outer jacket, and bring another jacket that squishes down really small and weighs almost nothing.
- 1 Pair of Shoes: Yep, really, just one. We’ve found the PERFECT pair of boots for cold weather and they’re all we need to bring. Plus we wear them every day so we don’t even have to bother packing them in our bags.
- Toiletries/Makeup/Gear/Yadda Yadda. We try to keep this bit as lightweight as possible – Lia has mastered the art of packing travel makeup and we’ve managed to get all of our gear to fit into one single packing cube.
- Underwear: Our rule of thumb is 1 pair of undies per day up to 7. After 7, we sink wash and hang-dry with this.
- Sleepwear: Our sleepwear doubles as lounge pants and even plane wear! Made from cozy antibacterial merino wool, so they don’t get stinky.
Whoop, there it is: one carry-on bag each.
Er, plus our camera bag. Annnnnnd a day bag. We wear those in front. So like … two carry-on bags each. STILL COUNTS, EUROPEAN BUDGET AIRLINES.
Singin’ in the rain in Avignon, France. Pro tip: a brightly colored umbrella makes a great photo prop on rainy days! Also, ya know, keeps you dry or whatever.
Europe Winter Travel Essentials
You’ll need to bring a few things with you on your Europe winter trip! Oh, and don’t forget to prepare for the long haul flight (when we flew back from Prague last year, it took a grueling 19 hours). We’ve got a whole post with recommendations for our favorite long-haul flight essentials, plus tips to make your flight easier (especially if you sprung for a cheap budget airline flight)!
- Carry-On Luggage:Zipping through Europe on budget airlines and buses for like, $10 a ticket is totally doable – if you have carry-on luggage, that is. If you’re looking to take advantage of the crazy-cheap deals offered by budget airlines, you’re gonna want to keep your luggage as lightweight as possible! We already covered our tips for packing light for winter travel above, but there’s one last thing you’ll need: a carry-on bag. If you’re partial to backpacks, this PacSafe bag is comfortable, roomy, and as deterrent as it gets – it’s our go-to backpack for carry-on travel. It’s also perfect for those tiny, windy European staircases that you have to climb up because your room is somehow always on the 6th floor and there’s never an elevator (UGH WHY). But if you prefer a rolling bag,the Away suitcase is as beautiful as it is high-tech, with a built-in portable charger, an incredibly durable exterior, tons of space, and a built-in dirty laundry compressor (whaaaaat, game-changing).
- Day Bag: You’ll want a bag with you to store things like extra layers, your camera, a phone charger, weird European snacks, and trinkets you pick up at the Christmas Markets – you know, the essentials. I carried super cute this day bag with me every single day packed with my packable down jacket, an extra pair of gloves, and anything else I needed for the day. We also have this theft-resistant camera bag specifically for our camera gear, because we’re extra AF professional bloggers or whatever. If you don’t have like … camera gear, you probably don’t need it, but if you do, it’s REALLY nice.
- Umbrella: Yep, it does rain in Europe in the winter. Thanks, climate change! Bring a little travel umbrella with you just in case. As a bonus, it can double as a cool photo prop to add color to a dreary day – just like that picture up above!
- Filtered Water Bottle: The water in Europe is safe to drink almost everywhere, with the exception of Eastern Europe. If you’ll be traveling to the Balkans, bring along a water bottle with a built-in filter so you don’t have to worry about where you’ll find water – you can just drink from the tap like normal. You’ll also be saving money and environmental waste by not purchasing plastic disposable water bottles! I know it’s a little pricey for a water bottle, but we’ve tested several water purifying techniques and this is by far the easiest – you just fill it up and drink, and the filter lasts for AGES. You’ll be able to use this bottle for years in other countries without safe drinking water or even on hikes and other outdoor adventures! We think it’s a worthwhile investment.
- Chapstick & Moisturizer: The air in Europe is dry as a bone. You’d think like, snow might help, but no. Spend a few days in Europe in the winter and you’re gonna end up with chapped lips and thirsty, parched skin! So I highly recommend carrying some good quality chapstick with you during your trip. I love these handmade, all-natural lip balms from Etsy that come in compostable packaging! I also recommend using a heavy moisturizer like this one on your face every night. I also recommend taking alone something you can use for chapped skin elsewhere, like your elbows, feet, and hands. I’m obsessed with this Burt’s Bees salve; Jeremy and I slather it on ourselves religiously during the winter.
- Travel Insurance: At this point in our lives, we never travel anywhere without travel insurance. We’re way too accident-prone to risk it! We’ve filed several claims with World Nomads, so at this point, our insurance policies have all paid for themselves. Not sure if that’s like, a good thing, or just a sign that we should probably lock ourselves indoors and barricade the room with pillows… We also really like SafetyWing, which offers quarantine coverage, low rates, and long-term travel coverage for digital nomads. Not sure if you need travel insurance? Take a look at our guide to travel insurance to help you decide!
- Travel Credit Card:We book all of our international trips on our favorite travel credit card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Not only do we earn cash back that we can spend on more travel, but the card also offers fantastic travel perks, like no foreign transaction fees, trip delay and cancellation coverage, lost baggage reimbursement, and rental car coverage, all of which helps protect us on our travels. We’ve filed several claims and the card has saved our butt many times! Take a look at our full review of the card. (Psst: shopping for your upcoming trip? You can put your purchases on the card to help you meet the sign-up bonus minimum spend!)
Wandering through Christmassy alleys in Vienna, Austria, covered in layers of jackets and scarves and hats.
Europe Travel Necessities
There are a few specific things you’ll need to bring if you’re traveling in Europe, especially if you’ll be staying in hostels or places with shared amenities. By the way, don’t be scared of hostels: the hostels in Europe tend to feel more like boutique hotels. They literally have “luxury hostels,” which is apparently NOT an oxymoron. We stayed in a hostel in Hamburg, Germany that was SO nice, we didn’t leave at all except to visit the Christmas Market. Seriously, check out how nice this hostel is! Can we live there?!
That said, you’ll want to take precautions to keep your belongings safe. The most common crime you’ll need to worry about in Europe is petty theft and opportunity theft, so if you make your stuff harder to steal than the average tourist’s, you’ll be good to go.
I got pickpocketed regularly on my first few trips to Europe, but since I grew up and became a seasoned, hardened traveler I haven’t been pickpocketed at ALL. Probably because they’d have to reach underneath 8 layers of scarves, jackets, sweaters, and shirts just to get to where I keep my cash, which both keeps them from stealing it and me from spending it.
For more theft prevention tips, head over and read our travel safety guide.
OK, enough gabbing. Here are all the backpacking essentials you’ll need to stay comfortable in the hostels in Europe!
- Lightweight Combination Locks: You’ll want to discourage opportunity theft by putting locks on all of your bags – that extra step makes you a harder mark which is often enough to make stealing your stuff not worth it! Important Note: TSA-friendly locks are OK for checked baggage, but for our day bags and non-checked luggage we actually prefer locks that AREN’T TSA friendly, like these, because it’s apparently super easy to manufacture keys that can open all TSA locks. Scary.
- Plug Adapters: Yep, these are very important. Don’t forget them! And don’t make the same mistake we did and buy a giant, clunky 5-in-1 adapter brick: you don’t need it. 99% of Europe uses just one plug: this one. If you don’t have a 3-prong laptop charger in your luggage, all you’ll need is this tiny little inexpensive adapter. And by the way, the outlets are all round, so our stupid brick-shaped adapter didn’t even work anyway. We binned it. Do make sure that you’re not in the 1% of Europe that inexplicably has a different plug, though: apparently, certain parts of Italy have their own version with 3 prongs that require this adapter, which I unpleasantly discovered after arriving in Italy. Fun.
- Outlet Splitters: Outlets are at a premium in Europe – they’re just never as common as you want them to be! Enter outlet splitters: now, you only need to find 1 functioning outlet, which means you can bring fewer plug adapters. Congratulations, you now possess the power to turn a single outlet into 3 outlets or even 3 outlets & 2 USB ports! You just might be your hostel dorm’s resident hero.
- Money Belt or Bra Pocket: So, confession: I can’t stand purses. It’s not just because they’re easily snatched and stolen. They’re also just a giant hassle. From leaving them behind to aching shoulders to getting tangled up in coat sleeves, purses and I just do not get along. So until everyone realizes that girls just want to have pockets in their clothing (and again I bless Aviator Jeans for their giant, roomy, zippered pockets) my solution is the Bra Pocket. It snaps onto my bra and hangs out inconspicuously between the girls, ready the moment I need to take out a card. Nothing got lost or stolen. I highly recommend one. I’ll never go back to purses & wallets! Jeremy, on the other hand, wears a silk money belt under his shirt. For the rest of our daily essentials, we bring along a day bag. This little tool totally verges on extra, but it’s so useful that I’m including it anyway. It’s a little lockable safe that can fit your passport, phone, money, and other small valuables. It even attach to the legs of your bed. This is an essential if you’re staying in a hostel – sometimes you’ll get lucky and your hostel will have trundle drawers close to the bed for easy access, but that’s not always the case – one particular hostel that we stayed at in Brussels only had full-sized lockers available IN THE LOBBY. (WHY!?) Heck, even if your locker is more than arm’s length away, this handy little guy makes it super convenient to stash everything right next to you while you sleep!
- Travel Slippers: I know this sounds super unnecessary, but these are one of those rare “luxury items” that are SO worth it. Here’s the thing about Europe in the winter: it’s cold. The floors are cold. And the bathroom is probably at LEAST several feet away on that stupid, cold floor. But you have to shower, because – ya know, germs. So you have a few choices: bring a whole extra pair of shoes just for walking to the shower, try to put socks on while your feet are still wet, put your giant winter boots on every time you have to leave your room, or run like the wind across the freezing cold floor, tracking water and misery everywhere. OR? Just bring slippers. They’re SO NICE to have. You can wear them to breakfast, to the lounge, to the shower – and you’ll raise your comfort level to infinity. There’s nothing more cozy and homey than plopping a little pair of slippers down next to your bed and sliding into them in the morning. We even wear our slippers on long plane rides … and at home, like, every day!
- Travel Towel:Yes, most hotels in Europe will provide you with towels free of charge. BUT, there is no guarantee that those towels will actually fit around your body. And as a tall, curvy woman, they never do. So use the hotel’s towel for your hair and bring a full-sized travel towel instead. As a bonus, if you’re staying in a budget-friendly place with “shared bathrooms” and taking your leisurely post-shower stroll down the hall in your warm, cozy slippers, you won’t be accidentally flashing everyone too.
- Travel Laundry Supplies: Look, nobody wants to do laundry on vacation. But also, we pack light! So we rely on our anti-microbial clothing to do most of the work, and then we do a little bit of handwashing in the sink or shower, mostly so we can pack fewer pairs of undies! All you’ll need is a tiny bottle of concentrated soap like this laundry wash(a little bottle of plain castile soap like this works just fine too – and you can use it in the shower, too) and a little travel clothesline to hang your clothes up to dry. The heater and super-dry air will do the job just fine, and we find that our merino wool travel undies typically dry completely in under 24 hours. (Optional: some folks also bring a sink stopper, too – but we typically just bring our dirty clothes into the shower with us. Saves water, way easier, we’re lazy, bla bla.)
I love dressing for winter travel! ‘Tis the season of layers, chunky scarves, and hats, and I am HERE FOR IT. Here’s how to stay warm in Cesky Krumlov (technically this photo is from Prague the week before, but spoilers, I wore all the same stuff).
What to Wear in Europe in Winter
Here are our recommendations for clothing that’s both functional AND super cute to wear in Europe in the winter!
How to Keep Your Feet Warm
We here at Practical Wanderlust would like to personally help you avoid getting cold feet – especially if you’re getting married in Europe in the winter. GET IT? GET IT!? We’ll see ourselves out. Anyway, keep those toes toasty warm! Nothing will cut a day of exploration short like freezing cold toes.
- When it comes to what shoes to wear in Europe in winter, we honestly only have one answer: the VivoBarefoot Gobi boots are hands down the best boots for European winter. Chances are that you’ll be walking everywhere, and half of it will be on uneven cobblestones, and the other half might be ice or snow – and these boots are up for the challenge. They’re cute, they’re insanely comfortable, they’re waterproof leather and lined with shearling to keep your toes toasty warm, and they’re extremely lightweight and foldable so you can stuff them in your bag when you travel. Oh, and they have thin and flexible soles that let your feet function as if you were walking around completely barefoot! Note: you might find yourself in need of some calf strengthening if you’re not used to barefoot-style soles.We can’t recommend these boots enough. They’re made to last and they’re worth every cent – we wore them for 2 months straight in frigid wintry Europe and never suffered a cold or sore foot! Plus, they’re cute AF! Here are my boots and Jeremy’s boots. You can read more about them in our guide to the best travel shoes for women and travel shoes for men. : Warm boots aren’t the only thing you’ll need to keep your feet toasty warm. Don’t forget to bring warm socks! Make sure you don’t just have run-of-the-mill acrylic socks – they won’t keep your feet warm while you’re exploring Europe in the winter. Make sure you get socks that are primarily made of soft, heat-regulating wool, like these or these.
Underneath Your Clothes
THERE’S AN ENDLESS STORY … THERE’S THE MAN I CHOSE, THERE’S MY TERRITORY! Sorry, that’s going to be stuck in your head for the rest of the day. But Shakira is a queen, so.
ANYWAY, back to things that are actually useful: what to wear underneath your clothes (see, you just sang that, didn’t you) to help regulate your body temperature. The goal isn’t just to keep heat in, but also to prevent you from overheating when you walk inside a 70-degree building after running around in 30-degree weather outside. You know that feeling – the “oh god I’m so hot is this what hypothermia feels like because I need all these layers off of me RIGHT NOW” feeling. It’s usually followed shortly thereafter with the “how am I so sweaty it’s 30 degrees outside” feeling. Ick. No thank you.
We cannot stress enough how amazing merino wool is at preventing you from having to use the word moist to describe yourself. Ugh, did anyone else just audibly shudder? Merino wool is a travel miracle fabric. It keeps you warm when it’s cold out, but it keeps you cool when it’s hot out – and it wicks and regulates moisture too, so that even if you do get a lil’ sweaty inside, you’ll dry quickly and still be nice and warm when you step back outside into the cold.
Merino wool is also naturally antibacterial, meaning even if you wear it for 2 weeks straight every single day, it won’t smell. Er, yes, we’ve tested that… for science, you know. Also, fun fact: it’s flame retardant, too, so ya know. Handy. I guess now we know why sheep are so dumb: all of their intelligence is in their extremely high tech, super engineered fluffy coats.
By the way, if you’re allergic to wool, or adverse to wearing it, hemp is another fabric that is temperature regulating as well as sustainable.
We recommend stocking up on a full merino wool base layer, so you’ve got wool from head to toe. Depending on which country you’re in or how cold it is that day, you can layer up underneath any of your other outfits to instantly add extra insulating warmth to any outfit. We also wear our merino base layers to sleep at night, because they are cozy and warm and wonderful and never smell and they’re just magical.
- : These super comfy 100% wool leggings function just like long underwear. Except they’re made of soft, super-luxurious wool instead of cheap polyester, and make your legs feel like they’re being hugged by an extremely soft sheep. I wore a pair of these under my pants on extra-cold days and they kept me toasty warm (without being too hot)! Jeremy has this pair.Bonus: they also double as the world’s coziest lounge leggings or even sleepwear!
- Merino Wool Undies: You gotta keep those buns warm! I wear these undies (psst: buy a size up) and this travel-friendly bra, and Jeremy wears these. Laying is crucial when it’s this cold. My favorite way to make sure I stay warm all day is to put a warm layer of wool on before everything else. This is the wool cami I wear, and this is the wool undershirt Jeremy wears.
What you can’t tell from this picture we took in Amsterdam is that underneath Jeremy’s travel jeans, he’s got a warm, cozy layer of Merino Wool leggings hugging his legs!