17 Top Europe Packing List Items + What to Wear & NOT to Bring (2018)

Updated on August 8, 2018 by Asher Fergusson

What should I bring on my Europe trip?

A lot of people were asking me, “What should I pack for Europe?” so I wrote this complete Europe packing checklist.

My wife and I (pictured) have been to Europe 9 times over the past 10 years – we love it!!

What to bring to Europe varies based on season, travel style, and region, but these items below will be useful on basically any trip.

At the bottom, I also cover what to wear in Europe, what items NOT to bring to Europe, and some FAQs.

1) Passport Pouch
You obviously need a passport for European travel but I also recommend you get a pouch for your passport. I keep my money and credit cards in this pouch under my shirt so that I don’t have to have a wallet in my pocket. Europe is known for its pickpockets in places like Paris, Rome, Barcelona and London. Having your valuables concealed under your shirt makes it next to impossible to have anything stolen, and since it’s hidden you don’t have to worry about looking “touristy”.
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2) Lipstick-sized portable charger
This external power bank for charging your devices is simply irreplaceable. You’re constantly on the go while traveling, you have limited charging time and space, and you use your devices often to capture and record those unforgettable travel moments. This little charger has saved us many times when we needed Google Maps to help us get back to the hotel but our phone was out of power!
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cellphone charger

3) Europe power adapter
The most common outlets in Europe include Type C, E, F and G. For this reason I recommend bringing an international power adapter that will work in almost all European countries (except for Italy and Switzerland). This one pictured comes with USB ports and a built-in fuse to protect you devices in case of a power surge.
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international power adapter

4) Virtual Private Network (VPN)

It might be surprising to find this listed here but I’ve found that there are a high number of websites (or parts of websites) that get blocked in many European countries. For example, often music videos and movies on YouTube 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. I recently learned this the hard way in Paris where I had my credit card number stolen after using what I thought was a secure Wifi network at an Airbnb rental.

Whenever you go on someone else’s WiFi whether it’s at a cafe, airport, Airbnb, or hotel, you’re potentially putting your passwords, credit card 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!
View NordVPN.com Options ➜

5) Packing cubes
If you want to be able to easily find things in your backpack or suitcase, you’ll want a set of quality packing cubes like these. Instead of digging through everything you packed to see if there’s one clean t-shirt left, just pull out the cube your shirts are in. They are a total game changer for organizing your suitcase. Over the years, we’ve tried 5 different brands and have found Shacke Pak to be the best quality for the lowest price.
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6) Natural Jet Lag relief pills
Any experienced traveler knows how much jet lag can weigh you down when traveling. You don’t want to lose a day or more of your prime exploration time because you’re feeling too bogged down and jet lagged to enjoy your adventure. This natural jet lag preventative is a great, natural solution to this age-old problem, and can help you ensure full enjoyment of your journey.
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7) Travel insurance
Travel insurance is a must when traveling to Europe. If you get sick and need to see a doctor your local insurance company simply won’t cover the costs. We use and recommend World Nomads who will also replace lost or stolen items and will pay for hotel rooms and plane flights if yours get canceled. Things can always go wrong; (and for a tiny fraction of your trip cost) travel insurance will take care of you if they do, and give you peace-of-mind even if they don’t.
View their plans at WorldNomads.com ➜

8) Rain jacket Women’s and Men’s
On every single trip we’ve ever done in Europe we were glad to have a high-quality rain jacket that helped ward off both the rain and the chill. Even in the Summer time it can rain a lot in places like Ireland, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and Germany. Having a jacket is a great way to still be able to enjoy sightseeing even in the drizzle. Bonus points for this one because it’s light and easily packed away when you don’t need it, so you can easily carry it in your daypack.
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9) Moisture-Wicking Scarf
In many parts of Europe it rains a lot, even in the Summer months. For this reason it’s important to stay warm and dry while you’re exploring the amazing sites and beautiful streets. This moisture-wicking scarf is the perfect way to do this while also being fashionable and fitting in with the local dress. The scarf keeps you dry by absorbing moisture, and it provides a layer of protection from the chill at the same time.
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10) 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 pre-bottled water. I always recommend that travelers bring their own water bottles with a filter, to ensure that your water is safe to drink. This water bottle has an inset filter to do the work for you without any extra steps – just fill and drink.
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11) Gorgeous Outfit: Women’s & Men’s
Europe’s restaurant scene is really killer, and there are endless opportunities to enjoy the nightlife. Even if I’m planning a more casual trip, I always pack at least one or two outfits that I would feel confident wearing in the evenings. My wife loves this jumpsuit because it’s easy to pack, doesn’t wrinkle easily, and she looks incredible in it.
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12) Solid shampoo
On your flight into Europe and on shorter flights between European countries, you’ll have to carefully measure and pack small bottles of liquids. So any product that cuts down on liquids is more convenient, and fewer liquids means less chance of a mess, too. If you’re skeptical of solid shampoo, try this one from J.R. Liggett, which works just as well as the regular kind.
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13) Flexible Phone Tripod
We often run into the challenge of how to get good family photos without asking a random stranger to take a picture of us. This travel tripod from Fotopro is incredibly compact, great for iPhones while also strong enough to be used with a DSLR. Plus, it effortlessly grips to trees or railings if there isn’t an obvious place to set it flat. It comes with a bluetooth shutter release which is a huge bonus and it’s really inexpensive.
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14) Travel daypack
If you’re planning any day trips, a good 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. Also, it’s super lightweight and foldable so that when you’re not using it, you can store it easily. Available in many colors.
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15) Activated charcoal
Travelers Diarrhea can happen to anyone especially if you’re eating new food or in a new climate. Europe is much safer than places like India or Mexico but it’s still common for travelers to get a bout of diarrhea typically lasting for 24 hrs. I recommend packing some activated charcoal to be prepared just in case of emergency. These capsules quickly absorb whatever toxins are in your system, stopping the dreaded diarrhea at its source and quickly getting you back to normal.
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16) Hanging toiletry bag
We all need certain toiletries from home while traveling, and keeping them clean, organized, and spill-free during the ride can save a lot of trouble and hassle. A hanging toiletry bag keeps your items at easy access, and makes organization and re-packing a breeze.
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17) Rolling suitcase
We pick this suitcase by Olympia (hands down). When you are trying to navigate cobblestone streets or haul it up a 5 story building with no elevator you will thank us. The wheels are designed with recessed in-line skate metal ball bearings making it very sturdy on uneven surfaces, it’s inherently light (5lbs), it comes with many pockets and compartments, has self-repairing zippers, and the top section is big so you can easily see everything you’ve packed.
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Other packing list items to consider bringing to Europe

Other European packing lists you may like: Amsterdam | Barcelona | Croatia | Greece | Iceland | Ireland | Italy | London | Paris | Portugal | Rome | Scotland | Spain |

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.
Weather: Seasons are similar to the US, but they still vary depending on location. ALWAYS bring an umbrella and rain jacket with you.

What should WOMEN wear in Europe? – (Click to expand)

Below is a sample women’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).

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).

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 the most tourists visit, making it high-season. If you can handle the crowds and the inflated prices, it’s a gorgeous season to visit!

Plan to wear light layers and protective sun gear (sunglasses, sun hat, and sunscreen), and bring rain gear (like a good rain jacket and an umbrella) just in case.

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.

Hats, gloves, and scarves are needed. Sweaters are ideal. It’s also a good idea to bring good all-weather walking shoes that can keep your feet warm and dry while you’re out and about. If you’re exploring at higher altitudes, you WILL need warmer gear. Temperatures average between 29°F and 41°F (-2°C to 5°C).

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.

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.

5) 🚫 DON’T PACK a bunch of books: More than one book will get heavy and take up a lot of space in a backpack or carry-on suitcase. 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.

7) 🚫 DON’T TAKE too many clothes: Most people have a tendency to over pack, especially when it comes to clothes, which just means more stuff to lug around. 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.

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.

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.

6) 🚫 DON’T TAKE a Europe-wide guidebook: Lonely Planet and many other publications have a guidebook that covers all of Europe. While that might seem like a good idea if you’re planning to visit several countries or are still deciding where to go, 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.

8) 🚫 DON’T PACK overly casual clothes: Europeans tend to dress well, and they generally 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 a collection of slightly nicer clothing for your Europe trip.

FAQs about travel in 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 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 respontaneity, a pass is the way to go.

5) 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.

6) 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.

7) 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.

8) Do I need a visa to visit 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.

9) Are there any good Mediterranean cruises?

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.

10) 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.

11) 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.

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