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!
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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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.’
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
Europe Packing Tips for Families with Young Children – (Click to expand)
Our little ones have been with us to France, Italy, Mexico, Belize, Honduras, South America, five Caribbean Islands, Hawaii, Australia, & on a road trip to California and the Grand Canyon. I’d say we’ve learned a few tricks of the trade. There have been so many improvements in kids’ travel gear since our maiden voyage to Europe with our son when he was only 9 months old in 2017. Below find our favorite items to bring along to ensure you have an awesome time with baby (or kiddo) in toe.
1. Travel Stroller or Double travel stroller
Airport security will only allow a small, collapsable, and lightweight stroller (it cannot exceed 20lbs/9kgs). Anything over this must be checked at the ticket counter instead of the gate. Don’t risk having to run around with a bulky stroller only to have it rejected! You have enough on your hands, which is why we recommend the Summer Infant 3DLite Stroller. It’s our absolute favorite because it’s durable, comfortable, and only weighs 13lbs. It’s also not so precious that it can’t get a little beat up during travel; we wanted something resilient against maneuvering cobblestones and European buildings without elevators. Remarkably (and fairly easily), we hauled it up and down six flights of stairs each day in Paris.
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.
This is a top seller for a reason. At only 16lbs, this Doona Car Seat/Stroller Combo is an all-in-one lifesaver. I nearly broke my back lugging my son’s car seat and stroller all over Paris. It was a nightmare and carrying multiple 20lb items is the bane of all parents’ existence. On top of that, you’ll be getting in and out of taxis all day with European drivers moving at light speed; it’s a chaotic mess! Learn from our mistakes and invest in this combo – It’s easy to install as a car seat, then easily pops out to become a stroller. It’s a breeze and honestly changed our quality of life while traveling; I only wish I had gotten it sooner. Best purchase ever.
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
Car seats for toddlers are not to be underestimated. They’re hard to get in and out of a small rental car and almost impossible to lift when you’re juggling baby AND luggage at the same time (and don’t even think about trying to collapse it!) Spare yourself from lugging a 35lb+ car seat around Europe. This WAYB 8lb car seat is collapsable so we use it on road trips, flights, taxis, ferries, etc. It holds children up to 50lbs and easily attaches to your backpack or slips onto the handle of your luggage. It’s the most manageable car seat we’ve found so far.
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!
Stroller Clips will come in handy on any adventure with kids. You can hang blankets over the stroller canopy for sun protection, hang diaper bags, baby toys, snacks, and basically any object to keep yourself hands-free. Parasol canopies can be really noisy and wake up your baby while they sleep. We love that we can clip lengthier blankets to our stroller and know our honeys are sleeping peacefully under the shaded cover. We use these constantly and they’re very resilient against wind.
I love the Woolino sleep sack! It is 100% natural, made from premium soft Australian merino wool, has an organic cotton outer shell, and is machine-washable. It also can be used in all 4 seasons because it regulates the natural body temperature and is comfortable for baby from external temperatures as low as 60°F (16°C) to as high as 77°F (25°C).
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.
This cozy little crib makes traveling with children easier than ever before. What I love about it is that my babies have a familiar, safe space in the middle of a new environment. Kids are easily overwhelmed and overstimulated by new places, people, and things. This BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light gives them a familiar home-away-from-home where they can rest easy and have a peaceful sleep or playtime. You can set it up and refold it in one step. With a soft mattress and lightweight design, we take it with us across Europe, and Airlines will allow you to check this for free because it’s a “baby item” (no additional checked bag fees). Ultimately, this item is a must.
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.
Allopathic medicine (over-the-counter meds and prescriptions) typically masks your little one’s symptoms but doesn’t aim to alleviate the root cause of the problem or heal the real issue.
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.
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).
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).
Men also need to pack versatile outfits that can be worn for many different activities. European men are quite fashionable and wear clothing that is well fitted. Choose to pack a pair of leather sneakers for activities in the day and dressier oxford shoes for nights out. Wear dark fitted jeans, or earth colored tapered pants with a collard button up shirt or teeshirt with a sweater or casual blazer. Choose tee-shirts that are solid colors but you can add some style to button up shirts with different patterns. A belt helps dress up any look along with a pair of semi-rimless shades and fedora hat. Store your cash and cards in a minimalist RFID wallet and for day excursions bring a lightweight backpack.
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!
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).
How to dress for activities in Europe – (Click to expand)
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.
Exploring the Streets – The best way to start a trip in any city is by exploring the streets! In many major cities in Europe, many companies offer free walking tours. This is a great way to get your bearings in a new destination and check out some of the highlights. Just keep in mind, it is common courtesy to tip your guide at the end what you think the tour was worth. While you are walking around the city, make sure to wear a pair of comfortable shoes like sneakers or flats. There are manycobblestoned streets in Europe so avoid anything with a heel. Outfit ideas for men include fitted chino pants with a tee shirt and cardigan. Women can wear leggings with dresses or skinny jeans with a cami and a long sweater. It’s also a good idea to bring a lightweight, windproof jacket and pack your valuables in an RFID wallet or purse for protection against pickpocketing.
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.
What NOT to wear in Europe – (Click to expand)
Europeans tend to wear clothes that are more fitted compared to Americans and Canadians so avoid packing baggy clothes. Also, do not wear anything that is too revealing and dress more on the smart casual side. Don’t look like a tourist by leaving your sweatpants, sweatshirts, graphic tees, sports sneakers, baseball caps, and fanny packs at home. Also, avoid clothes that are a one-time outfit. You need to pack pieces that a versatile and can be used for a number of different activities to avoid lugging around heavy baggage and hefty checked bag fees.
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?
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?
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?
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.
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 is an accomplished poet, best-selling author, award-winning screenwriter (studied at NYU film school), amazing chef, singer/songwriter, and mommy of two amazing little kids! After growing up in Hollywood she decided to delve into a profound spiritual journey and became a yogi-monk for almost a decade. She enjoys helping Asher conduct research, writing for our blog, and loves traveling the world (Paris is her favorite city), and sharing her experiences with you!