The Essential Europe Travel Packing List - What to Prepare Before Packing

Overly excited to see the best place to visit in Europe on your travel checklist. But also frustrated at the same time because you don’t know what things to take on holiday? We understand this struggle!

It can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to start, but deciding what things to take on holiday in Europe is not a big deal if you have a comprehensive checklist on hand. 

To keep yourself from being bombarded with too many things at once, which can happen with packing for trips that span a month or more, a good trick is to ask yourself, “Can I survive without this?”. If it’s a solid yes, then it’s a must in your baggage. Here’s a cheat sheet for easier packing.

Why Do You Need A Packing Checklist For Europe?

Why Do You Need A Packing Checklist For Europe?
Packing checklist for Europe in 2024. IG: @traveldaveuk

Europe is big and majestic, and every country you enter will be different from the last. This is why many find it hard to decide on a linear packing checklist for Europe.

One minute it’s trying to shove a big puffy jacket into your suitcase because you’re going to Scandinavia. Another is crying about how you can’t decide which fancy shirt is good enough to strike a pose in Italy. 

Amongst that are many other questions. Do I need to bring books? Is my suitcase too much of a hassle for all my stuff? Do I even need swimwear?

They all sound silly at first, but when you get down to business, it can pose a real challenge. After all, your packing checklist is what can make or break your travel experience. 

Some say it’s okay to just bring anything you think you’ll need, but with diverse climates and a rich range of activities, it’s crucial to pack smartly and efficiently. The last thing you want is either bringing too much stuff and getting charged extra at airports or train stations, or bringing too little and having to buy things later on. 

A good packing checklist will help you answer these common Europe travel questions:

  1. How should I pack for two weeks in Europe?
  2. How many shirts to pack for Europe?
  3. How not to overpack when travelling with kids to Europe?
  4. What type of luggage should I use for Europe?
  5. What to pack besides clothes?

A packing checklist for Europe can help you stay organised, hassle-free and stress-free. 

Don't Forget These Travel Documents

These travel essentials need to be with you at all times, from before you leave the hotel until after you return. 

  • Passport: make sure they are still valid for at least six months at the time of your travel
  • Visa (if required)
  • Flight/train tickets, hotel bookings, travel insurance and itinerary: some countries might ask to present these at security checkpoints but not all of them. You can skip these steps if you’re sure that’s not the case, but we advise you to just do it anyway. They can help you get around more easily, especially in non-English speaking countries.
  • Copies of your essential documents: make two copies of all your important travel documents and give one to your family, partner or a trusted friend. 
    • Emergency contact information
    • Trusted Traveler Program cards or documents if you’re a US citizen and you own one.
    • International Driving Permit.

      Where can I store these? Make sure these travel essentials are with you at all times, from before you leave for the airport until you return. Invest in a good body bag or fanny pack to keep them safe and secure within your reach during the whole trip. 

      The Perfect Wardrobe for European Travels

      The Perfect Wardrobe for European Travels
      Packing the right clothes for the local weather is the best tip for a comfortable trip. IG: @paulinagoldschneider

      This is the part that’s got many people frustrated. You start with two sets of outfits, then decide you need some backups. Then another backup for your backups. Then another outfit for a specific destination.

      In the end, you end up with too many clothes you’re not going to wear. Excessive weight in your baggage can cost you a lot of money at the airport.

      Another possible scenario is packing the wrong types of clothes for the weather and activities. Here’s a packing checklist for your clothes to keep you on track.

      For Warm/Hot Destinations

      • T-shirts and tank tops: opt for loose-fitting style and linen/cotton materials. 
      • Shorts and skirts: they are flexible and comfortable to move around in. Pick breathable and lightweight materials, like cotton or khaki, and a suitable length for your height. Too short shorts or skirts can hinder your movement. In some Southern European countries, like Spain or the Vatican, wearing too skimpy shorts or skirts around churches can be seen as rude.
      • Sandals and slip-on trainers: they are easy to wear and more lightweight than regular chunky trainers. Choose a pair that is bendy and waterproof, so you can pack them in your bags without worrying about ruining the form and getting caught in the middle of a sudden rain. As you know, some Northwest European countries are notorious for having spontaneous rain.
      • Walking shoes (if necessary): if your vacation involves walking activities, bring one comfortable pair of walking shoes. Opt for ones that are lightweight, simplistic in design to go well with different outfits, and aren’t heat or moisture traps (aka breathable materials.)
      • Undergarments: opt for lightweight cotton underwear. Since you’ll be wearing thinner clothes because of the heat, you should try seamless undergarments as they don’t cause friction while you move.
      • Light sleepwear: You should wear pyjamas that can be easily mixed and matched, or that can be worn as loungewear or even as part of an outfit.
      • Light outerwear, like a flannel, cardigan or khaki jacket
      • Socks: if you’re wearing sandals, you can skip packing socks. If you’re a trainer fan, opt for socks that sit below your ankle to avoid heat. 
      Lightweight and breathable clothing keeps you cool on your trip.
      Lightweight and breathable clothing keeps you cool on your trip. IG:@paulinagoldschneider 

      For Cold Destinations

      • Thermal T-shirts (long or short sleeves): these are good for layering as they are not too thick and won’t take up much space.
      • Turtlenecks: Turtlenecks are wrinkle-resistant, compact, and often quick-drying; an ideal choice for tossing in your carry-on without worry.
      • Fleece-lined or thermal leggings: these are good to wear on their own or used as a base for other heavy-duty outerwear.
      • Winter jeans and pants: the keyword is “winter” because not all jeans are made for the cold. If you pack jeans, make sure there are dryers where you’re staying. They can be a bit stubborn when drying at lower temperatures. 
      • Cold outerwear: this includes jackets, coats, and parkas. If your destination is snowy-cold, opt for heavy-duty winter outerwear. If your destination is windy-cold, choose wind-proof outerwear. 
      • Scarf and gloves
      • Ear-warmers
      • Closed-toe shoes or boots
      • Thermal and wool socks: to keep your legs warm, you can choose knee-high socks.


      For mixed-weather patterns, bring both kinds of clothes. A trick to downsize your baggage is to bring items that you can wear comfortably in both weathers, such as seamless undergarments.

      For a European beach holiday, you can bring hot weather clothes alongside swimwear and beach trunks. Switch shoes and sandals for flip-flops for easy cleaning and storage.

      For an active adventure holiday

      • Hiking boots
      • Raincoats
      • Athletic shorts and leggings
      • Sports undergarments.

      Toiletries You Can’t Survive Without

      The basic stuff of your toiletries can be supplied by your accommodations, or you can just buy them at your destinations. So, if you can downsize your toiletries, you should. 

      However, there are people who are uncomfortable with using shared toiletries or who want to travel on a budget, you can still use this checklist below to pack efficiently.

      • Toothbrush and toothpaste
      • Floss
      • Razors, tweezer, and scissors
      • Deodorant
      • Shampoo, conditioner, and soap: consider travel sizes or solid alternatives to save space
      • Make-up kit: opt for 2-in1 products like BB cream and CC cream to keep your baggage light
      • Skincare products: moisturiser, sunscreen, your regular routine products
      • Hair Care products and styling tools if you have one of those fancy places on your itinerary
      • Personal hygiene products, such as deodorant and sanitary items
      • Medications and a small first-aid kit
      • Motion sickness or allergy medication, if needed

      Electronics to Stay Connected and Snap the Perfect Shot

      Electronics to Stay Connected and Snap the Perfect Shot
      Always remember to bring your electronic devices. IG: @deddyhuang

      Here are the essential electronics you will need:

      • Smartphone
      • Chargers
      • A power bank for long travel
      • Camera and its accessories, such as batteries and memory cards
      • Travel adaptors for European outlets
      • Travel-sized speakers, headphones, or earbuds
      • Charging cables for all your devices.

      If you want to take some amazing travel vlogs

      • Go-pro camera and its accessories
      • A tripod: just make sure you have a proper place to store it to avoid damage.

        Money And Cards For Smart Spending

        • Money: Not all European countries use Euros (check which countries use Euros here). Plus, due to the exchange rate, it’s often better to pay with the local currency (Swiss francs in Switzerland, for example). Using a mix of cash is the best of both worlds.
        • SIM cards: you will have more price options if you purchase a SIM card at home rather than wait until you arrive in Europe. Remember to download maps for offline use if you don’t want to see your data chirping away fast.
        • Credit cards or debit cards: make sure you understand how you will be charged or if your kind of cards are accepted in Europe to avoid troubles later on. Plus, you should also notify your bank that you're going abroad beforehand.
        • Money tracking app (if needed)
        • Money converter app (if needed)
        • Money belt.

        Unexpected Miscellaneous Items You May Want To Pack

        It’s not necessary to pack these things, but if your itinerary requires long-hour flights or train rides, it’s a good idea to bring them for entertainment purposes. 

        Some items are not for entertainment, but rather for an easier trip. If there’s still space in your bags, you can pack them in.

        • Travel-size laundry detergent for washing clothes
        • Travel-sized sewing kit, safety pins, and tape
        • Insect repellent
        • Travel pillow and eye mask for better sleep
        • Travel guidebook or maps
        • Reusable water bottles because buying new bottles can be pricey, especially at attractions
        • Snacks for the journey
        • Playing cards if you want to have a bit of fun with your travel buddies.

        Minimalist Packing Checklist For Europe: Before You Pack

        A great journey is a well-prepped one. Pre-packing is just as important as the actual process of packing. Here’s what you might need to do before getting things folded up and tucked in your baggage.

        Packing Checklist For Europe: Before You Pack
        Researching your destinations helps you pack more efficiently. Credit: Gian Luca Z

        Research Your Destination

        It might seem like an obvious task, but the truth is many often overlook it. And by “research”, we don’t mean just simply looking up attractions and public transport routes. 

        First, check the climate of the region and the weather forecast for the days you are travelling. This will give a good idea of whether or not that beautiful parka and beanie you just bought are worth a space in your bag. 

        Europe has diverse weather patterns across the whole continent. Even though it’s in Europe, places like Remich, Luxembourg and Fredrikstand, Norway can be quite humid. You might want to avoid wearing cashmere or silk clothing there.

        Second, spend some time researching the local customs, especially the dress code. Many European countries don’t really pay that much attention to how tourists are dressed, but there are still places in which wearing the wrong item can be seen as looking for attention - the wrong kind!

        For example, you might want to avoid wearing a full-on black tracksuit in parts of Russia as it carries a subcultural connotation. Or, you need to rethink wearing a shirt with another country’s flag before entering a country it’s having conflict with.

        Third, some countries can have certain political regulations and ideologies. Research about this subject can keep you away from bringing items that can cause misunderstanding. You can get into a lot of trouble (and we mean a lot) if that’s the case.

        These will help you come up with a minimalist packing checklist for Europe that’s tailored to your itinerary. It will save you a lot of time trying to pick apart many other packing checklists for the right item you need for your trip.

        Choose The Right Bags

        Is it always as easy as it sounds? The answer is no. 

        The right bag is not just something that has room for all your stuff. It’s also about being comfortable travelling with it right next to you the whole trip.

        Since a Europe trip is often filled with being constantly on the move, many people think that it’s better to travel with wheeled suitcases instead of backpacks. But, little do they know that it’s actually more worry-free and hassle-free travelling with cabin-sized backpacks.

        Minimalist Packing Done Right With CabinZero Backpacks

        Most European trips don’t just stop at one single country, so you can expect there’s going to be a lot of going through airliner customs (if you’re flying) and hopping on and off trains (if you prefer railway adventures).

        Travelling with backpacks is a much more convenient option because you don’t have to run the risk of getting charged a hefty amount for your baggage at the airport.
        Also, backpacks are also easier to haul up from the platform and into the train. Most train stations are crowded, so you can imagine the pain of having to make your way through with a suitcase on wheels.
        But aren’t backpacks small? Well, it typically is, compared to wheeled luggage, but if you can nail your minimalist packing checklist and master the arts of space-optimising packing, it’s not a problem at all.

        When you truly want to travel hassle-free, remember this: less is more. Packing minimal for Europe, paired with the perfect travel companion - CabinZero Minimalist backpacks - are the ultimate experience you've never known you needed. Shop one now to leave behind packing anxiety and enjoy flexibility and peace of mind on your European trip.

        Pack Smartly

        Many make the mistake of shoving everything into one suitcase. While it’s totally doable, it’s not the best thing to do if you want to travel hassle-free. 

        To pack smartly is to be one step ahead. Here are some smart packing tips to keep in mind for your Europe vacation (or any other vacation after that).

        • Learn how to fold your clothes. Some small items like a sports bra might not take up much space, but most of the time you don’t realistically travel with one single sports bra, do you? So packing five of them efficiently can be quite a challenge.
        • Use packing cubes. They keep different items separated from others. This helps you keep track of things collectively. One cube for toiletries, one for undergarments, one for swimwear, etc. 
        • Separate essentials from non-essentials. Doing this helps you look for things more easily.
        • Keep your essentials (allowed on planes) in a carry-on bag. This helps you avoid overpacking your checked bags and your important stuff right next to you.
        • Opt for a travel-sized bottle of any item you can find. It seems like such an unnecessary thing until you have to pay extra for overweight luggage or can’t find any room to put your souvenirs later on.   

        Packing Checklist For Europe: After You Pack

        Now that your bags are all packed, before getting ready to see the best place to visit in Europe on your travel checklist, make sure you do these things to ensure trouble-free travel:

        • Double-check your packing checklist for Europe
        • Double-check your travel documents: many people often overlook small details like printing out the required documents or making sure their travel cards are still valid. These last-minute scares can be a mood killer for a whole journey, so be careful.
        • Weight your luggage
        • Confirm your accommodation and transportation bookings: from car rental to hotel room, it’s never a redundancy to recheck that every booking and payment is secured. 

         …And the last but not least thing to do is to get a good sleep before departing. Don’t get so wound up if you forget a few things to take on holiday in Europe. A well-rested mind and body will make the travel experience more pleasant.

        Packing Checklist For Europe

        An ultimate packing checklist for Europe cannot leave out these travel essentials: travel documents, clothes for the weather, electronics (especially your phone), toiletries and money.

        If you find our packing checklist for Europe helpful, don’t forget to give it a like and share it with your friends.

        Nguyen Tran Gia Khanh

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