What to Pack for Summer in Europe

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Europe is a large and diverse continent, with attractions ranging from luxury beach escapes on the Mediterranean to rugged mountaineering excursions in the Alps. However, the bulk of European tourists tend to casually meander the historical cities and take in the local culture. Because vacation time is limited, most travelers try to fit as much into their Euro-trips as possible. While your itinerary may be packed to the brim, your suitcase should not be. Over-packing just leads to added stress and uncomfortable transfers. With that said, it’s often hard to know what to pack for a European vacation. Read on for the ultimate summer in Europe packing list.

Getting Started

Summer in Europe Packing List

As always, read up on your destinations beforehand. While most of the following items are needed throughout Europe in the hot summer months, your exact itinerary will ultimately dictate your packing list. Think about the number of days you will be gone, and the places you plan on staying. How do you plan on getting around (train, rental car, taxi)? Are you visiting more than one country? Will you be staying at a lot of different hotels? All of these questions should play a role in your packing list.

Next, pick the right suitcase. The previous questions should help with this choice. If you are staying at a different hotel every other night and exploring wide swaths of the continent, a small carry-on is an ideal option. However, if you’re largely staying in one area, a larger suitcase on wheels is most likely your most convenient bet.

Smaller carry-on luggage provides an easy to carry or roll option. This luggage is perfect for cobblestone streets, crowded trains or walking up to your hotel room. On the other hand, they can be harder to pack and unpack as they don’t provide a lot of space. Conversely, larger wheeled suitcases provide more space for clothing, accessories and souvenirs.  They are ideal for longer trips or when you will be staying in one location for a longer period of time. However, they are generally heavier, and Europe’s many cobblestone streets and public transportation options are not exactly friendly to having to maneuver larger suitcases. Decide if the benefits of each outweigh the negatives. Whatever your choice, make sure you buy or bring a luggage lock. This simple little device does loads to dissuade pickpockets.

Pack a Backpack for the Flight

Flights to Europe are long, but packing a backpack for the flight can make all the difference. Start by packing your passport! Keep additional photo copies in your suitcase, and bring your driver’s license or state ID, as well. Next, bring a copy of your itinerary. Since the air on planes cruising at 35,000 feet tends to be incredibly dry, bring eye drops, body lotion, and facial moisturizer (make sure they are less an 3 oz). A cozy pair of socks and a warm wrap or cardigan is also advisable. The temperature in planes tends to vary, with some blasting the air conditioner a lot more than others. Next, something to do while you’re on the flight – book, music or movies are all great options.

Traveler with Backpack - Summer in Europe Packing List

Summer in Europe Packing List

  • Underwear and Socks. The number depends on your itinerary.
  • 3-5 Short-Sleeved or Sleeveless Tops. Summer in Europe can be hot. Plus, short-sleeved or sleeveless tops are easy to layer, if needed.
  • Lightweight Cardigan or Sweater. If you brought one on the plane, it will also come in handy on your trip. “Bring layers!” is probably the most common response to those seeking advice on packing for a European vacation. Layers provide a multitude of various outfit options and allow you to quickly shed or add more clothing throughout the day. Many cathedrals and churches do not allow shoulders to be showing so, it’s best to pack at least one sweater or cardigan.
  • Waterproof Jacket or Raincoat. It does rain in Europe, so a waterproof outer layer is ideal.
  • 1-3 Pairs of Shorts. Depending on your trip, think about bringing one or two casual pairs of shorts and a pair for hiking or other outdoor activities.
  • Jeans or Other Lightweight Pants. For chilly nights or rainy days, make sure you have at least one pair of pants. Jeans are also easy to dress up at night. Many cathedrals and churches will not allow knees to be showing so, having at least one pair of longer pants is advised.
  • A Dress. Again, depending on your trip, it’s likely you will enjoy a few nice dinners out. Dresses are easy to pack and throw on.
  • Comfortable Shoes. This is easily the most important item on this list. You will do A LOT of walking on your Europe trip. Comfortable shoes are an absolute necessity. From hiking up a mountain to exploring cobblestone streets in most European cities, your feet will get a workout. Blisters from uncomfortable shoes will undoubtedly put a bit of a damper on your vacation.
  • Swimsuit and towel. Seas, lakes and hotel pools are great places to cool off from the hot summer sun. Swimsuits are also a commonly forgotten item, so make sure this is on your list.
  • Universal Travel Adapter. Invest in one of these handy little tools, and never worry about whether your electrical devices will work in a foreign country again.

While packing, think about coordinating the colors of your items. While whites, blacks, and grays might seem boring to some people, packing in similar colors allows you to mix and match your entire suitcase. If all of your items go together, you will be able to create different outfits out of the same clothes each day.

The bulk of planning for your upcoming European vacation should be focused on your destinations and activities — not your suitcase and packing list. Remember, just because an airline allows 50-pound suitcases, doesn’t mean you should pack that much. Hauling bags down narrow train aisles and hotel stairwells shouldn’t be overly stressful. If you follow this summer in Europe packing list and add on additional items to meet your needs, you should be comfortable, while simultaneously blending in with all those effortlessly stylish Europeans.

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.

What to Pack for Europe – 17 Essentials


1. Neck Wallet

HERO Neck WalletEurope is unfortunately notorious for its pickpockets at all major tourist attractions and especially in cities like Paris, Rome, London, Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Dublin. But if you use a neck wallet you can easily conceal your cash, credit cards, phone, hotel keys, and important travel documents while not screaming “I’m a tourist!”. And the beauty of a neck wallet is you can also easily hide it under your shirt or jacket making it next to impossible for pickpockets to steal from.


2. Lipstick-sized portable charger

Lipstick-sized portable chargerThis 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!


3. Europe power adapter

Europe power adapterThe 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.


4. Natural Jet Lag relief pills

Natural Jet Lag relief pillsAny 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.


5. Prepaid Europe Simcard

Prepaid Europe SimcardHaving high speed data on your phone from the moment you get off the plane in Europe can be an absolute godsend. Whether it’s for using Uber, finding your accommodation with Google Maps or simply checking emails, you will be so happy you have this. 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 10GB of data! It’s definitely way cheaper than paying all the roaming fees with your local carrier and all you need is an unlocked phone for it to work.


6. HERO Packing cubes

HERO Packing cubesIf 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 – TOTAL GAME CHANGER!


7. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

virtual private networkIt 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 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. 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!


8. Windproof Travel Umbrella

travel umbrellaEurope is one of the rainiest places on Earth with much of the continent seeing rain days often for 15 days out of every month! In order to be able to enjoy it even in the midst of rainy days you need a good quality travel umbrella like the one pictured. This one is windproof, super compact at only 12 inches when collapsed, and comes with a lifetime replacement guarantee.


9. Travel daypack

Travel daypackIf 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.


10. Travel Insurance for Europe

Travel insuranceTravel insurance is a must when traveling to Europe. If you get in an accident and need to go to hospital 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.


11. Water bottle with built-in filter

Water bottle with built-in filterWater 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 a built-in filter so all you have to do is fill and drink.


12. Gorgeous Outfit

Gorgeous OutfitEurope’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.


13. Women’s Comfy Flats

Women’s Comfy FlatsMost of Europe is best enjoyed on foot. From museums to cafes to just taking in the architecture, you will be walking a lot. Summer months can be pretty 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, and so cozy and cool on muggy days. They are my feet’s most-loved flat choice.

 


14. Packable “Just In Case” Bag

Packable This bag is genius because it takes up literally no space. Collapsed, it’s about the size of a folded tank top, but when fully packed it is a larger personal item bag that fits under the seat on your flights. This duffel attaches to the handle of your roller bag for smooth airport travel. Consider bringing it as a “just in case” bag to throw in your larger suitcase at the start of the trip – it’ll come in handy for all the stuff you will inevitably pick up on during your travels (such as souvenirs). If you are considering bringing home an even bigger loot (of chocolate) try this larger size.


15. Activated charcoal

Activated charcoalThere are so many cute restaurants and cafes, but many restaurants won’t be as clean as the places you frequent at home. Food poisoning happens! The most surprising was when I actually got SO sick from a $250 Michelin-rated meal in London. Please don’t risk 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 almost immediately. Always consult your doctor, but in our experience they really WORK because they simply suck up the toxins and help your body eliminate them altogether.


16. Deodorant wipes

Deodorant wipesEurope in the summer can be hot and muggy. I often find myself sweaty most of the day. I hate reapplying deodorant to my already sweaty armpits, and I will no longer succumb to washing my 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 daybag, and with a quick wipe I’m as fresh as I was first thing in the morning.


17. Rolling suitcase

Rolling suitcaseWe 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.