The Ultimate Europe Packing List
While it is very easy to imagine yourself jetting away to an exotic location, in reality, a stress-free, successful trip needs far more organisation than just a few clicks. Especially in today’s world, where we carry more devices than we can count (not to mention the charger for each of these devices) and where going through security is nothing short of nerve-wracking.
The packing list below reflects the type of traveller that I am: orderly, urban, non-adventurous and stylish, who enjoys visiting metropolises like Paris, New York or Berlin. Nonetheless, I think the list provides a good base for every type of traveller, in the sense that an optimal suitcase is a combination of efficient packing and climate/activity-appropriate clothing. And regardless of where you go, only the latter changes. The list works whether you opt for hiking boots or heels, a sturdy rain jacket or a trendy trench coat.
Let’s see what I don’t leave home without whenever I leave for a new destination.
The Key to an Effective Europe Packing List: The Right Suitcase
There’s no point in trying to be organised if all you’re leaving with is a distressed duffel bag, right? As in anything, having the right tools is a guaranteed recipe for success and this is why I’m highly partial to my Heys luggage. Made of polycarbonate composite, each of the suitcases are ultra-light – the biggest one weighs just 10.8 lbs – and are also expandable if you plan on doing a little shopping at destination.
I also like that my fashionable, ombré Heys luggage has a built in TSA Lock for maximum security, which means anyone that’s not technically supposed to have a peek inside my suitcase won’t. The 360° spinner wheels and the 5-year warranty are also musts, as is the hard shell that ensures my precious possessions won’t be damaged or destroyed in transit.
Europe Packing List: Be Organised
The best thing since fire. Literally. I am a very neat, orderly person and I like having each of my clothing categories (underwear, sweaters, dresses, tank tops, etc.) sorted in the same place. No need to go through the entire suitcase –and unfold everything in the process– for that one item of clothing that I so desperately need.
Laundry Travel Bag
Essential, especially when travelling in the humid climates of Southern Europe in the summer.
To avoid pesky (not to mention costly!) surprises at the airport (especially if you fly one of the Europe budget airlines!)
TSA-approved quart-size toiletry pouch
To make the security check process much smoother, and therefore that much more enjoyable.
Last but not least, a leather, medium-sized, cross-body handbag in lieu of a day-time backpack. It’s stylish enough to go incognito in most European cities and sturdy enough to resist pickpocketing and slashing.
I always opt for bags than can fit my lens, my survival kit (see below), a small water bottle, my sunglasses and my wallet. I’m currently using this Matt & Nat bag, a Montreal-based company.
Europe Packing List: Clothing
I won’t go and list every single item that I usually pack when I jet off to Europe but the operative word, here, is practicality. Europe is known for its forward-thinking, sophisticated fashion and while not all fabrics travel well (satin and linen come to mind, hello wrinkles), do keep in mind that neutrality is your best friend when it comes to a polyvalent style.
Mix and match clothes, so that each item can be worn at different times with different pieces of clothing for maximum versatility. Here are a few items that, I think, are indispensable for urban Europe getaways:
- One or two pairs of skinny jeans (preferably a blue denim hue and a black one)
- Trendy sneakers and black boots
- One or two pairs of black tights
- Sweater dresses (can be worn with the jeans or the tights) and one fancier dress
- Two or three sweaters in varying length and colours
- Two or three light short and long t-shirts in varying patterns or colours
Europe Packing List: Toiletries
As for toiletries, travel sizes are a girl’s best friend (I have neutral, non-branded bottles that I simply refill with my own products every time I leave). Not only are they easier to get through security, they are also lighter and use up much fewer space.
With that being said, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned during my decade of travel is that whatever you do, DON’T skimp on facial care. Skin is a sensitive organ and can react very strongly to change, be it sunlight, water or air pollution. Below is a list of products I’ve diligently been using for almost the entire duration of my life as a travel writer.
- Wash bag for semi-to-high-maintenance girls like myself. Because a girl needs to have her make-up, hair products, toothbrush and deodorant at the ready.
- Cleansing wipes, either to remove makeup at night or to freshen up during the flight
- Moisturiser with 24-hour SPF
- Basic makeup kit (foundation, concealer, setting powder, blush / bronzer, blush and powder brush, eye pencil, mascara, lipstick)
- Basic mani-pedi kit (clipper + file, base + top coat, nail polish – my favourite shade right now is a slightly mauve antique pink – remover wipes)
- Face scrub
- Paraben-free body wash, shampoo and conditioner (because, frankly, unless you’re staying at really high-end hotels complimentary toiletries are generally dehydrating, full of chemicals, and just all-around subpar)
- Dry shampoo
- Hair brush
- Lint roller
- Hand cream
Europe Packing List: Tech Stuff and Photography
Mirrorless camera for travel
I barely ever leave home without my beloved camera, the Olympus OM-D-EM10. My back could no longer stand the bulk and weight of carrying my reflex camera and lenses around all day.
I wanted something light, powerful, simple to use, with changeable lenses and within my price range; in other words, I wanted the unicorn of travel photography. I also carry a 25mm lens and a 9-18 wide-angle lens.
I use a Professional 32go SD card: Never underestimate how much space you need on an SD card! This Lexar cards captures high-quality images and extended lengths of stunning 1080p full-HD and feature high-speed file transfer from card to computer.
iPhone battery case
Because I’m such an avid Instagrammer, the iPhone battery case is kind of like my best friend. Not only do I use my iPhone for photos, I also use it for maps, staying in touch, travel apps and so many other things, I simply cannot fathom the thought of not being able to use it. Definitely one of my best purchases.
So every wire, charger and device stay in place when I’m on the go.
Plane + wailing children. You do the math.
MacBook Air for travel
My 13.3 inch Apple MacBook Air, because it’s the lightest computer there is on the market and allows me to do my regular work even when I’m thousands of miles away from home. Definitely more of an investment than just a steep expense, especially since it means I don’t have to carry or buy a tablet.
Europe Packing List: Miscellaneous
- My Everyman Map guides: favourite city guides (aside from my own, of course); I love their minimalist allure and their foldable maps, which are useful if I travel without a data plan or can’t find Wi-Fi.
- A scarf, that can be used to cover shoulders when visiting sensible buildings, as a pillow, as a tablecloth or a blanket. Or, you know, as an actual scarf when it’s chilly out.
- A survival kit: not nearly as extreme as it sounds, but vital nonetheless. My first-aid kit reflects issues that I personally have to deal with on a regular basis but your reality may very well differ; make sure you pack medicines for what YOU are prone to suffer from. I carry:
- Hand sanitizer
- Lip balm
- Dramamine (non-drowsy motion sickness medicine)
- Blister cushions
- Non-drowsy anti-histamine pills
- Eye drops
- Dental floss