Europe is one of THE definitive travel experiences. The continent offers a mind blowing, diverse range of places to visit, things to do and cultures to sample.
Because Europe is so fast and diverse, you may well be wondering what to pack. I mean, what electrical sockets do they use? What should you wear?
Well we have answers these questions for you. We’ve compiled a thorough guide on what to pack for Europe. In this post we advise on on what to wear in Europe, a breakdown of what to expect by season and how to pack for each, and what NOT to bring for your travels.
Packing light and smart can seem daunting and overwhelming, but follow our top tips, and you’ll be well on your way. Then, all you have to do is get out there and enjoy the ultimate European experience that awaits!
The Ultimate Packing List For Europe
Nomatic Travel Bag
- Capacity > 30L
- Price > $299
Nomatic Navigator Carry On
- Capacity > 37L
- Price > $400
GoPro Hero 9
- Resolution > 5k
- Price > $400
- Price > $500
Insurance From World Nomads
- Price > Click For a Quote
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Packing for Europe made easy! Let’s kick of our Europe checklist and look at the essential items you should not be without.
Best Backpack For Europe: Nomatic Travel Bag
If you’re packing for Europe then you’re gonna need some luggage right?! For all types of travelers and destinations, our number one recommendation is the Nomatic Travel Bag. It will be as at home at Berlin airport as it will be carried around Italian backstreets.
The Nomatic travel bag covers every detail to make backpacking travel the best experience. You have a choice between backpack or duffel bag carry, and extra carrying comfort for your back thanks to its innovative strap system and detachable sternum strap. And its black, waterproof material is every bit sleek and modern as it is durable and tough. There is a reason why most Broke Backpacker staff swear by this backpack. Note that its only 30L so do pack light(ish) with this one.
Best Suitcase For Europe: Nomatic Carry-On Pro
Backpacks not your thing? That’s ok. Our friends at Nomatic are back again with a great alternative to their badass Travel Bag; the Nomatic Carry-On Pro.
This wheeled suitcase is ultra-durable, sleek, and comes with a handy tech compartment for transporting your laptop and other electronic bits. Plenty of European travellers use suitcases and this one will do you from the Atlantic drifts or Ireland, all the way to the Balkans and beyond. Check out our Nomatic Carry-On Pro review to learn more about this epic suitcase.
The Camera: GoPro Hero9 Black
For most of us, our smartphones now feature cameras with stunning photo capabilities. But… if you are an aspiring photographer who wants to take next-level photos and video beyond iPhone selfies, I recommend going with an action camera like the GoPro Hero9 Black.
It does deliver pro-quality video and gives you a bunch of a different angle options and shooting speeds to work with for photos (including a selfie-mode). Think of a camera purchase like this as a long term investment that will have you capturing epic shots well beyond your time exploring here.
If you are looking for something cheaper for video specifically, check out these epic GoPro Alternatives.
Packing Cubes For Europe – Wandrd Packing Cubes
In case you have never used them, packing cubes are little compression cubes that allow you to neatly pack clothes in in order to help facilitate better packing. They allow you to pack more stuff, and to keep it all better organised.
For the longest time, I thought that packing cubes were a superfluous indulgence, but boy was I wrong. Now I never travel without a few. These ones from WANDRD are great quality and excellent value for money. Get them on your Europe packing list now!
Best Sim For Europe – HolaFly eSim
The good news about Europe is that there is extensive 4g and 5g Internet coverage offering ready access to taxi apps and food delivery apps. The bad news is that your native SIM card will most probably not work and so you will not be able to access any of this online goodness until you rectify that particular situation.
You can waste time hanging around phone shops queuing to get a plastic sim or you can simply install a eSim onto your phone before you leave home. You just access the HolaFly site, choose the relevant package, download it and off you go – you are online the moment you land at the airport. eSims are easier to set up and better than the environment than plastic sims. The downside is that not all phones are eSim ready.
What To Pack For Europe Checklist: Personal Gear
When deciding what to pack and what to wear for Europe, you need to consider where exactly you are going and when are visiting. I mean, the Norwegian winters will require a substantially different wardrobe than the Andalusian summers.
We suggest doing proper research on your destination but as rule remember this – Summers range from hot to mild and winters range from mild to freezing. The more Southerly you get the warmer and the more North, the colder.
Another thing to bear in mind is that Europeans are mostly a smart bunch and take fashion seriously. Whilst you will see tourists wandering around Milan and Paris in cargo shorts and flip flops, make know mistake that we are judging them very severely!
Good Shoes – Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Aero
The chances are that your European trip will invoice some serious walking. Whether you are checking out the sites of London & Rome, or hiking the dolomites, Europe offers a good opportunity to exercise those legs.
Whilst you may get by with regular sneakers such as Converse, your feet will definitely feel the strain after strolling the Lido or Champ’s Ellysees so should consider getting comfortable walking shoes. Note that if that if that if you are visiting the Nordic countries in Winter, proper boots may be a better option. Our Iceland packing list has some good intel for cases such as this.
Good Rain Jacket – Arcteryx Beta AR
Did you know that the surface of the earth is 69% covered in water? And you know how that water got there? Yep because it tends to here rain here on planet earth quite a lot! This is especially true in the UK and Ireland – if your Europe trip includes a visit to either, then bring a rain jacket regardless of the time of year. If you are visiting any country in Europe during winter and autumn, then likewise, it will get wet.
There is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong gear for it. Don’t let a bit (of a lot) of rain ruin your trip and make sure you are ready with some top notch rain gear. This is our pick of the many rain jackets we have tried. It’s reliable & stylish and looks good worn out in the mountains or in city bars.
Travel First Aid Kit
You don’t need to tote around half a pharmacy when visiting Europe, but a well-stocked first aid kit should be in all our backpacks. Stuff happens on the road and it’s inconvenient and embarrassing when you can’t manage small situations like a cut finger or hangover migraine. You can tuck this lifesaver away in a forgotten pocket – and it’ll be there when you need it.
Tip: Add a few bits and pieces to the first aid kit after you purchase it, like extra headache medicine, any personal meds you need (like allergy pills), whatever you take to calm your stomach and a few more plasters.
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Keeping a journal is one of the best things to do when traveling. The Drifter Leather Journal by Kodiak is our favorite, it works great for digital nomads and organized backpackers and can be used as planner or a dream diary – whatever you want!
Keep on track with your goals, travels and save those precious memories, especially the ones you do not want to share online. This one is bound in beautiful leather so it looks beautiful and will withstand life on the road.
Europe does get bright. Southern Europe stays sunny all year round and even the Nordics get some serious winter light. A reliable pair of sunglasses is undoubtedly one of your Europe packing essentials. Our favorites are Abaco Polarized Sunglasses because they deliver on quality and style.
They’re built tough with triple-layer scratch-resistant lenses and trademarked Adventure-proof Frame Material. You can also customize them with your choice of lens and frame colors to reflect your own style.
Quick Dry Travel Towel (Gotta stay dry!)
Towels are essential backpacking gear as a lot of hostels don’t provide them or if they do, they may not really be all that clean. However don’t bring a ‘normal’ towel on your backpacking journeys, they are big and take up loads of room in your pack and they take ages to dry.
Travel pros like use micro-fibre dry towels that roll up into tiny, space saving proportions AND they dry unbelievably quick. A good micro-fibre travel towers is essential travel gear on any ultimate backpacking gear list. The Matador micro-fibre towel series are made by travellers for travellers. They are super light, and most importantly dry very quickly and are perfect for all types of backpacking trips.
Hanging Toiletry Bag
Another backpacker/traveler favorite for staying organized is a hanging toiletry bag. It’s extremely helpful to have all of your accessories neatly gathered in one bag that you can hang for easy accessibility, especially when counter space isn’t plentiful or even available. A well-organized bag is worth having whether you’re tree whilst camping or a hook in the wall – it helps to have quick access to all your stuff.
Historically, I have been the guy who has my stuff all over the bathroom, so getting one of these things really changed the toiletry game for me. Plus they are not too expensive either. A no-brainer essential.
Money Belt – By Pacsafe
Whilst Europe is not particularly dangerous, crime can still happen and tourists are sometimes targeted.
Therefore it is always a good idea to use a money belt to hide your cash just in case something does go wrong.
You can pick up a money belt for $5 but the buckle will break the second time you unfasten it so spend a few bucks and get this from the good peeps at REI.
Waterbottle – Hydroflask Vacuum Bottle 32 oz.
Packing a reusable water bottle is probably the best thing you can personally do to combat single-use plastic bottle use whilst traveling. There is simply zero need to buy plastic water bottles. Most European tap water is safe to drink, but this is not always the case. Do check. Even in counters where it is safe, it may not agree with your personally.
We love the Hydroflask Vacum Bottle for its quality and because it keeps cold water cold for many hours and vice versa for hot beverages. This bottle is the ideal water bottle to get not just for your Europe trip but for daily use. Please don’t be that person buying plastic water bottles. We are all judging you…especially mother earth. If you go with the Hydroflask, you’ll probably never need to buy another waterbottle again.
The Basic Stuff To Pack For Europe
On top of the essential items listed above, here is an additional suggested checklist of what to pack for a trip to Europe:
- 1-2 pairs of comfortable pants/jeans
- 1-2 pairs of shorts (summer/late spring)
- A few pairs of socks
- (Sexy) underwear x 2/3
- Ladies: a few dresses, pants, outfits, or desired lady apparel for a night on the town. Whatever makes you comfy!
- Dudes: A few collard shirts or something half-way decent for a night on the town. Whatever makes you comfy!
- Smartphone with a good camera for photos if you are not bringing an actual camera
- Portable power bank for charging your phone on the go
- Phone charger
- Amazon Kindle for reading on trains and beaches
- Aeropress if your European AIRBNB or Hotel has hot water making capabilities
- Copy of your passport just in case
- Cash (not too much, there are ATM machines everywhere in Europe)
- Packable Towel
- If you’re headed to Northern Europe in winter you might want to pack some gloves or mittens.
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Final Thoughts on What to Pack for Europe
See, packing for Europe isn’t that tough, is it? Well, it shouldn’t be now that you’re equipped with your 22 needs packing checklist, tips on what to wear and pack by season, special considerations for women and men, and what backpack you should get for your travels.
Just pack smart and don’t sacrifice style for packing light – you can do both! Focus on the essentials, and you have nothing to worry about – other than having an amazing time and getting the most out of all the splendors Europe has to offer!
Have any Europe packing tips of your own? Why not share them in the comments below? Happy travels, friends!
And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!
Great info and suggestions but would also like some help with “winter” packing suggestions for two week trip in second half of December to France (visiting Paris, Strasbourg, Saint Etienne, Lyon) for gender specific women list and a men’s list. Planning on each checking a large bag and then carrying a small/medium travel bag (fits under seat or overhead bin).