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 Europe Packing List
Packing for Europe made easy! Let’s kick of our Europe checklist and look at the essential items you should not be without.
The Backpack and Luggage: 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. Because of its smart design, it manages to provide loads of packing space in a convenient, carry-on size package! Its handy built-in pockets make plenty of room for all the necessities on your what to pack for Europe checklist – you’ll find separate compartments for important items like shoes, water bottle, electronics, underwear and socks. As an added bonus, there’s also an RFID-safe and cord management pocket.
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.
Alternative Luggage: AER Travel Pack 2
Our number two selection for an epic travel backpack for Europe is the AER Travel Pack 2. Like the Nomatic Travel Bag, this AER backpack is fully featured, big enough to hold an extended weekend of clothing, and tough enough to last years of travel abuse.
I have taken the AER Travel Pack 2 on multiple trips and since then it has risen has in the ranks of my go-to travel backpacks.
Check out our AER Travel Pack 2 review to learn more.
A Suitcase: 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 suitcase is ultra-durable, sleek, and comes with a handy tech compartment for transporting your laptop and other electronic bits. Nomatic has been an industry leader when it comes to travel gear and that reputation is reflected in the quality build design and functionality of the Carry-On Pro suitcase. 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.
What To Pack For Europe: 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.
We suggest something like these. They are comfortable, breathable and can still be worn in city bars and cafe’s without looking too much like a tourist or a geography teacher.
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. 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.
Check out the women’s Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Aero.
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, 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.
Travel Insurance From World Nomads
Europe is relatively safe and offers a high standard of healthcare, some of which is free at point of use. However, theft and illness does strike so you do need to ensure that you are financially protected in case it all goes wrong.
I admit I traveled for many years without having travel insurance. Because of it, I paid the price a few times in foreign hospitals. Especially in an expensive country like the Norway, you NEED to have insurance in order to avoid unimaginably high hospital bills. I have countless stories of friends who have been injured while traveling in Europe – and in one case – the bill was over 50k USD.
We recommend going with World Nomads or SafetyWing. You’ll be happy you did when the time comes to use it.
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.
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.
Most of Europe uses 2 pin, “European style” plug sockets except the British (and Irish) who insist on being different – we use 3 pin plug sockets which kick ass. To cover all your sockets bases, invest in a good world adapter.
One of the best investments you can make is a worldwide travel adapter that will work anywhere! The one featured here is tough, reliable and a solid buy – Don’t leave home without one.
Buy your travel adapter on Amazon now.
Tent – MSR Hubba Hubba 2p
Europe can be pricey. Hostel dorms in London and Paris are punishingly high so one of the ways you can save a few bucks here and there is by camping whenever you can.
There are campsites across Europe although not always in or near major cites. Note that laws on “free camping” vary between counties and even regions and you do not want to fall foul of the authorities lest you receive a hefty financial penalty.
IF you do want to bring a tent, then check this one. The MSR Hubba Hubba 2p is mega-roomy and has multiple of pockets for keeping your self organized when settling in for the night.As far as budget backpacking tents go, this is one of the best. It’s a happy medium between the ‘prepared for anything’ mode and the ‘I wanted to go for a trek so I bought this for 2000 rupees’ afterthought.
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.
Your Passport or Other Government ID
You will need a passport to travel in Europe. Whilst you will be able to get between the EU countries with only an EU Citizenship card, once you leave this area you will need a proper passport.
Visa requirements for European countries tend to vary quite a lot so it pays to plan ahead to avoid disappointments.
Hostel’s will also insist on seeing ID before admitting you and the UK has an utterly barmy “Think 25” policy on selling alcohol so bring ID whenever you go to a bar or supermarket.
Money Belt – By Active Roots
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.
Custom-designed BY the Broke Backpacker FOR broke backpacking, the Active Roots Security Belt will keep your valuables safe no matter where you go.
It looks exactly like a normal belt except for a SECRET interior pocket perfectly designed to hide a wad of cash or a passport copy. Never get caught with your pants down again! (Unless you want to.)Check on Amazon
Let’s face it; for the foreseeable future, COVID 19 risk is just going to be a part of travel. How do we do our best to mitigate the risk while still traveling and experience life’s pleasures? Pack the right PPE gear.
Europe generally took Covid very seriously and a few countries were quote badly bitten by the bug. Restrictions and local rules vary from country to country and even region to region but as a rule, bring a mask wherever you go.
- Bring a Mask.
- Bring Hand sanitizer and wash your hands often.
- Consider disposable gloves for slot machines or other when touching other stuff that hundreds of other people have also touched that day. From an environmental point of view, these types of gloves are fuc**** awful. Use these only when necessary and keep in mind these things are very polluting and will end up in a landfill after one use.
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
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!
Happy travels, friends!
Also – don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
Find out how YOU can support the site.
We work hard to put out the best backpacker resources on the web for free! It’s all about helping out our tribe of awesome backpacker readers (that’s you!). Please visit the link to find out how you can help keep the site going 🙂
For the sake of transparency, some of the links in our content are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation, buy a piece of gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. We only link to stuff that members of the Broke Backpacker team has actually used and never endorse products or services that are not up to scratch. Thanks for your support!