Congratulations! You purchased your plane tickets for your first (or maybe 5th) trip to Europe. So many endorphins were released after making that final click. You’re going abroad! YAS! You get to tell your friends, type up an exciting “status update” on Facebook, make sure to post a cute pic on the ‘Gram, and start the planning process. Then, the anticipation phase starts. What the heck are you going to do once you get there? What type of surprises await you in the narrow alleys of France, the twisting waterways of Venice, or the breathtaking Alpine views of Switzerland? As they say, your adventure awaits.
But what the hell are you going to pack?
Packing can be daunting as well as frustrating. How will everything fit? What is worth bringing, and what can I leave behind? Am I missing any important items? Have I brought too much? Where am I going again?
Here is an easy to follow guide to help you pack light without forgetting anything. I will base the guide on a 10 day trip during the summer.
1) The Suitcase
I tend to try to pack light when I travel – bringing outfits that I can mix and match depending on the activities that day, or any dramatic weather shift. Bring a few tops that can go with different bottoms and then decide on the exact outfit in the moment. Here is a rough suitcase packing list:
-2 pairs of pants (your favorite pair of jeans and one black pair of pants)
-6 or 7 shirts (mixing short sleeved shirts and sleeveless depending on climate)
-1 cardigan (I usually bring black)
-1 light rain jacket
-2 pairs of shoes (one comfortable walking shoe, another pair of either comfortable sandals or a dressier shoe for the evening)
-1 pair of pajamas
-Of course, the appropriate amount of underwear, socks, bras to your discretion.
-Photo copy of your passport (this is important, keep in there at all times)
-Larger purse for sightseeing needs
-Toiletries (get your customized bag set here – made by me!)
If you’re a dress/skirt kind of person, feel free to bring a skirt or dress or two with you as well. One you can pair with your cardigan at night or if it’s chilly in the morning. All of this should fit in a carry on sized suitcase. Some people like to use packing cubes to stay organized, putting pants in one large cube, tops in another, and always pack an empty one for used underwear! Usually, I only keep clothes and a purse in my carry on bag. Remember: if it’s lightly packed now, you can bring more treasures home with you!
2) The Personal Item
A personal item is defined as something that can fit under the seat in front of you. For me, this is usually a small backpack. In this small-ish backpack I carry all of my airline essentials. I carry more stuff in the backpack than I would tote around sightseeing, hence the packing another purse in your suitcase (details on that next). Again, you don’t want to over pack and carry around unnecessary items while you’re trying to get that perfect European Instagram shot! An example of items I pack in my backpack:
-My travel wallet (get your customized wallet here – made by yours truly!)
-Electronic cords and converters (VERY IMPORTANT)
-Snacks (i.e. granola bars PRO TIP: don’t pack chocolate, it will be a melted mess)
-Fuzzy socks (being barefoot on a plane is gross – but always wear shoes in the bathroom, that place is NOT for socks – YUCK)
-Medication (if applicable)
-Ear plugs/face mask
-Electronics such as point-and-shoot camera and cellphone, of course!
On most international flights, a pillow and blanket will be supplied for you even in economy cabin. Sometimes, headphones are supplied, but it’s always a good thing to pack your own. A lot of people seem to like to bring those neck pillows. I found that the inflatable kind are the best for packing (what the heck are you going to do with a neck pillow for 10 days?). You can find an inflatable neck pillow here.
3) Sightseeing Purse
During the day, I like to bring a larger cross-body purse or a small backpack with me. A backpack works better in the less crowded countries such as Scandinavia, Ireland, Scotland, and perhaps parts of Switzerland. Please, always be aware of your surroundings, as strapping your valuables to your back always poses a risk. For crowded areas such as Italy, France, Germany, Spain, and Greece, I would highly recommend a cross-body purse with safety features. I purchased one for my sister’s trip to Morocco and it was a success. They come in an array of colors, and are extremely functional. Find your favorite color here. For a busy day of sightseeing, I like to bring:
-Mini container of sunscreen, found in the travel section of your favorite grocery store (your skin will thank me)
-Snacks (don’t be hangry!)
-Wallet (keeping one credit/debit card and the copy of your passport in your suitcase)
-Battery pack for your camera/cell phone
-Rain jacket/cardigan if the weather calls for it
This way, you can be prepared, yet still have room in your bag for any impromptu souvenir shopping. Do what makes you comfortable, but I keep my passport on me at all times. I make sure it’s in a back pocket of my purse that has a zipper. Do not just throw it in your purse. US Passports are highly valuable in a lot of countries and can be sold for top dollar – that is why they are stolen. If you realize your passport has been stolen or lost, that is when the copy comes in handy. In most cases, you will need to go to the police station, fill out a police report saying the passport is stolen, get the copy of your passport from your suitcase, and head to the nearest US embassy. You can find the US embassy information for each country here. Oh, and you usually have to pay for the new temporary passport in local cash currency. **This is why we keep a debit/credit card and copy of your passport in a separate area, and not with your other items**
4) Fanny Pack
If you prefer to travel light, or do not have a big agenda for the day, fanny packs are a convenient, stylish (believe it or not) option. The nice thing about fanny packs is they are literally attached to your body, and usually right in front of you. I would not recommend wearing a fanny pack backwards. Fanny packs usually have a pocket that is against your body (not out front) which is where I keep my passport. The first time I went to Europe, I wore locks on my fanny pack – do it if you want, I didn’t find it that useful. You could also take a small purse that zips shut. I’ve been known to take both (as they don’t take up too much room in your suitcase). Always beware, pit-pocketers are the world’s best scam artists. STAY WOKE.
Happy packing. Happy traveling!