The Ultimate Europe Packing List

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

europe packing list

europe packing list
europe packing list
 

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

europe packing list europe packing listIt is virtually impossible to successfully complete a photo shoot with a cat present.

  • Packing cubes are 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 is essential, especially when travelling in the humid climates of Southern Europe in the summer.
  • 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

europe packing list

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

I also like to keep my jewellery to a bare minimum, firstly because I don’t feel like carrying my most expensive pieces around Europe (and risk breaking, or worse yet misplace them) and secondly because my personal style is rather minimalist to begin with. These days, Bauble Bar is where I get most of my sparkles from.

Europe Packing List: Toiletries

europe packing list

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.

Europe Packing List: Tech Stuff and Photography

europe packing list

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Extra camera battery
  • 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.
  • Grid-it Organizer, so every wire, charger and device stay in place when I’m on the go.
  • 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.
  • Travel adapter kit: For use in the United Kingdom, continental Europe, Asia, North America, Russia, New Zealand, Africa and the Middle East. Comes with a little travel pouch so you don’t lose any of them!

Europe Packing List: Miscellaneous

europe packing list

  • 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.
  • My MOO cards, so I can connect with fellow travellers, bloggers and industry members whenever I’m on the go. I like to use the photographic business cards, first and foremost because I can showcase my photography skills but also because these cards make for excellent conversation starters. Use my affiliate link and get 10% off your order!
  • 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.

Want to see more products that I take with me on the road? Check out my travel shop!

* Disclaimer: this post was written in partnership with Heys, which I personally contacted because I love their suitcases. All opinions are my own. Some of the links above are part of affiliate programmes, from which I get a small commission to help cover the costs of running this blog. Rest assured that I would never endorse a product I don’t personally use and truly believe in.
 

50 Comments on The Ultimate Europe Packing List

  1. Barbara
    April 2, 2014 at 1:02 am (3 years ago)

    Great list! I see some similarity to what I usually pack, of course you are a much more seasoned traveler than I am. I don’t pack as many clothes although a comfortable nightgown is an absolute must have for me. I also pack a mini- umbrella, an eye mask for sleeping, some laundry soap leaves for hand washing of underwear and tights. I bring about half a dozen postcards of the city I’m from, ( they take up no room at all), to give to people I meet.

    And most importantly, a small notebook. I keep a travel journal whenever I travel and I treasure them so much, they’re every bit as important as photos to me.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      April 4, 2014 at 10:45 am (3 years ago)

      A notebook is such a good idea. I think sometimes being a blogger makes me forget that I should take the time to write down my thoughts instead of furiously typing them on my laptop!

      Reply
  2. Melissa @ Suitcase and Heels
    May 6, 2014 at 8:40 pm (3 years ago)

    I absolutely love my luggage scale and Grid-It. I’m actually on my 4th luggage scale (broke one, lost one and wore one out). I’m also loving my Kobo mini for travel despite being a lover of paper books. It’s just so convenient to fit a hundred books in my purse.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      May 12, 2014 at 11:40 am (3 years ago)

      I agree completely! Luggage scales are so handy. I love not having to open my suitcase in front of everyone at the airport and try to reorganize my stuff so that my luggage is not overweight!

      Reply
  3. tracy
    May 27, 2014 at 5:44 pm (3 years ago)

    Great information. I too use packing cubes and they have totally changed my life when traveling.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      May 28, 2014 at 11:13 am (3 years ago)

      Good to know! I really think they make a big difference in my packing efficiency.

      Reply
  4. Red
    December 24, 2014 at 3:53 am (3 years ago)

    Make your lists, then take HALF the clothes, TWICE the money.

    Reply
  5. Ann
    March 22, 2015 at 11:11 pm (3 years ago)

    Your photos are amazing! How do you get such an even depth of field (I’m new to SLRs)? With landscape and architecture type shots, my DOF never seems to be as evenly crisp as yours :(

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      March 31, 2015 at 8:12 am (2 years ago)

      Thanks Ann! I find that the best depth of field comes with the 50mm lenses :-)

      Reply
  6. Marie-Eve
    September 11, 2015 at 1:31 pm (2 years ago)

    Haven’t had any issue with them. They’ve always worked fine! :-)

    Reply
    • Sabrina
      September 12, 2015 at 6:42 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks Marie!

      Reply
      • Marie-Eve
        September 30, 2015 at 11:08 am (2 years ago)

        You’re welcome Sabrina!

  7. Annette
    February 29, 2016 at 1:34 am (2 years ago)

    thanks for the very informative post!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      February 29, 2016 at 8:22 am (2 years ago)

      You’re welcome Annette!

      Reply
  8. scaldasonno
    December 10, 2016 at 9:03 am (10 months ago)

    If some one needs to be updated with hottest technologies then he
    must be go to see this site and be up to date everyday.

    Reply
  9. Angela Mitchell
    January 29, 2017 at 4:29 pm (8 months ago)

    This does look like the perfect carry-on. I’d love to take with me when I go visit my sister on Vancouver Island.

    Reply
  10. Ana
    January 29, 2017 at 4:34 pm (8 months ago)

    I love your blog! My husband and I are going to London this summer for the first time and loved reading all your posts about London!

    Reply
  11. Cheryl Pollard
    January 29, 2017 at 5:00 pm (8 months ago)

    I want to go someplace warm and tropical….the Bahamas!

    Reply
  12. Anne
    January 29, 2017 at 5:37 pm (8 months ago)

    This looks amazing and so useful, I would take it on my two upcoming Europe trips, to Portugal and a river cruise to Prague and Berlin!!

    Reply
  13. Emilie
    January 29, 2017 at 5:59 pm (8 months ago)

    I’ve bought so many bags and luggage throughout the years and keep buying them because the ones I have are never “perfect”. I think it might be an addiction too. Hopefully I find the right one like you did!

    Reply
  14. Wai Ching
    January 30, 2017 at 2:50 am (8 months ago)

    I love your adorable kitty cat!

    Heys is a super well known brand and it looks like this design is very useful for storing beauty items (love those little pockets!). I would love to take this little carry on with me traveling around Europe – no check-in luggage, just carry on on the trains and short flights!

    Reply
  15. Jules A.
    January 30, 2017 at 10:25 am (8 months ago)

    This would be perfect for our trip to Italy next fall. The packing tips were helpful too!

    Reply
  16. Brian
    January 30, 2017 at 12:53 pm (8 months ago)

    I would probably use the bag on our trip to Japan.

    Reply
  17. Pat
    January 30, 2017 at 1:54 pm (8 months ago)

    Great list. I use packing cubes also. They are wonderful. Unless I am travelling to a remote area, I wait and buy toiletries such as toothpaste at my destination.

    Reply
  18. Marie
    January 30, 2017 at 5:22 pm (8 months ago)

    I used to be a chronic over-packer, so when I was planning a 2-week trip to Europe in 2015 I scoured Pinterest for tips and ended up packing so much less than I ever expected I’d be able to. I’m the type to always have a contingency plan, so it’s hard to cut back! For my next trip, I’m going to attempt to pack even less than last time, and these tips are so helpful. I’ve pinned it to one of my travel boards so I won’t forget! My dream destination is Ireland, but I’m itching to get back to London and Rome. Thanks for the great giveaway, this is a beautiful little case! :-)

    Reply
  19. gene d
    January 30, 2017 at 5:47 pm (8 months ago)

    I’d like to go to Iceland or Scandinavia

    Reply
  20. Neil Anderson
    January 30, 2017 at 11:59 pm (8 months ago)

    We are going to Ireland for 2 weeks in March, all we need is a carry on. mine is getting pretty beat up.

    Reply
  21. Jennifer
    January 31, 2017 at 6:12 pm (8 months ago)

    This cute suitcase would be absolutely perfect for my upcoming carry-on trip to San Diego!

    Reply
  22. Brittany
    January 31, 2017 at 7:44 pm (8 months ago)

    Hi there!

    I’m traveling to Switzerland and Austria (my first time ever overseas!) in May and this luggage would be perfect!

    Reply
  23. Peggy Johnson
    February 1, 2017 at 7:27 am (8 months ago)

    I would take this to Europe this May!

    Reply
  24. Casey Griffin
    February 2, 2017 at 2:39 am (8 months ago)

    This is the perfect little carry-on! I travel for work and this would be so helpful.

    P.S. Can I have the cat, too if I win? ;)

    Reply
  25. Jessa
    February 4, 2017 at 10:57 am (8 months ago)

    I’ve recently discovered your blog and am loving all of your posts! Kudos for the fantastic content. I truly appreciate ‘Packing list’ posts as I’m obsessed with finding the right carry-on items / luggage. I’ve been a long-time fan of Hey’s luggage and agree that their cases truly stand the test of time. I’ve taken mine to every continent, and we’ve had a few adventures together! Love your Europe packing list! I’ve got an upcoming trip to Australia that I’m preparing for and I plan to use your suggestions when prepping my bag. Have you heard of the trtl travel pillow? I’m going to be giving it a go this time around. Hopefully it’s as comfortable as the reviews say!

    Reply
  26. Betty N
    February 4, 2017 at 3:36 pm (8 months ago)

    I love being organized on a trip, and you have some great tips! Thanks

    Reply
  27. Rajee Pandi
    February 5, 2017 at 4:27 am (8 months ago)

    Love to travel it to India and Hawaii

    Reply
  28. Elizabeth Brooks
    February 5, 2017 at 1:31 pm (8 months ago)

    I would visit my mom

    Reply
  29. Susie Sachs
    March 28, 2017 at 1:08 am (6 months ago)

    Thank you for the wonderful insight on packing and travel tips. I am traveling to England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales the middle of April of 2017. I have not flown since before 9/11 and am anxious with all of the heightened security for overseas flights. This trip I am going n is my retirement gift to myself, and I am going with two other gals. Hope to have a blast. I have been trying to do my research before I leave. Thanks again!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      April 26, 2017 at 5:49 pm (5 months ago)

      I hope you have a nice trip Susie!

      Reply
  30. Sarah
    March 31, 2017 at 9:30 pm (6 months ago)

    For your camera, do you bring a special camera bag for it when you are traveling? I’m just wondering since I’m leaving to Europe in a few days and I want to take nice pictures, without the bulk of a camera bag. I have the sony a6000

    Reply
  31. Camille
    April 30, 2017 at 5:15 pm (5 months ago)

    Hi, how long was your trip to Europe. I will be going for 3 weeks and just want to make sure I will have enough stuff but also I will be traveling by train from country to country, so I don’t want too much stuff that its too much to move back and forth.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      May 3, 2017 at 12:06 pm (5 months ago)

      Ultimately it depends on the climates you’ll be visiting, not just the length of trip. Make sure you can mix and match your clothes. For three weeks, I think you’d be fine with a few t-shirts, a few sweaters, two pairs of jeans, a few dresses if that’s your thing and two pairs of shoes (never wear the same shoes two days in a row, that’s when you get blisters).

      Reply
  32. Maria
    May 3, 2017 at 6:41 am (5 months ago)

    This is really helpful! I’ve read a looot. But yours is the most organized and to the point list! Love it!!! Thank you

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      May 3, 2017 at 12:03 pm (5 months ago)

      Glad I could help!

      Reply
  33. Brytta
    May 7, 2017 at 3:23 pm (5 months ago)

    Great list! Thanks for the camera recommendations as I’m shopping for a new one for my Europe trip this summer!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      May 15, 2017 at 10:30 am (4 months ago)

      Glad I could help Brytta!

      Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      May 15, 2017 at 10:32 am (4 months ago)

      You will love this one!

      Reply
  34. Harry
    August 30, 2017 at 1:07 am (3 weeks ago)

    Thanks for sharing this travel packing list. I am off to Europe next month, I am very excited.

    Reply

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