Taking a trip to Europe a dream for many Americans, but only some of us will be lucky enough to make the trek across “the pond” in our lifetime. When you get to visit Europe, you’ll experience so many different cultures, histories, and adventures. Your memories will be rich and varied, and you’ll have a wealth of stories, photos, and videos to share back home.
Before you get to the fun part, however, you have to plan and prepare for your trip. It’s not an easy task to coordinate everything. It can take months to secure things like hotel rooms, airplane tickets, car rentals, and plans for excursions, sightseeing, and activities. When you’re going to be so far away from home, it’s important to be thorough in your preparations.
When you finally get to the task of packing your suitcases, you may find yourself overwhelmed with questions. You don’t want to over pack so much as to be burdened with exceptionally heavy suitcases, and you don’t want to under pack and risk leaving something important at home, either. Here are some of the most important things to bring with you:
Tourists in Europe are great targets for pickpockets, and keeping your money and important cards/papers safe is of utmost importance. Keeping your wallet in your purse or pocket isn’t secure enough. Bring a money belt that you can keep against your body, hidden under your clothes. This is the safest way to carry your valuables with you while travelling.
Be sure to bring prescription medication to last for your entire trip, plus enough for a few extra days just in case. Also, bring along any over-the-counter medication you might need, such as allergy or heartburn medicine. A basic first-aid kit is also recommended. It’s better to have these things on-hand than to have to navigate a foreign pharmacy in a pinch.
Your toiletries should be small enough so that you’re checked bag isn’t weighed down with things you don’t need. In addition to shampoo, toothbrush, moisturizer, you should consider a tongue brush. A great product for fighting bad breath isn’t gum like you may think, it’s actually the Tung Brush & Gel, which I have found to be the most effective tongue cleaner ever. We’ve all been there – long layover and horrible breath after several coffees and airport meals. I have found the Tung Brush & Gel to work well in helping my mouth stay clean and my breath fresh, especially while traveling. The gel is only 3 oz so it’s allowed in carry-on luggage. You can get yours here.
Before you leave, download at least one app on your smartphone that can aid you in your travels. A map that works offline is best. Also consider purchasing a paper map to use in the event that your phone gets lost/stolen or its battery dies.
Make sure you have printed out all important documents, such as flight and hotel confirmations. Make photocopies of things like your driver’s license and passport. Bring information on any insurance policies, such as health and travel insurance. Keep a list of contact information, such as numbers for your credit card companies, and keep it in your hotel room so that you can access it quickly if your credit cards are lost/stolen. Getting a visa is not easy, especially if you are based in some parts of Europe, as there are good options to get a ‘ESTA’ online.
Because standard electrical outlets in Europe are different than those in America, it’s important for you to bring a plug adapter. A 110220v adapter plug will make it possible for you to use your cell phone charger, hair dryer, and other electronics during your vacation.
Europe is a large continent, so every country has its particular weather patterns throughout the year. A hot summer night in Spain could also mean a chilly wet evening in Holland, so it’s important to check the weather before you head off. I recently teamed up with Nobis for my trip to Finland and Latvia, which you can read about here.
The jacket I’m wearing above is 100% goose down with coyote fur trim. It’s designed to insulate but stay breathable, which is exactly what I needed. I also wore thermals, wool socks, and waterproof boots the whole time. Researching the weather will help you pack smarter and more effectively.
NOTE: Before you travel internationally, make sure all of your necessary travel documents are up-to-date! Keeping copies of them with you can help make your travel experience a smoother, less stressful experience.
Have any other suggestions about packing tips for the modern traveler? Leave us a comment below!