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72 Travel Necessities for Europe That You Can’t Travel Without

Planning on traveling around Europe? I’m so excited for you! From the cafes of Paris to the waterways to Venice to the effortless cool of Copenhagen to the beaches of Southern Italy, there’s so much to see, do, and fall in love with!

However, with so much to do, you’re going to need to pack for all eventualities. Don’t worry though, I’ve got you covered with these 72 travel necessities for Europe that you can’t travel without. 

I’ve also included a whole host of other useful information including packing tips, a pre-travel checklist, and what you need to put in your carry-on bag versus your hold luggage.

So, find a suitcase or rucksack big enough for all your stuff, and let’s get packing!

Things That Are Going to Affect Your Packing Choices

Before we dive into the different individual items that you’re going to need for your European adventure, there are a few things that might affect your packing decisions.

Season

Of course, the season that you’re traveling in is going to dictate a lot of what you’re packing. If you’re going in the middle of winter, you might not want to pack shorts, and you’re not going to need a thick coat in the peak of the summer months. It’s always a good idea to check the weather along your itinerary before you start packing. 

Duration of Travel

If you’re planning on traveling around Europe for a few months (lucky you), you’re not going to be packing something for every single day. You’ll be washing your clothes as you travel, so you don’t need to bring as much.

On the other hand, if you’re only going to Europe for a couple of weeks, you might not want to wash your clothing and prefer to pack everything you’re going to need straight away. Also, if you’re traveling for a longer period of time, you might need to pack for more eventualities like clubbing, hiking, swimming, and more. 

Travel Style

Maybe you’re a backpacker, maybe you’re a luxury gal, maybe you’re heading to Europe for the ski season. The kind of traveler you are is massively going to impact your packing decisions. For example, if you’re staying in hotels, you’re not going to need to pack a towel, soap, shampoo, or conditioner – it should all be there waiting for you.

On the other hand, if you’re bouncing from one dorm to the next, you’re going to need all the toiletries, shower shoes, towels – the works!

Basic Travel Necessities That You Need for Europe

There are quite a few “basic” items that you need to pack for a trip to Europe. Of course, some of these might not be needed depending on when you’re traveling, but it’s a good checklist to use so that you don’t forget anything crucial. 

personal necessities

Yes, they have stores in Europe, but you don’t want to spend your first day on vacation buying two weeks’ worth of socks because you forgot to pack any.

Clothing

  1. Underwear
  2. Socks
  3. T-shirts
  4. Vests
  5. Long-sleeved t-shirts
  6. Blouses 
  7. Shorts
  8. Skirts
  9. Trousers/Jeans
  10. Leggings
  11. Sweaters or cardigans for evenings
  12. Dresses
  13. Chafe shorts (thank me later)
  14. Tights if you’re going in cooler months
  15. Going out or evening outfits
  16. A small bag for going out
  17. Waterproof coat
  18. Hat (sun hat or woolly depending on the season)
  19. Scarf
  20. Gloves (for winter)
  21. Sportswear for hiking or day trips
  22. Swimsuit
  23. Microfiber towel
  24. Sliders or flipflops for the beach
  25. Trainers
  26. Hiking boots or warmer boots for long days
  27. Something to sleep in
  28. Slipper socks

Toiletries

  1. Toothbrush
  2. Toothpaste
  3. Face wash
  4. Hand sanitizer
  5. Wipes
  6. Soap
  7. Shampoo
  8. Conditioner
  9. Body wash
  10. Make-up
  11. Razor and shaving creams/balms
  12. Sunscreen
  13. Aloe vera
  14. Moisturizer
  15. Lip balm
  16. Deodorant
  17. Hairbrush and styling products
  18. Tweezers
  19. Nail scissors
  20. Feminine hygiene products
  21. Birth control pills
  22. Condoms
  23. Any other medication
  24. Perfume
  25. Bug spray

Personal Items

  1. Passport
  2. Travel Insurance
  3. Flight tickets
  4. Accommodation confirmations
  5. Transfer confirmation
  6. Map and/or travel guide
  7. ID
  8. Wallet
  9. Camera
  10. Chargers
  11. Adaptor
  12. Local currency
  13. International money card
  14. Sunglasses
  15. Headphones
  16. Book
  17. Glasses and/or contact solution
  18. Snacks
  19. Refillable water bottle

What to Pack in Your Carry-on Bag

Packing hold luggage is relatively simple. You have plenty of space and you’ll be able to unpack or find what you need at your destination. Packing a carry-on bag is an art form. You can’t pull out the entire contents of your carry-on mid-flight – no one wants to be sat by that person. 

You need to pack strategically so that you have everything you need, without going over the size limit for your bag or losing precious items in the depths of your carry-on. Here are some of my essentials that you have to pack in your carry-on bag.  

Layers

Planes get notoriously cold so packing layers in your carry-on is a must. Whether that’s a sweater or cardigan, or just a large scarf that you can drape like a blanket, I always make sure I bring something warm, especially on long-haul flights.

Entertainment

Whether you’re on a long-haul flight that has in-built entertainment systems, or you’re on a short-haul that has nothing included, I’d still recommend bringing a book, some headphones, and downloading some episodes, podcasts, or playlists before you travel.

a black headphone

If you’re traveling long-haul and want to bring your own headphones, check online first to see if their systems are wireless headphone compatible as many aren’t, so you’ll need wired headphones. I’m a big fan of noise-canceling headphones because even if I’m not watching anything, I love to block out all the random plane noises when I’m trying to fit in some sleep!

Snacks

While you can’t bring any fresh fruit or snacks like that on many flights, bringing snacks like granola bars, bags of dried fruit, or other healthy snacks is a great idea. Buying food on a plane is going to eat up so much money and it’s not necessary. I would think twice before bringing nuts on board as many airlines don’t do this anymore due to common allergies. 

This is especially important if you’re gluten-free, veggie, or vegan, as you can’t always guarantee that there’s going to be a snack that’s suitable for you, and depending on your flight time, it could be a long while before you get any other kind of food!

Water Bottle

Again, you can’t take water through security, but I always bring an empty water bottle with me in my carry-on. Most airports have water fountains now where you can fill up your bottle after security but before you get to the gate. 

Buying a water bottle in duty-free shops or on a plane can be expensive for no good reason, and the water filters on planes can only be described as sketchy. I always feel a little dehydrated on a plane, so having a water bottle to hand really helps me relax and chill out while we’re in the air.

It also means that you don’t have to rely on the cabin crew for your refreshments for the whole flight. 

Small Toiletry Bag

Being up in the air dries out your skin, and your lips, and generally can make you feel a bit gross. Especially on long-haul flights, you’re going to want to freshen up before you land.

I make sure that I have a small toothbrush, toothpaste, some face wipes, and some moisturizer and lip balm in my carry-on so I can arrive feeling my best. 

Charger

Whether you’re watching stuff on your phone in the airport, your flight gets delayed and you’re just aimlessly scrolling, or it’s been a long day and you’re on a night flight, making sure you have your phone charger and any adaptors or charging packs with you in your carry-on is a must.

Most of us have our flight tickets on our phones or need our phones at the other end to order an Uber into the city or use maps to find our accommodation. You don’t want to arrive with a dead phone and no idea where to go after a long flight – trust me!

A Spare Outfit

Learn from my misfortune and make sure you pack one spare outfit in your carry-on. No one wants to be the person who loses their luggage and has to spend at least the first day of their holiday in their plane outfit while they roam the shops, but it can happen.

assorted clothes

Pack at least one fresh outfit just in case, you’ll 100% thank me if your luggage does go missing and you need to buy a new wardrobe. Long-haul outfits are not normally great for wandering around the boutique-filled streets of Paris!

Travel Necessities That Everyone Forgets

Look, we’re only human, sometimes we forget odd items that would make our time in Europe much easier. Here are some of my top offenders that I accidentally leave at home and immediately regret as soon as I arrive at my destination. 

Water Bottles

So, I’ve spoken about bringing water bottles before, but especially if you’re traveling around Europe in summer, it’s a necessity. Many countries in Europe get hot and humid, and you have to carry water around with you to avoid dehydration or sunstroke.

The other thing to remember is that in the vast amount of countries in Europe, tap water is 100% safe to drink. Fill up your bottle at the hotel or Airbnb before you leave for the day and you are sorted.

There have been so many TikToks of people complaining about the price of water in European stores or the fact that they can’t find any and that’s because locals don’t buy bottled water because the tap water is safe, great, and free!

If you’re looking for fancy water, there are some water fountains in France that actually provide a choice between still and sparkling water – for free. Bring a water bottle and save yourself some money and hassle – and it’s way better for the environment! 

Packing Cubes

Normally, I’m not one for travel gadgets and gimmicks, but as someone who loves traveling with a backpack, packing cubes has saved my sanity so many times. While backpacks are great for carrying around your gear, trying to find specific items in your pack is a nightmare. 

You can get packing cubes in all different sizes and colors which makes it really easy to mix and match them depending on what piece of luggage you’re using. It saves me so much time in the morning and makes packing a breeze!

Adaptors and Chargers

The amount of times that I’ve forgotten the charger for my headphones or walked out without an international adaptor is actually kind of embarrassing. I’d recommend getting a universal adaptor and then bringing a multi-plug or extension cable with you so you only need one travel adaptor to charge all your gear.

When it comes to charging packs, the Anker portable charger is by far the best one I’ve ever used, and it’s perfect if you’re on the go all day as it fits effortlessly into your day bag. It’s definitely worth it if you’re using your phone for maps or translating as that rinses your battery in no time at all!

First Aid Kit

Whether you need aspirin after a big night out, blister plasters from all that walking around, or if you need a band-aid from a scrape or two, first aid kits are a must. It doesn’t need to be anything big or bulky, but it does need all the essentials to keep you going while you’re running around Europe having an amazing time! 

Confirmations

Now, I never used to be one for printing out all my hotel confirmations, travel insurance numbers, and transfer information, but now I’m absolutely converted. You can’t always rely on local WiFi or expensive data packages when you’re overseas to bring up all the confirmations you need on your email. 

Print them out in advance and then you’re covered. It’s also a good excuse to buy a super cute travel wallet to keep them all organized and in order! 

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The Best Way to Pack Your Bags

Okay, so now you know what you need to put in your luggage, what’s the best way to pack your bags? Again, this is a skill that takes time to hone, but there are plenty of tips and tricks to make the most out of the limited space you’re going to have in your suitcase or backpack.

Roll Don’t Fold

This is the cardinal rule when you’re trying to pack a lot of items in a small bag. Rolling clothes takes up less space and it doesn’t wrinkle your clothes anywhere near as much.

You can roll a few items together and then tightly pack the rolled clothing in your bag. It’s also great for suitcases because you can easily see all your items at a glance!

Shoes are Great for Stuffing Small Items

If you’re a fan of multiple pairs of shoes like I am, it can be difficult to justify bringing a few pairs on one trip. To make the most out of the space that they’re taking up, stuff your sneakers, boots, or heels with smaller items like underwear or socks.

It also helps to keep the shape of your shoes as they’re likely to get squished by other items and the baggage handlers throwing your luggage around!

Pack by Outfit, Not Clothing Type

Okay, so for the longest time, I’d put tops in one packing cube, bottoms in another, and underwear and socks in another one. This sounds like logical organization, but all it means is that you have to bring out four packing cubes every morning to get one item. That’s basically unpacking your whole pack, which kind of defeats the point of having packing cubes.

Instead, pack your outfits together. Roll a full outfit, complete with underwear and socks, so you can grab a full fit and roll out of bed quickly! While there are a few pieces that you can mix and match, you’ll probably have some core outfits in mind while you’re packing. 

You can then split your packing cubes by what you’re going to be doing. So have all your hiking outfits in one cube, your nightlife outfits in another, and your city wandering ones in another. It makes it a lot easier to get ready in the morning if the outfits are ready to go and all in the same part of your bag!

Bring a Separate Bag for Dirty Clothing

No one wants their whole bag smelling of dirty clothing so make sure you bring an extra packing cube or bag for your dirty laundry. You can seal them up and put them in a completely different section to your unworn stuff, leaving everything smelling as it should!

Separate Your Shoes

If you can, put your shoes in another part of your bag. If you have a rucksack, there’s normally a bottom compartment that’s perfect for footwear. It just ensures that everything stays clean and tidy, especially if they’re shoes that you’ve already worn a lot.

Don’t have a secondary compartment in your bag that’s big enough for your shoes? Just pop them in a tote bag or plastic bag to keep them contained. Another method I’ve seen is to put shower caps on the soles of the shoes which is pretty cool, but either way should work fine.

Have Your Liquid Bag on Hand

Look, being at airport security can be stressful, and everyone’s kind of on high alert. Make life a lot easier for yourself by having your bag full of liquids to hand. Put it in the front top pocket of your bag and if you can bring a small plastic Ziploc bag from home so all you have to do is put it straight in the scanner tray. 

It’ll make getting through security a lot more efficient and you’ll feel pretty smug as you walk past everyone decanting their make-up bags into the tiny plastic bags. If you think ahead at the packing stage, it makes everything a lot easier on your travel days!

Invest in a Cable Tidy Wallet

When you’re packing your bag, cables and chargers often get left until last and as a result, are kind of chucked in the top of the case. This isn’t great for the actual cables which can get damaged, and they can also shift during travel and you might have to unpack your stuff to find your charging cable again – all in all, it’s not ideal.

Instead, invest in a small cable tidy wallet where you can protect your gear and easily find it when you need it. Honestly, it’s a win-win, especially if you’re traveling to Europe for work or are traveling with a big camera which means you have a lot of cables and gear to keep organized and safe!

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Top Packing Tips for Europe

Want some extra tips for packing for Europe? Of course, you do! Learn from my years of experience traveling around this continent and you’ll be so prepared that nothing is going to faze you!

Bring a Soft Bag

As much as I love the ease of rolling a suitcase around, it’s probably a good idea to bring a soft-sided bag, especially if you’re just traveling with carry-on luggage. Soft bags are more squishy, so you can get away with fitting more stuff inside and it’ll still be small enough to fit under the seat in front of you or in the overhead locker.

If you’re traveling around Europe using low-cost airlines that charge a fortune for regular-sized baggage, soft-sided bags are going to be your best friend. Honestly, I’d never even consider trying to use a small suitcase for Ryanair or EasyJet – it’s not worth the ridiculous fees for having such a tiny case.

The other reason you don’t want to bring a case is because of the amount of stairs in a lot of popular locations. You’ve probably seen videos of people complaining about the number of stairs on the Amalfi Coast or the historic city center apartments in Paris that don’t have elevators because of the age of the building.

Backpacks are easier to haul up and down stairs, and they’re easier to wander around between train stations and airports as well. 

Check the Weather

I cannot overstate this enough. Check the weather before you pack. Even if you’re going to Greece in the peak of summer, it’s not unheard of to have cool winds or odd showers while you’re there.

This is especially important if you’re in central or western Europe where the weather can change pretty quickly. London can have all four seasons in one day no matter what month it is. 

It’s also worth checking the weather for all the destinations you’re planning on visiting during your vacation. Europe is not all one big place with the same conditions wherever you go. Honestly, you can go one town over and experience completely different conditions.

The clothing you’ll need in Barcelona is not going to be the same as what you’ll need in Stockholm. Check before you travel!

Think About the Amount of Travel Days

If you’re interrailing around Europe or just hitting up a few different cities or locations, think about what you’re going to wear on your travel days. No one wants to be sat on sweaty leather bus seats in shorts – that’s just plain painful. 

Bring some comfy clothes like workout leggings or a breathable sundress for your travel days so you’re not too uncomfortable. Also, make sure that you’ve earmarked one outfit for the long-haul flight home so that it stays clean. Doing an overnight flight in skinny jeans because you forgot to wash your comfy clothing is not the vibe!

Double-Check the Sizes

I’ve already mentioned that budget airlines like Ryanair and EasyJet love to penalize travelers who bring bigger luggage than they’ve paid for. Honestly, their included luggage is so small it’s kind of a joke, but their flight prices are insanely cheap.

Make sure you add on any additional luggage or upgrades when you book the tickets because that’s when they’re cheapest, and make sure your bags are the right size. I’ve seen people having to pay 70 euros per bag each way at the airport and I’ve also seen people leaving behind half of their stuff at the gate because they overstuffed their bags. Don’t get caught out!

Remember That They Have Stores in Europe Too

If you’re low on space or weight allowance, leave the shampoo and conditioner at home. They have supermarkets and pharmacies in Europe where you can buy full-sized supplies which are going to be cheaper than those awful travel-sized options and they’re not going to leak in your bag on the way over there.

Take it from someone who’s had to wash everything they own because a suncream exploded in their hold luggage!

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Pre-Travel Checklist

Okay, let’s wrap up this complete guide to the travel necessities for Europe that you can’t travel without with a quick pre-travel checklist. This is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a great place to start if you’re preparing to travel to Europe!

Passport Validity

Okay, so not only does your passport need to be on date, but you also need to have six months of validity on it from the day you intend to leave Europe. This is fairly standard for traveling to most countries now, but it’s always best to have around a year left on your passport to be on the safe side. 

This is basically so you can travel back home if you get stuck in the country or if you accidentally overstay your visa or anything like that. 

Visas

If you’re coming from the US and are only planning on staying 90 days or under, you don’t need a visa for the majority of European countries, thanks to the Schengen Agreement. This is essentially a freedom of movement agreement where tourists can spend 90 days out of a 180-day period freely exploring countries within the Schengen block.

In total, there are 27 countries in the Schengen block and they are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Places outside the Schengen, like the UK, have their own visa-free travel allowances, so check these before you travel. Remember, these are tourist visas so if you’re planning on working or studying while you’re here, you need to apply for the correct visa in advance. 

Vaccinations

Honestly, you don’t need any weird or wonderful vaccinations for Europe that you might need if you were heading into the jungles of Borneo or anything like that.

Many of the countries used to require proof of a COVID-19 vaccination, but this requirement has been dropped by many countries in recent months. It’s always worth checking the government website to see if any specific vaccinations are required. 

Chargers

Make sure you have every possible charger you might need. That includes phones, tablets, e-readers, headphones, cameras, portable power packs, smart watches – all of them! Sadly, many of those aren’t compatible with the same charger yet, so you’ll probably fill a decent-sized cable tidy wallet!

Make sure you bring the correct adaptor as well. It’s worth remembering that the European sockets are completely different from the UK sockets, so a universal adaptor is your best option.

Insurance 

Let’s be honest, travel insurance is one of those things you hope to never use but you always need to buy. Even though most of Europe has heavily subsidized socialized healthcare, you will still have to pay out of pocket if something happens. 

Aside from medical expenses, travel insurance is perfect for protecting your gear in case of theft or damage, or if you get stuck in a country or need to leave early due to some kind of disaster scenario. Realistically, you can get travel insurance for as little as $1 a day, so it’s a no-brainer. 

Flight Times and Tickets

Make sure you make a note of your flight times and reverse engineer your travel plans to and from the airport, giving you plenty of time to get through security. I’d also suggest checking in for your flight in advance to make life easier for you, and if you’re on a low-cost airline like Ryanair, you’ll get charged 70 Euros if you try and check in at the airport. It’s insane, but people are getting caught out by it!

Terminals

If you’re traveling from a larger airport, double check with the terminal you’re flying from as it might impact your transport plans. For example, at Manchester Airport, you can walk from one terminal to another in 15 minutes, but at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, you need to take a train to get from one terminal to another. 

When you sort your flight tickets out, make a note of which terminal you’re flying in and out of so that you can make the correct arrangements or get picked up by your airport transfer at the correct terminal.

Transport

Once you know your flight times, terminal, and landing time, you can look at transport options for getting to and from the airport. Depending on the time and location, this might mean a taxi or private airport transfer situation.

However, if you’re on a budget, most major European cities have public transport options to and from the big airports. That might be through regular trains, buses, or private coach companies like BlaBlaBus or FlixBus which are less regular but super affordable. Remember to give yourself plenty of time to get through passport control and baggage reclaim!

Accommodation Paperwork

As I’ve said, I’d recommend printing off your accommodation paperwork just in case your phone is dead or WiFi isn’t an option when you land. Make sure you have the reservation number with your details and the name and address of the hotel clearly printed out.

This makes it easier for the desk to find your reservation and means that you can relax and explore a lot quicker once you’ve ditched your bags.

If you’re in an Airbnb, there’ll also be details about finding the keys, accessing lock boxes, or even directions to find the place, so you’re going to want to keep these close to hand.

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