Europe is a MASSIVE continent and there are endless great countries for you to visit.
Having visited all but 4 countries ourselves (and at ALL times of the year) we know how to pack for a trip to Europe.
Whether it's a snowy, sub-freezing Norwegian road trip, or a warm island hopping adventure in Greece.
We have been there ...
Done that ...
And packed the t-shirts!
So below I want to share with you all the tips, tricks & experience we have picked up on over the years.
Helping you to plan and pack for the ideal visit to our home continent.
Okay, that's enough pre-amble ... let's get started!
Before traveling anywhere, make sure you have your travel insurance in place. We recommend SafetyWing.
Here's a few reasons ...
For more info, check out my in-depth SafetyWing review.
If you are backpacking Europe, then the first thing you will want is a backpack!
When choosing a larger backpack it’s important to consider how long you’re travelling for.
If you’re packing for 2 weeks in Europe then you’ll naturally have fewer items than if you were planning a 3-month trip for example!
However, that being said - no matter where we’re travelling, how long we’re going for, or what we plan to do; Osprey is always the first choice for us!
This fantastic company is known for its durability, quality, and for offering great value for money!
I actually received my first Osprey bag as a backpacking gift in 2015 and I’ve been in love with what they offer ever since. It’s still going strong too!
Many people opt for a 70-litre backpack but this can often be too much, especially if you’ll be walking and carrying it a lot.
If you go for this size, you’ve also got an increased chance of being over the luggage limit if you’re just trying to cram as much in there as you can!
That’s valuable travel money gone on excess airline fees…
Everyone’s preference differs but in my opinion, a backpack of 50-65 litres is plenty for one person. It offers enough space for all your clothes, essentials, and any other preferable items.
Here are our 2 recommendations:
When we travel, we prefer to either carry one 70-litre backpack between us or two smaller backpacks (50-65 litres).
However, no matter where we go we ALWAYS take a day bag as well!
Whether you’re looking for a sustainable backpack or a laptop-friendly backpack, there are endless options out there.
You’ve also got plenty of camera backpacks to choose from which is a great choice for keen photographers or bloggers!
With so many options, finding the perfect day bag can often feel like an overwhelming experience but I’m here to help.
My recommendation for the perfect day bag is again an Osprey one, as it’s lasted me for years and is perfect for carrying all our gear including our travel laptops!
However, Cazzy also has a fantastic day pack that you can read about in our Tropicfeel Shell Backpack review.
It can expand and contract to your needs, and you can fit so much in.
If you’d prefer a more compact day bag then there are some fantastic anti-theft bags out there and many of them are much smaller in size.
Here are a couple of things to consider before choosing your perfect day pack…
Our recommendations for Europe:
Many people aren’t a fan of backpacks and that’s fine, so decide to opt for roll-on luggage instead!
If we’re only heading out on a short trip then I definitely prefer going with roll-on luggage myself, as they are so much easier to get through the airport.
There are plenty of fantastic carry-on luggage options, but one of the BEST companies for me has to be Horizn Studios!
They are more of a luxury brand, and although their products are more expensive than others on the market, they do offer plenty of nifty features including in-built portable chargers.
I’ve even got an in-depth review of Horizn Studios which outlines their roll-on luggage options if you want to take a closer look!
As we’ve become more seasoned travellers, we now understand that less is definitely more!
Aside from our road trip around the world, many of our trips last between 2-3 months so we tend to just take one 70-litre backpack between the two of us.
This still offers plenty of space for both of us and has several benefits including…
Now, for us, the last point is by far the most important!
As you’ve probably figured out by now, putting together a list of backpacking essentials for Europe isn’t easy. That’s why you’ve searched Google for help as we’ve done many times before!
However, taking a small backpack means you don’t have room for unnecessary items so you won’t just be packing things for the sake of it.
Now that you’ve got your perfect bag sorted it’s time to start thinking about the things to pack for your Europe trip!
First of all, I’m going to detail the essentials for travelling to Europe.
Then, I’ll go through some of the other cool items that you can take including photography gear and miscellaneous items.
To make this Europe travel packing list easier to digest, I’ve split it up into six sections:
How much you should take will differ depending on how long your trip is, but this is what I’d pack for a typical 2-week holiday in Europe…
During the summer, you’ll want to add these necessities…
Your men's Europe packing list will look very different in the winter, and you’ll have to substitute some of the more lightweight items. Here’s what I’d pack instead…
This Europe packing list for females includes many of the same things, although understandably some of the options will be very different.
I’ve included everything that Cazzy would typically pack for a short trip to Europe here!
Same as the men's packing list, you’ll want to add in a couple of extra items…
Your Europe travel essentials will definitely change if you’re exploring the continent during the winter. Some of the countries are very chilly, so you’ll want to swap out the shorts and swimsuits for something a bit woollier…
One of the main reasons that you don’t have to overpack in Europe is that there will always be places to wash your clothes, especially in the cities.
Although it depends on where you stay, many hostels and campsites will have washing machines or offer this service.
You can wash your clothes at some hotels too, but this is generally dry cleaning rather than a typical wash and it’s often much more expensive.
You’ll also find public washing facilities in most countries, which is exactly how we got by when we spent 6 months road tripping our way across Europe. You will pay around 3-4 euro per load to wash, and a similar amount per load to dry.
However, it’s always best to carry some soap with you too in case of emergencies, for example, if you run out of underwear!
An essential item for any backpacking Europe packing list has to be a first aid kit!
They take up hardly any room at all and are vital for helping sort out those minor cuts and scrapes. Although you may not need to use it, it’s always best to have one on you.
Here are some things that you should have in your first aid kit…
If you don’t yet own a travel first aid kit, then here’s a good option to buy.
It contains the majority of what you need and you can then just add in any other items you want to take with you.
Plus, it’s small enough to tuck away in your backpack and not take up much space.
For the ultimate packing list, there are several toiletries that you’ll need to take with you!
Of course, it’s possible to purchase pretty much all of these while you're in Europe but they might be cheaper in your home country.
This is especially the case for us as the UK has some fantastic bargain stores!
You won’t have a problem withdrawing cash in Europe as there are ATMs found everywhere, especially in the large cities.
Of course, if you’re travelling to somewhere more remote you may need to plan this out in advance but generally, you’ll be just fine!
However, there’s one thing to discuss, my nemesis - bank withdrawal fees!
Now, the thing with ATM fees is that although they do occur throughout Europe it really depends on the country you’re visiting.
Before you go to withdraw cash, just double-check the screen before you proceed any further as it will tell you straight away!
I’d also recommend taking more than one card, in fact, we always take four with us!
Out of the four cards we have…
Now, you may be wondering why we carry four cards on us!
Well, it’s for emergencies really and the reason we carry them in different places is in case one of our bags gets stolen. Or, if we happen to leave one somewhere which we’ve never done…. Jokes, of course, we have!
This way, you’ll always have a backup so you’ll have no problems getting money out!
Europe has plenty of fantastic banks and it’s unlikely that you’ll have any problems using your card or withdrawing money.
If you’re using Visa or Mastercard, and you struggle I’ll be very surprised!
The banks in Europe will differ depending on which country you visit as they all have their own, but one you’re likely to see frequently is HSBC.
Just keep in mind the bank conversion fees when you’re withdrawing money, but luckily we’ve got something to help you with that…
We’ve tried plenty of travel cards over the years, and each one seems to offer something different!
However, our two favourites are Monzo and Revolut.
Just keep in mind that these are UK-based cards, so you’d have to check if they are available in your country of origin.
Now, let’s dive into why we love these two so much!
Monzo and Revolut allow you to withdraw money just like any other debit card, and you can use them in normal card transactions.
They can both be used in any country in the world and you won’t be charged currency conversion fees! You’ll only need to pay a fee if you withdraw over a certain amount every month.
One of the best things about these two is that they are FREE to use! You simply have to download the app, enter your details, and then they will send your card through.
Once you’ve activated it you’re good to go and use it as you travel across the world!
The one thing to keep in mind is that when you use it, just make sure you select the ‘pay in local currency’ option as you’ll get the best exchange rate.
We’ve actually written a comparison article ‘Monzo Vs Revolut’ if you’re looking to research this more in-depth!
Before heading to Europe, make sure you’ve got all the important documents that you’ll need!
Europe is home to some of the most beautiful countries on Earth, so you’ll definitely want to capture the spectacular landscapes and beaches that you find here!
Ranging from the Eiffel Tower in Paris to the rugged wilderness of Scotland, there are so many stunning locations to visit in this part of the world.
Here’s a quick list of the photography gear that we’ve taken with us whilst travelling around Europe!
The one thing I can’t recommend enough is to invest in a good-quality DSLR camera!
It’s a great way to up your photography game and capture some of the scenic landscapes and charming cities that are waiting for you in Europe.
It doesn’t really matter which one you choose as there are tons of options on the market, although you do need to make sure it’s great quality. Some of the most popular makes include Canon, Nikon, and Sony.
We use the Sony A7iii and couldn’t recommend it enough!
It’s been all around the world with us from Ireland to Alaska, and it never lets us down!
What about lenses?
If you love taking photographs of beautiful destinations, then you NEED to get a wide-angle lens for your DSLR camera.
We purchased it before our trip to Bali so we could capture the rice paddies and volcanoes in all their glory, and not to be dramatic - but our life hasn’t been the same since!
Using a wide-angle lens allows you to fully capture a landscape, and you’ll have so many fantastic photographs that you can remember your trip by.
There are plenty of options out there and it will all depend on your camera make, although Amazon has a nifty tool that allows you to check whether the lens will fit your model.
Although our blog is our baby, we’ve developed a love for YouTube along the way and we’re currently uploading videos to our YouTube channel!
There are plenty of blogging cameras to choose from, but we recommend the Canon Powershot G7 X Mark II as a great starter.
We’ve used this camera for a few years and you’re guaranteed to get great-quality photographs and video footage no matter where you go! It’s got fantastic sound recording too.
Although DSLR cameras are great, sometimes you don’t want to lug them around all day, so it’s great to have a handheld video camera as a backup!
We recently upgraded to the Sony a7iii, which is a much more powerful DSLR, but it is probably far too much for most travellers.
If you’re putting together a list of Europe travel essentials then I recommend investing in an underwater/action camera.
The most notable brand is the GoPro and the newer models especially have lots to offer with incredible stabilisation, 4K footage, and a great-quality fish eye lens.
Whether you’re looking to go snorkelling in Europe, hike in the mountains, or kayak on some of the beautiful lakes here, having an action camera opens up your photography/video opportunities.
If you don’t fancy spending lots of money on a GoPro then there are plenty of GoPro alternatives out there. However, many of them don’t offer the same specs or quality!
If you’ve already got a DSLR and an action camera but you’re still looking to up your photography game, then why not invest in a drone?
Although they can be tricky to get your head around at first, they offer you the chance to capture insane photographs and angles of places that you’d never see otherwise!
The DJI mini 2 is currently one of the best options on the market as it weighs less than 250g, which is lower than most weight restrictions in Europe.
However, you’ll need to check the drone laws in each country before flying it.
Thankfully, most of Europe allows you to fly drones with some rules.
Not only is it light, but it charges quickly, offers amazing footage and photographs, and is fantastic value for money.
You can also go for the DJI Mini 3 if you don’t mind spending a bit more!
Here’s an in-depth guide to the best travel drones on the market.
If you’re putting together a packing list for travel to Europe then you can’t forget about your health and safety!
Here are a couple of things that you NEED to pack…
Although I always recommend to pack light, if you’ve got some extra room then there are a few other items that will always come in handy!
Now that we’ve got through the perfect checklist for European travel, here are a couple of things that you don’t want to pack…
Here are a few things that we don’t often take with us to Europe, but things that might come in handy for you…
Here are some final travel tips to help you plan your travel list for Europe…
If you’re worried about the weight of your luggage, or you’re not quite sure whether something is a travel necessity for Europe, then you can always buy items out there.
The only thing you’ll want to keep in mind is that some of the countries in Europe (especially the Nordic countries) are extremely expensive, and you’ll be paying a lot more for items here!
As I’ve mentioned previously Europe is HUGE and your packing list will all depend on which region you visit and the specific country! I’d recommend checking the specific climate for that country first before you start to pack.
You’ll also need to consider whether you’re looking to relax on the beach or you’d prefer to hit up some hiking trails, as that will heavily influence your travel packing list for Europe!
One of the best tips I can give you is to pack versatile clothing!
Whether you’re putting together a packing list for Europe in Spring or winter, having a variety of options that can be mixed and matched is vital. It means you can pack fewer outfits and save more room for the essentials.
If you’re planning to do a long trip around Europe and you’re not planning to hire a car, interrail, or use public transport then you’ll be getting around by air.
The one thing to consider is that airlines vary between countries, and unfortunately, that means many of the luggage allowances will be different too. The last thing you want is to pack 20kg for your first country, and then have to restrict your items later down the line.
Whether you’re planning a 6-month adventure through Europe or a 2-week trip, it’s always a good idea to jot some notes down on paper. This includes where you plan to visit and a rough idea of the activities you’d like to do.
This will help you figure out the things you need to pack for a trip to Europe. Likewise, you can always jot down your actual packing list to see if you’ve missed anything!
Unfortunately, overpacking your luggage is something that everyone does! It’s so easy to do, and the best way to counteract this is by packing your case and then removing at least a quarter of your clothes.
This may sound drastic but you’ll be under the luggage allowance this way, which means you’ll have room to bring back souvenirs and other cool things you’ve found on your trip.
As you can see there’s a lot of thought that goes into any Europe trip packing list!
It all depends on which country you’re visiting, when, and what activities you plan on doing (hiking, relaxing on the beach etc).
Hopefully, this guide has helped you plan out all the Europe packing essentials for your trip, and has given you some ideas of items that you may not have even thought of!
If you’ve found this guide helpful and you’re planning another trip, we’ve also got packing lists for plenty of other countries including Bali, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.
Not only that, but we've got a handy cruise packing list if you're planning to explore Europe that way (which is extremely popular).
For help planning the rest of your Europe adventure, here are some other guides you might find useful:
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