Traveling to Europe and wondering what to pack? Here are a few tips…


When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.” – Susan Heller 

Packing to travel overseas can be a sort of guessing game—particularly if you are like me and have the “outfit for every occasion”  mentality!  Add to that the “shoes for every outfit” dilemma and you have quickly exceeded your fifty pound weight limit!  Alas, what’s a girl (or guy) to do??  I admit that I am what might be considered high-maintenance—meaning that if I don’t have the “right stuff” I tend to be a bit tetchy.  If for no other reason than that, I seriously doubt that I will ever successfully pare my packing list down enough to fit all of my things into a rucksack—as was suggested by the owner of the B&B where I stayed in Wicklow, Ireland.  I am continually evaluating and reconsidering what to pack and what to leave stateside.  So, here is my list of “never leave home without” items for the UHMM…ultra high maintenance model!  (Everything else is negotiable.)

  • Toiletries and cosmetics (no cutting corners here except to transfer all necessary items to travel-size containers, which are then packed in a hanging toiletry kit)
  • Travel hairdryer, dual voltage flat iron, hair clip, hair care products, shower cap, microfabric hair towel, small mirror, washcloths (I buy the cheap ones and either dispose of them or leave them behind.  I seldom run across a washcloth in European hotels.)
  • Prescription medications, pain reliever, heartburn/upset stomach meds, lip balm, antihistamine cream, insect repellent, sunscreen, wipes, hand sanitizer, bandages
  • Reading glasses, sunglasses, earbuds, small sewing kit, small scissors (pack with toiletries and not in carry-on…if you want to keep them!), eye mask, tissue, plastic baggies
  • Cell phone, charging cord, power adapter travel charger
  • Camera, camera bag, memory cards, extra battery, charger, downloading cord
  • Laptop and/or tablet, flash drive (to download and/or back up photos each night)
  • Passport, airline tickets, event tickets/itineraries, insurance and credit card contact information, guidebooks/maps, international driver’s license (when renting a car), trip journal, small notepad, pens/pencils, back-up copies of all important documents (to be kept separately—usually in hotel safe)
  • Credit cards (two, because experience has taught me to have a back-up), money, theft-resistant money belt or travel wallet
  • Daypack (with theft-deterrent features), backpack, small umbrella, luggage scale, small padlocks and keys, water bottle
  • Lightweight fleece blanket (I use this on the plane and also at night for a little extra warmth when needed)
  • Jacket (I lucked out and found the perfect hooded puffer jacket at Heatons in Wicklow…wish I had bought a second one!  It is lightweight, packable, water-resistant, and provides just the right amount of warmth, whatever the temperature.)
  • Comfortable walking shoes, walking sandals (or boots, if winter), socks
  • Sleepwear, underwear
  • Jeans, slacks, capri or ankle pants (for summer—plus shorts, if you prefer), wrinkle-free black skirt
  • Fleece jacket, Hoodies, cardigans, interchangeable t-shirts and tanks, wrinkle-free blouse (or two)
  • Inexpensive accessories (I leave my wedding set at home and wear a simple silver band purchased from James Avery)
  • Scarves (usually 2), gloves, and hat for winter travel; a swimsuit during summer

Your packing list will vary based on your destination, the length of your stay, and the season.  (Side note:  Always expect the unexpected and pack at least one outfit for the opposite season! The weather forecast for Italy was off by at least twenty degrees when we visited…big difference!)  Also, if you are camping or staying in a hostel, additional items may be necessary for your comfort.  I generally stay in hotels and/or B&Bs, so can count on having access to the basics—bath soap, towels, shampoo, and such.

Here are links to other travel sites/blogs with informative packing list suggestions:

Feel free to share your thoughts on packing in the comments!

Oh…and invariably, I end up wishing I had packed half as much stuff and taken twice as much money!  Happy packing, fellow wanderers!!