Packing is an integral part of any trip. It is also really tedious and annoying – nobody likes having to go through their entire closet just to decide which clothes should go in their suitcase. And what we like even less is cleaning up that mess afterwards.
So, I’m here to help. I want to help you figure out exactly what you need to pack for your trip to Europe. I will give you the ultimate packing lists for both spring/summer and fall/winter, including lists for everything else you might need on your trip.
If you want to just see the lists, skip to the bottom of the page – the quick navigation can help you with that. But if you want to know how we got there, and everything else there is to know about packing for a 10-day trip to Europe, then just read on!
Before you start packing, you have to figure out several things about your trip. How are you getting there? Where are you staying? Do you need a Visa? Which countries are you going to visit? What do you want to see there?
All of this is going to impact what you actually need to pack, so let’s focus on the details first.
I think it’s really important to make at least an outline of an itinerary of what you want to do on your trip. It will let you stay organized, and if you follow the itinerary you will get to see everything you wanted.
It also helps to be prepared. By learning about the places you want to visit, you will know what you need to bring beforehand. Maybe you want to visit a specific museum and you will find out they don’t allow you to bring in cameras.
Or if you want to visit any religious buildings, you will know to bring a cover up and not to wear shorts that day.
Being prepared for these things will make your life easier, so make sure to do proper research before you start pulling out clothes from your closet.
Having the right kind of luggage is very important for your trip. I assume that we’re talking about a trip that is at least a week long, so you will need a large, checked bag. And your two best options are either a large backpack or a suitcase.
Backpacks are more convenient if you plan to constantly be on the move, and switch from one hotel to another. They are convenient if you don’t plan to stay in one place all the time because they are easier to carry around, and you don’t have to worry about steps, cobblestone streets etc.
But they are also heavy, bulky and not as good for organization as suitcases. If you’re wearing a 50+ liter backpack on your shoulders every single day for a week straight, you should expect pain and soreness.
I would generally recommend a large checked suitcase. They are better for organization and easier to maneuver around.
For air travel specifically, I would recommend a hardshell suitcase. Softshells are excellent for organization, but they are not as durable and they don’t handle being thrown around too well. Especially cheap softshells – there is a really good chance your suitcase will wind up on the luggage carousel looking like a sloppy joe, and I doubt you want that.
Polycarbonate hardside suitcase are the most convenient and durable option for air travel. Their shells won’t break too easily and they generally come with spinner wheels that take the pressure off your arms and make moving around the airport with a 32” suitcase a breeze.
I like to be prepared when I’m travelling, but I know that’s not true for everyone. Some people are comfortable going away without booking anything beforehand, and just doing things on the go. And I honestly admire those people – that is brave, spontaneous and can be really fun.
But, I would strongly advise you to at least check out your options and contact some people beforehand. And of course, booking accommodations in every place you plan to stay is the ideal scenario.
You also need to look into tickets for attractions you’re interested in. Some tourist tours tend to sell out really fast and require you to buy your tickets weeks in advance. If you want to be entirely sure you can stick to your itinerary, you need to do your due diligence.
I would also suggest you look into city passes – almost every big city in Europe has a city pass, and getting one can save you a lot of money. They usually include discounted or free tickets to museums, public transportation and some of the most popular tourist attractions in that city.
If you intend of travelling from one city to another, I recommend you buy those tickets in advance. Especially if you’re flying – it will be cheaper and you’ll avoid the possibility of not being able to get a ticket.
If you want to travel via train or bus, then you can be a bit more flexible since those tickets don’t usually sell out too fast.
Are you staying in the same place at the same time, or are you going to explore different countries?
If you’re staying in the same place the entire trip, you want to check what the weather is going to be like, and then pack accordingly. But if you’re travelling around different countries, then you need to be packed for contingencies.
I’m not saying pack half of your winter wardrobe in the summer, but bring a hoodie and a lightweight jacket just in case.
In addition to that, another thing you need to consider is your travel style. Do you plan to walk around museums, go to parties or explore the national parks? The shoes and clothes you bring are going to heavily depend on what you plan to be doing on your trip, which is why you need to make a detailed itinerary beforehand.
How many times did you pack items for a trip that you never even took out of the suitcase? That’s what you want to avoid when you’re packing for Europe. Especially if you’re going away for 10-15 days, and you need to bring along lots of clothes.
There are lots of different ways to approach packing; something that people usually recommend you do is plan out outfits and then pack accordingly. I’m not going to tell you to do that – the weather can be unpredictable, you might not feel like wearing what you’ve planned out or it might not be appropriate for where you are going.
Instead, I’m going to tell you to try and create a capsule wardrobe for your trip. A capsule wardrobe consists only of the essentials, and it includes items that can all be combined and worn together. This usually includes solid colors, and very little prints. And this is going to make your life so much easier.
When you have a suitcase full of clothes that you can mix and match, it’s never going to be stressful to create an outfit. This is going to save you time in getting ready to go out, and you will always look put together and well dressed. And you can always add a pop of color to your outfit with some accessories or makeup.
You can add prints to a capsule wardrobe in the form of a dress or jumpsuit – these are items that can be worn on their own, and can easily be combined with solid color shoes, cardigans and jackets.
I am one of those people that can pack two pairs of jeans and five t-shirts and be okay with clothes for a week. But I will also pack 15 pairs of travel underwear and about 10 pairs of socks, just in case.
So, this is the only scenario in which I am not going to tell you to be sensible and pack lightly. Nobody likes having to wash their undies and socks in the hotel sink because they ran out, so feel free to pack as much as you need and then some extras. But still don’t go too crazy – think about what you want to wear.
I would generally recommend that you pack one pair of underwear for everyday you’re going to be there, plus 2-3 extra pairs just in case. And when it comes to socks, I’d say 5 pairs are enough for a week or even 10 days. Especially if you’re also going to pack sandals, flip flops or other footwear that you don’t really need to wear with socks.
If you are one of those people that packs a toothbrush in their toiletry bag and says “I’m done”, you should skip this section. But if you’re someone who has no idea which products to pack and which to leave at home, then I think I can help you with that.
The amount of toiletries you need is going to depend on your morning/night skincare routine. Of course you should bring all products that you use every day, but you don’t need to bring full sizes of them.
Even if you don’t own travel-sizes, it is fine. You can always buy those 3-ounce TSA toiletry packs and then pour your favorite shampoo, shower gel and face wash in them. That way you’re ensuring you will have enough product for your trip, without having to carry huge bottles that you don’t really need.
Let me start with a disclaimer: if you’re someone who wears very little makeup, then you can probably skip this part. But, if you enjoy playing with makeup and want to do full looks while you’re travelling, you’re going to need some help deciding what to pack. And this section is perfect for you.
Make sure to pack your makeup after you’ve finished packing your clothes and accessories. That way, you will have an idea which colors you need to pack, and which need to stay at home.
When packing your makeup for a trip, palettes are going to be your best friend. And not just eyeshadow palettes – blush palettes, highlighter palettes, contouring palettes etc. They are sleek, lightweight and usually feature several products, which allows you to create loads of different looks.
Pick an eyeshadow palette of at least 12 shadows, and you will be able to create a different look every single day of your trip. And if you don’t have 25 different singles to choose from, it’s going to be much faster to decide what kind of look you are going for.
Oh, and try and pick a palette that has a shade you can use to fill in your brows – this is awesome for doing makeup on the go, and it will save you some serious time in your makeup routine. Just fill your brows in with a little shadow, and you can avoid packing about 5 different brow products.
What about lipsticks? I would stay stick with the classics – a red, a nude and a bright pink are all you need to create amazing day and night looks. Three colors total – not three glosses, three mattes, three liquid lipsticks etc. One favorite formula of each color is all you need.
You don’t really need lip pencils – use a small brush to contour your lips with the lipstick before applying it, and it will look perfect every time.
Deciding which brushes to pack is harder than deciding which makeup to pack, I guarantee that. You can bring an eyeshadow palette with 20 different shades, but you can’t pack a brush that does 20 different things. Well, you almost can.
A Beauty Blender or any kind of makeup sponge is going to be your best friend during your trip. You can use it to apply your entire face – foundation, concealer, blend out any liquid product, bake your under-eyes and set your face. You can even use it for contouring if you use cream products that blend easily.
And you can always highlight with your finger – this will allow you to be more precise with where you apply the product, and you can then easily blend it out with the sponge.
But there’s no such applicator for eye makeup. There are some essentials that you can’t go without – a detail brush, an eyeliner brush, a crease brush etc. But you can do the better part of your eyelids with your fingers – if you haven’t tried this already, go ahead and do it immediately.
Metallics and shimmers apply the best with your fingers, even better than with a wet brush. And it’s insanely easy to blend them out. So, technically, you already have 10 brushes on your body, wherever you go.
You will need a decent bag that you can carry your stuff in everyday. A backpack is usually the most convenient option, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for everyone. Big cities in Europe are notorious for pickpockets, especially if you plan to ride public transportation.
It might be a good idea to get an anti-theft backpack – those are generally the safer option and can give you some sense of security about your stuff. In addition to that, I would always recommend carrying your backpack kangaroo-style, just to be on the safe side.
If you don’t want to take a backpack, then a travel tote or a messenger bag is a good option. I would recommend one larger tote/backpack and one smaller crossbody bag. That way you have options – if you need to take a lot of items with you when you go out, use the big bag. And if not, use the smaller bag.
Think about the things that you actually need – never carry all your valuables on you, and I would recommend leaving your most valuable items at home. In case your bag gets stolen, you will feel much better knowing that your passport is safe at home, and you won’t have to go to the embassy and deal with buroceatics.
I did not forget about loungewear. It is an essential part of any wardrobe, and very important for your trip. You need clothes that you can wear around your apartment and while you’re getting ready. Something that you feel comfortable in and that you don’t have to worry about staining.
This type of clothes is different for everyone. For some of you, it’s your pyjamas. For others, it’s a pair of sweatpants and a comfy cotton t-shirt. Or it’s a pair of leggings in a tank top.
I would recommend that you bring two pairs of bottoms and two tops of your favorite loungewear. I reckon you can get about three days from a pair, provided that you don’t stain it. And then you can switch to the other pair – if you think you’ll need more, just pack an additional top or two.
Which accessories are essential to you on a daily basis? Pack only the items that you can’t leave the house without, and you’ll be fine on your vacation. Maybe it’s your favorite shawl or your favorite pair of sunglasses – feel free to pack both. It will allow you to spice up your outfits a little, and help you feel more comfortable in unknown cities.
Jewellery is a tough topic. Everyone has a preference of what they like to wear – some people can’t even sleep without their earrings, and others don’t even have their ears pierced. I’m one of those people that can’t leave their home without a watch, so I would probably pack three different watches and zero earrings.
But that’s just me. I can’t tell you precisely what jewellery you should pack, but I can tell you to not go overboard. And I would recommend that you leave any insanely expensive items at home. Jewellery can easily get lost or overlooked, and it’s better to lose a cheap necklace you liked, than your favorite necklace you spent a fortune on.
Bring jewellery pieces that you can easily mix and match, and you don’t need more than 2-3 pieces of each thing. Try to stick with a theme – if most accents on the clothes you’re packing are gold, then pack gold jewellery. If they’re silver, go with silver. And if it’s a mixture of both, then go for one pair of everything in each color.
There are two types of people – those who leave their laptop at home when they go away, and those who can’t go out for coffee without their laptop. If you’re the first type, then you’re going to need very little electronics – your smartphone, a charger and maybe a camera.
If you’re the second type, then you need to make sure that you have the appropriate plug adapters for all your tech. Countries in Europe usually use a type C electrical plug, and most appliances run on 220V. If you are from the US, you will need plug adapters – if most of your electronics are by Apple, then I strongly recommend you get their World Travel Adapter Kit. It’s pretty cheap, and it has all the adapters you will need not just for Europe, but for everywhere else in the world.
When deciding which electronics you need to pack, think about what you use most often. Obviously pack your laptop and your phone, and maybe your tablet. And chargers for all of them. But do you really need your Kindle? You can always read a book (if you even have the time) on the iPad. The same goes for gaming consoles – you can survive for a week without your Nintendo or your Xbox, so leave those at home. You will barely have the time to turn them on anyway.
What about your camera? I would say that’s a must, especially if you love taking photos. It will let you document your entire trip, and you’ll have some really cool photos for your Instagram. But you don’t need to bring every single lens you own – limit yourself to a wide angle lens and a good versatile lens. I personally pack two – an 18-55mm VR lens for most shots, and an 18-135mm for capturing things that are far away.
Think about it – you’re going to be in Auto most of the time anyway, since you won’t have the time to adjust settings for every single photo you take. And you’re still going to take lots of shots with your phone, because it is easier and more convenient.
I would advise against bringing your drone – it is bulky, heavy to carry around everywhere, and chances are it’s going to spend most of the time in your hotel room anyway. Unless you’re a pro at using it and are positive you will be taking some stunning footage with it, it can stay at home.
The list I’m recommending is based on the idea of a capsule travel wardrobe. If you pack items that you can mix and match, you will have enough outfits for your entire trip without having to wash anything.
I would also recommend picking the basis of your travel wardrobe – that one item you know you’re going to be wearing more often than the rest. It might be your favorite skirt, your favorite pair of jeans or even sneakers. And then make sure that you can match everything in your suitcase with that item – it is going to make your life much easier.
Of course, what you actually pack is going to depend a lot on your personal style. One list can never fit all, but it can be a good guideline how to optimize your approach to packing. If you wear skirts and dresses much more often than pants, then just swap out the recommended numbers.
This list is ideal for a 7-10 day trip. If you’re staying longer, I would recommend adding more tops and dresses. I have included some optional items – jumpsuits and overalls are a must for some people, while high heels and dress shoes are essential if you plan on dressing up and going out.
That covers the basics of your European wardrobe. One more piece of advice I’m going to give you is don’t worry about not packing enough clothes. Chances are you’re going to go shopping on your trip, and come home with more items that you originally brought. And nothing’s stopping you from wearing those items, or buying something in case you desperately need it.
You also need to pack underwear and accessories, so here’s that list:
Winter clothes are heavier, bulkier and take up a lot of space in your suitcase. So, the best tip I can give you for travelling in winter is to wear all your bulkiest clothes on the plane. That way your coat will not take up half of your suitcase, and you might actually be able to get away with just one.
Another piece of advice I can give you is to invest in a really warm winter jacket. Something that you can wear over a light shirt and still be warm. With a great jacket, you don’t have to pack too many bulky sweaters, and you will have more space in your suitcase.
Some accessories are crucial for European winters – you don’t want to leave the house without a beanie, scarf and a pair of gloves. You will also need to pack more socks, and a thick pair of tights, if you plan on wearing dresses or skirts. And long-johns, if you want to survive European winters without experiencing hypothermia.
Travel insurance is another really important thing you have to consider. Especially if you’re going on a long trip.
There’s always a chance something can go wrong – your bag could get stolen, you can break a leg or get sick. Or the airline could lose your suitcase and everything you packed in it. And your life is going to be much easier if you don’t have to deal with those situations on your own.
You should insure all your electronics, for worst case scenarios. And you need to get health insurance – even if you catch the cold, it’s going to be reassuring knowing that you can visit the doctor and not worry about fees. And in case of a nasty accident, travel insurance could save you thousands of dollars.
I’m not going to go into too much details about travel insurance here, since it would take up way too much space. But, you can check out a pretty detailed post I did earlier – it contains everything you need to know about insurance for travellers.
When you’re out and about exploring foreign cities, you should always have some snacks and a water bottle in your bag. Especially if you’re travelling to Europe in the summer – in the recent weeks, Europe has had some record breaking high temperatures. And they get higher each year, so going out in the middle of the day in August without a water bottle is not a good idea.
Neither is skipping breakfast – you might think you’ll be fine on coffee, but I guarantee you that you won’t. Always pack a banana or a protein bar in your bag, for a quick burst of energy in case you start to feel faint or sick. And in temperatures that exceed 40 degrees Celsius, that’s going to happen more often than you think.
Obviously you need to pack any medicine that you have to take regularly. I would also recommend packing some aspirin and ibuprofen, just in case. They can help you get over a cold quickly or recover from a nasty hangover.
You also need to check if you need prescriptions for any medicine you plan on taking with you. That way you can avoid having your medicine confiscated at the airport.
Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.