Planning a trip to Europe? Here are 15 essential items you need to pack

So you’ve booked your dream tour and organised your flights… Now you need to pack! Europe is a massive continent with all kinds of different climates, cultures and landscapes. So where do you start? From what to wear in Europe to gadgets and medical essentials, here is our guide to everything you need to pack when planning a trip to Europe.

1. Versatile clothing

Europe has a reputation for being fashionable, from the minimalist clothing of Scandinavia to the elegant style of the Mediterranean. While you don’t need to walk around in haute couture, you also shouldn’t wear sloppy clothing or gym wear everyday. If you want to blend in and be comfortable, go for casual yet refined options. So what exactly do you wear in Europe? 

In general, go for versatile layers that can take you from day to night. For example, you can wear dark wash jeans, a light t-shirt and sneakers during the day, then dress it up with a nice jacket, accessories and sandals by night. Or, go for trousers, dresses or skirts that can easily be dressed up or down. Of course, what you wear in Europe will change depending on the season (it can go from blazing hot summers to freezing snowy winters), but in any season, remember to pack light and choose layers you can mix and match. 

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tulip garden Keukenhof Gardens Netherlands

2. Comfortable shoes

Although you’ll want to blend in with the stylish locals, the top priority is comfort when you’re planning a trip to Europe. You’ll be walking a lot, often on bumpy cobbled streets or hillsides, so you’ll need a comfortable pair of shoes to carry you through your trip.

Depending on the weather, that may be sneakers or sturdy sandals, or you may need hiking boots if you plan to hit the Alps. It’s also good to bring sandals or flip-flops for lounging by the pool or the beach. Whatever shoes you bring, make sure you break them in before you leave to avoid any nasty blisters.

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Neuschwanstein Castle rising out of the forested mountains Germany

3. Accessories

When you’ve got minimal clothing options, accessories are a great way to jazz up an outfit. You can pack light, colourful scarves, hair ties, hats and sunglasses, or throw on some jewellery (don’t bring any expensive stuff) like earrings, necklaces, bracelets or even use belts to stand out and complete your look.

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blue ocean cliffside Greece planning a trip to Europe

4. Sun protection

Whether you’re travelling in summer, winter or somewhere in between, you always need to bring sun protection for your trip to Europe. Bring a hat, sunglasses and plenty of high SPF sunscreen.

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5. Rain protection

You also need to consider the rain when planning a trip to Europe. Come prepared in any season with a raincoat, small travel umbrella or rain poncho.

red cottages by the ocean northern lights norway

6. Day bags

When you’re planning your trip to Europe, you’ll probably want to dedicate most days to sightseeing and different activities. Since you’ll spend so much time out and about, you’ll need a secure bag to hold all your daily essentials like your water bottle, sunscreen and camera. Whether you bring a backpack or cross-body bag, make sure it’s lightweight, waterproof, theft-proof and has plenty of pockets. For the evenings, you might like to bring a smaller bag or purse.

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7. Toiletries

Your toiletries are up to you, but we always recommend pouring your products like shampoo and moisturiser into smaller, reusable travel bottles, to save space and produce less waste. If you don’t want to bring a bunch of liquids (that always seem to explode in your bag), you can try solid toiletries, like shampoo, soap, moisturiser and deodorant bars and toothpaste tabs. It’s also handy to bring a hanging toiletry bag to make it easier to reach in the bathroom.

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canal gondolas historic buildings Venice Italy

8. Medical kit

While you can usually find everything you need once you arrive, it’s always useful to bring a small medical kit when planning a trip to Europe. You’ll firstly need to pack any prescription medication you need and bring enough for your whole trip.

Other handy items include hand sanitiser, painkillers, electrolytes, antiseptic ointment and bandaids, eye drops, insect repellent and travel sickness tablets. If you’re a light sleeper, bring earplugs and an eye mask. Be sure to consult your doctor for specific travel health advice for your trip.

dog perched in front of blue Oeschinen Lake and mountains Switzerland

9. Reusable water bottle

You can help reduce plastic waste and save money by bringing your own reusable water bottle. You can refill it in destinations where it’s safe to drink the tap water, or use the filtered water at your hotel, or drinking fountains and refill stations found across Europe.

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10. Smartphone or camera

This is one of the most essential items on anyone’s list when planning a trip to Europe. From the icons like the Eiffel Tower and the Colosseum to the magical landscapes like the Swiss Alps and Amalfi Coast, you’ll want to take hundreds of stunning photos on your Europe adventure. Whether you use your smartphone camera or bring a separate SLR camera, make sure you bring extra memory cards, chargers and waterproof cases

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Tower Bridge in London by night

11. Travel adaptor and power strip

Speaking of gadgets – you can’t leave home without a travel adaptor. Check the plug type and voltage of the destination you’re visiting before you go, or bring along a universal travel adaptor if you’re visiting multiple countries with different plug types.

If you have a lot of electronics, or you’re travelling with other people, a power strip is very handy. You can charge everything at once, or if you only have one outlet in your room, you won’t be fighting over who gets to use it first!

waterfall green landscapes Iceland

12. Entertainment for the road

When you’re planning a trip to Europe, you’ll probably have some long plane rides or coach journeys. Come prepared with some light entertainment like headphones to listen to music, or an e-reader stocked with books. While paperbacks are great, they can be very heavy, which isn’t ideal when you need to pack light.

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13. Sealable bags

It’s always a good idea to bring a few waterproof, sealable bags. They can be small dry bags or toiletry bags, and they’re great for storing wet clothes, liquid containers to prevent spillage, or valuables like your passport, cash or phone. 

Eiffel Tower Paris planning a trip to Europe

14. Money

When you’re planning a trip to Europe with Trafalgar, most of your expenses will be covered before you go, including hotels, transport and some activities and meals. But you’ll still need to bring some extra money for things like souvenirs and extra activities or meals. We recommend bringing your debit and credit cards, and some extra local cash. UK pounds and euros will get you across most of Europe, however you’ll need to check your specific destinations for their local currency.

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15. Important documents

You probably won’t leave home without your important documents like your passport and visa (we hope!), but you should also bring photocopies of these documents. In the unfortunate event you lose or damage your documents, the photocopies will be very useful in getting replacements or important information. We recommend bringing copies of your passport, visas, travel insurance and any tickets. It’s also handy to write down local emergency numbers on a small card and keep it in your bag on your trip.

Are you planning a dream trip to Europe? What essentials will you pack for Europe? Let us know in the comments below!

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