European Travel

How to Travel to Europe: A Packing Checklist for First-Timers

Summer is almost here, and the travel forecast is heating up. Over the last two years, most people have stayed home or limited their travel. 

But this year’s travel numbers are almost as high as they were in 2019. Travelers are taking their passports out of storage and flying the friendly skies. 

Many travelers are going abroad for the first time, and Europe is the prime destination. 

If you’re traveling to Europe this summer, we have your packing guide right here. We’ll show you how to travel to Europe in style while still being practical. You may also save money on those annoying excess baggage fees. 

And we’ll include some helpful tips you might not find in another international travel guide.

Where’s Your Passport?

Your passport is like gold when you’re traveling. Without it, you can’t board your flight, you can’t leave your destination airport, and you can’t check into a European hotel. Passport placement always needs to be at the top of your packing checklist. 

First, make photocopies of your passport’s information page. Leave one copy with your emergency contact and keep the other copies in your luggage. Use your phone to snap a photo of the information page and any entry and exit stamps. 

Some people prefer to keep their passport on their person. Some prefer to keep it in their carry-on bag. Regardless, do not put it in your checked luggage. 

Tip: Always keep your passport in a protective cover. A damaged passport is an invalid passport!

Packing Your Carry-On 

Flights to Europe can be long, so you’ll want to be comfortable on the plane. You also need to have everything important and valuable in the cabin with you.

Electronics, earbuds, and at least one charger per device need to go in your carry-on. You’ll also want to carry your wallet, cash, and credit cards on the plane. Any medication also needs to be in your carry-on.

Don’t forget to pack a complete change of clothes and travel-sized toiletries in your carry-on. You might want to freshen up before you land, or the airline might lose your luggage. 

Either way, you’ll be prepared.

Tip: Keep your phone, a book, earbuds, and a snack in a small bag under the seat in front of you. You might not be able to access the overhead bin during your flight.  

Take Your Medicine 

If you take any prescription medication be certain, you have enough to last for the entire trip. If you can, talk to your doctor beforehand. Let them know how long you’ll be gone so they can write another prescription if necessary. 

Keep all prescription meds in their original pharmacy packaging. Bring documentation showing the medicine’s generic name. Many countries in Europe only distribute generic medication. 

If you take supplements or over-the-counter medication it’s wise to bring those too. This prevents you from wasting time in a foreign pharmacy when all you need is something for a headache. 

Tip: Tylenol is called paracetamol in Europe. 

Pack for Four Seasons

Most of Europe is much farther north than the United States. This means more summer daylight hours, but it can also mean weather fluctuations. You’ll want to be prepared.

Pack at least one jacket, preferably one that doubles as a raincoat. Bring at least one pair of pants or leggings and one long-sleeved shirt. And don’t forget one pair of cozy socks. 

If you get caught in a chilly downpour you’ll be so grateful for those socks when you get back to your hotel.

Tip: If you need to pack wet shoes, wrap them in your hotel’s shower cap first!

Bring Clothes That Go From Day to Night 

When deciding what to pack for international travel you might think about multiple outfit changes per day. If you have someone to carry your many bags, great! If you’re limiting your luggage you’ll need to be more practical. 

Do you have a comfy dress you’d love to wear while exploring the coastline of Italy during the day? Dress it up for evening cocktails with a cute belt and jewelry. Add a blazer or cardigan to your T-shirt and jeans before you hit the club. 

Practice styling your outfits before you leave home to save time and precious space. 

Tip: Your beach sarong can double as an evening shawl! 

Choose Your Shoes Wisely

Your choice of shoes might be the most important choice on your Europe packing checklist. You want to be comfortable while you explore Europe’s museums, parks, and beaches. 

Will you be wandering the city streets of Denmark? You’ll need shoes that can withstand cobblestones. Hiking in the French Alps will require an entirely different pair of shoes. 

Even if your itinerary isn’t fully planned look at some photos of the areas you might visit. This will give you an idea of the types of shoes you’ll need. 

Tip: European shoe sizes are different. Add 31 to your US size for the best fit! 

Don’t Forget Outlet Adapters 

There’s nothing worse than arriving at your hotel to find you can’t plug in any of your US electronics! 

European power outlets are Type C and are not compatible with the Type A and Type B plugs found in the USA. Outlet adapters are available at most hardware stores in the United States or online. Many adapters feature USB and USB C ports as well. 

And don’t worry about frying your electronics on Europe’s 220 volts. Most modern devices are dual voltage. 

Tip: If you need a phone charger in a hurry, check with the front desk at your hotel. Other guests leave them behind all the time! 

How to Travel to Europe Like a Pro

Now that you’ve simplified your packing checklist, do you feel like you know how to travel to Europe? Packing well is key, but so is having the time of your life. Have fun, stay safe, and keep traveling.

Are you ready to plan your next trip? Click here to get started!