Budget Travel

Packing Tips for Your Trip to Europe

A blonde woman with a ponytail wears a green backpack and walks through the woods

By Anne McCarthy

It’s the time of year when people are looking ahead to spring and summer travel and booking their big trips for this year and beyond! While you’re daydreaming about your next trip, here are some practical and fun packing tips and suggestions to consider as you’re preparing your suitcase or backpack for your next voyage.

And if you’re heading to Europe this year, be sure to visit us at Fat Tire Tours. We operate bike tours, walking tours, museum tours, food tours, and more in cities like Paris, London, Berlin, Munich, Barcelona, Milan, Rome, and Florence. We would love to show you around these cities with an expert Fat Tire Tours guide showing you the highlights of these European gems. Book your tour with Fat Tire Tours today!

If you’re traveling to Europe next year, in 2025, be sure to read our blog post about the documentation Americans will need to travel to Europe in 2025. As that post details, in 2025, there will be a new system called the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) and it’s an entry requirement for visa-exempt nationals (like U.S. citizens), and it’s linked to a traveler’s passport.

Now, on to the fun stuff. Here are some of our favorite packing tips for your European trip.

Plan for Tech Success: Adapters, Chargers, and More


We live in an interconnected world where almost everyone you know has a cell phone. Remember, in Europe, the outlets are different than they are in the U.S. You will need an adapter to charge your phone, your laptop and use your American blow dryer.

If you purchase a universal power adapter, that will get the job done, and you can use it from country to country. (The UK and France, for instance, while they are both countries in Europe, they have different outlet configurations. This is where a universal adapter comes in handy.)

You may also want to pack a small portable charger that you can use on the go to charge your phone. They even make portable chargers as small as a tube of lipstick, so you can stick it in your carry-on and not feel like it’s taking up valuable packing real estate space.

Plan for Safety: Neck Wallets, Money Belts, and More


As is the case in any big city, all over the world, large, metropolitan areas––particularly in areas that attract lots of tourists­­––can be a hotbed for pickpockets looking to nick your things. Keep yourself safe by wearing a hidden money belt, or a neck wallet that you can wear around your neck.

Consider bodily safety, too, particularly if you’re a solo female traveler or someone from a targeted demographic, et al. Keeping yourself safe––even if the lengths to which you go feel a bit silly or ridiculous––is always worth the extra effort. You might consider traveling with a whistle or a small canister of pepper spray or a noise alert bracelet.

If you’re traveling on your own, make smart decisions and don’t take unnecessary risks. Consider sharing your location with your loved ones, via your phone, while you’re traveling.

Plan for Changing Weather: Pack Raincoats, Umbrellas, Jackets, and Sunglasses


Traveling around Europe is delightful, rain, snow, or shine. (Though, I will argue that it’s significantly more delightful in the sunshine with warmer weather.) Even during summer, you may have chilly nights or downpours. And even during winter, you could be blessed with sunny days that require your coolest shades.

Pack for all temperature occasions because you never know what the weather might send your way. This said, even if you’re without a sweatshirt on a cold day, never fear––in many major European cities, there’s always an H&M not too far away where you can buy an affordable jacket or sweatshirt. And regardless of what the weather forecast says, always pack a small travel umbrella! You may also consider bringing a poncho if you’re headed to places notorious for their rainy days, like England and Ireland.

While you’re packing, you might consider using packing cubes. These make planning outfits and keeping items separated and organized delightfully easy.

Plan for Consumerism: Or, Stash an Empty Bag for Your Shopping Adventures!


Let’s be real; one of the best things about going to an art museum is checking out the gift shop. While traveling in Europe, you’ll come across some amazing gift shops, tempting department stores, incredible shops on small, tucked-away streets, and lots of gorgeous bookstores, too. (Heading to London? Check out our posts on the 9 Best Bookstores in London, and also our post called The Fashion Lover’s Shopping Guide to London.)

If you’re like me, and you like to do some shopping while traveling, pack a collapsible empty bag in your suitcase, like a duffle bag or a canvas tote, that you can use to carry your shopping items and souvenirs on the way home. Just be mindful of the carry-on restrictions on your flight back (i.e., if you’re allowed a small personal item and a carry-on bag, budget for that allocation when it comes to your packing).

Plan for Hydration: Pack a Reusable Water Bottle


All that sightseeing and walking around will certainly have you feeling thirsty at times. Stash a reusable water bottle in your travel backpack if you don’t want to buy bottles of water on your trip. Note that drinking fountains are not as common in Europe as they are in the U.S., so if you’re someone who gets thirsty regularly, pack your water bottle to avoid any frustrations.

Plan for Magic Moments: Bring a Glamorous Dress or Suit


One of the beauties of travel is the spontaneous and unexpected moments that arise during the journey. You never know when you might need to have a glam look at the ready.

Perhaps you bump into someone who has two free extra tickets to the opera for that night. What to do then? As the saying goes: prior preparation prevents poor performance. Don’t let your trip “performance” suffer by being unprepared. Bring the dress, pack the suit, and prepare yourself for unexpected magical moments that require a bit of an elevated look.

Plan for Creativity and Inspiration: Journals, Books, and Music


One of the best things about traveling is getting “lost” in a new place. Not really lost, per se, because that’s not usually fun, but losing yourself in a magical place and soaking it all up. In between your adventurous bike tours, your museum tours, your sightseeing, and your picture-taking, make time and room in your schedule for the slower moments of savoring the culture of the place you’re traveling.

Post up in a café with the book you stuck in your suitcase and sip on a warm latte or a crisp glass of wine. Savor the feeling of finding a shaded bench in one of Europe’s many gorgeous parks and pull out your journal from your backpack to make some notes about your experiences and reflect on the takeaways from your trip. Best of all, pop in your headphones, cue up your favorite beats, and get lost in the centuries-old streets of Europe.

Anne McCarthy
 is the Editor in Chief of the Fat Tire Tours Blog. She is a contributing writer to the BBC, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Wired, and many more. She splits her time between the U.S. and Europe.

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