After years of travelling around Europe from country to country, I’ve pulled together a list of 21 Essential Travel Items for travelling in Europe. I love the process of packing, but it can be a hard slog, especially if you’re off on a trip which is longer than usual.
It can be stressful when you’re planning a weekend away, even more so if you’re planning to fly. What with organising accommodation, car/taxi hire, and currency, it can feel like forever before you can finally relax.
In light of this, we’ve compiled a small guide on some essential travel items to bring for a weekend away in Europe, encompassing everything from road trips to business travel, and we’re covering everything, from how to pack to the best travel accessories.
1. Backpack or Suitcase
My top essential travel item is of course a backpack or suitcase. Whether you’re backpacking around Europe, skiing in the Alps, or travelling for business you will be need something to keep some form of luggage. I often travel with hand luggage only, as it makes for a quick exit when I arrive in a country – however, if you are off on a trip that lasts more than a few days I’d recommend buying a light-weight mid-size suitcase with wheels, or a flexible backpack.
I’ve tried many suitcases and backpacks over the years and I am yet to decide on my favourite. I have tried Eastpak, Osprey, Caribee, Mountain Warehouse and many more. I use my Eastpak suitcase the most, and love how light it is and flexible.
Choosing clothing to take on a weekend away dramatically depends on your destination, your itinerary, and what the weather forecast will be like for the duration of your stay.
A general rule of thumb is to pack light, although we understand the urge to cram absolutely everything and anything in; however, what usually happens is that we either wear them once or we end up not wearing most of the things at all.
So the best way to go about packing is to pick items of clothing that you can re-use and incorporate into many different outfits. For instance, take jeans that you can dress down during the day with trainers and a t-shirt, but you can also dress up during the evening for a more refined look. Still, struggling to find something suitable?
Browse a variety of clothing at Luella that won’t dip into your weekend break funds. Another essential travel item!
3. Active Wear
I love to travel in active wear so end up bringing a kit with me anyway, but even if you don’t I would bring a pair of leggings and sports bra for those more adventurous activities on your travels through Europe. They’re also useful if you plan to go hiking or skiing for example and remember to also bring a good pair of trainers and /or hiking boots.
4. Walking Shoes
When you’re packing for Europe know that a good pair of comfortable walking shoes is important for getting around European cities. I usually go for a sporty trainer for city explorations and then a hiking boot for the more adventurous days. My favourite hiking boots are from Merrell.
Scarves are great for fall and winter in Europe, and they can also act as a blanket too for long bus journeys or when it gets colder in the winter months. A versatile item with many uses!
6. Swimming costume
If you’re heading off to Europe over the summer you’ll going to want to take your swimming costume. Whether you are paddleboarding in Greece, cliff jumping in Cyprus or sailing in the Mediterranean – you’ll want to pack some beach essentials in your packing list for Europe. Even if it’s not summertime in Europe it never hurts to have a swimsuit in your suitcase. I travel with two one piece swimsuits, one active costume and one nicer one for the beach.
7. Camera and memory card
And another BIG one for my list of the top 21 essential travel items is my trusty camera.
If you’re travelling around Europe, you’ll want a really great camera to record your memories. I’ve literally just bought a Canon G7X Mark II and its such a great camera. It’s lightweight, compact and takes amazing photos that are just as good as my bigger DSLR – Nikon 3300D.
The Canon G7X also doesn’t scream HEY LOOK AT ME I’M A TOURIST. And remember to get a big memory card for all the photos – I have a 64GB memory card since I take lots of photos and video.
8. Electrics, cords and plugs
European outlets are different from other countries, so before you travel, we recommend researching which plug converters you will need to make sure you can charge and operate your devices.
It might also be handy if you plan on taking many electronics to bring a small power strip, as these may not be provided at your accommodation, and you don’t want to run the risk of not being able to charge everything.
You can find out which adaptors you need by following this handy online guide.
I take this handy little action camera everywhere with me – every trip I take it’s in my pocket ready to point and shoot! They aren’t cheap but they do provide you with amazing footage, and shoot within seconds so you’ll never miss a moment!
10. Wireless Range Extender
If you need to be on-the-line like me a lot then I’d recommend getting yourself a wireless range extender for your travels. It is helpful for extending the range of the WiFi in your hotel, or hostel and it means you’ve got your own little link up to the outside world and won’t have to fight for the wifi again.
11. Travel documents and money
The most necessary items to bring with you while travelling are your tickets, travel documents and currency, especially if you are travelling by air.
Plan in advance and make copies of your airplane, train, bus tickets, and your accommodation confirmation. If needed, make sure you have all your travel insurance details and your debit/credit card plus cash in case of unforeseen events.
12. Guide Book
As a big fan of Marco Polo Travel Guides, I am constantly buying their books before a trip and a trip to Europe is no different. They’ve got loads of guide books for countries all over Europe, and they are easy to read, come with local insider tips and have a handy little map at the back for you to pull out and write over. I also use other travel blogs for inspiration for anything the guide book doesn’t provide me with!
13. Travel towels
Quick-dry travel towels are amazing if you’re staying in hostels during your trip to Europe. After eight years of travelling around the world, and staying in multiple hostels I have learned to never travel without one. They are light and fold up small, and can dry within one hour.
14. Water Bottle
Save the turtles bro! Always bring your own bottle with you when you travel to Europe – empty it before going through security though! I’ve never had a problem with the water in Europe, and it’s also saving the planet by buying less plastic bottles!
15. Toiletries and cosmetics
We’d suggest trying to take as few toiletries and cosmetics products as possibly can, especially if you’re flying, as this can add a surprising amount of weight to any bag and is a pain when going through airport security.
We suggest taking travel-sized amounts of product and recommend leaving behind shampoo/conditioner as, unless you’re going to a remote place, your accommodation should generally provide this. Failing that any convenience store should have these purchase necessities.
If you are bringing your own and staying in a hostel, we recommend using your own toiletry bag and potentially labelling your products. This will make it easier to organize everything and reduce the chances of anything getting stolen.
16. Packing cubes
I travel a lot and therefore I am constantly on the lookout for ways to make travelling less stressful and more enjoyable. I have recently used packing cubes for my trip to Australia and New Zealand and only a few weeks into the trip the two main cubes had alright ripped or the zip had broken.
Then on a recent trip to IKEA, I realised they had also started selling their version of a packing cube in their travel and IKEA family range. (They have also started selling suitcases, I am intrigued to see how they match up to higher-priced brands.) Read about my IKEA packing cubes.
My Travel Tips and Recommendations
To book flights, I always use flight search engine Skyscanner, I regularly use the Everywhere tool to find the cheapest places to travel. It’s how I get to travel so much all around the world. I find it the easiest way to compare flight prices across airlines and get the best deals.
For accommodation, I usually book most of my hotels or hostels through Booking.com. I love using this platform as it provides me with some amazing deals for accommodation all around the world. Or if you prefer, I also recommend using Airbnb.
Picking travel insurance that covers you in all eventualities is an essential part of planning a trip for every single person. If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. You never know what’s around the corner.
Did you know I also vlog my trips? Make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel so you get alerted when all my travel videos go live… CHECK THEM OUT HERE
Thank you for reading and as always happy adventuring! If you have any questions about the destination please leave these in the comments below.
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