If you’re not a regular reader and found this article, these are my suggestions for what to pack to prepare for your European adventure. You’ll probably read dozens of these posts, and I wanted to add my two cents about my personal experiences. We were told to pack only a carry-on because we had short windows of time in airports and train stations, and I wasn’t interested in lugging around an overstuffed carry-on through three countries. We had two travel days and spent eight days in London, Paris, and Amsterdam in late March and early April, and we had pretty fantastic weather most of the trip. London and Paris were sunny and dry, but we did have an unexpected cold snap with rain in Amsterdam. Here’s what I packed and wore over our trip.
Depending on your trip itinerary, you could be walking 12-15 miles a day, so you’ll need to find what shoes work for you. I packed athletic shoes and flats. My roommates packed riding boots, booties, sneakers, and loafers. I would bring two pairs for everyday wear (to include one you wear on the plane) and a dressier pair for going out or a formal dinner.
A top and pants / bottoms for every three days
I packed two pairs of leggings and one pair of jeans and alternated a pair each day. I packed three t-shirts, a going out tops, and three layering sweaters. I also had clean undies for every day and an undershirt for every three days that I paired with one of the shirts. The only shirt I wore once was a going-out top that I wore our last night.
Three days is a good magic number for wearing clothes before they get too funky or dirty, especially if you alternate the days you wear clothes. The only exception is your underwear. Bring fresh ones for every day. Everyone will thank you. Wearing undershirts (even a simple camisole) can extend the freshness of your tops, especially if you visit tourist-heavy areas that get really hot.
I was really concerned about socks. I have really sweaty feet (gross, I know), so I researched what worked with to eliminate odor, maintain comfort, and prevent blisters. Several posts recommended Smart Wool, so I went out and bought them. I found them at Sierra Trading Post; these were production seconds but were fine for me. Other bloggers said these wash well in a hotel sink; I packed four pairs to maximize cleanness and reduce stinky socks. They were pretty comfy, and I had no blisters.
A lightweight sweater, jacket, or fleece
In addition to my layering sweaters, I tossed a fleece shell in my bag. I used the fleece on the planes, trains, and busses but didn’t need it in London or Paris. Amsterdam wound up being cold and rainy (the forecast changed after we left), so I wore a sweater and my fleece while we were there.
A waterproof shell
I threw this one in my stuff because we got to drive to Denver in a blizzard before our flight (like a genuine, they-closed-the-interstate blizzard), and I needed it that night in Colorado. It was perfect for keeping dry in the intermittent rain showers in Amsterdam. It was folded up small enough to pack in an outer pocket on my suitcase.
Despite your best efforts, you will probably be a bit funky by the end of your trip if you pack like I did and don’t do laundry. A small bottle of Febreze helps you feel fresh wearing a shirt on its last clean legs. Fun fact: tons of Europeans still smoke. If you go to any restaurant, club, or bar, expect to walk out smelling like an ashtray. Febreze really helps if you still have planned days to wear those outfits again and / or if you don’t enjoy smelling like said ashtray.
A separate outfit for plane rides
I wore a t-shirt and yoga pants on our flights to and from Europe and intentionally didn’t wear them during the trip. It was nice to have a cleaner option at the end of wearing three pairs of pants over ten days for a ten-hour flight back to the US, an hour-ish connection to Denver, and an hour and a half drive home.
What else would you include?