With airline carry-on size allotments shrinking and checked baggage fees soaring, every little bit of luggage space counts. And, packing for a trip to Europe can be a balancing act between bringing the necessities while not using precious space for non-essentials. Our packing advice for women: sort through your must-take travel items, taking only what you will really need, while leaving what you don’t need behind. And don’t forget to pack these essential Travel Accessories that our Travel Experts recommend!
Europe Packing Advice for Women
Bring a Neutral Wardrobe
There’s a reason the “little black dress” is still a wardrobe staple over several decades; it, and its friends–the white shirt, the tailored black pant–can be worn in such a variety of ways that they can pull double or even triple duty in your travel wardrobe. A little black dress can be worn several times and several ways, from casual at the beach to dressy for dinner, depending on how you style it. A plain white tee or breezy linen tunic can go from night (dressed up with tailored pants and some statement jewelry) to sightseeing with jeans the next day. Keep in mind that Europeans dress up more, especially in the cities.
Add in a few more basics depending on your destination–a few neutral sweaters or cardigans, a dark-colored jumpsuit, a pair of dark jeans–and you’ll have several items you can use to make a dozen different outfits.
Sheer fabrics take up very little space but look very stylish and can be worn with casual outfits or dressed up. They’re a no-brainer for warm destinations, but they can work well in cooler climes as well. Bring a variety of sheer shirts that you can mix and match with just a few cardigans or blazers. Each outfit will look different but your carryon will have less bulk.
Pack your carry-on with necessities
Whether you’re carrying on all your luggage or just checking a larger bag, always bring a smaller carry-on packed with things you can’t afford to lose: prescription medication, glasses, your passport and wallet, phone and electronics, any required paperwork, and any valuables or items you’d be devastated to lose.
While there’s no need to bring a medicine cabinet’s supply of over-the-counter meds for any and all scenarios, you should, of course, bring prescription meds with you, but don’t pack them in a checked bag that may be lost. And always bring enough for a few days beyond the length of your trip in case of any delays, or in case you drop or lose any pills.
A few colorful accessories
With a suitcase full of basics and neutrals, a few statement pieces in bright colors or prints can add a pop while still mixing in with the other items you’ve brought. For example, a colorful button-up shirt can be layered over a jumpsuit, belted over a dress, or worn with any neutral pants, skirt, or shorts. Statement jewelry–chunky necklaces, large earrings, colorful bracelets–do the same without adding bulk to your bag.
Nothing dresses up an outfit, makes the same outfit look different, or has more practical uses than a scarf. I always travel with at least two or three, no matter the season. I use them to make the same black dress look different, to stay warm on the plane or in a chilly restaurant, and to dress up an otherwise boring outfit.
Expensive jewelry and family heirlooms
While violent crime is low in most European cities, it’s still wise to avoid flaunting expensive jewelry or watches that can make you a target for a pickpocket. More than the concern over theft, bringing expensive or irreplaceable jewelry just puts you in the position of having to worry about it. If you have costume jewelry or a less expensive watch, bring that instead. You’ll look just as stylish but you won’t be heartbroken should you accidentally leave it behind in the hotel room.
Nearly every hotel, inn, or apartment in Europe will have a hairdryer (if in doubt, ask) so there’s no need to bring yours from home; it’s bulky, heavy, and you’ll likely need a voltage adapter to use it anyways.
Roll your clothes, use every available space, and don’t forget the wrinkle releaser
If you aren’t rolling your clothes, now’s the time to start. Rolled clothes take up less space and tend to arrive with fewer wrinkles. Pack your shoes first–and use every available space by placing socks or other items into the shoes–and then add bulkier rolled items. Push smaller items like socks, sheer shirts, and accessories into the nooks and crannies in between. To ensure that your clothes will look just as good when you arrive as when you packed them, bring a small bottle of wrinkle releaser for clothes that look crisp, stylish, and fresh from the laundry.
Using this packing list for Europe, our list of 28 things that you should never forget on any trip or our winter packing guide, you are ready to look stylish on your next trip to Europe.
Written by Katie Hammel for EuropeUpClose.com