In this packing guide, you’ll learn all about how to pack for any trip and all the things you can’t travel without!
Packing for any trip can be a stressful experience. Did I pack too much or did I pack too little? Did I forget anything? Will I need this? If you’re feeling lost about packing, you’re in the right place. We made some mistakes so you don’t have to! Whether you’re going to Europe for a month or on vacation for a week or for a weekend away, this packing guide has you covered! Here is our advice for packing and getting organized for your trip. We even have packing lists for you!
Your Ultimate Guide to Packing for Any Trip: Things You Shouldn’t Travel Without!
What to Wear – How to Select Pack Clothing for Your Trip
Consider the Weather and Season of Where You’re Traveling
Travel Towel: Even though most accommodations will provide towels or at an extra charge, bringing your own is always a good idea. We really like the quick dry towel from Eagle Creek. It’s a very good size for use after the shower or at the beach. And it really does dry quickly! The microfiber material is incredibly soft and gentle.
Scarf: Having a scarf with you is good for a few reasons. In the summer, you might need it to cover up if you visit a church. And in the cooler months where you’re not wearing a heavy winter coat but its chilly, a scarf will keep you warm. We love traveling with a Blanket Scarf! There are great for when you’re cold on an airplane and need a shoulder blanket, or for those days where it’s winter in the morning and fall in the afternoon. We’ve also had our blanket scarves double as neck pillows on the plane!
Travel blanket: Just like the travel towel, having your own blanket is nice too. Travel blankets are designed to be more compact and easily packable, so make sure to grab one!
Don’t wear workout clothes when you are exercising or hiking. This is for our fellow Americans! Nothing says American more than wearing workout clothes as regular clothes.
Seasonal Accessories: If you’re traveling during the summer, don’t forget sunglasses and a hat! And if there’s a chance for swimming bring your swimsuit!
Here is the packing list we created for our trip with EF Ultimate Break. Even if you aren’t traveling around Europe during the summer, you can customize this list based on the climate you’re traveling to.
Two Pairs of Shoes Only!
Bring two pairs of shoes that are comfortable for lots of walking. Shoes tend to take up a lot of space in your luggage, so bring no more than two pairs. But, be sure these are excellent shoes for walking. We like Birkenstocks, Keds, and Sperrys because they’re comfortable and they can be fashionable. A pair of running or hiking shoes are also helpful to ensure you can manage a variety of environments and your feet are always supported.
Bring One Outfit for Church
Have one church appropriate outfit. If you’re planning on visiting churches during the summer months, plan to bring an outfit that is church appropriate. Most churches require shoulders and thighs to be covered. Some churches will turn you away if you’re not appropriately dressed! (Or at least make you buy a scarf to cover yourself)
Pack One Outfit for Dressing Up
Only bring one outfit for dressing up. It might be tempting to bring multiple dressy outfits each with a pair of heels; however, it is unlikely you will need so many options.
Color Coordinate Your Clothing
Bring clothes that can be layered and color-coordinated. This is a good thing to keep in mind if you’re trying to not overpack. If you bring clothes that can be layered, you can create different outfits with a similar color scheme. Bringing clothes that can be layered is helpful when the weather is unpredictable and when museums are cooler inside.
Here’s a sample of our color schemes!
Color coordinating – we really used this tip when we packed a month in a carry-on! Read more about how we did it in our post here!
Things You Can’t Travel Without!
Bring a photocopy of your passport and a hard copy of your itineraries. You never know when you might not be able to download your digital copies!
Instead of carrying a backpack when exploring cities, bring a crossbody bag. Since pickpockets are common in Europe, it is better to have your personal items across your body and in front of you. Many museums also don’t allow backpacks, so artifacts or artworks do not get bumped or damaged.
RFID sleeves for credit cards. These handy cardholders protect your credit card information from RFID scanners while in your wallet or purse.
Universal Adapters: If you’re traveling to a different country, it’s likely that you’re going to need aadapters for your electronics. These adapters are super easy to use with your existing charger cords.
Camera Equipment. Don’t forget your cameras and camera equipment for your next trip!
Reusable Water bottle: We love our Yeti water bottles for a number of reasons. Not only do they keep your drinks super hot or super cold, but they also are very durable and you can get them in different sizes and colors
Notebook/Pens and Something to Read
How to Pack Toiletries and Personal Products
First aid/medications: You never know when something might go downhill so having a first aid kit is a good idea. This includes the basics like band-aids, antibiotic ointments, cold medication, cough drops, over the counter pain relievers, and anti-nausea meds. For those who are going to do outdoor activities, don’t forget bug spray and sunscreen.
When I went on the Grand Tour of Europe, I fell ill with a cold during the first week and had to purchase cold relief meds. Taking time out of the busy days to find a pharmacy was inconvenient, especially when they didn’t have the brands of medications I typically take.
Wipes: Wipes are a great thing to have in your day bag especially during the summer. During long days of touring and exploring, sometimes you need to freshen up!
Bring dryer sheets to keep your luggage smelling fresh. Sometimes laundry services are few are far between, so keep your luggage smelling good with dryer sheets.
You don’t need every single beauty and hair product, but you don’t have to ditch the beauty products altogether! Try to be selective with the number of products you bring. Products spill and break open in luggage, they’re heavy, and most importantly, you probably won’t use them all.
BUT… Don’t bank of being able to buy the brands of toiletries you love abroad. Don’t be the person that says, “I don’t have to pack this now, I can buy it there!” Because you probably can’t and won’t find it there. I had to spend $10 on deodorant one time because I ran out and couldn’t find any anywhere else. And it was crappy deodorant.
How to Pack Your Suitcase or Bag: Tips and Hacks for Packing Your Bag
Wear your bulkiest clothes/shoes on the plane. This will leave more space in your luggage!
Use packing cubes. Packing cubes compress your clothes to make more space in your luggage. We use the Eagle Creek Pack-It Packing Cube Set. They come in small and large sizes, which is convenient for organizing your clothes.
Bring a packable duffle bag for souvenirs. As you buy souvenirs, you will lose room in your luggage. Having a separate duffle bag will help you transport everything home without having to worry about luggage weight limits. We made the mistake of not bringing a bigger extra bag for our month in Europe. Needless to say, we almost failed at packing a month in a carry-on. We talk more about this interesting journey in our blog about packing a month in a carry-on!
Invest in organizers. This might sound obvious but, Using organizers is one of the best ways to keep your things organized. We love Vera Bradley’s organizers because they’re durable, fashionable, and functional. Here a list of some of our favorite items.
4 Pc. Cosmetic Set is a roomy tote that’s easy to grab from inside our personal bag for security (if it needs to come out!) It was especially convenient for when we were traveling since it was plastic in case of leaking products. We liked how it came with other smaller bags that we could use for other items.
Packable Backpack: A packable backpack is great for extra storage and for when you doing more outdoor activities! We love the Eddie Bauer Packable Backpack. It folds into itself into a small square, making it perfect for packing into our luggage. We love the number of pockets it has for all different types of travel! We’ve used this bag for both travel and day trip hikes. It has two side pockets perfect for water bottles or umbrellas. And the two smaller outside pockets are great for little things you don’t want to lose in the large pocket. Even though it looks small, a lot of items can fit in it.