What to Pack for a Summer in Europe: A Lady’s Guide

Hi guys! It’s your girl Jessy here, summer-lover and bag-packing guru! Um, okay, scratch that second claim; I thought I was a pro-packer until I travelled to Europe with a bag full of…er, the wrong items!

Anyway, through my packing mishaps, I have learned a fair bit about the art of ‘packing proper’ and, now, I want to share these learnings with you. So, read ahead if you want to be that much wiser about what to throw into your duffel (alongside your passport, of course) – and what to leave behind – when setting off on your epic, sun-soaked adventure across Europe.

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1. Clothing


Photo by Becca McHaffie on Unsplash

You are going to need clothes so they are always a good item to start with, right?! Though, if you plan on spending most of your European summer on a beach in the Mediterranean you will get away with having little to wear! Anyway, here’s a list of the type and quantity of clothing I recommend taking with you:

  • Five tops (A mix of short sleeve and sleeveless)
  • Three bottoms (One maxi skirt/lightweight pant/versatile shorts)
  • Three dresses (All lightweight and at least one dress that is over-the-knee)
  • Jumper/cardigan (Bear in mind you’ll probably only wear this once or twice)
  • Shoes (Ideally, one pair of sandals, jandals, and sneakers)
  • Rain jacket (A pocket jacket that folds up nice and small would be best)
  • Hat (I think it is fairly obvious what kind)
  • Swimwear (Rock that bikini, girl! Everybody else is…)
  • Undergarments (Each to their own, but consider how often you’ll be doing laundry)

Hot tip 1: Pack with the intention to mix and match every clothing item so as to maximize your outfit choices. To enable you to do so, I strongly recommend sticking to a clothing colour palette of no more than four colours. I opted to take blue, black and white items. Though, white was a questionable choice…

Hot Tip 2: Ensure that you have several outfits in your bag that will be acceptable for visiting religious sites (like Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy or the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain). You will want your clothes to cover your shoulders and knees, yet not suffocate you in the heat either. I suggest opting for a lightweight, cotton maxi-dress. Oh, if only…

Hot Tip 3: Consider your comfort. You are going to be doing a lot of walking in order to explore exciting new places; the last thing you want is to be uncomfortable while doing so. If you haven’t already, invest in a stylish pair of sneakers before you go. Don’t be like me and battle on in painful sandals, creating blister city in the process. Please.

2. Toiletries


Photo by Icons8 team on Unsplash

Toiletry organisation is my strong point. Weird? Yes. Handy? Most definitely. Last year, Daniel and I were staying with friends and family so often that I decided to organise my own, separate toilet bag that stayed in my duffel for weekends away. Best. thing. ever. Want to save space and time? If so, read my packing list below:

  • Travel-sized items (Go to Kmart and buy yourself some little bottles to fill with your usual bathroom products; this way, you can even take them carry-on). Don’t forget:
    • Shampoo
    • Conditioner
    • Body wash
    • Facewash
    • Moisturiser
    • Sunscreen
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss (Got to keep the oral hygiene in check)
  • Flannel (You’re going to get hot and sticky and this lil baby is the solution to your troubles)
  • Towel (Most accommodations supply you with one, but do you really want to take a chance on the matter?)
  • Hand sanitizer (The odd grotty restroom is unavoidable, but post-sanitization practices make the experience more bearable)
  • Makeup (If you wear it, you’ll want it. Don’t let anybody tell you that you shouldn’t take it with you on your travels. For many of us, makeup helps us to feel beautiful and confident in our skin; so, why deny yourself that feeling whilst travelling?)

Hot Tip 1: Make sure you have a toilet bag that comfortably holds all of your bathroom gear (bar the towel). When you’re carrying your toiletries to the bathroom (which may or may not be close to your room), you don’t want to be juggling items in your hands.

Hot Tip 2: Avoid the possibility of sunscreening your hair in the shower; if you’ve gone ahead and purchased your own bottles to fill with bathroom products, make sure you label them! If you’re an organisation nut like me, get your label maker out and open fire. If not, it’s all about the permanent marker, baby. 

3. Electronics


Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

It is rather mind-boggling to try and imagine a time when travel was undertaken without any assistance from the technological realm. I cannot picture having to rely on map books, signage, dictionaries and, God forbid, my shameful attempts at speaking the foreign language. Maybe it’s best that we don’t imagine this old-world. After all, no doubt, you’ll be taking these technological wonders with you in your case:

  • Cellphone (This extension of your hand is your gateway to maps, translations, accommodation, transport and more. Don’t forget your cell!)
  • Laptop (If you’re travelling for a longer period of time, I suggest taking your lappy. There will come a time where you will want to edit photos, email with ease and, well, just generally have a bigger screen and keyboard at your service)
  • Universal plug (Your cell phone and laptop are not going to be much good without this lifesaver (nor their charging cords for that matter). I recommend buying a plug that covers all socket bases)
  • Portable charging pack (When you’re out, using your cell phone to find your way, to establish great places to eat and to learn about the local landmarks, you will quite possibly eat through your battery. Hence, be sure to throw your charging pack in your day bag)

Hot Tip 1: I’ve said it once, but I’ll say it again: be sure to purchase a local SIM card and load one of the company’s plans onto your cell. Paying daily roaming rates is a sure fire way to break the bank; you’re much better off heading to a local mobile service provider and cutting yourself a deal for cheap calling and data rates.

4. Activity-based Equipment

Daniel and I discovered pretty early on that there were certain items that we needed in our bags to a) make travel that little bit cheaper and/or manageable or b) provide us with easy entertainment when journeying, waiting and resting. These are our top picks:

  • Daypack (Having a standard-sized backpack (which is separate to your travel bag) will enable you to easily carry your water, food, swimwear, and towel, etc. during a day out adventuring)
  • A pack of cards (Not simply entertainment, but also a great icebreaker for enjoying the company of new acquaintances)
  • A book (A rather useful item to whip out and enjoy when waiting in a long queue)
  • Towel (You’ll thank me for this when you’re at the beach or picnicking in a park)
  • Lunchbox (Don’t let your banana get squashed in your daypack; put it – and the rest of your kai (food) – in a lightweight lunch box/bag)
  • Set of reusable, plastic cutlery (Throw these babies in your bag to open up your packed lunch possibilities – hello, salads and pastas – and save the environment)
  • Reusable drink bottle (Again, be kind to yourself and the environment: nourish your body and reduce your waste!)

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Well, that’s all ladies. I hope you have found this list helpful in aiding you to pack a useful, thorough bag for your summer in Europe. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post and any further suggestions you have for Europe-bound readers. Kia ora!

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