Traveling to Europe is a wonderful opportunity not everyone gets to experience. If you are one of the lucky ones and are looking forward to your first trip to Europe, there are a few questions that can sneak up on you last minute. One main question, and perhaps the one that generates the most panic, is “what do I pack?” Here we have listed a few essential items (and non-essential) to make sure you don’t over or under pack, ensuring your Europe vacation is an easy and exciting adventure.
- DO pack a plug adapter. When traveling to another country it’s easy to forget their infrastructure is completely different from the United States. The United States runs their wall plugs at 120V (120 volts). Europe’s wall plugs, which I should mention are a completely different shape than the United States plugs, average 230V. This is a substantial difference. If you bring the adapter, be wary of what you plug in from the United States because the voltage could burn it up. You will need the adapter however, if you plan to charge your phone with a charger from the United States.
- DON’T pack any electrical grooming tools, i.e. hair dryer/shaver/curling irons. This coincides with tip #1. All of these items are made for the United States, and therefore run with 120V. If you use them with your adapter, they may burn up and/or overheat and turn off. Most hotels carry blow dryers, and if you are desperate for a shaver, go for store bought. Girls, use curlers.
- DO pack a power bank. When you go to Europe, it’s inevitable that you will be walking around exploring all the sites. More than likely, you will also have a nice camera plus your phone to take pictures. It’s easier to use your phone to snap a quick picture than it is a full size camera, and for this reason you will want to keep it charged. No matter what phone you have, its battery will not be enough. Buy a power bank that will fully charge your phone up to 4 times and you will be happy you didn’t risk missing those once in a lifetime moments!
- DON’T over pack. Sure, this is a general statement and everyone says, “I’m only going to pack the essentials.” In this case, it’s important to really narrow down what you need for your trip so you can travel efficiently (there’s a lot to see in Europe!). Plan an outfit for every day, even better, plan your outfits using some of the same items repeatedly. No, I’m not saying you should wear dirty clothes. There are lots of laundromats in Europe and it’s easy to stop in to do a few loads, especially if you are going to be there for over 10 days. Plus, let’s all just admit once and for all, when we travel, we really only end up wearing about two outfits anyway.
- DO use compression bags for your clothes. I was very skeptical of this item when I first thought to buy it for Europe. I kept asking myself, “Does it really save space? Or is it just a waste of money.” The truth is, the bags save just enough space that you will be happy you bought them. If you plan to bring a larger bag, then get a few large compression bags. These bags will help you keep your clean and dirty clothes sorted as well as make that extra space you need for those last few items you plan to squeeze in your bag.
On a side note, here’s an extra tip that I really wish someone would have told me before I went to Europe:
If you plan to rent a car, make sure you call your credit card company before hand and ask if they provide full insurance coverage for rental cars in Europe. It’s unlikely that your automotive insurance will cover rental cars from different countries and it’s very expensive to insure a car through the rental agency in Europe. Booking it on a credit card that provides full coverage will save you a ton of money!
Now that you know how to pack (and how to rent a car), get out there and see this amazing world of ours!