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Know before you go - the best European packing rules. Plan, Prepare and Pack Light!
Start a list a few weeks ahead and add to it as things pop to mind. Great rule to remember is to pack light, especially for Europe, getting on and off trains, going up and down stairs and along cobblestone streets with luggage can be quite an ordeal. If I only go away for 2 – 3 weeks then I find that my carry on/backpack is sufficient. Three to four outfits, wear everything twice, laundry once a week, don't forget your deodorant! Think it through carefully. Also, packing at the last minute might mean you forget something that’s essential, so PLAN ahead, PREPARE everything you need and PACK light.
If you do take a suitcase as well as a carry on, then place two sets of clothes and underwear in your carry on. If your luggage doesn’t arrive right away you have a change of clothes until your luggage arrives.
A. Clothes: Layers, layers, layers - is the best way for traveling in Europe with its unpredictable weather in some places. Mix and match clothes is good too
Two pairs of shoes – one for walking and comfortable sandals that can also be used with a dress/skirt/dress pants. (Pack one pair, wear one pair on the plane)
Three pairs of lightweight pants/shorts/capris - one to wear on the plane, two to pack
– (jeans take longer to dry - your choice)
Six or seven shirts/blouses/tops for layering too– long and short sleeves
Scarves to spice up outfits
No sleeveless tops/ spaghetti straps, you won’t get into a cathedral.
Sweater or lightweight fleece for layering
Hooded rain jacket, even in the summer for Britain and Ireland
Underwear – around 6, laundry can be done once a week, lightweight so you can wash and air dry overnight if needed
When you choose your clothes try to mix and match and buy dresses that are lightweight and wrinkle free.
Stay away from t-shirts and sweatshirts that have American logos and colleges, you don’t want to stand out, you will more likely target pickpockets.
B. Zip-loc bags have always been a must for me.
These help with jewelry, if you must take it.
Medicine, toiletries, incase anything leaks.
Bag your extra pair of shoes and swimsuit.
Suck out the air with a straw to allow more room in your luggage.
Small mesh laundry bag to store used clothes.
C. Documents - Photocopy EVERYTHING TWICE!!!
Passport, credit cards, debit card, printed airline eticket, ID cards (student/military), rail pass, hotel info, itinerary of vacation, phone numbers, hotel info, medicine, including generic, driver’s license, city passes, car rental vouchers, insurance details, emergency numbers. Place one set of copies in the inside pocket of your suitcase and the other set in your carry on. (I also make a copy of everything and keep it at home or with a family member). For originals like passport and credit cards, I suggest a money belt that tucks into your pants/trousers. If your backpack, fanny pack or purse gets stolen important documents are safe and sound in your money belt. I don’t always enjoy wearing a money belt but I make sure I wear one in busy cities like London, Paris and Rome. I can relax more knowing my valuables are safe and sound.
Another idea going around nowadays is to scan all your personal informationand email it to yourself. DO NOT DO THIS!!!! That is so much information and if you get hacked you will be in a bad situation. Another alternative, if you are uneasy having copies of personal information, is to copy all your information and give it to a friend back home who can keep the information safe and fax stuff to you (your hotel) if you are in an emergencysituation. Keeping copies of tickets and hotel information are fine.
If you knew that someone could read your credit cards, passport, and even driver’s license without actually having to swipe them or look at them, would you take steps to guard against it? I know I would. That’s why an RFID blocking money & passport pouch is a great way to protect you and your private information. They can easily be purchased online.
D. Adaptors and Converters: Europe uses 220 volts, so if you don’t want your electrical appliances to fry you will need both adaptors and sometimes converters. An adaptor works with the converter to adapt the U.S. plug to match the European outlet, and not all outlets are the same. For example, Great Britain has a completely different plug than Germany. You can buy a converter and adaptor kit for all European Countries, and you’ll be good to go. Some laptops are dual, you just flip a switch from 110 tTo 220, but you will still need an adaptor. Most hair dryers and curling irons have dual voltage too, if yours does again you will still need an adaptor for the plug.
E. First aid kit:- Moleskin, band aids, antacids, ibuprofen!
Tylenol PM to help with jetlag, insect repellant, sunblock, tweezers, nail snips and nail file, OTC medicine.
I find the first four are my best friends, lots of walking and lots of foreign food.
Also, just to add in, when you're flying drink lots of water and try to walk around from time to time.
F. Odds and Ends: - Umbrella. Journal/notebook and pens/pencils.
Small lunch container to keep food fresh, if you’re buying food for cheap lunches, this eliminates squashed food too.
Tissues for emergencies, public bathrooms and no TP.
Day back pack with a small padlock to keep everything safe so you can relax while touring.
G. TSA rules: Finally, check the TSA rules before you leave, they change all the time. This site will tell you the size of your carry on, approved personal items, and the amount/size of liquids, right now it’s 3oz and has to be in a quart sized zip- loc bag. Make sure you keep on track with this as they do confiscate a lot of stuff.
For details visit:
Approved personal items
1 purse, briefcase, camera bag or diaper bag
or 1 laptop computer (computers cannot be checked)
or 1 item of a similar or smaller size to those listed above
The following items do not count as personal items (they’re freebies):
A jacket or umbrella
Food or drink purchased after clearing the security checkpoint
Special items like strollers, child restraint seats or assistive devices such as wheelchairs or crutches
Carry-On Size restrictions:
Baggage may not exceed 45 linear inches (or 114 cm) in combined length, width and height, including any handles and wheels
Baggage must fit easily in the Carry-on Baggage Check (approximately 22" x 14" x 9" or 56 x 35 x 23 cm), which is located near the check-in counters
This is what your checklist could look like:
(With once a week laundry, remember you will be wearing one set of everything on the plane)
1 pair of shoes (to pack)
6 sets of underwear and socks
1 pair of pants/trousers
1 pair of shorts/capris
6 shirts: long and short-sleeve
1 sweater or fleece
1 wrinkle free lightweight skirt or dress/dress pants (trousers) for men. (Make sure one of your tops match the skirt/pants)
1 hooded raincoat
Back Pack with small padlock
Small lunch container (optional)
Money – hard cash
Credit cards (try to have a chip and pin credit card)
Hotel printout info
Car rental voucher
Vacation itinerary printout
Addresses for postcards
Emergency phone numbers
Travel books (I rip out the pages I need to eliminate heavy books but nowadays your phone will have apps)
Notepad and pens
Camera and charger
Plug adaptors and converters
Toiletries (I buy shampoo/toothpaste etc. in Europe - start off with samples/travel size ones in your case)
Make-up (samples are best, they are small)
Tissues (comes in handy when there’s no TP in public places)
Sunblock (I buy this in Europe)
Ziploc bags/plastic bags
Copies of documents
NOTE: Put all your documents/hotel/train/concert tickets/phone numbers etc, into one pocket folder, keep copies of everything separate from originals. Passport, credit and debit cards, Military/student ID’s, large amounts of cash, should be in a money belt and worn at all times. Europe is a safe place but notorious for well-organized pick pockets. Money for that day can be put in your front pocket, just keep a close watch.