Europe travel: essential packing list

packing list

There’s nothing worse than taking a trip to Europe, arriving at your hotel, and realising that you haven’t packed properly!

Maybe you’ve forgotten something simple like your phone charger, or perhaps you’ve dropped a clanger and left your camera at home – it’s even more annoying when you realise that by making a simple list beforehand, you can avoid all this hassle very easily.

Wherever you go in Europe, there are some items that you should never leave home without. Whether you are staying at a cheap hotel in London or a backpacker hostel in Budapest, these items should make it onto your packing list.

travel bag

The right bag

Before you even think about what you are going to take away with you, you need to make sure you have the right luggage with you. This will depend on the type of trip you are taking; a backpacker will want a large backpack (obviously), the travelling family may need a number of large, wheeled suitcases and the couple taking short break could only need a couple of small bags between them.

Think about how long you are going away for and what you will actually need with you.

First aid kit

First aid kit

You never know when you might need to apply some basic first aid, especially if you are travelling with young children who tend to have a habit of falling over.

Specially designed travel first aid kits are readily available from most major supermarket chains and they are packed with everything you’re likely to need on a trip away. They are also very small and compact, so you don’t have to worry about the kit taking up too much space in your luggage.

Even if it’s just some plasters, paracetamol  and a few anti-bacterial wipes, it can be very handy to have something on you in case you fall ill or pick up a minor injury.

Universal plug socket adapter

In the constantly connected digital world we now live, it is almost unthinkable to go on holiday and actually have a break from smartphones and social media. As a result of this, you’ll need somewhere to plug your phone in when the battery is running low from all the seflies and Tweets you have sent.

You can quite easily pick up a universal plug adapter that will allow you to plug in wherever you go. Most of mainland Europe uses a two-pin plug, however, if you are visiting the UK as well it is wise to remember that the plugs here are different from the rest of the continent (Malta also uses this fitting).

A travel card

While using debit and credit cards abroad is becoming increasingly easy, there are charges and risks that come along with this. For the sake of safety and ease, it’s wise to set up a special travel card before your trip which you can load with cash.

An excellent example of this is the Caxton FX European Traveller card. Once you have set the card up, you can top it up online whenever you want and it processed the exchange rate for you at the current price. It’s also very safe to use as if you lose it, you don’t have to worry about contacting your bank. The card will only have access to the limited amount of funds you put on it so you should try and only top up the amount you will need per day.

This can be used wherever you see the MasterCard symbol.

A quality camera

With social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest becoming incredibly popular in recent years, everyone has suddenly become a professional photographer. To keep up with the pack, you will want to take a top quality camera with you for your trip to Europe – you don’t want other people’s holiday snaps upstaging yours, do you?

Of course, to accompany a good camera, you will also need the accessories to go with it. This means different lenses with variations so subtle you haven’t a clue what they actually do, a tri-pod so you can set up the camera for a group shot and be “that family” and, of course, a sturdy neck strap so you can keep the camera constantly on show so everyone knows you are a serious and dedicated photographer.

Hygiene kit

It never hurts to have a little kit full of hygiene orientated items for your trip. Things like hand sanitiser, multi-purpose soap, dry shampoo, anti-septic cream, sun cream and so on.

Basically, anything you can think of that will help keep you and your family germ free!

Sensible footwear

Just because you are going to a beach resort, doesn’t mean that you should only pack flip flops. Likewise, if you are going hiking in the countryside in some far off place, you don’t just need to pack a pair of sturdy hiking boots.

These examples are extreme for a reason: nothing ruins a trip faster than sore feet. If you are planning to visit multiple cities in one go, you will need a pair of trainers or comfortable footwear for the day and then something smart for the evening – it is just common sense really.

Warm or waterproof jackets

Even if you know the place you are visiting is hot during the day, that could change dramatically when it gets dark.

Likewise, you never know when it might rain, so always make sure you have an easily stowable waterproof jacket with you – especially if you are going to the UK! If you don’t want to take a jacket, at least pack a small umbrella.

A hat or cap

If you are going to somewhere hot, a hat or cap can be a lifesaver. It stops you overheating and means you don’t have to keep applying sun cream to your face every few hours.

This is even more important for younger children, who need to be properly protected from the elements.

Travel wallet and copies of passport

When you are away, you need to ensure that all your documents are stowed safely. While it’s sensible to keep your real passport, tickets etc all together in a travel wallet back at the hotel, you will also need to keep a few printed copies of your passport on your person. Although this is merely a precaution, you never know when you’ll need it.


While you can easily buy endless bottles of water during your travels, it’s much more ethical and environmentally friendly to take your own sturdy drinking vessel. However, you need to check that it is safe to drink the water first.

Travel insurance

Breaking your leg in a foreign country is expensive, so don’t forget to organise your travel insurance.


Depending on how you are travelling, you may not be able to take too many toiletries with you, but for argument’s sake, let’s say you can.

Although hotels do provide a limited amount of items, these rarely last and toothpaste is almost never on the list.

Make sure you have everything you need for each family

Oh, and don’t forget your toothbrush!