Europe Packing Checklist for Spring and Summer
It’s April and the peak season for visiting Europe has begun. With long days, warm weather and blossoms all around, it’s no wonder that people from all over the world flock to Europe now. However, for someone living in India all their lives, packing for Europe trip can be tricky. So here is a guide to answer all your questions around packing for Europe trip. At the end of this post, you will have an answer to the following questions.
- What to pack on a Europe Trip in spring
- What not to pack on a Europe Trip
- Backpack or Trolley? What is the appropriate luggage for packing on your Europe trip?
Transparency! The post has affiliate links of Amazon and Myntra – the two online shopping sites that I use the most. This means I will earn a small commission if you purchase anything through these links without any cost to you. I don’t associate with any product or brands professionally, and all recommendations are based on personal experience only.
Why you need a Europe packing checklist?
The short answer to this question is “because Europe is expensive”. While you can really pack light when you visit other throbbing destinations like Thailand or Indonesia, knowing that you can shop for things out there, with Europe it’s different. While everything is available here, they are expensive. Forgetting to pack something you already have, or buy something on discount beforehand may just unnecessarily eat up your budget.
This doesn’t mean that you should carry a 2weeks ration with you to save money in Europe. But you should make a checklist and thoroughly check them while packing for Europe. If you are leaving soon for a Europe trip, make sure you go through the list, order the items you missed and start organizing the things you already have. Download a 2-page printable checklist for reference.
Where to pack all your things? The luggage for Europe Trip
This is a key question that came to my mind before my trip to Europe. We stayed in 6 cities in the course of our 15-day Europe trip, so luggage was a major concern. There are two options here and both have its pros and cons – backpack and a trolley bag.
Read our detailed DIY guide on how to plan a Europe Trip.
I chose the wheeled suitcase (trolley bag) to spare my back. Some people are more comfortable carrying their backpacks because they have been backpacking for years. However, for newbies, I can count at least 5 reasons why you should go for a 4-wheel suitcase instead.
- You can’t pack as light as you would in warmer and cheaper countries like Thailand. So spare your back.
- Organizing things in a suitcase is easier.
- If you are carrying something formal or dressy for Europe, it’s obviously easier to keep them in proper shape in the suitcase rather than a backpack
- The roads in Europe are really well-maintained with broad walkways everywhere. So the fear of dragging the trolleys through potholes and unruly traffic is not there. This is one thing I had checked with all my friends who have been on similar trips before going on my first Europe trip.
- Most major stations which you will land on during your inter-city travels have escalators. So you don’t need to lift your suitcase on the stairs every time you move from one city to another. We did have to do this a couple of times in Paris and in Barcelona (because we stayed a little outside the city in the latter).
Besides your main luggage, you need a small carry-on bag which will be with you all the time – in flights, in your sightseeing tours, treks and day trips. I chose my laptop bag for this purpose. Read the packing list below to know what you should be present in your carry-on backpack.
Size of the bag
Size of the bag is crucial especially if you are covering multiple cities using only public transport. If the size is too big you will face problem in the trains in Paris or Amsterdam. You can carry larger suitcases in winters which is off-season, but during spring and summer, the trains can get very crowded. Using organizers like packing cubes you can easily fit in everything on this packing list in a 55cm trolley bag and a carry-on laptop bag. However, to keep some empty space for extra items you can get a 65 cm trolley bag. Anything bigger than that for a 2-week trip would be cumbersome and unnecessary according to me.
P.S. It can be a totally different ball-game while traveling with kids, but I have no experience at that yet.
This 55 cm skybag is what I took and my luggage definitely looked more stylish than me. 😉
Europe Packing Checklist for Spring
Some people get worried about packing for Europe because the continent, especially Western Europe is notoriously famous for its high standards of fashion. I wouldn’t stress myself too much to look like locals here. There are only a few rules I would follow –
- wear clothes with proper fitting
- don’t wear monkey caps
I also don’t support the idea of buying something extravagant just for one trip not knowing if you are going to wear that ever again. This is my checklist for a 2-week holiday in Europe.
Carry-on essentials in Europe
These are the items that will be inside the small backpack you carry with you every day, while your trolleys or rucksacks rest in your hotel room. You will be out for over 12 hours walking and roaming most of the day. You need your bag to be as light as possible and at the same time have everything you need. If you are traveling solo you need to have everything on the list below inside your carry-on bag. If you have one or more companion you can share most of the things except the things to wear like jackets, shades, and caps.
I have not mentioned things like your passport, wallet and mobile phones on the list because it’s just universal. However, people do forget stuff- I know I do. So, download the printable checklist to make packing easier.
- Universal travel adapter which must be compatible with EU (and the UK if you include that in your itinerary)
- Multi-port Powerbank
- Your photography kit – camera, extra batteries, an extra 64 GB memory card, chargers and a sling bag for the camera.
- Your medicines and a first-aid kit
- A water bottle
- A cross-body anti-theft purse
- A pocket-sized Sunscreen lotion
- A waterproof jacket
- Foldable umbrella
- A pair of shades
- a cap or hat
- sanitary products for women
What to wear in Europe?
Some may decide to go on a shopping spree and get their favorite dresses for their Europe trip. Practically speaking, I will recommend to keep it simple and elegant. I would not carry loose shirts and track-pants to wear in Europe. But I wouldn’t load my suitcase with designer outfits either. While the list below is tailored for women, you will find a suggestive list for men in the downloadable checklist.
Speaking of practicality there are two main things you must consider while packing for Europe in spring – weather and walks.
Note that the temperature in spring ranges between 15 degrees to 22 degrees in Western Europe. Northern Europe is colder.
Even in the sunny days, you can be surprised by the chilling winds which may occasionally be followed by rainfall.
You will be walking a lot so bring a good pair of running or walking shoes. I prefer the running shoes for the additional grip they provide.
- 2 pairs of denim
- 3 to 4 tops
- 2-3 fashionable dresses
- 3-5 pairs of undergarments
- Light thermals
- 2 pairs of shoes – running shoes for the long walks and a pair of block heels for dressy evenings.
- a pair of flip-flops (optional)
- 2 hooded sweatshirts, preferably waterproof. A sleek black leather jacket if you have it.
- 2-3 loungewear
- 3 to 5 pairs of socks
- A multi-purpose scarf
Other important items to pack
- A sim-card with sufficient internet for GPS on the go.
- A bottle of good thick moisturizer or cold cream to combat the dry weather.
- Ready-to-cook food items only if you are on a really tight budget(optional)
- Saved maps and itineraries – in print or at least on phone
Let’s elaborate on the crucial items in the packing list for Europe in spring.
Europe packing list for Spring – the essentials
Below I have elaborated on the items in decreasing order of importance according to me. These are all essentials in your packing list
This is crucial when you are traveling abroad. European switchboards are different from that of India, therefore, you need to carry an adapter. Choose the one with multiple ports and is compatible with multiple regions. I bought the one that is compatible with England, EU, Australia, and the US. One such adapter is enough for a couple, but good to carry an extra if you have.
You should carry just one power bank (aka. portable charger) and keep it in your carry-on bag all the time. The one I recommend is the Intex IT-PB11K 11000mAH Power Bank. This is the best of the 4 power banks I have at home with three output ports – two of which are 5V-2.1A and the third is 5V-1A. The two turbocharger points are super-useful when you are on the go for the whole day without access to a power point.
Caution- We all know but we tend to forget – don’t put your power bank inside your check-in luggage. carry it with your carry-on luggage.
Unless you are a professional photographer just keep it simple – a camera you can operate well, a sling camera bag, batteries, charger, and memory card. The printable checklist at the end of the article will be helpful for your last-minute checks. Good phones do the job pretty well, however, they don’t normally have the zooming capability of DSLR. Choose a camera that is light and can function well in auto-mode also. This is because you may not always have the time to set it up for clicking pictures on a hop-on-hop-off bus or from a train. We love our Nikon D3500 W/AF-P DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR.
It came with a great backpack but we bought a smaller sling bag separately and took that for convenience. It also came with a battery and a 16 GB memory card. I recommend buying an extra battery and a 64 GB memory card for a packed 2-week Europe trip.
International sim card
You must buy an international sim-card with a validity period that covers your length of stay. There is wifi in most of the budget accommodations as well as in the buses and trains, but I can’t imagine roaming around in an unknown city without access to the internet. I know there are times when phone data was not available and people still used to travel and explore. But when you have more support from the technology and less support from time, why don’t use the former to your advantage?
We got our international sim-card with 14-day internet pack from Matrix.
Oils and Moisturizers
I would not realize its importance and wouldn’t probably care to include it in the list of must-haves had I not made the blunder on my first Europe trip. I just took a tiny tube of cream and a travel body wash set. While body wash is available in all the budget accommodations, moisturizer is not something you will get in hostels or budget hotels. And I can’t say it enough that you really need it. Coming from the tropics we don’t realize how dehydrated our skin can get even in the spring or summer until we hit the temperate zones. Even in the warmest days of spring, you will need a good moisturizer to prevent your skin from looking like fish-scales. Carrying a small bottle of olive oil to apply before a bath will also be helpful.
A normal spring day in western Europe will make you experience summer, winter, and monsoon all in the same day. While the temperatures in Western Europe ranges between 15 degrees to 20 degrees, there are times when the bright sun can give you ugly tans. Since you will be outdoors for the most part of the day, and days are longer than 12 hours in European spring you need to carry a pocket-size sunscreen lotion with SPF 30+. I strongly recommend the aqua-gel based SPF 50++ sunscreen lotion from L’Oreal Paris. A 30 ml pack will easily last you a month or even more since you need to apply a small portion at once. It is light and gentle to the skin and does not leave an unwanted tint as many sunscreen lotions do.
A folder with all important documents
Ok, this should have been on the top of the list. But we all use soft-copies on our phones these days and more often than not they suffice. But having printouts help. I strongly recommend making most of your bookings online and before-hand. This includes but is not limited to – the hotels, the intercity transport tickets, special tickets like Keukenhof Spring garden in the Netherlands or Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, etc. While mobile tickets suffice generally, it’s good to have all the printouts arranged in order of the cities you are visiting and organized in a folder. This job is safely undertaken by my husband during our travels, but it’s quite crucial.
Keep your passport separately and as safe as possible. You are not likely to be asked for a passport specifically while you are sightseeing within a city or even on a day trip to a neighboring city in the same country. So it’s better to leave your passport inside your hotel room where it’s safe and carry a photocopy of the same with you when you go out.
Since I am a light-packer I totally skipped carrying an extra sling bag with me on my first Europe trip. I had a 4-wheel suitcase and a laptop bag which I used as my daily backpack. The problem with this arrangement is that every time you need to take out your wallet or swipe a card you need to put it back to your backpack. In cities like Paris which does have a problem of theft in the rush-hours, this can be problematic. So having a small sling bag helps. This is where you can keep your essentials like ID card, travel cards, credit cards, and mobile phone. You can buy a normal multi-compartment sling bag or invest in an anti-theft travel bag.
You must carry at least one waterproof jacket in your carry-on bag on your Spring break in Europe. No matter how sunny the day looks it can rain or get cold anytime. Layers are essential for Europe trip and a raincoat would be ideal. However to minimize the number of items to pack, buy a waterproof jacket with foam that will keep you dry and warm at the same time. Windcheaters are the best multi-purpose layers for Europe.
A pair of good running or walking shoes is a must-have for a Europe trip any time of the year. Rains are frequent but light, hence waterproof shoes may not be a priority. Be ready to walk an average of 10 km –12 km a day, so wear shoes you are most comfortable in. If you are yet to buy your perfect pair, I will recommend the Nike air-zoom range (Pegasus 33,34 and 35). Not only are they great for walking, running and even trekking, they also come in some great colors. Apart from the range of colors you also have different types of patterns from blocks to florals.
At a more pocket-friendly price, you can buy in India are Bata Power range of walking shoes and running shoes.
This is a non-trivial question for any travel arrangement. My suggestion of carrying 5 pairs of underwears may seem a lot but it’s the most practical thing to do. They don’t take much space either so why take the risk? Laundry, if available in budget hotels, can be quite expensive. The size of rooms you get in a budget of Rs.5000-Rs 6000 per night will earn you a decent but minimalist room with very little space to even move your luggage let alone drying your clothes properly. The dry weather in Europe is a blessing in such cases, but for a 2-week itinerary covering multiple hops from one hotel to another, you may not get enough time.
In most parts of Western Europe, tap water is safe to drink. So instead of spending an obscene amount of money on packaged water always carry a 1-liter bottle with you. Fill it up in your hotel before you leave for the day or at the restaurants. Be careful about water and always check with others (likely the hotel receptionist) on whether tap water is safe in the region.
Light thermals are a great way to stay warm and healthy in Europe in the spring while being able to flaunt your best dresses. A pair of thermal spaghetti and pants is a good-to-have item on your list if you are habituated to cold weather. If you have stayed all your life in Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore, and likes, better include these in your must-have list.
Europe packing list for Spring – the good-to-have optional
Carry cable locks if you are going to be traveling between cities on Eurorail. You may need to keep your luggage in the common racks away from your seat. So having a cable-lock is a safety measure. Euro-rail is safe, but this gives additional peace of mind.
Europeans love to wear scarfs. They are a great way to dress up and look different in the same outfit. But it was especially missed on my first Europe trip when I caught a cold and got a sore throat. I constantly felt that just wrapping something around my neck would solve all my problems.
Thankfully we were in Paris the next day and could choose from a large variety of scarves at an affordable price. For Spring, carry a knitted or light woolen scarf or stole which is slightly warm while for summer you can take a light silk scarf.
For the windy weather in spring leather jackets are perfect – both in terms of fashion and pragmatism. So investing in a sleek leather jacket is not a bad idea. However, if you are wondering about the price tag or when you are going to wear it again in Indian weather, stick to sweatshirts. Waterproof sweatshirts that I discussed earlier will do the job just as well.
Socks are very important not only because they keep you warm but also retains the moisture in your feet. You will need to carry 3 pairs of socks at least, for the same reason that you need to carry multiple undergarments. Stockings are optional but I needed to wear them every time I chose to wear a dress or a skirt. Even in the sunny weather of Barcelona and Madrid, you are never sure when it gets chilly. It’s never going to be as hot as India in April or May, so wearing a pair of stockings throughout the day is not a bad idea.
A pair of good running or walking shoes are compulsory for enjoying a Europe trip. For the second pair of shoes, you can go for something more dressy as some high-end dine-outs may have a dress code. Even if it doesn’t who would like to show up for an opera night in a pair of sneakers? Even then, I strongly recommend comfort over style.
I recommend packing pumps or peep-toes. Basically, anything that covers your toes and heels. I regret carrying a pair of really comfortable open-toed sandals as my second pair on our trip last year. Even the locals who are so accustomed to the cold weather wear fully covered boots and pumps at night.
Buy garments and shoes on Myntra. I just always find the best variety here.
If you decide to spend a considerable amount of time on the Iberian beaches you should have flip-flops. You can wear them inside hostels as well as on the beaches.
I know a lot of people will cringe at the idea of carrying ready-to-eat food on a foreign trip. What’s the point of eating the same thing in a different country they would say. We didn’t carry any food packets either but let’s not be travel snobs here. Some people travel with family or with a tight budget or both. For some people, culinary experiences are just not as important as it may be to some others. So if you have space, carry a few packets of 3-minute breakfast range by MTR or the good old Maggi noodles.
Packing cubes are essentially small zipped pouches that help you organize your stuff in the suitcases. I did not know about packing cubes until last year, so I used old plastic bags instead for the same purpose. I think all middle-class Indians can relate to the idea of preserving old plastic packets for later use. Packing cubes are just a neater and easier way to organize your stuff. It’s especially important on any trip that lasts longer than 4-5 days. You can keep your used clothes and under-wears in separate cubes. This way you can save yourself a lot of time while decluttering stuff every time you hop out and into a new hotel on your multi-city Europe trip.
Neck pillow and eye mask
A 10-hour+ long flight can be more stressful than you had imagined it to be. Budget airlines do provide a pillow and quilt but a neck-pillow will provide you additional comfort. The eye-mask is important not only in the plane but also if you are staying in dormitory arrangement inside hostels. People will be coming in and going out throughout the night. To have a peaceful, uninterrupted sleep is necessary. Having an eye-mask and ear-buds help in these cases.
If you are an avid reader you will get enough time to read books during your inter-city travels. Carrying a bunch of books with you is never a good idea, now that you have Kindle. The special technology blocks harmful rays and is pleasant to the eyes. Plus it has in-built light and automatically adjusts with the light in the surrounding.
Some closing tips and reminders for your Europe Trip in spring
- Travel insurance is mandatory to apply for Schengen Visa. Keep the printouts of the insurance documents handy.
- Keep printouts of all your hotel bookings, inter-city travel tickets and travel passes in your folder
- Exchange cash 5-days in advance before leaving. Do not wait for it till you reach the airport as the rates are highest there
- Check the 2-week weather forecast while packing
- Pay all your bills before you leave for your trip – credit cards, electricity, water, domestic help, and house-rent to name a few
- Inform your bank before you go for a 2-3 week leave
- Use your loyalty points for bookings
- Have a photocopy of your passport and Visa
- Do not keep any bottle more than 10 ml in your backpack. Ya, that’s another rule that is known to everyone ut skips the mind at the right time.
- Keep your documents organized properly for a speedy immigration
Hope you found this list helpful.
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