We’ve all experienced ‘packing regret’. You know, that demoralizing moment when you arrive at your vacation destination and realize everything you’ve packed for the next week is so very wrong. After spending the last couple of years travelling to dozens of European cities for both work and leisure, I’ve compiled a tried-and-true packing lineup that I’m excited to share with you. In this post I’ve tackled Europe travel packing essentials.
Europe Travel Packing Essentials
Pack lots of black clothing when you travel because it’s the best ever. I mean it. I’m not saying you have to sport head-to-toe black (although plenty of Brits and Parisians wear all-black ensembles year round), but it’s genius as the foundation for your travel wardrobe in that it’s both eternally practical and fashionable. In terms of practicality, it’s simple: black does not show dirt. When you’re on the go, the last thing you want to worry about is grimy-looking clothes. In terms of style, black always wins. It’s sleek and chic, and arguably appropriate year round.
2. Love Those Leggings
I swear by a pair of black leggings when I travel. I’ve even worn them in high summer with a drapey tank and sandals. They’re a snap to pack because they barely take up any room in your suitcase. And let’s be honest, the stretchy waistband is nothing short of a miracle when you’re guzzling Czech beers in Prague or ordering a third round of wine and tapas in Madrid.
There’s a reason most packing tips suggest lightweight neutral layers for travel. You can take them on and off as your environment changes, which it will (e.g., from icy air-conditioned museum to a balmy outdoor café). You can mix and match them to endlessly extend your wardrobe options. Layers give any outfit an instant style boost making you look more finished, and frankly, less like a tourist. Layer up a denim jacket, lightweight scarf, fitted blazer, or slim buttondown over your t-shirts, tanks, shorts, leggings, and dresses. My favorite neutrals include black (of course!) and shades of gray and denim.
4. Sweet, Sweet Sneakers
Make a pair of sneakers your go-to footwear when traveling. In spite of what you may imagine, European women DO NOT walk for miles in sky-high heels. The truth is, they’re wearing sneakers or soft leather flats for their commute and slipping on their statement heels once they get to their destination. And in a lot of cases, they’re rocking their sneakers all day long because they’ve made it part of their look. Here, my Europe travel packing essentials include a classic pair of Converse Chuck Taylor low tops in either white, black or gray ($49 at Nordstrom.com). But there are loads of trend-savvy options to choose from that will make your feet look and feel fabulous. Style queens Alexa Chung and Gigi Hadid have pretty much nailed it. Follow suit.
I disagree with those who advise leaving jewelry at home when you travel. A few interesting pieces are exactly what you need to break up your suitcase full of neutral layers. How valuable the pieces you bring is up to your personal comfort level. My travel staples include a Jamie Joseph ring ($1,560.00 at Ylang 23), which I rarely take off, a leather wrap bracelet ($25 at Linea Pelle), and gold pyramid stud earrigs ($125 at Blue Nile).
6. Crossbody Handbag
I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about pickpockets when I travel, and, admittedly, I get a bit weary of all the dire warnings I receive from friends and family about scary ‘foreign thieves’. So I’ll make my advice brief: just like in any other large city anywhere in the world, practice common sense when you travel and you’ll be good to go. For me, this means a handbag with a secure zipper and a crossbody strap ($298 from Nordstrom.com). The crossbody strap allows me to comfortably secure my handbag to my body and keep an eye on it at all times. The zipper, when closed of course, keeps unknown hands from creeping inside. Bob’s your uncle.
Strict airline luggage size restrictions (and pricey fees for non-compliance), crowded train platforms, and narrow cobblestone streets are just a few of the numerous reasons you should opt for a small, nimble suitcase with wheels ($78.49 at Overstock.com). You want to be able to move freely, quickly, safely, and comfortably while you travel.
So there is your list of Europe travel packing essentials. Next up: Beauty travel essentials.