Ready to head to Europe for a summer? Here’s my insider secrets to easily pack for a six week summer European trip. European weather can be notoriously changeable but being prepared is easier than you think!
First of all, what size bag should you take? The choices are overwhelming. If you’re heading to Europe and have booked yourself into an Airbnb, short term rental or house sit for the duration, by all means take one large suitcase and one carryon. You’ll need the carryon for short weekend trips from your base.
Please don’t think you can manage a large suitcase AND your carryon if you’re traveling from location to location.
If you have a traveling companion who has hands free to help lift luggage into train compartments or overhead you may get away with a medium suitcase. Long distance trains may have a dedicated luggage space but most city to city trains will only have overhead space which isn’t big enough for larger suitcases. You’ll end up standing so you can hold and watch your bags and that’s no fun!
Take a backpack for a place to store your daily stuff like laptop for those weekend trips. It’s also handy to use when you’re out all day shopping or sight seeing.
I prefer soft sided luggage with pockets inside and out as I think it gives you more flexibility to mooch things in. Soft bags can be squished into spaces hard cases can’t.
- Bottom line?
Use a medium size roller bag plus a backpack or one carryon size roller bag plus a backpack if you can make it work. I actually prefer to check bags so I’m not lugging a heavy carryon around the airport. Your choice.
Let’s start with the Essentials to Pack for Six Weeks in Europe:
- Pillows – small 12 x 16 and preferably down
- Robe – lightweight
- Slipper or flip flops to walk in room or to pool
- Poncho for warmth on plane or as a quick wrap
I need at least one small down pillow to travel with. Hotels in cities and more well traveled areas are getting a lot better about providing good linens and pillows, but if you’re a Goldilocks like I am about pillows, take one.
I like a very light weight robe to put on after a shower or bath while I’m doing my hair etc. Get one that packs down to nothing.
Some hotel carpets are just plain sticky. Take a foldable pair of slippers or light flip flops.
A wool or cashmere poncho can be super versatile, both to keep you warm on the plane and to use on spring/summer days that turn suddenly cool
- Camera or use your iPhone
- Phone | Phone Charger
- Kindle | Charger
- Laptop or Pad | Charger
- Travel Converter | Adapter
Electronics such as laptops and phones are dual voltage, meaning they adapt on demand to using either 110 (US) OR 220 (UK) voltage. With these devices you just need an adapter plug for the country you’re in.
Even Amazon doesn’t state on its product page whether or not the Kindle is dual voltage. I would charge it with a converter or with your laptop USB just to be on the safe side. By the way Kindles have become a lot more user friendly!
If you aren’t sure if your device is dual voltage, then you need a converter. A converter converts one voltage to another such as 110 (US) to 220 (UK). You’ll still need the plug adapter. We found this converter worked well for travel in Europe.
An alternative is to charge your device through your laptops USB port once the laptop is plugged in.
MAKEUP + HAIR
- Carryon size toiletries
- Gift size makeup
- Travel hairdryer (dual voltage)
- Brush | Comb | Velcro Rollers
- Small travel mirror
Start collecting travel size versions of your daily toiletries like toothpaste, face cream, shampoo etc. Most hotels carry mini shampoos and conditioners so you can skip those if you don’t have the space.
Also take advantage of “gift with purchase” makeup like Clinique or Lancome. Small mascaras, blushes and eye shadows are perfect for travel.
Most hotels carry hairdryers these days, so only take one if you must. I took this small lightweight one. European bathrooms don’t have electric outlets but they may have a hairdryer built in. If you take your own dryer you’ll need to find a mirror plus outlet to dry your hair. (Don’t forget the adapter) A small travel mirror means you can be putting on your makeup in the room while your travel partner is steaming up the bathroom mirror!
Clothing To Pack for Six Weeks in Europe:
- Hose | No show socks or liners | Socks
- Bras | Panties
- T shirt or Nightshirt
- Ponte or stretch pants
- Skirt | Bermuda Shorts
- Rain or trench coat
- Take enough to give you three versions of each outfit. For example three pants with 9 potential top variations. One skirt, three tops. One dress.
- The goal is to be able to layer effortlessly and quickly.
The biggest secret to easily packing a great travel wardrobe for six weeks is color. Do NOT pack anything that doesn’t make a least 3 outfits. Trust me on this one. Create outfits from two or three of your favorite pieces in your wardrobe right now. Do this in daylight so you can really see if colors are working together.
How to Choose What to Pack for Six Weeks in Europe:
- Pull everything out of your closet you think you want to take.
- Start with a pair of pants and try them with at least three tops.
My winter travel colors ended up being gray, navy and olive green. Sounds dull, but with a pop of white here and a blue and white scarf there, it was uber easy to pull together outfits on the go. A dark green down jacket from Eddie Bauer that was already in my closet helped make up my mind. I ended up buying a pair of olive green athletic shoes which worked with everything. Blue and green!
Trust me you’ll wear the most comfortable and most flattering outfits over and over so don’t take it if it doesn’t fit and isn’t comfortable for long plane or train rides.
The best part about traveling is no one sees you twice so don’t worry about repeating a look! Unless of course you’re addicted to Instagram
Be realistic about what you’ll be doing. No need to take heels unless you’re going to the opera or attending a wedding. Of course you could be addicted to your heels, in which case I’d suggest not taking any with you and waiting until you get to your destination. If you absolutely must have some heels to wear, buy some locally!
European cities have slowly become more Americanized and casual. Everyone wears sneakers, trainers or athletic shoes. With so many styles to choose from, find a pair that’s stylish and comfortable. Buy your “go to” walking shoes before you go and wear them as often as you can “pre trip” to break in. I bought two pairs of these Pumas, they are uber comfortable for walking in all day.
Although athletic shoes are trendy, it doesn’t mean sweat pants or workout wear are for European travel. You still want to look chic right? Athleta brand is my go to for comfortable stylish well made pants and tops appropriate and comfortable for travel.
Create 9 different outfits with three pair pants and one to two skirts. Pack a lightweight dress or two in a pretty color. One of your sweaters should be a cardigan or open style you can wear over your dress if it gets chilly at night.
- Having 2-3 lightweight scarves will pull your outfits together.
- Pick up a summer weight straw fedora for sun protection at your destination.
- The shoes you pack should work with all your outfits. Try taking one pair of comfy but stylish athletic shoes and one pair of pretty but comfy sandals with a bit of heel. Get some cotton or wool no show show liners to wear with your athletic shoes and some flesh colored bandaids just in case.
- Take a lightweight trench or rain coat for cool nights or chilly wet days. You can wear this on the plane.
Nine potential outfits, one or two dresses, two pairs of shoes, one lightweight coat, a poncho to pack in your backpack and one weeks worth of socks, undies that can be washed should be the core of your summer packing list. If you wear one pair of shoes and your coat, everything should fit in a carryon or middle size suit case with a little room for bringing home something.
Packing light but want room to bring home European goodies like clothing and shoes? Pack a collapsible bag inside your carryon. I found one at Eddie Bauer that folds almost flat.
That’s it for now. Until next time, bon voyage!