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Trying to figure out what to pack for two weeks in Europe? As a veteran of European backpacking trips (3!) and now three years living in Europe, I like to think that I have some tips on what to pack for Europe for two weeks. I’ve tried to ensure that this packing list fits into a carry-on, so this packing list for Europe should be easy to adjust for one month in Europe if you’re only traveling around Europe with a carry-on. Keep reading for my carry-on friendly packing list for two weeks (or longer).
I was so nervous when packing for Europe the first time. What if people think that I’m horribly dressed or that American? It turns out that Europeans dress a little better, but not like I thought. I somehow thought that Europeans dressed out of some chic movie, but beyond avoiding yoga pants, European fashion isn’t so different.
I’ve been living in the Netherlands (and Paris) for three years now and I’m here to break some shocking news to you all: European fashion isn’t what we work it up to be. Be comfortable and remember that not everyone is perfectly dressed.
That said, the average European dresses slightly better than the average American (or Canadian sorry) with well-fitted clothes that flatter and tend to be less flashy in terms of brands. You definitely still see some brands, but think of your best dressed friend who just looks effortlessly cool in her vintage clothes and/or your friend who perfectly blends H&M shirts with high end jeans. I did a backpacking trip through Europe when I was younger and I promise that it’s okay if you don’t look chic all the time.
Your short packing list for two weeks in Europe
- Carry-on friendly bag
- 1 jacket
- 1 lightweight sweater
- 4 t-shirts
- 1 pair of jeans
- 1 skirt/shorts
- 2 dresses: one going out dress and one casual every-day dress. (Men, include one nice shirt and one
- 9 pairs of socks
- 8 pairs of underwear
- 1-2 bras
- Hiking pants
- Bathing suit
- Sandals (if staying at a hostel and/or during summer)
- Nicer pair of shoes [flats/ankle boots]
- Camera with charger and SD card
- European charger
- Side bag
- Hand sanitizer
- Unlocked phone OR Europe-friendly phone plan
- Ear plugs
- Lock for your hostel locker
- Power Bank
- Ibuprofen. You really never know when you’ll need this after a crazy night until 5am. (You’re welcome in advance.)
- Reusable water bottle
Your Europe packing list for two weeks in detail
A carry-on friendly bag
I’ve been using my Tortuga Setout for a bit now. I’ve been super happy with it as it’s budget flight friendly, unzips like a suitcase, and it’s not that heavy. It works for me. Click to read my full review of the Tortuga Setout.
One light(er) jacket depending on the season
You never know when it’s going to start raining or it’s unseasonably cold. (I think that I’m just used to the Netherlands where I often wear a jacket in summer.) For summer and shoulder season, I swear by my fake-leather jacket that’s baggy enough that I can double-up with a lightweight sweater underneath if it becomes too cold. If you’re more into raincoats, go for a lightweight raincoat. **Skip this if it’s winter and you’re carrying a heavier winter coat.
If you’re visiting Europe in winter or fall, you’ll realistically be wearing your jacket 24/7. I visited Serbia solo this February and I wore my winter jacket (which is similar to the one linked) every day. I kept it with me on the plane, so it didn’t impact my packing, however if you’re visiting in fall or going to very different climates, make sure that your jacket will fit inside of your bag. I’ve been there and it’s pretty miserable carrying around your jacket all the time as it didn’t fit in your bag.
One lightweight sweater or cardigan
I always bring a lightweight cardigan with me as you never know when it will get too chilly–or I’ll get cold inside a restaurant (if there’s air-conditioning, which is less common than you’d think).
Women only: One scarf
If you’re not carrying too many items, I always feel that a nice scarf can dress up any outfit with a little effort. I usually bring a silk scarf for summer, but I love my world scarf, which shows off my love of travel in a subtle way while adding patterns to my clothes.
I also love having a scarf as I love going into churches for religious artwork and sometimes you need to cover your shoulders. A non-circle scarf makes it easy to wear as a shawl if needed.
5 t-shirts or blouses
This is kind of easy, but I swear by packing five t-shirts, possibly one blouse. This is part of your daily outfit. Why five? Nobody cares if you’re re-wearing your clothes as long as they don’t smell although I’d include two extra for summer.
One pair of jeans
I usually re-wear my jeans for almost a week straight. I personally go for a straight cut in jeans as I feel that it works better with flats or booties, but that’s my own preference.
Summer only: One skirt or pair of shorts
It’s going to be hot outside. I’ve been in skirts almost every day this summer so far, so definitely invest in a skirt that is not patterned that will go with all of your shirts, so you can simply swap out your shirts on a daily basis without packing much.
Women: Two dresses; one going out & one casual
I love having a comfortable dress to throw on for exploring during the day that can easily go from day to night. I tend to prefer knee length dresses that are comfy and double as going out dresses at more casual places that don’t have a dress code or beer bars.
If you’re more into nightlife, I’d recommend bringing some nightlife dresses if you intend to go out to fancier clubs and bars. It can’t hurt to dress up and you might be able to skip the line if you’re dressed well!
Men: One nice shirt
For guys, going out is much easier. A simple classic button-up shirt is all you really need. Classic and easy to pack. I’d recommend considering black as it stains less easily and you’ll have less access to laundry.
8 pairs of socks
Sometimes, your socks get wet or you just really want to take a shower. Although you’re doing your laundry only once a week, it’s worth having extra socks. (I just love these Mario Brothers themed socks!)
8 pairs of underwear
I recommend up to eight pairs as you never know when you’ll do your laundry. Better safe than sorry.
Ladies only: one or two bras
If you’re planning on hiking, definitely bring a sports bra. However, one bra is typically enough for your entire trip although you can’t wash it if you only bring one. It’s your call, but I tend to only bring one when I’m packing light for a trip in Europe!
One pair of hiking pants (if you’ll be hiking)
Let me just put a note here: you don’t really see women wearing yoga pants unless they’re coming to/from a yoga pants here in Europe. If you’re planning on hiking more than once or doing very intense hikes, definitely bring a pair of hiking pants. (At worst, you can re-wear a nice looking pair during the day.) Alternatively, if you think you’re going on only one hike, I’d recommend bringing a lightweight pair of exercise pants that you can tuck into your bag or that can double as pajama bottoms if you so choose.
This is a given, especially if you’re staying at a hostel. I usually just wear a t-shirt and shorts when I’m traveling to save space, but a must. (I thought this cat-themed PJ set was adorable.)
Bathing suit (depends on destination)
if you’re traveling to a sunny destination or in summer, consider bringing a bathing suit with you. I tend to go for bikinis (this one is Ariel inspired!) when I’m packing light.
That said, don’t forget your bathing suit, or you’ll have to do what I had to do when I was in Brunei…buy a new swimsuit that barely fit. Luckily, you’ll have more options here than I had in my size at that Bruneian department store.
Sandals (for hostels/summer)
If you’re traveling in summer or staying at a hostel, you’ll want to bring a pair of sandals at minimum. For hostels, you need a basic pair of flip flops, but if you’ll be walking everywhere during your two week trip to Europe, I recommend packing a pair of comfort sandals, which have come a long way in looking cute.
The thing that I love about living in Europe is that public transportation generally is great, however you also have lots of cobblestones. As much as love wearing flats, sneakers are far better on your feet if you’re walking 10,000+ steps per day. I still love wearing flats, but it’s your call.
Other stuff to pack for Europe
It’s good to remember that you can get 99% of what you need here in Europe, however if you’re sensitive to allergies, it’s good to bring stuff from home. A lot of Europe packing lists make it seem like that you need to buy everything before you go, but if you forget something, you can always get at home.
I recommend buying carry-on sizes, so you can easily hop onto budget flights without worrying about your products being too big. Plus, you don’t need so much for two weeks!
A travel-size sunscreen should be enough for two weeks in Europe. Remember that you can always buy it at the drugstore here if needed, so don’t worry if you don’t find the perfect size bottle!
Camera with charger and SD card
Your photos are your memory of the trip. Be sure that you have a good camera. I personally have the Nikon D3300 although my friends all love the Sony a6000 if you’re looking for an easy to use camera that takes great photos without doing anything.
Even if you’re not a pro, it’s easy to use and lightweight. (It’s also possible to upgrade the lenses as you improve your photography skills. I’d recommend a 50mm lens if you take portraits, otherwise the 16-50mm should be enough.) For a lower price point, consider the Sony a5100.
Be sure to remember to buy a SD card and to bring your charger. I don’t have a dedicated camera bag myself as I prefer to tuck away my camera into my bag to make it less obvious that I’m carrying expensive photo equipment. Something more subtle is a good thing.
This is the most important item here! You need a European adapter if you’re from the Americas. You don’t need anything too crazy, but a bigger charger that can charge all of your electronics at once makes it easier rather than rotating the plugs (guilty).
I’ve had my adapter for five years and it’s still going strong despite going all over the world. This is something to definitely invest in, so consider getting one that fits world outlets. These are cheaper in the Americas.
Deodorant is important year-round, but especially in summer. If you have fragrance allergies like I do, be sure to bring yours with you as deodorant here can be pricey if you have issues with allergies. Be sure that your deodorant is travel sized! At worst, you buy it here. 😉
This is basic, but you’ll want this. At worst, you buy it here. 😉
Comfortable cross body bag
This is my most important must-have for traveling in Europe. I use a nondescript side bag that doesn’t look very fancy, but fits most of what I need–including my DSLR. It’s best to get something that isn’t flashy as you don’t want to attract pickpockets.
I truly believe that a good cross body bag is the best item to invest in for travel as it allows you to hold onto your belongings when you’re in a situation where you’re not comfortable–and be more aware of when someone tries to take something from your bag. Be sure to get one with a zipper.
If you’re into hiking, bring a lightweight packable daypack that you can carry with you if you go hiking at least a few times during your trip. I don’t think that it’s a must–but it’s nice not having to carry your water the entire time. A lightweight hiking backpack shouldn’t take up too much space.
Bring carry-on size products or put your own products into carry-on size containers. I got a carry-on set a few years ago and it’s made such a big difference with enabling me to bring my own products when I travel.
I can’t use LUSH products due to my fragrance allergy, but so many of my friends who travel full-time swear by their travel-friendly soaps. However, to pack light, consider getting a shampoo bar instead of carrying liquid shampoo. (At worse, you buy your soaps here!)
Non-spill bag for your toiletries
This is very important as I’ve had foundation spill EVERYWHERE in my bag. It was a minor disaster and I ended up investing in two waterproof toiletry bags. I have one mini one that fits my make-up that I got a local drugstore and a larger one that it goes inside that holds my toothbrush, etc.
You’ll notice that many European women don’t go too crazy with make-up. If you’re packing for two weeks in Europe, consider leaving most of your make-up at home as you won’t probably be using them that much. I recommend avoiding liquid foundations as they’re prone to spilling and …it’s happened to me.
When I want to look nice, I swear by Maybelline Master Precise for drawing the perfect cat eye, Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse for a light foundation that lasts and requires nothing besides your fingers that won’t spill in your bag, Maybelline brightening creamy concealer for my heavy under-eye circles, Covergirl Mascara, and Rimmel London for red lipstick for a night out. With these products, I can get ready in 3 minutes flat with no extra items.
Optional: Dual voltage hair straightener or curler
This is not required, but for my ladies who straighten or curl their hair regularly, I strongly recommend ensuring that your hair straightener is dual voltage.
This means that it will not fry as soon as you plug it into the wall. I love my hair straightener, which I’ve had for YEARS and traveled all over Europe with. They’ve discontinued my current model, but you don’t need to spend much for a good hair straightener.
…Some European public restrooms aren’t great. I always keep a little hand sanitizer in my bag in case there’s not soap.
Some people really need earplugs to sleep at hostels. I don’t personally use them, but don’t forget them if you don’t use them!
Optional: Lock for your hostel locker
If you’re staying at a hostel, not all hostels provide a lock, so bring your own lock. I increasingly see hostels moving to a system where they have an electronic lock, but for most hostels you’ll stay at, there’s not a lock for you to use. Most thieves in hostels are opportunistic, so lock up your bag securely for during the day.
If you’re staying at hostels, you are generally expected to have your own towel. A towel is handy as it can double as a picnic blanket for a cheap meal in the park. I love my quick-dry towel and have used it regularly for years, even at my own apartment, after I came back from my trip.
If you’re planning on Instagramming your entire trip to Europe, definitely pack a lightweight power bank to ensure that your phone is ready. I personally have the extra heavy-duty Anker power bank, but it’s a bit heavy carrying this one around daily. I’d recommend a lightweight power bank from Anker. (They make good power banks!)
Unlocked phone OR Europe-friendly phone plan
If you don’t have a Europe-friendly phone plan, make sure that you find a cheap unlocked phone to use while you’re here. Depending on your phone, you might not be able to unlock your phone for your trip, so all you need to do is swap out the SIM card for a European number. In the past, I bought cheap smartphones. It doesn’t need to be the fanciest brand.
You really never know when you’ll need Ibuprofen after a crazy night when you’re out until 5am… or you simply had too many delicious German beers. (You’re welcome in advance.)
When you go to a different climate, you might have different allergies. I have quite bad pollen allergies, so I strongly recommend bringing some allergy medicine as there’s different plants here–and they might be flowering at a different time than yours at home. I generally prefer a non-drowsy allergy medicine like Allegra for everyday use.)
This is also a “travel hack.” I always bring some Benadryl as it does a great job of putting me to sleep as I struggle with sleeping on planes. When I’m taking a red-eye plane from North America to Europe (or vice versa), I often wait until I’m on the right time zone–and then take a Benadryl, which always puts me to sleep. I wake up a bit drowsy, but on the right time zone with enough sleep.
Reusable water bottle
Let’s save the earth! If you have a reusable water bottle, you’ll find free fountains all across Europe where you can drink water for free, so if you’re worried about paying for every bottle of water, consider bringing your own bottle. You can’t drink it at restaurants, but it’s so handy to have one in case you decide to go on a hike or a long walk in a city. I have had the Nalgene water bottle for years and it’s such high quality.
Women mostly: Earrings & Necklaces
Earrings are a great way to pack light if you’re wanting to accessorize, but you don’t have space in your bag. I love interesting chandelier earrings for adding a nice detail to your outfit although I’d say that you could even bring three pairs if you’re looking to switch things up! I also pack one statement necklace to dress up my t-shirts and dresses!
What NOT to pack for Europe
- Your drone
- Your travel vest
- Your computer
Drone regulations in many European countries are very strict. If you fly your drone in Paris without a permit, you can be arrested and fined for instance.
Similarly, your travel vest might seem like a good idea, but it’s pretty easy to pick out who’s on safari and who’s not a tourist. I kid, but many European cities have issues with pickpockets. Unless you want to be targeted, leave your travel vest behind.
Do you NEED your computer for two weeks in Europe? I promise that you’ll have a blast detoxing and that your smartphone should be enough. At worse, you use a computer as needed.