Ready to head to Europe for a summer? You need my insider secrets to easily pack for a six week summer European trip. European weather can be notoriously changeable but being prepared is easy if you know what to pack.
Let’s start with your suitcase and carryon options.
What size bag should you take?
If you’re heading to Europe and are booked into an Airbnb, short term rental or house sit for the duration and have a car rental, take one large suitcase and one carry on. You’ll need the carry on for short weekend trips from your base.
If you’re traveling from hotel to hotel, or by train I recommend you use a medium suitcase with a small shoulder tote bag or backpack.
Traveling by train? You can get away with a small to medium suitcase. Long distance trains may have a dedicated luggage space but most city to city trains will only have overhead space which won’t accommodate larger suitcases. You’ll end up standing holding and watching your bags and that’s no fun!
A backpack comes in handy on weekend and day trips when you need more storage than just a purse. It’s perfect to store your daily stuff like laptop, passport and phone and when you’re out all day shopping or sight seeing, handy to stash snacks and small purchases.
When it comes to my main suitcase, I prefer soft sided luggage with pockets. You get more flexibility to squish things in you may need quick access to. Soft bags can fit into spaces that hard cases can’t. Like train luggage racks.
- Bottom line?
Use a medium size roller bag plus a backpack OR one carry on size roller bag plus a backpack. I actually prefer to check my bags so I’m not lugging a heavy carryon around the airport. Yes you have to wait for the baggage carousel but it’s worth it.
Soft Sided Carry On
Packable Duffel Bag
Essentials to Pack for Six Weeks in Europe:
- Pillows – small 12 x 16 and preferably down
- Robe or caftan – 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 are getting a lot better about providing good linens and pillows. But if you’re a Goldilocks like me, I need my extra little pillows. When you store down pillows in space saver bags, they take up no room at all.
I like a very light weight robe or long t shirt to put on after a shower or bath while I’m doing my hair. A pretty caftan can also double as a pool cover up. Get one that packs down to nothing.
Some hotel carpets are just plain sticky. Take a foldable pair of slippers or flip flops.
A wool or cashmere poncho can be super versatile; to keep you warm on the plane and to use on spring/summer days that turn suddenly cool.
Skinny Flip Flop
Most electronics such as laptops and phones are dual voltage, meaning they adapt on demand to using either 110 (US) OR 220 (UK) voltage. All you’ll need is an adapter plug for the country you’re in. The UK and Europe use different plugs so take at least two adapters.
Even Amazon doesn’t state on its product page whether or not the Kindle is dual voltage. I charge mine with a converter or my laptop USB to be on the safe side. As much as I prefer reading a book, I rely on my Kindle when traveling and download e-books from the library or buy from Amazon. Instant gratification.
If you aren’t sure if your device is dual voltage, you’ll need a converter. A converter converts one voltage to another, for example 110v (US) to 220v (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 laptop USB port once the laptop is plugged in.
iPad 10.2- inch
MAKEUP + HAIR
- Carry on 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 but I like to pack my own.
Also take advantage of “gift with purchase” makeup like Clinique or Lancome. Small mascaras, blushes and eye shadows are perfect for travel.
Most hotels supply hairdryers, so unless you’re picky (like me) you can skip packing one. I took this dual voltage small lightweight dryer. I’m glad I did, because most hotel hairdryers don’t have enough juice to style hair.
Most 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 with an outlet nearby to dry your hair. (Don’t forget the adapter). Your small travel mirror means you can be putting on your makeup somewhere else, while your travel partner is steaming up the bathroom mirror!
Travel Makeup Mirror
Dual Volt Hairdryer
Clothing to Pack for Six Weeks in Europe:
- Hose | No show socks or liners | Socks
- Bras | Panties
- Robe or Cover Up
- Ponte or stretch pants
- Skirt | Bermuda Shorts
- PJ’s or T Shirt
- Rain or trench coat
Before You Start Packing, Do This:
- Pull everything out of your closet you’d like to take
- For each bottom piece – pants or skirt – pick at least three tops.
- If you take three pants, pack 9 tops. You want three versions of each outfit. Three of those tops should also work with a skirt or shorts.
- If you can’t make a least 3 outfits from a pair of pants or a skirt, leave it at home.
- Do this in daylight so you can really see if colors are working together.
Color is the secret to easily packing a great travel wardrobe for six weeks. Pick three summer colors you love.
Make sure everything goes together so you can mix and match without a lot of fuss. 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 I already had in my closet made up my mind. I ended up buying a pair of olive green Pumas which worked with everything. Blue and green!
You’ll end up wearing your most comfortable and most flattering outfits over and over. If it doesn’t fit and isn’t comfortable for long plane or train rides, leave it at home.
Remember only your travel partner will see you more than once, so don’t worry about repeating a look!
Your Summer Packing List:
Once you’ve gone through your options you should have:
- 9 color coordinated outfits.
- 1 or 2 dresses or jumpsuits
- 2 pairs of shoes
- 1 lightweight coat
- a poncho or lightweight scarf.
- 1 week of socks and undies that can be washed.
Additional items to pack:
- Take 2-3 lightweight scarves to pull your outfits together.
- Pick up a summer weight straw fedora for sun protection.
- Pack shoes to work with all your outfits. Take 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” shoe liners and some flesh colored bandaids just in case.
- Your lightweight trench or rain coat is for cool nights or chilly wet days. Wear it on the plane.
- Pack a lightweight dress when you want to dress up or in case it gets hot!
- Pack a cardigan or open style sweater you can wear over your dress if it gets chilly at night.
- Bottom line?
Don’t pack heels unless you’re going to a wedding or special occasion. Cobbled streets are challenging with any kind of heel. find a pair that’s stylish and comfortable in the US, you’ll have a lot more choice and prices will be lower. Try to break in new shoes before you go. I bought two pairs of these Pumas, for walking all day comfort.
For more of my favorite travel and outfit resources get them here. Until next time, bon voyage!
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