This was probably my most “googled” question when planning our first European holiday. The answer is largely going to depend upon the type of holiday you are planning.
For starters, I don’t “do” European winter, so I am only packing for a summer holiday. We plan a casual, relaxed holiday, staying with family and friends, or in B & B’s and reasonable hotels. We dine out at the local pub, the occasional restaurant and do a lot of walking to take in as many attractions as we can. If you are planning dinners in five star restaurants and visits to the opera, or an adventure holiday with lots of outdoor activities, your packing list will probably be much different to mine.
What to pack for a month in Europe
So, if you are planning a similar holiday to ourselves, you will need a multi-functional, interchangeable wardrobe – items that can take you from a day’s sightseeing to dinner at the pub. You will also need clothing you can layer as the weather in Europe can be changeable even in summer- we were glad of our jackets even in summer. You will also want clothes that can be washed and dried quickly and easily and require little or no ironing.
Very early in researching our first trip I came across the “capsule wardrobe”. I love the concept and it really does simplify your holiday packing. Basically it comprises of a number of pieces that you absolutely LOVE and will mix and match together.
Planning your wardrobe
Before I bring out the suitcases I start by laying what I think I am going to need out on the bed and cull from there. Then pick a colour theme – black, white, red and taupe will be my theme this year. Start with black pants and skirts with white tops and shirts, as these can easily be dressed up or down with scarves, necklaces and accessories. I also tend to choose tops, pants, shorts and skirts over dresses for their versatility.
- Items that require lots of ironing, or are difficult to wash and dry, goes back in the wardrobe.
- If I didn’t wear it last summer – back in the wardrobe
- It cant be worn with at least 3 other items – back in the wardrobe.
- do also bear in mind that unless you are trekking in some remote location, anything you forget can easily be bought at your destination.
So, based on my experience last year, here is my packing list for this year, for our five week Berlin – Munich- Dijon- Talloires- Grindelwald- Lucerne road trip. I need to plan mostly for warmer days, some days by the lake, cooler nights, and a few treks into the Swiss Alps.
Lesley’s packing list:
- 5 sets of underwear – these can be washed out in the bathroom every few nights
- one thermal singlet (for the Swiss Alps)
- one summer and one warmer nightie
- two pair black pants – can be dressed up for dinner
- three pair of casual pants
- two pair of shorts (one can double as swimmers if it really is warm enough to swim)
- five short sleeve T shirts – white, red, taupe and black
- three long sleeved T shirts – white, red, taupe and black
- two lightweight jumpers – one black one white
- one light cardigan – taupe
- 3 long sleeve shirts – red, white and black. Can be layered over T-shirts or under jumpers.
- one iron free black skirt – can be worn day or night
- two iron free sleeveless dresses- can also be worn as skirt with shirts or t shirts on top.
- two non-iron evening tops- can be worn with any pants or skirt
- Taupe leather jacket – can be worn over every outfit in wardrobe.
- black swimsuit
- white “foldable” sunhat
- tote bag – many supermarkets in Europe no longer have plastic bags and expect you to bring your own shopping bag.
- sturdy walking shoes, black “ballet flats”, white sandals and one pair black evening sandals. Walking around the cobblestoned streets in Europe, sandals are not kind on your feet. Don’t even think about high heels.
- necklaces, scarves and earrings to accessorise outfits
Ian’s packing list
Ian’s packing list is devised along similar lines – his clothes are mostly grey, navy, green and taupe. The trusty Akubra is much too bulky to pack, so a hat will be top of his souvenir list.
- Five sets of socks and underwear
- two pair PJ’s
- one thermal for Switzerland
- Three pair of jeans
- Three pair of casual pants – can also be worn to dinner
- one pair “good pants” – in case we do go to a fancy restaurant
- three pair of shorts – one can double as swimmers
- three T-shirts
- two “polo shirts”
- three short-sleeved shirts – can be worn over T shirts and under jumpers
- three long-sleeved shirts
- one “good” shirt and tie
- two lightweight jumpers
- two belts
- walking boots, casual shoes (will “pass” in a nice restaurant), sandals.
- Short woolen jacket.
- Light rainproof jacket
Other packing tips:
- Pack socks and underwear inside shoes to save space. Wear your bulkiest shoes on the plane.
- Roll necklaces in gladwrap to prevent tangling.
- Small “vac seal” bags can help you to “compartmentalise” your clothing eg- T-shirts in one, underwear in another, making it easier to find things in a bigger suitcase. You can also compress down your jumpers and bulkier items to save heaps of space. We really found our packing was really made easier with Compartmentalised luggage organisers from Amazon.
- Pack a few plastic shopping bags and zip lock bags – very useful for packing items such as dirty shoes, wet washing and leaking shampoo bottles.
- A tote bag, which can double as a carry bag for day trips, and also a shopping bag. Re-usable plastic shopping bags are rare in Europe
- I pack a very small sewing kit – needle, thread, a couple of buttons and a couple of safety pins.
- Don’t bother about bulk shampoo, toothpaste etc. They not only take up room and weight in your suitcase, they can make a mess and are very inexpensive to buy at your destination.
- Unless you are planning serious hikes, joggers or comfortable walking shoes will take up less room and weight than boots.
If you have enjoyed this post and would like to learn more about planning a trip to Europe, click on the Amazon link at the bottom of the page, where you will find a range of travel guides which we found helpful. We do earn a small commission from any sales