A Month in Europe: What to Bring

One major challenge in spending a month away from home is deciding what to bring and how to bring it. Realizing that we were going to be constantly on-the-go, walking on cobblestone sidewalks and riding Europe’s public transportation, we decided to go the backpacking route for our recent month-long trip. We honed in on the Osprey Porter 46, which is a 46 liter pack that opens up like a duffel bag, has great pockets inside and then allows you to throw it on your back and travel stress-free through Europe without lugging a wobbly wheeler bag behind you.

{I'm still not sure how I got everything to fit!}
{I’m still not sure how I got everything to fit! P.S. these were the perfect walking shoes to bring to Europe.}

My new favorite thing to travel with is packing cubes. We went with the REI expandable packing cubes – I brought 2 large {which conveniently lay flat together on the bottom of the backpack} and 1 small. I used one cube for shirts and scarves, one for pants and dresses and the small one for underwear, socks, PJs and my swimming suit.

{packing cubes packed and ready to go!}
{packing cubes packed and ready to go! check out my mini hair dryer and flat iron – these were essential}

We also brought a stuff travel daypack that folded into its own pocket and allowed us to have a backpack we could bring on a hike or out exploring with us everyday. I would highly recommend this or another similar product, even a stuff bag would be helpful.

Regarding money belts and purses… I think my advice here would be to get a money belt rather than be sorry, but honestly, we only used ours one day in Barcelona. Both of us were exceptionally cautious and aware – Alex kept his phone and wallet in his front pocket and I had my cross-body purse zipped at all times with my cards kept in the zippered pocket inside, making it hard to access. We split up our cash between us and only carried necessary credit cards.

{Here I am in Bellagio, Italy wearing a scarf that doubled as a shawl at two weddings, my crossbody bag and solid clothing which worked well with my accessories.}

{Here I am in Bellagio, Italy wearing a scarf that doubled as a shawl at two weddings + a swimsuit cover-up, along with my crossbody bag and solid clothing which worked well with my accessories.}

Packing for a month in Europe is quite a challenge! I set out to bring as little as I could but also to select clothes that would allow me to mix and match with scarves or fun jewelry, making as many outfits as I was able to. After all, you don’t want to look the same in all of your pictures and you’ll surely be able to do laundry in your hotel room.

Here is what I brought:

  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 2 pairs of Bermuda shorts {definitely could have lived with just one!}
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • 3 dresses
  • 2 sweaters + 1 jacket
  • 1 long sleeve shirt
  • 4 short sleeve shirts
  • 3 tank tops
  • 2 scarves {+1 that I got in Italy} – a large scarf can double as a wrap over a dress or bathing suit cover up, as well as completely change the look of a plain shirt on its own or under a sweater
  • 7 pairs of underwear, 3 pairs of socks
  • 1 pair of low-key walking shoes, 1 pair of sandals, 1 pair of wedges, 1 pair of heels
  • 1 pair of PJs + 1 pair of leggings
  • 3 fun necklaces that went with most of my tops
Lined up and ready to go!
Lined up and ready to go! Note: I attended two weddings on this trip, if that had not been the case I would have removed the heels and one dress, then exchanged one dress for a long maxi-dress. I also brought one bikini.

As far as toiletries go, we both followed Rick Steves’ advice and only brought one set of everything we needed. He provided a good reminder that you can buy anything you need in Europe. I was surprised how long each travel size toiletry item lasted! The only thing we replenished was toothpaste about two weeks in.

Hopefully this provides some suggestions for successful travel planning and packing for a big trip. Taking time to get organized ahead of time will be worth it in the long-run to have a low-stress holiday.