Packing for a Europe trip can be a bit of a headache. With most itineraries stretching over several countries, odds are you won’t be encountering the same weather in every destination you visit. The same is true for Europe during the spring time. So when it comes to how to pack for three weeks in Europe, you’ll want to make sure you have some variety.
Now, keep in mind that I travel like an average person- Not some whacked out fashionista who packs exclusively for great Instagram shots. I pack for comfort, convenience, and practicality. If that’s not what you’re looking for, now is probably a good time to return to your google search. You won’t find designer brands here.
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Why Carry On?
I started packing carry-on only after my trip in Central America. I found it so much easier to just strap all my belongings onto my back in my carry-on sized backpack than trying to wheel around a big suitcase across cobblestone roads. In addition, packing carry-on only often saves you big dollars when flying, plus you don’t have to wait for your luggage upon arrival, and you severely reduce the risk of the airline losing your luggage!
Can I really fit 3 weeks of stuff into a carry on bag?
Heck yes you can! I even ended up with clothing items that never even got worn! How’s that for awesome? Here’s the catch though- you have to be willing to wear things more than once. Trust me, you’ll live. And in the springtime, odds are you won’t be sweating through everything you own, so that’s a bonus! You’ll also want to find some time in your schedule to do a round of sink-laundry. I suggest booking a private room for a night or two just for this purpose.
Check the Weather
First, you’ll want to check the forecasted weather for each of your destination cities. While I found that even these reports weren’t always accurate, they gave a good idea of the temperatures to expect. I visited the countries of Belgium, Italy, Germany, and Romania in the month of April. The interwebs informed me that Belgium and Germany would probably be in the mid- 50’s, Romania in the high 50’s, and Italy closer to mid 60’s. This was…fairly accurate. Belgium ended up being in the low 50’s, with mornings experiencing cold temps in the 40’s. Germany and Italy were pretty much spot on. I happened to visit Romania on a freak cold spell, and woke up some mornings to a light freezing rain, and temps in the high 30’s. So, with that being said, use the forecast as a mere projection of the temps, and be prepared for a good range.
Something I always do when packing carry-on only is to have a practice round or two. I gather everything I want to bring and pack it all up. If everything fits, nailed it! If not, then it’s time to rethink my needs. It’s best to do this a week or two before your departure, so you have some time to think and strategize.
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How to pack for three weeks in Europe
Here is everything I brought with me on my three week trip to Europe in the spring. Some things may not necessarily apply to you. For instance, if you’re a guy you probably don’t need to pack bras. Or if you don’t wear contacts, obvi you won’t need all that stuff. I share this list merely so you can see what I survived with on my trip, and hope that you can use it to decipher what you will be able to survive with as well.
- 1 Pair of Jeans
- 1 Pair of fleece-lined Pants
- 1 Pair of comfy Elephant Pants
- 1 Pair of fleece-lined leggings*
- 5 Plain colored T-shirts*
- 1 Longer sleeved, lightweight shirt
- 2 Sports Bras*
- 1 Regular bra
- 10 Undies*
- 8 Pairs of socks*
- 1 Light, Packable Raincoat
- 1 Light zip-up sweatshirt*
* Indicates an item in that category worn on the plane and not technically packed
All of my clothes fit into one full sized Eagle Creek packing cube!
- 1 Pair of flip flops
- 1 Pair of Merrel hiking shoes
- Saline solution for contacts & case
- Extra pair of contacts
- Hand sanitizer
- Laundry soap
- Cotton swabs
- Hair ties
- Travel sized kleenex packs (x3)
Don’t forget that all liquids must be in containers under 3 ounces!
- Pepto Bismal
- Prescription meds
- iPad Mini and charger
- iPhone and charger
- Nikon camera and charger
- European plug adapter x2
- Waterproof wrist watch
- iXpand drive
- External power bank x2
- 1- Large-sized Microfiber Towel
- Small gift for my CouchSurfing host- Classy move, people
- Backpack locks x2
In my Personal Item
Most airlines will allow you to bring a carry-on and a personal item. Usually, this is like a purse or a briefcase. My personal item is always my packable backpack. Here’s what I brought inside my backpack.
- Motion-sickness wristbands – seriously envious of all you that don’t have to deal with this…
- More pepto bismal
- Passport/ID/Credit Cards/Student ID card
- Plane tickets
- Ziplock bags
- Empty water bottle
- Travel journal and pen
- Anti-theft purse
All these items also fit inside my carry on luggage. This helps with inter-country travels, such as train rides. Or when you have to take your very first motorcycle ride on the back of a small bike with a stranger at 4 in the morning. There are times when it’s just best to have one small bag to deal with.
Items Purchased While Traveling
- 1 Winter Hat. Bruges was way cold in the morning! And it ended up being my favorite souvenir of the trip!
Have any questions about how to pack for three weeks in Europe? Questions about packing carry-on only or how to narrow down your necessities? Leave me a comment below!