Knowing what to pack for your vacation in a foreign country can be stressful. The first time that we went to Europe, there was quite a bit of research that needed to be done prior to take off. I was surprised to find out that the toothpastes, medicines, vitamins and even electrical outlets were unlike the ones that we use in North America.
Here are a few of our favorite travel essentials for your trip.
13 Travel Essentials For Your European Vacation:
1. European Plug Adaptor. North American chargers will not work in Europe since the electrical outlets are different. These should be purchased prior to your trip. If you decide to purchase one when you get there, you will be charged a premium. The places that we stayed in Europe did not have many wall outlets either. Amazon has a few options including a power strip for charging multiple devices.
2. Medicines/Vitamins. As stated in the intro, many of the medicines and vitamins in Europe are different that the ones that we purchase in the US. While I was in Italy, I purchased an allergy nasal spray that was not only hard to interpret because it was in another language, but it also burned while using it. So play it safe and BYO pain relievers, allergy/cold medicine, daily vitamins, and antacids just in case. Pro Tip: If you are bringing a prescription medicine, keep it in its original container so it has your name on it. Airport security is different in Europe and you may get stopped and questioned at the security checkpoint.
3. Reusable Water Bottle. Throughout Europe, there are fresh water fountains available to the public. These make it easy for you to refill your reusable water bottle. We recommend purchasing one that has a top that fastens such as Brita which also has a built in filter. PRO TIP: In Europe, it’s common to only receive a few ice cubes per drink while dining out. Because of this, we made ice at our VRBO and filled our water containers with it before leaving for the day. It was so refreshing to have cold water in the summer heat.
4. Foreign Currency. We recommend buying foreign currency prior to your trip. You can shop around for exchange rates to ensure you get the best deal (check American Express or your local bank). Once you get to your destination, you will only have a few options to exchange your dollars and they will have significant fees. Rule of thumb is to bring between $70 to $100 a day per person.
5. Destination Book: Purchasing a book about your destination(s) prior to your trip is a smart idea. It will offer up a plan on how to make the most of your time and money along with rankings of must-sees. Throw it in your carry on bag so you can read it during your flight. Anything by Rick Steves will provide you with great insight on your destination(s).
6. Laundry Supplies. Packing travel detergent, a sink stopper and hanger hooks will help you when laundry duty calls. The hanger hooks can be hung from a door frame and allow you to clip your wet clothing to air dry. PRO TIP: Avoid bringing clothing that wrinkle easily. You do not want to spend your vacation ironing your clothes.
7. Dryer Sheets or Febreeze. Living out of your suitcase can start to get stinky especially if you are vacationing in the summer time. Throwing a few scented dryer sheets or a small travel container of febreeze in your suitcase can help keep your clothes from smelling.
8. Wine Bags. These bags are ideal for bringing wine back with you in your suitcase. They are bubble packed with both a ziplock and velcro seal so you won’t have to worry about the bottles breaking in your bag.
9. Credit Card without a Foreign Transaction Fee. There are plenty of credit card options out there that do not charge a foreign transaction fee. If you plan on getting a new credit card prior to your trip, give yourself a few months to ensure it arrives in time. PRO TIP: Call your bank and credit card companies prior to your vacation to let them know where you are going. Not taking this precaution may end up leaving you with a cancelled credit card in a foreign country.
10. Bring Dri-FIT Clothing. Shirts, Shorts, Underwear, Undershirts and even Sports Bras. Since you’ll be spending much of your trip outdoors in the summer, you’re going to want to wear something that dries quickly. This material is lightweight and won’t hold your sweat like cotton shirts. These will air dry very quickly after washing them as well.
11. Hat And Sunscreen. The heat can be brutal when walking around all day. Bring something to cover your head to avoid sun burn. Also apply sunscreen to your face, arms, and legs prior to heading out. I brought my favorite Panama Jack fedora and it flew off while we were taking the water taxi in Venice. So if you do not want to take one with you, there will be plenty of opportunities to buy one there.
12. A Good Camera: Unless you are a professional photographer, do not go out and spend $700 on a new camera. I brought a Nikon camera on our most recent trip to Italy and barely used it. I had recently bought a new iPhone and the camera on it was amazing. There was no need for the wasted space that the bulky camera took up.
13. Lightweight and Comfortable Shoes. Comfortable shoes are probably the most important item to pack. You will be walking A LOT. The last thing you want is to have sore feet and blisters after the first day. Make sure to try them out before your vacation to ensure they are comfortable. My two recommendations are the Chuck Taylor Converse shoes and/or Rothy’s slip on sneakers.