Traveling to Europe can be a very fun adventure, but not when you have to haul around a lot of luggage. Packing for Europe in only a carry-on suitcase is very doable when you plan ahead and choose the right items to bring along. I will breakdown what to pack by category: toiletries, clothing, accessories, and other travel necessities.
All of your toiletries should fit into a sandwich or quart size Ziploc bag, you don’t need a lot. This is also a good rule to follow when going through security at the airport. On your packing list you should have: travel toothbrush, and toothpaste, travel floss, travel size shampoo and conditioner, travel size mouthwash, and hairbrush. For women, basic everyday makeup and travel size hair products. You may also want to include and medications, but in small quantities if possible. Remember that most hotels provide some toiletries, and you can always buy some if needed. Plus this will give you and opportunity to try new products.
This is the area of packing were many of us tend to over pack. Packing for Europe in a carry-on suitcase is all about picking versatile clothing items that can be put together to make many outfits. I also like to keep in mind the way Europeans dress when I am packing for Europe. They tend to dress a little nicer than people in the United States, so leave your neon colored Nike running shoes at home. Another thing to consider when packing is the type of activities you will be doing and the weather at your time of travel. For women I recommend bringing a versatile dress, blazer or denim jacket, coat, blouse, one pair of dark wash jeans, striped ¾ or long sleeve tee, two knit shirts, and a sweater. For men I recommend packing one pair of dark wash jeans, one pair of dress slacks, one or two button down shirts, jacket, two knit tees, and a nice pullover style of sweatshirt/sweater.
Wearing different accessories can help make many different outfits out of few clothing pieces. For women I recommend packing one or two scarves, statement necklace, sunglasses, belt, and roomy purse/bag. For men a classic watch, sunglasses, belt and tie to go with all button down shirts. For shoes pick shoes that are comfortable, functional, and versatile. For women depending on the time of year I would pack a pair of leather riding boots, sandals, flats, or boat shoes. For men I would pack a pair of leather loafers, or boat shoes. Try to pack shoes that will go with most of your outfits and try to stick to no more than two or three pairs.
Other Travel Necessities
Some other travel necessities that you will want to consider bringing are a passport case that you can keep on you at all times, blow up travel pillow, phone and camera chargers, electrical adaptors and converters for the countries you will be staying in. I also recommend wearing your bulkier clothing items to the airport like your coat, this will save space in your suitcase. Packing for Europe in only a carry-on is very doable; just remember to leave space in your suitcase to bring fun items home with you. If you are struggling to zip your suitcase before you leave for your trip, you need to unpack, take some things out and repack. Happy traveling!