14 Must-Pack Essentials for Your European Vacation

Travel Channel editors share their top picks for anything your European odyssey throws your way.

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Hiking Boots

I’m heading to Scotland for a long-distance hike on the West Highland Way this summer, so waterproof hiking boots are top of my list. If you know you’ll need new boots for a trip, it’s best to get them early and break them in before heading off on your adventure. (Nothing can ruin a hike like totally avoidable blisters!) Beyond Scotland, pretty much every European country has great hiking opportunities, so be sure to check out options if you're planning on venturing out of the cities.—Kelly Smith Trimble, editorial director

Leggings (and a Scarf)

When traveling to Europe in warmer months, it is so important to remember that many religious sites won’t allow visitors whose shoulders and legs are exposed. That can make it pretty hard to both dress for the weather and any tourist spots you may want to visit. I’ve found that the best solution is a pair of black leggings rolled up in my bag and a scarf that can tied to the outside of my bag until I need to use it.—Keri Sanders, assistant editor

A Wardrobe of Neutrals

The first time I traveled to Europe, I stuck out like a sore thumb in my bright green jacket and colorful, striped rain boots. I now stick to mostly neutrals when I travel to avoid looking like a tourist. Pickpockets are known to target sightseers, so dressing like a local can help you keep your valuables safe.—Shannon Petrie, managing editor

Multi-Plug Adapter

My only tip in this instance is a bit of a no-brainer: a multi-plug that works for EU nations that USBs plug into directly, allowing for many devices to charge at one time.—Michele Purcell, executive producer

Duffle Bag

An extra duffle bag that folds down really small so I’ll have an extra bag for souvenirs.—Jackie McGilvray, editor

Travel Size Tissues

During my trip to Italy I ran into a lot of toilets that that were out of toilet paper. It was understandable because I was there at a very busy time of year, but that’s obviously something you don’t want to be stuck without. I keep a small pack of tissues in my purse wherever I go, and this is definitely something you won’t want to forget in Europe.—Christina Holbert, intern

Comfortable, Casual Shoes

When I head across the pond I know that I’m going to be doing some serious walking. It’s the best way to see the sights and smells of a city in my opinion. Here’s the thing though, I rarely pack athletic shoes. Nothing screams tourist more than a bright pair of sneakers with giant air bubbles cushioning your every step. Instead, I opt for something in a neutral color that is much more low-key but comfortable at the same time. For added comfort, I throw in a premium shoe insert so that I have the comfort of an athletic shoe while still blending in like a local.—Ryan Reed, editor

A Travel Steamer

Most European hotels don’t have irons, so a steamer is a godsend when all of your clothes are terribly wrinkled from being packed. A steamer [Editor's note: this one is handheld, by Black and Decker] that can use tap water as opposed to distilled is definitely the way to go.—Keri Sanders, assistant editor

Rain Hat

I've been caught in more than one downpour during a changeable London spring. Umbrellas can be bulky and tend to turn inside out in the brisk local winds, but a good raincoat and a hat that folds up like this L.L. Bean H2Off Rain Bucket Hat is a requirement when a sudden downpour hits and can double as a sunhat when things change again.—Felicia Feaster, managing editor


This one isn’t for everybody, but I prefer washcloths to wash my face, and you pretty much cannot find them in Europe. I like to stock up on cheap washcloths from the dollar store and then toss them as I move from hotel to hotel. That way, I don’t have to worry about trying to wash and dry them on the go, and I’m left with more room for souvenirs on my return trip.—Keri Sanders, assistant editor

A Phone Charger

I never travel to Europe without a portable phone charger [Editor's note: or, if you're in Russia, charge at a bus stop, as shown here]. Whether I’m hiking in Iceland or covering as much ground as possible in the cobblestone streets of Prague, I don’t want to have to worry about trying to find an outlet in a cafe or wonder if my battery will make it through the day. A portable charger comes in handy since I often use my phone for navigating, researching restaurants and taking photos. Plus, having a charged phone gives me peace of mind if an emergency were to happen.—Laura James, assistant editor

A Book or E-reader

I don’t think I’ve ever read as many books as I did when I spent four months in Europe during college. You’ll likely be spending lots of time on planes, trains and buses, so be sure to pack items that will keep you entertained while in transit. If you’re more of a TV/movie watcher than a reader, download a few things to watch on your phone or tablet to avoid using up data.—Shannon Petrie, managing editor


A wide, lightweight wrap has saved me on countless European trips. I’ve used it as a makeshift picnic blanket in Barcelona’s Park Guell and as an essential shoulder cover to throw over a sundress when visiting churches in Rome. If you buy one in a high quality, but thinner fabric, it can easily double as a scarf to add a little style to your travel outfit and as an extra blanket or pillow on the plane.—Jennifer Brennan, supervising producer

Ankle Boots and Sneakers

Black ankle boots and sneakers must make it into your suitcase. Boots (or a casual loafer or oxford shoe for men) can be dressed up for dinner and are stylish and comfortable enough to be worn all day. I always bring black Chelsea boots when traveling to a European city. Retro or white sneakers look great with jeans and a sweater, dresses or shorts, and, of course, they’re incredibly comfortable too. Versatile shoes that look good and support my feet are must-haves for European travel.—Molly Miller, contractor

Shown here: Christine waterproof bootie

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