Author Topic: What to bring on trip to Europe?  (Read 7968 times)

Guizmo

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What to bring on trip to Europe?
« on: June 20, 2015, 04:14:41 PM »
Hi guys and gals,

I'm going to Europe for 3 weeks on Wednesday for the first time. I plan on packing light and will be traveling by myself. I'm a young guy and live the Mustachinan lifestyle so I plan on doing it inexpensively through hostels, air bnb, etc. My question to my fellow Mustaches is: From your experiences, what is essential to bring on a trip of this nature??


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Re: What to bring on trip to Europe?
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2015, 04:31:47 PM »
Whatever you decide, make sure it's not more than you can fit into a mid-sized backpack.

Google for round the world travel packing lists. There's dozens of bloggers who have posted their lists.  RoG and I were talking about it in a thread as well.
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forummm

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Re: What to bring on trip to Europe?
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2015, 04:44:52 PM »
I'm sure the travel lists you google will be great. I always bring a travel wallet that I wear under my pants around my waist, even while sleeping. It helps me rest easy to know my passport, a credit card, and some cash (at least $100) is on me at all times. Especially if you're in a room with a bunch of other people. I've never had any trouble getting things stolen, but it's piece of mind. Another suggestion is to bring photocopies of your passport photo page with you as well a list of the international phone numbers (from the back of your cards) for the credit cards you bring with you. Keep a copy in your bag and in your pocket. That way if you lose your passport you can get IDed at the embassy more quickly, and if you lose your cards you can call the bank more quickly too. Tell your banks you are going abroad so they don't freeze your card when you start using it in an unexpected country.

pennyhandlebar

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Re: What to bring on trip to Europe?
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2015, 05:46:12 PM »
Follow up to forummm's advice to bring copies of your passport and CCs and keep them separately from the originals -- I will take photos/scans of documents like passports and visas and e-mail them to myself, so even if you lose everything, you can still pull out your passport images. Some kind of travel wallet is a nice idea too -- be wary of pickpockets, I have a couple of friends who are not particularly easy marks who have been pickpocketed in Europe.

Can't over-emphasize how NICE it is to travel light! If you can keep to a day pack rather than filling a trekking pack, getting around is so much more pleasant. You will see people with a trekking pack on their back and a day pack in front, looking hot, tired and miserable as they try to find their hostel -- don't be that guy.

Long pants. As you probably know, the standard of dress is a bit higher in Europe than the US; you will fit in more if you're not wearing shorts and a t-shirt at dinner. You'll still want some shorts for any beach trips, hiking, etc., but have at least one pair of long pants with you.

If you're checking a bag, a Leatherman or pocket knife is nice. You'll need something to slice your bread, cheese, and salami as you picnic in the park. :-)

KCM5

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Re: What to bring on trip to Europe?
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2015, 06:00:44 PM »
A towel

forummm

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Re: What to bring on trip to Europe?
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2015, 06:51:09 PM »
You know, I totally forgot, but DW was a victim of an attempted pickpocketing in Peru. Fortunately her stuff just happened to be zipped up in a pocket they couldn't get easily, and I had all our important stuff under my pants anyway. A crowd of women mobbed her and threw something at her face to get her to move her hands away from her pockets. It took me a minute to figure out what was going on.

But don't worry about things too much. Europe is a pretty easy place to travel. You can drink the water, you can find someone who speaks English, and hostels are great for helping you find your way around, meeting other people, etc. You'll have a great time!

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GizmoTX

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Re: What to bring on trip to Europe?
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2015, 02:37:12 AM »
Plan on sink or shower clothes washing as you go. Fabrics that dry quickly are essential. It helps to roll up washed items in a towel before hanging to dry. Bring a Rick Steves clothesline & camping towel.

Local cash is essential; use ATMs for the best conversion rate. A Schwab debit card refunds ATM fees everywhere in the world. Do not use travelers checks. Credit card should be chip & pin with no foreign transaction fee, & have the merchant charge in the local currency.

Wear a money belt under your clothes for passport & backup money -- never put these items in a pants pocket or bag. Downsize your wallet.

Lyssa

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Re: What to bring on trip to Europe?
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2015, 03:20:53 AM »
Plan on sink or shower clothes washing as you go. Fabrics that dry quickly are essential. It helps to roll up washed items in a towel before hanging to dry. Bring a Rick Steves clothesline & camping towel.

Local cash is essential; use ATMs for the best conversion rate. A Schwab debit card refunds ATM fees everywhere in the world. Do not use travelers checks. Credit card should be chip & pin with no foreign transaction fee, & have the merchant charge in the local currency.

Wear a money belt under your clothes for passport & backup money -- never put these items in a pants pocket or bag. Downsize your wallet.

Carry more cash than in the US. Credit cards are not accepted in all stores/restaurants, some accept them but require a minimum amount. American express is least common, visa and mastercard work better.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2015, 03:22:33 AM by Lyssa »

shadowmoss

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Re: What to bring on trip to Europe?
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2015, 03:34:03 AM »
onebag.com  The entire site is how to travel light, with one carry-on bag.  Lots of overlap with the Rick Steves site.

forummm

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Re: What to bring on trip to Europe?
« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2015, 06:01:55 AM »
I always bring 1 pound of almonds and 1 pound of my homemade granola. It doesn't take up much space at all, but it is great for when you get stuck somewhere (like on a plane or wherever) and need some food. It's also much cheaper than eating out all the time.

The Fake Cheap

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Re: What to bring on trip to Europe?
« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2015, 07:43:55 AM »
I highly recommended Rick Steves as well, not just for packing tips but for cheap itineraries as well.  The wife and I followed much his book on Germany when we went a few years back and found his advice bang on.

TheExplorer

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Re: What to bring on trip to Europe?
« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2015, 07:53:47 AM »
I suggest reading: http://www.travelindependent.info/whattopack.htm.

A shorter summary of that page is: http://www.travelindependent.info/whattopack-backpacking-checklist.htm.

Essentially, the key is to take as little as possible. You can always buy anything you need that you didn't bring when you get there, but it is a real pain to have to carry something around for weeks that you never use.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2015, 07:57:54 AM by TheExplorer »

Albert

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Re: What to bring on trip to Europe?
« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2015, 10:21:56 AM »
If you use airbnb most places will have a washing machine. You just need enough clothes that there is something to wear during washing/drying. As mentioned above going everywhere in shorts only is not considered proper plus it could be cold. Depending where exactly you go our summers could be a lot colder than yours. Beyond the obvious stuff like not putting all your money in your back pocket the best advice of avoiding thieves is not looking like an obvious tourist who doesn't know what he/she is doing. Fitting in here for Americans ought to be a lot easier than in South America.

Exhale

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Re: What to bring on trip to Europe?
« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2015, 10:40:04 AM »
I'm going to Europe for 3 weeks on Wednesday for the first time. I plan on packing light and will be traveling by myself...what is essential to bring on a trip of this nature?

Take as little as possible. This can be done if you bring clothes that'll dry overnight. Three weeks isn't that long in terms of clothing needs so try to keep it as paired down. The Rick Steve's packing list is a good place to start, but it's still too much (IMHO). You can get almost anything on the road.

The absolute essentials for me are:
- passport
- credit card and cash (small bills)
- money belt
- map & travel notes (or guidebook)
- meds/pain pills
- extra pair of glasses
- travel alarm
- earplugs
- scarf (airplane blanket, dresses up an outfit, beach wrap, etc.)
- good socks/walking shoes
- safety pins/band aids
- postcards (to give as gifts/thank you notes)
- pen/notebook
- good book/crossword

Note: if you do art or play a small instrument, consider bringing with you. Art/music = great icebreakers.

Have fun!

Albert

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Re: What to bring on trip to Europe?
« Reply #15 on: June 21, 2015, 10:47:30 AM »
If you have a smartphone or tablet of some kind I suggest you bring one of those too. Having an occasional internet access is very valuable for all kinds of purposes and internet cafes are pretty much extinct these days.

expectopatronum

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Re: What to bring on trip to Europe?
« Reply #16 on: June 21, 2015, 12:49:42 PM »
We've gone on several extended 6 week backpacking trips to Europe with only 1 small backpack each. Mine is usually in the vicinity of 12-15 lbs, and my husbands is about 20 lbs. when flying, wear your bulkiest clothes.

Take as little as you possibly can.

We constantly see travellers with huge (or even medium sized) awkward bags struggling to fit them into overhead compartments or storage. Carry on only also allows you to exit the airport much quicker and get exploring!

We each take (for summer trips) :
- 1 pair jeans
- 1 hoodie
- 1 light raincoat/windbreaker
- 1 pair hiking/walking shoes
- I also bring 1 pair ballet flats and flip flops
- 3-4 pairs socks
- 5-6 pairs underwear
- 3-5 tshirts or tank tops
- 1 pair shorts
- 1-2 summer dresses : ladies - dresses are the best! A whole outfit in one small rolled up piece of fabric
- wide brimmed hat
- sunglasses
- iPad & charger
- camera
- travel documents
- small amounts of toiletries ( you can only take small amts if you do carry on... Replenish en route as needed)
- small, thin towel
- bathing suit
- books to read / journal
- eyeglasses
- water bottle
- lightweight scarf

Obviously, YMMV, but the key is just bring the basics!

I'll add to this and Exhale's list:

- 1 cardigan (ladies - to cover up shoulders - some churches in Europe require shoulders and knees covered), unless your scarf is the Pashmina type that can be used as a shoulder wrap
- 1 pair capris or a knee-length skirt (bringing your options to pants, capris, shorts, dress). See above reason.
- 1 adapter. Check your electronics to make sure that you ONLY need an adapter (which will make your plug fit into a Euro outlet) and not a converter. I discovered lots of my devices could be used 50-60Hz and 110 or 220V and that I rarely need a converteer. I would say 1 adapter per person, not per device. With some planning you won't need more than 1-2 at a time. Keep phone on airplane to save battery, use wifi where needed. When my husband and I travel, one of us takes a microUSB cable and the other takes a Lightning and we are set.
- Whether you need to take a small towel and/or washcloth depends on the type of places at which you will be staying.
- I'd leave out the hoodie in favor of a light fleece (will be less bulky and you probably won't need a hoodie in Europe in summer)
- Small sunscreen; replenish as needed.
- Extra memory card(s) optional. Also available en route. We don't carry computers when we travel, so we fill up memory cards and download pics when we return. Very doable for 3 weeks
- Basic selection of meds: Advil,pepto bismol, anti-itch. Not a necessity for everyone; something to consider. It can be nice to have at least Advil so you don't have to hunt it down in a pharmacy when you need it.

I'd also agree with the tips to carry ONLY the cards you'll need in your wallet and leave the rest at home. Put travel notices on cards before going so they do not get locked. Move wallet/money close to body, such as interior or front pocket or tuck a money belt/bag under your shirt. I carry more cash than in US b/c Europe is less card friendly. I look up ATMs that are part of the Global ATM alliance in advance and space out my withdrawals, only using CC on things like hotels because my card doesn't charge an intl transaction fee.

Leave valuable jewelry at home as much as possible.

I always take Tide "sink packets" (they are small, sold in travel section) in case I need to do an emergency wash. I overpack on underwear and don't worry about outer layers as much :P

Make sure you can mix & match your outfits, and you'll be able to travel with only a carry-on (or a backpack, at worst!)...especially in the summer without bulky winter clothes!

merula

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Re: What to bring on trip to Europe?
« Reply #17 on: June 21, 2015, 01:06:48 PM »
Capital One card if you have one (no foreign transaction fees). You can open a Capital One 360 online checking account with no minimum balance.

Chip and pin is helpful but not strictly necessary. There may be some kiosks that won't let you pay with a non-chip card, but most live cashiers have an alternate method, particularly in touristy areas. The agreements with Visa and Mastercard are that if you're an accepting merchant, you have to accept all valid cards, you can't opt for just chip-and-pin. This was an issue for me in northern England 5-6 years ago, but not anytime since.

Also, I recently traveled to Canada and brought a chip-and-pin card. Every time I ran it, I got a printed receipt for a signature! It wouldn't let me enter a PIN.

For staying in hostels, I usually bring a solid bar of laundry soap (less space than liquid or powder), but if you're going to be in AirBNB places, check on laundry facilities before you go.

Wear nice shoes. As noted upthread, standard of dress is higher than the US (well, higher on the Continent; UK is the exception) and presentable shoes go a long way. They should also be comfortable, of course.

IMO, money belts are a stupid idea. As soon as you pull one out you make yourself a mark. I suppose it can work if you keep a wallet with your daily cash/ID needs and never ever ever touch the money belt in public. I prefer to keep valuables in an inside pocket of a blazer or bag.

GizmoTX

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Re: What to bring on trip to Europe?
« Reply #18 on: June 21, 2015, 02:07:43 PM »
You NEVER pull anything out of a money belt in public -- it's to keep your passport, backup cards, & extra money on your person & out of reach of pickpockets & thieves. Storing anything valuable in a jacket only works if it's zipped inside & you never take the jacket off. Storing valuables in a bag is asking for trouble.

Daily cash, daily tickets, & maybe 1 CC should go in a secure zipped pocket.

Albert

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Re: What to bring on trip to Europe?
« Reply #19 on: June 21, 2015, 02:11:19 PM »
IMO, money belts are a stupid idea. As soon as you pull one out you make yourself a mark. I suppose it can work if you keep a wallet with your daily cash/ID needs and never ever ever touch the money belt in public. I prefer to keep valuables in an inside pocket of a blazer or bag.

That's how I feel as well. Ever seen a local guy using one? Do you use it in your own city? No? So probably not a great idea for walking around Rome either...

I keep a small amount of cash in my pocket and the rest plus my documents in the inside pocket of my backpack. Not possible to steal it from there and if I'm going to be robbed (never happened) then it doesn't matter where I keep my valuables. Doesn't apply to hostels, but if you are staying in airbnb apartments and/or reputable hotels it's ok to leave your passport and part of money/cards there. In the case of a hotel preferably not in a completely open manner.

Albert

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Re: What to bring on trip to Europe?
« Reply #20 on: June 21, 2015, 02:14:19 PM »
By the way the most valuable object (to thieves) most people carry around these days is a smartphone and you are surely not going to keep that in a money belt. Your passport and credit cards are of no great value to anyone else.

GizmoTX

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Re: What to bring on trip to Europe?
« Reply #21 on: June 21, 2015, 03:14:55 PM »
By the way the most valuable object (to thieves) most people carry around these days is a smartphone and you are surely not going to keep that in a money belt. Your passport and credit cards are of no great value to anyone else.

A smartphone, like daily money, should be in a secure zipped front pocket.

Getting a stolen passport replaced is a supreme hassle & chews up a lot of time. And you can't go home without it.

Albert

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Re: What to bring on trip to Europe?
« Reply #22 on: June 21, 2015, 03:23:30 PM »

A smartphone, like daily money, should be in a secure zipped front pocket.

There is no such thing in my jeans or trousers. Plus you are using it often and thus holding in you hand. No need to be paranoid...

Getting a stolen passport replaced is a supreme hassle & chews up a lot of time. And you can't go home without it.

Certainly and one should be careful with documents, but your passport unlike your money or a smartphone is of no particular value to me.

expectopatronum

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Re: What to bring on trip to Europe?
« Reply #23 on: June 21, 2015, 06:20:17 PM »
IMO, money belts are a stupid idea. As soon as you pull one out you make yourself a mark. I suppose it can work if you keep a wallet with your daily cash/ID needs and never ever ever touch the money belt in public. I prefer to keep valuables in an inside pocket of a blazer or bag.

That's how I feel as well. Ever seen a local guy using one? Do you use it in your own city? No? So probably not a great idea for walking around Rome either...

I keep a small amount of cash in my pocket and the rest plus my documents in the inside pocket of my backpack. Not possible to steal it from there and if I'm going to be robbed (never happened) then it doesn't matter where I keep my valuables. Doesn't apply to hostels, but if you are staying in airbnb apartments and/or reputable hotels it's ok to leave your passport and part of money/cards there. In the case of a hotel preferably not in a completely open manner.

I do the safe in the hotel, generally (so it's not just sitting around the room). In a hostel, if I can't lock my things/don't trust the locker, I will just carry the money under my shirt (like someone said, never touching it). This happens when I have to check out and leave luggage in the holding area. It's not a great solution, but has had to work for us in the past when backpacking in the winter. Women's pockets are pretty much useless, bags can be stolen (I try to mitigate this by carrying a cross-body bag), jackets can be left. I just feel like I'll take my chances of someone magically deciding to reach up my shirt on the off-chance I've got a substantial amount of cash in there...

It's not so much marking yourself as a tourist that I think is the problem; it's advertising that you've got lots of cash on you. I mean, blending in will probably reduce your odds of being targeted, but a ton of other things are going to mark you as a tourist: the way you dress, the language(s) you speak, general demeanor (are you lost? not rushed for time on the 8am subway?), taking pictures, standing in line for attractions...and so on. So the way I see it, if you're in a touristy area, just be less of an easy target than the tourist standing next to you. Don't whip through a thick stack of 50 EUR bills to pay for a 10EUR expense.

coconutindex

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Re: What to bring on trip to Europe?
« Reply #24 on: June 21, 2015, 06:21:14 PM »

Long pants. As you probably know, the standard of dress is a bit higher in Europe than the US; you will fit in more if you're not wearing shorts and a t-shirt at dinner. You'll still want some shorts for any beach trips, hiking, etc., but have at least one pair of long pants with you.

Agreed, and bring some nice shirts as well. You'll feel more comfortable being properly dressed when you're visiting cities, setting yourself apart from all the loud Americans with fannypacks and shorts!:-)

Nothlit

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Re: What to bring on trip to Europe?
« Reply #25 on: June 21, 2015, 07:45:24 PM »
I just returned from a solo 2-week trip to Europe (London, Bruges, Amsterdam) earlier this month. I, too, stayed in hostels. There've been plenty of good recommendations already in this thread. Here's what I took (I may be forgetting some things):

- 4 shirts (mix of long and short sleeve)
- 5 sets of underwear & socks
- 2 pair of pants
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 pair of comfortable broken-in shoes (I ended up walking 10+ miles a day for most of my trip)
- toiletries
- flip flops for hostel showers
- earplugs
- sleep mask (the sun comes up pretty early in northern Europe)
- light windbreaker
- light fleece
- plug adapters
- iPhone 6 (the only camera I took, and it was fine)
- external battery pack (very handy to recharge my phone late in the day without having to find an outlet)
- 2-port USB adapter (to recharge phone & battery pack simultaneously overnight)
- microfiber towel (dries quickly!)
- 2 travel washcloths (also quick-dry)
- small messenger-style day bag
- compact umbrella
- water pouch
- padlock
- 6 foot extension cord (power outlets are not always conveniently located)
- sink drain stopper (never ended up using it)

Everything was packed in this backpack suitcase from eBags. I did laundry twice during the trip: once at a hostel in London, and the second time at a laundromat (sorry, wassalon) in Bruges.

I found I did not need a ton of cash. I made small ATM withdrawals (~$40-60 worth) a handful of times throughout the trip as needed. Fees were minimal (check with your bank first). Most places took credit cards, but then I was in fairly major tourist destinations. In the UK most credit card terminals do "contactless" (aka tap-to-pay) for which I was able to use Apple Pay on my iPhone. (But UK iPhone owners don't have Apple Pay yet, so not many clerks were familiar with it.)

I left my passport and other non-daily-use valuables locked in the lockers of the various hostels where I stayed (with my own padlock). When traveling between cities, I kept my passport in my day bag. Some people may want to use a money belt, but I hate the feel of having something like that under my clothes, so I didn't bother.

If you are traveling through a city but not staying overnight (i.e., a few hours between trains) there are usually luggage lockers in the train station where you can leave your stuff so you can go out and wander the city unencumbered.

Guizmo

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Re: What to bring on trip to Europe?
« Reply #26 on: June 21, 2015, 10:28:23 PM »
Thanks y'all! This has been very helpful!!

MsPeacock

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Re: What to bring on trip to Europe?
« Reply #27 on: June 22, 2015, 07:18:05 AM »
I pack super light and plan to do laundry on long trips. I have done the wash in the sink nightly routine and did not like it, for a number of reasons: often there are not adequate towels to wrap and wring out the clothes and as a result the clothing was still wet the next day, I never felt like my clothes got adequately clean w/ hand washing, damp clothes start to smell or are very uncomfortable to wear the next day, and I don't particularly like the materials that dry quickly.  I find I can wear the same t-shirt a couple times baring unforeseen disasters, as long as I use deodorant. I'd rather take 3 shirts that I really like and wash them at the end of a week. It also avoids the carrying around of various laundry soaps, stuff for hanging up damp clothes, etc. I do not carry a microfiber towel with me, travel alarm clock, etc.

I think some of the packing lists are for one sort of traveler (e.g. wash your stuff in the sink) and others make do w/ less gadgetry.

Do make sure you have chargers for whatever electronics and a plug or voltage adaptor - they are almost impossible to find once you are in Europe (because the adaptors sold there are for Europeans coming to the United States).

Last year my non-chip cards were accepted at 98% of places.

Scan and email to yourself copies of your important travel documents (passport, card cards), and get the international phone number (note: the one on the back of the CC may not work in Europe) for Visa and Master Card (e.g. http://phone-numbers.matan.ca/Visa-Credit-Card-International-Telephone-Service-Numbers).  The 1-800 numbers do not work in Europe (I unfortunately had a very stressful tear-filled day when the credit card companies, upon seeing overseas charges, and despite being informed in advance of my travels, blocked *all* of my credit card accounts).

If you are planning to call using your cell phone in Europe, get the dialing instructions from your cell providers in advance. It is not self-evident at all (in my experience, being low techy and such).

Drifterrider

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Re: What to bring on trip to Europe?
« Reply #28 on: June 22, 2015, 12:47:02 PM »
Hi guys and gals,

I'm going to Europe for 3 weeks on Wednesday for the first time. I plan on packing light and will be traveling by myself. I'm a young guy and live the Mustachinan lifestyle so I plan on doing it inexpensively through hostels, air bnb, etc. My question to my fellow Mustaches is: From your experiences, what is essential to bring on a trip of this nature??

Comfortable sturdy shoes.

Gretamom

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Re: What to bring on trip to Europe?
« Reply #29 on: June 22, 2015, 09:58:16 PM »
My family (my husband, myself and 3 kids) went to Europe for 6 weeks two summers ago. We brought backpacks. My husband and I had 80L backpacks, my daughter who was 11 at the time had a 55L backpack which she was able to carry on to the airplane (on many different airlines, including EasyJet) which is a bonus if you don't want to pay for luggage on flights. You can check the dimension / weight limits before you leave. You shouldn't need more than that size by your description of the trip. My two young boys just had regular old backpacks! We did laundry, which I see has already been suggested.
A good suggestion is to pack the minimum you think you will need, then unpack & take 1/2 of that. If you do a backpack remember you will be carrying it around everywhere & it can get heavy! Also, my suggestion is to roll all your clothes, don't fold them - roll them only - this will give you a ton more room (if you don't believe me, test it yourself by packing both ways) and rolling your clothes will also prevent them from wrinkling.
I would make sure you have a chip card if it were me - you never know when they won't accept your "regular" card! For us (we didn't have one 2 years ago) it was on the tolls in Southern France. Lots of cars were backed up behind us, beeping horns, etc. while we had to figure out what to do when the tollway didn't take our "regular" credit card! 
 

Taran Wanderer

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Re: What to bring on trip to Europe?
« Reply #30 on: June 24, 2015, 12:34:32 AM »
A good guidebook.

I've been to Europe a dozen times, and on trip #10, I decided I didn't need a guidebook. I was wrong.  I like Rick Steves for the simple tutorial of how to travel in Europe inexpensively and for some awesome places to stay. I like Lonely Planet for pretty good depth on a lot of different options.

Beyond that, just one small bag, your passport, ATM and credit cards, and whatever looks good from all the great tips above. Even when I have packed super light, I packed too much. Worst case is you buy some crucial item there.  Don't overpack.