Packing List for a Year Traveling Europe
Updated: Dec 16, 2019
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Have you ever way over packed for a one-week vacation and returned home not having used half of the things you brought? I think we all have at some point.
Well, imagine having to pack for a full year. Sounds pretty daunting, doesn’t it? Well for the trip that kicked off this entire blog, that’s exactly what we will be doing! (insert ominous music)
Both of us have traveled internationally a handful of times, but never in quite the same way as we’re planning to this time. As a result, we’ve created a detailed packing list and are checking it twice!
We began with a draft packing list based on our previous experience. Then, we scoured the inter webs for the best packing lists and tips from people who have also traveled for an extended period of time. After significant research and preparation, we're ready to publish our packing list!
We have two goals with this post:
To inspire others to travel! (nudge, nudge, family and friends ;)
To confirm you don’t forget anything super important on your next adventure
You will find everything divided into four main categories:
Since Clothing is probably the least unique part of the list, we are going to start with the hodgepodge of items falling under “Miscellaneous.”
“You’re already planning to use two large hiking packs and a carry on bag each. Why do you need a day pack?”
Well...for starters, we won’t usually have 50 or 60 liters of stuff with us!
By bringing along a small, packable day pack we’re prepared for a short trip (maybe even a long weekend) without having to lug around our larger packs.
A day pack may also come in handy when shopping at an outdoor produce market, to bring along sunglasses and a hat in case the weather turns, or to pack for the beach.
RELATED: How to Prepare for Full Time Travel
We stay at Airbnb rentals whenever possible and one of the most comment items hosts provide are bath towels.
Regardless, we still pack two RainLeaf travel towels anyway which serve multiple purposes:
Dry off after a shower
Bring them to the beach
Use them during workouts
They dry quicker, pack smaller, and are anti-microbial. Ours even have a loop at one end secured by a snap button, which means you can hang it virtually anywhere.
While we bought the travel towels with our trip in mind, we use them at home as well simply because we prefer them!
Did you know it's not common to have both a washer and dryer in most European homes?
Washers are more common than dryers, which is why we pack a small, packable clothes line.
It has hooks so you can hang it anywhere in your rental or hotel.
This makes washing a few items of clothing super simple and lightens your overload amount of clothing you need to pack.
International Travel Power Adapter
As international travelers well know, electric plugs can be shaped differently and have different voltage in each country.
Fortunately, our wonderful family gifted us universal travel adapters this past Christmas, so we're all set! This will make sure we don’t fry any electronics, like that one time in Copenhagen (RIP, hair straightener).
We each own a Google Pixel 2 and use Google Fi (formerly Project Fi) for our sell service. For calls and texts, it costs just $20 for the first line and $15 for the second.
Also, we only pay for the data we use ($10 USD per GB) and there are no additional charges for international data usage. Having continuous service all across Europe has been HUGE for us! Here are the countries that are covered.
In the not-so-distant past, it was common to recommend travelers purchase SIM cards at each of their destination countries. Not anymore! And we’re reeeeeeally glad we won’t have to mess with that kind of nonsense.
Pro trip: Download Google maps for each of the main cities you'll be visiting and you'll still be able to use your phone for navigation even when you don't have service or don't want to use up data.
Tripods aren't only for professional photographers and YouTube vloggers, ya know.
Do you plan to keep in touch with friends and family during your trip? Ever held a phone up for 10+ minutes? Yeah, it's not the most comfortable thing.
A tripod can help out in this scenario and many others you may not yet have considered.
You might say “they sell toiletries in Europe too, ya know?” Yes, we are aware. Sometimes we might be able to find exactly the same brands and products we prefer at home. But we might not.
We’d prefer to bring one of each essential item so we don’t have to go on a scavenger hunt the first day we arrive. Then we can keep an eye out for the things we prefer as we're out and about exploring our destination.
Solid Shampoo and Conditioner
We will be limiting our liquids by packing solid shampoo, conditioner, and soap. Our favorites are sold by Lush who also sells handy travel tins for the bars.
We gave them a test run at home to make sure we like them. Each bar is supposed to last up to 80 washes so we think it’s a win-win-win-win (small, non-liquid, economical, and won’t leak in our packs).
Beard Oil and Beard Balm
While Megan clearly “wins” the toiletries race with a lot more items than Eddie (being a woman really isn’t fair...) but then again Eddie packs beard care items like Beard Juice Beard Oil and Professor Fuzzworthy's Beard SHAMPOO so that helps to even the score.
Our list of toiletries probably seems unnecessarily long, but keep in mind most are really small.
One of the deciding factors as far as when to visit each city on our list is weather. We planned our destinations in such a way that we won't have huge temperature swings. We don’t want be in peak summer heat or below-freezing winter temps. Think northern Europe in the fall and moving further south each month thereafter.
For the two of us personally, the ideal weather is the kind where we’re comfortable exploring town in a shirt, pants, and sandals.
Wool has a bad rap for being itchy and uncomfortable, but merino wool is actually quite soft. It regulates temperature (both hot and cold) really well, wicks away sweat from the body, dries quickly, and is antimicrobial (meaning you’re less likely to be the smelly person on the bus).
We re-wear items when possible to limit the amount we have to pack and the amount of time spent doing laundry. Rarely do we get so sweaty or dirty in a day that clothes can’t be worn again. This seems to be a figment of the Western world’s imagination.
Layering tank tops, short sleeve shirts, long sleeve shirts, or sweaters you will ensure you're comfortable in any weather (as well as when the weather forecast proves to be wrong!).
Pack items that match with several other items so that you can mix and match outfits and hopefully never get bored of your clothing options.
This is one category that we believe is the most challenging, since shoes often take up the most space and very few are truly multi-purpose.
We do a lot of walking, sightseeing, and hiking but also pack one outfit a piece which is appropriate for a nice(r) restaurant or event. Versatility is key here.
In terms of walking sandals, Megan swears by SAS Pampa sandals. They're mostly leather, meaning they get more comfortable the more you wear them. They also get points for having a strap around the back of the heel. No flip flops allowed! You'll find they slip off easily and you actually grip your toes to hold them on making a full day of sightseeing a no go.
Pro trip: never pack new shoes until you've had time to properly wear them in!
Coats / Jackets
We each pack a rain jacket and a down (or down alternative) coat to save space in our packs.
In terms of rain jackets, you really can't go wrong with any of the waterproof styles from Columbia.
Both types pack pretty small and into their own pockets, which is really convenient.
Another pro trip: Wear your coat on the plane to use as a pillow or blanket.
That’s it, folks!
How does your packing list compare? What do you think we’re missing? Could you live for a year with only the items on our packing list?
We appreciate any input you may have! Please comment below with suggestions.
Eddie & Megan
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