KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
One of the most important influencers over your travel experience is actually what you carry around. A well packed luggage is like a best friend, always there for you when you need it, contains everything important to get you through, and knows when to just shut it’s zipper and listen. In this blog article I share with you some my best packing tips and tricks, and things I have learned over the years from other travelers. Use the links to shop for the products, and check out the videos (both) that I have below, to get the most out of your packing experience. Make sure your passport does not expire until at least 6 months after your trip, as you not only need your passport to board the plane but also every time you check into a new hotel. Now enjoy the article below, and please leave a helpful comment / additional travel tip if you have one. All the links below are commission earned links that help me to continue helping you; and as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Thanks!
Pack for a week. I like to bring enough clothes to get me through about 7 days. A few shirts, a few long sleeves, a little jacket, pack a pair of pants and wear a pair, wear your one pair of shoes and you’ll be good… of course depending on the weather you’ll be expecting this list might need a little modification. But the bottom line is keep it simple. Sure, you can probably get away with wearing a week’s worth of clothes for two weeks without offending too many locals; but I always try to find a laundromat about once a week and clean all the pasta sauce stains off my collar. Bring clothes that can be all washed together, and that still provide enough variety to keep you looking like you didn’t wear the same shirt in every photo. For the most part, Europeans see you with your white socks on and know immediately, “American!” Want to fit in, and be less obvious, bring just black or grey socks. One pair of comfortable walking shoes is essential. Break them in adequately before traveling. Don’t just buy them the day before the trip and expect your feet to respect your decision. They will scream at you, call you names, and the relationship will just go south from there. If you really want to show off your skills, try to pack clothes that don’t wrinkle much. Finally, put all these pieces of advise together and you’ll end up a happy traveler… don’t believe me, just look at the smiling faces of the wise people below that have come on my trips and heeded my words. And my final note… please no safari outfits unless you’re actually going on a safari, thank you!
• Compression socks are a super helpful thing to wear, especially on the plane, as they combine some science and some magic and ultimately just makes your feet not swell up and get soar on the plane.
• Many churches, and museums require that you are not showing off your assets too much. That’s right boys, you must have those knees and shoulders covered up (girls too). The general rule is at least short sleeve (no tank tops), and at least be able to cover the knees (capri pants work). Otherwise you may not be allowed into the church or museum until you can find a way to cover up enough (scarf could suffice as a covering).
• A thin windbreaker or waterproof jacket of some sort would be good to bring as well incase it does rain or is really windy. Last thing you want to happen is to get sick on your trip. All your clothes should be layer-able, so that you can stay warm by putting on several layers rather than one large parka from the Arctic.
• Pants with a little flex will go a long way. If you’re like me, you are going to want to taste everything within a 1 kilometer radius, and those pants need room too. In addition, with an adequate amount of walking each day, your legs will be more tired if your pants are ridged and don’t flex. Women’s pants are often made with more flex than men’s, so guys should look for pants that have a little stretch to them. I have a pair of jeans that are 10% spandex material; look like jeans, stretch like bubble gum, everyone wins.
• Europe loves scarves, and you can too! There are hundreds of awesome scarf options around every corner in Europe. So if you don’t end up bringing one, you will surely find several that you’ll want to buy, will probably cost you less than 10 Euros, and look better than almost anything we can get in the U.S.
Carry on! I always recommend that your luggage be small enough that it can be carried on, otherwise you’re bringing too much stuff. Check with your airline for the exact size, but most have a limit of around 9″ x 14″ x 22″ and airlines are increasingly strict about following their size rules. I prefer a backpack or duffle bag that allow you to easily carry it longer distances, and with the ease and comfort needed. Wheel suit cases are heavy, loud, and can get out of their lane on the cobble stone streets of Europe, even knock over small children. Instead some duffle bags have wheels, which is nice if you really need to use the wheels, but otherwise allow you to carry it over your shoulder like a regular duffel. Also, a duffle bag with strong handle straps can be worn like a backpack, however note that some airlines may require you to check a bag like this because of its size. As for the best travel backpack I have ever found, check out this awesome travel backpack – The TLS Mother Lode Weekender that I highly recommend (love this thing!), use myself, and is 100% airline carry-on size; you should never have a problem. Or if you still want some wheels, and want everything that bag offers, check out the TLS Mother Lode Rolling Weekender! A tip I got from one traveler was, “before your trip, pack your bag with everything you want to bring, carry it around with you to the mall, and see if you are still smiling after 10 minutes… if not, repack lighter or find a smaller piece of luggage.” Also, keep in mind these bags I am talking about are your main carry-on bag… meaning your 2nd “personal item” addition that most airlines let you bring need to be a small purse, little laptop bag, or something else that is quite small and permissible. Check your airline restrictions for more information. The final tip I have is travel packing cubes. They are individual zippered bags that you can use to separate your clothes, and makes packing/unpacking literally take seconds. These Packing Cubes are my favorite, and I never travel anywhere without them. For the ladies on the trip that want an awesome Travel Purse by Travelon, designed with the travelers in mind, RFID protected, locking zippers, and theft prevention at every corner… If I was a lady I’d want one for sure!
My additional luggage recommendations come from a company called Hynes Eagle, Eagle Creek, and Osprey! Check out this 2-in-1 Backpack and Daypack, as well as this perfect Travel Backpack by Hynes Eagle. Check out this awesome Eagle Creek Load Hauler backpack and the Osprey Porter 46 backpack (don’t get the Porter 30, it is too small), and finally this 2-in-1 High Sierra Backpack/Daypack combo with wheels. All of these have been owned/used by past Tour Travelers, and myself and come highly recommended!
• Simple color / dark color luggage may seem boring and more generic, but I personally like that a lot. I don’t like to stand out when I travel with my bright pink butterfly suitcase filled to the point of imminent zipper-bursting… so I usually leave that one at home and opt for my subtle black or grey bag instead and leave space inside for the inevitable souvenirs I end up buying along my journey.
• There is no such thing as too little or to light when it comes to luggage. I once traveled 40 days to 5 countries with a single bag no larger than a regulation size rugby ball, and it was the best decision I ever made. I have also traveled with a 40 pound rolling luggage around Italy, and nearly lost my spaghetti in frustration over pulling that small whale on wheels throughout the cities. Don’t be that guy, or gal.
• Put your name and phone number inside the bag somewhere. Because in the event that an envious traveler from a large tour group steals your smart luggage solution out of jealousy they will at least know who to call and thank later. And there are probably some other good reasons too (if you leave it at a hotel, lose it, etc.)
• Bring little TSA locks for the zippers. I like to lock up my bag as I travel, especially as I walk the streets. This way I never have to worry about someone getting into my bag, or a zipper opening by accident and something getting out. Just remember not to lock the key inside the bag… seriously!
This is the most important section. Good gear will set you apart from the basic everyday traveler and elevate you to James Bond status instantly. First, bring a small (travel size) power strip with USB ports like this one (Power Strip). For most hotel rooms in Europe outlets are an endangered species and only 1 – 2 outlets will be found in the whole room. Thus, a power strip will enable you to plug in multiple devices at the same time and charge up everything with ease. And, of course, you’ll need the correct power adaptor(s) for the country(s) you’ll be visiting. For England UK/Hong Kong Adapter (Type G); for Greece/Spain/Germany/France Adapter (Type E/F); and for Italy Adapter (Type L), and for Australia/China Adapter (Type I). Just click those links and you’ll find what you need. Or, better yet, consider an international multi-country power adapter that will work in probably 80% of the world. Next recommendation is a portable battery pack to charge your phone on the go. If you want a battery that can charge-up your phone a few times, check this battery out from Anker (10,000 mAh), otherwise if you want the king of batteries and be able to last all week in the Sahara desert with no shelter for 100 miles, check out this (bigger) amazing battery from RAVpower (32,000 mAh). I like an inflatable travel pillow that goes around my neck (click here) and another for my back (click here). These compact pillows reduce to a small size, but inflate to provide the support you need when you’re flying. All liquids need to be an a one-quart size bag, and each item 3oz or less (100ml). This travel approved one-quart size bag is perfect, and these 3oz travel bottles/containers can be used for anything you need! And finally, don’t forget those TSA Locks!
• Most electronic devices have a variable voltage, however most heat devices (hair dryer, curling iron, etc.) do NOT have a variable voltage. Thus, please check that everything you bring is variable voltage before bringing them / plugging them in. Don’t start a fire in the hotel room. Thanks! Here is a great Variable Voltage Curling Iron that has adjustable temperature, and works great in every country abroad and in the USA too.
• Nearly all hotel rooms in Europe have a hair dryer included in the bathroom, or even attached to the wall. So you really don’t need to bring a hair dryer at all. Another solution is stick your wet-hair head out of the train once it reaches 200 miles per hour. Hair drys instantly when you do that.
Video on “How to pack light” –