What to Pack Series

What to Pack for a Fall Trip to Europe:
12 Dos and Don'ts

Posted by Katie Hamlin on September 15, 2009 at 3:22:38 PM EDT | Post a Comment

Judging by current conversations in our forums, many of our members are heading to Europe this fall and they've already started obsessing over the right combination of clothes, shoes, and travel necessities. Others don't stress at all; they have their own foolproof packing systems and are generous enough to dispense packing advice. Packing is personal, but you may find some of the general dos and dont's below useful as you determine just how much (and what) to bring along on your trip.

The most repeated piece of advice in our Forums? Pack lightly and use only a carry-on. Know what to leave out. Think you could never survive an 8-day trip with only a carry-on? Here are a few of the ways our members make it work.

Do pack items that can be easily washed

"All my included pieces are hand-washable/dry flat or hang, many are quick dry & none require ironing! All can be mixed & matched for day or evening dressed up with snazzy earrings." -- 2010

Do remember that no one there knows who you are

"I finally figured out years ago that no one knows us and it's not important to load my suitcase with matching outfits and shoes to go with them." -- Katie2 (more)

Don't forget the creature comforts

"I always bring some empty gallon-sized bags; easy enough to pack, and useful for leftover picnic items or foods bought at markets. Also a couple of plastic spoons and forks; it's amazing that we seem to have uses for them. And a couple of teabags - sometimes there's a chance to have a late-night cup of tea in our hotel room, which I love, and they're so small, that it isn't a big sacrifice of weight." -- Lexma90

Do pack a pair of flip-flops

"A pair of lightweight flipflops have so often come in handy. They can be used as slippers, walking on the beach or just slipping on if you want to run out for a few cups of coffee before showering and dressing for the day." -- LoveItaly

Do consider designating one or two outfits for night time

"Another thing I like to take is an outfit (top and bottom) that I *only* wear in the evenings. It's often no dressier than what I wear during the day. Nice, though, to have something fresh(er) to put on for the evening." -- tahl

Do shop as the locals would for basic necessities

"I try to never check a bag when I'm traveling to someplace (I'll check if I have to on my return), which means that I can't pack a lot of toiletries. But that's OK, because as part of my experience in a given destination (especially France!) I have a great time heading to a local pharmacy to buy whatever I need. It makes me feel even more immersed in the place I'm in, and I've discovered some great products to bring home!" -- Rachel_K (more)

Do plan for "in a pinch"

"I make up a little kit of handy things like: earplugs, tiny flashlight, safety pins, bandaids, individual packets of some over-the-counter meds. I also put two plastic hangers in the bottom of my suitcase for hanging damp tops or undies after doing hand-wash in the hotel sink." -- suze

Do make room for tiny binoculars

"I always take a small pair of binoculars to look at the details of church ceilings and exteriors." -- Jean (more)

Do wear your bulkiest items on the plane

"I will wear the heaviest and bulkiest things [walking shoes, jeans, jacket] and stuff my handbag in my carry-on whilst we go through security. Once you're through there, they don't seem to care. but it's maddening not to have access to your handbag at all times. Fortunately my new jacket from Boden has zipped pockets where I can put my passport for going through security. which was my excuse for buying it." -- annhig (more)

Do pack shoes that do double-duty

"I took two pairs of shoes for a 3 week trip to northern Italy 2 years ago - one pair of running cross trainers that also doubled for the hikes we did (not too difficult terrain) and one pair of Privo black/brown flats that looked fine with either walking shorts or skirts." -- cmeyer54 (more)

"Seriously consider the Keen Sydneys. I cannot tell you how comfortable they are, while still looking cute. I am an avid walker, and I walked all over Europe in them, both in 2006 and 2008. The other good thing about them is that if it's cold, you can wear socks with them." -- LucieV (more)

Don't pack jeans...or do

"I have been to Italy in Sept. 4 times. We packed capris and slacks and were fine. I find that jeans are slow to dry and use up too much room in the suitcase. Bring a sweater or light jacket for evenings." -- jetsetj (more)

"My jeans are a great travel garment. I take them and wear them every time I go to Italy and France. I think that jeans these days are a much lighter weight than they used to be. At least for women. And, you can turn the leg bottom up if it's hot." -- zoecat (more)

"I always take a a pair of jeans, too. They do not take up significantly more room, and I've even successfully washed and line-dried them (in the summer at a rental apt., not in a hotel bathroom). They're one of the few clothing items I can count to wear & pack multiple times without wrinkling or looking too worn or dirty." -- hazel1 (more)

And if you do...consider black jeans

"On a related note: I find that black jeans are great for trips to cities; they can double as "nice" trousers at night." -- ekscrunchy (more)

Sample Packing Lists

Fodor's member Marianna's list:
3 or 4 pairs capris or cropped pants
2 skirts
2 pairs of pants (black and beige)
tops (short and long sleeves) for the bottoms
1 or 2 sweaters
2 nice tops for the pants for evenings
2 dresses(one casual and one simple black for evenings)
a pashmina (can fold down to nothing and fit in my handbag)
a pair of jeans

Fodor's member LucieV's list:
1 dark-colored cotton skirt. It washes and dries beautifully and quickly, dresses up or down as necessary
1 pair of very lightweight slacks (last year I took Ex Officio, which I loved)
1 pair of lightweight shorts, for hiking
1 solid color polo-type shirt
1 solid color sleeveless shirt
1 solid color long-sleeved cotton shirt
1 lightweight cotton dress, sleeveless, that I can wear either with or without shirt underneath, depending upon weather
1 pair flats (Keen Mary Janes)
1 long-sleeved lightweight T-shirt (which I layer under stuff if it's cold)
1 pair running shoes (for hiking)
1 long-sleeved lightweight cardigan, cashmere if possible (lightweight and washable.) 1 lightweight windbreaker-type jacket
1 fleece
one pair of tights, which I can wear under the lightweight pants if it's cold

Fodor's member 2010's list:
1 black dress trousers (light weight/washable)
1 black cotton pants (casual)
1 summer-weight denim jeans (skinny-legged)
1 black capri
1 short-sleeve print blouse
2 sleeveless silk tops - black/cream
1 white 3/4 sleeve t-shirt
1 white Brooks Brothers Miracle Shirt
1 black sleeveless dress
1 pair of Ecco sandals (brown)
1 pair of Ecco flats (silver)
1 pair of Tsubo walking shoes (black)
1 black silk cardigan
1 brown linen cardigan
1 North Face hooded rain jacket (light weight)
1 brown quilted jacket
1 silk pashmina
Tilley quick-dry socks, undies, sleep wear
1 black Baggallini across-the-body shoulder bag for day
1 black shoulder bag (small/flat)for evening

Love lists? Here are other packing-minded sites to check out:
- Fodor's member thursdaysd outlines her master packing list on her personal travel site
- Onebag.com's One-Page Packing Checklist
- Create a list using Packwhiz (you'll need a Google account)
- Download a PDF of TravellersPoint.com's packing list
- Don't Forget Your Toothbrush
- Check out Fodor's member Therese's epic in-depth packing topics including her most recent one

Have a "what to wear" question? Ask it in our forums. Wonder if it's a dumb question? Keep these words of wisdom in mind:
"What to wear is NEVER a silly question. Presumably one of the reasons to travel is to do and see things you can't do or see at home. Asking what people wear when doing or seeing something you yourself don't normally do or see is, to me, a very sensible question. You ask it because you want to feel socially comfortable (a very different, but not incompatible thing from physically comfortable!) and to show respect for those around you." -- Celia (more)

Have a list or tips to share? Post your recommendations below in our comments section!

More by , Fodor's Editor

Posted in Travel Tips Tagged: Community, Italy, What to Pack

Member Comments (8)  Post a Comment

  • IsabellesTravelGuide on Oct 25, 12 at 09:38 AM

    I always make sure I have a scarf with me, very versatile. It can either be warm when it`s cold or you can use it as a sarong etc.

  • monicapileggi on Jun 21, 10 at 01:51 PM

    Just re-read this old posting. I should clarify that my carry on goes in the overhead storage compartment, not underneath the seat in front of me.

    I recently came back from Venice and traveled with a carry-on suitcase. USAirways weight restriction is 40 pounds and 45 linear inches (14 x 9 x 22) for a carry-on bag.

  • bdjtbenson on Oct 16, 09 at 02:16 PM

    Here's what I pack:


  • travel4now on Oct 14, 09 at 03:07 PM

    No one here says they travel in a group. Sometimes we do that. We take lightly the recommendations of a tour company. One tour company stressed casual wear for everything.. Twice we were embrassed to be with a group, once in Thailand, once in Europe. Same company tour. Our group overall looked comparatively shabby. The women wore pants and unisex jackets most of the time and looked a lot like the men. We were shuffled into out-of-the-way rooms in restaurants. Won't travel with this company again. In the USA there's a trend to casual; to carry that into travel abroad can be disrespectful of other countries as much as of our own.

  • been_there on Oct 9, 09 at 06:37 PM

    I agree with phidias1. There is no way all of the things on these lists can fit in a carry on. I use an e-bag day bag as my only bag. Wear your heavy stuff and pack a couple of pants, a few shirts, swim suit, umbrella and light workout shoes plus computer and electronic gadgets and charger. You can go for weeks if you'll do some in room laundry and have good personal hygene.

  • phidias1 on Oct 7, 09 at 12:52 AM

    There are some great suggestions above but I am dumbstruck by people's idea's of 'traveling light'. I would love someone to explain how they get all that stuff in a carry on, which for a flight to Europe needs to weigh less than 13 lbs and be less than 9 x 14 x 22 inches!
    For a week in Europe all you needs is three shirts, two pairs pants, one sweater or fleece, one rain jacket, one umbrella and two pairs of shoes. Plus 4 pairs underwear and socks. And a book or two....
    As someone pointed out 'no one knows you there so you don't have to worry what you look like!

  • amitshahx on Sep 30, 09 at 09:20 AM

    i think traveling trips are the charm of life. without theses one can't enjoy life. in my view clothing ,transport facilities, guides, site map, proper money & a hot girlfriend should be must in the trip any where in the world. my friends Christian Freville & Paul Offen are in traveling agency since 25th April 2001. thanks

  • monicapileggi on Sep 16, 09 at 09:26 AM

    This is my basic packing list, which I revise for each vacation.

    One carry on piece of luggage that will fit under airplane seat. Mine has a pull out handle and wheels (Two pieces for a cruise vacation, one is checked and usually 26”).
    Day bag - for your travel guidebook, map, journal, camera, water bottle and anything else you might need for the day. This is also my carry-on bag/purse.
    A light, yet strong empty duffel bag - for souvenirs! (Depending on location, bring two!)

    Official Documents and Money:
    Foreign currency – Only if you feel you need some in advance. I pick up my foreign currency when I arrive at the airport using the ATM, as I usually get a better exchange rate.
    Personal checks - sometimes you can get a better price when shopping by using a personal check. Also negotiate to have the tax taken out so you can avoid going to the Vat refund office.
    ATM Card - This is the card I use for most transactions (hotels, restaurants, shopping).
    Credit Card - Visa or MasterCard. I take the Master Card since my ATM is a Visa.
    Cash in home currency - about $50.
    Money belt - waist or neck type. I prefer the waist type, as my shirts would reveal the neck type.
    Airline Tickets
    Train tickets
    Car Rental Voucher
    Insurance documents if needed
    Copies of all vital documents. I make 2 copies and keep the 2nd set with my travel partner.
    Drivers License
    Phone service card with oversea numbers

    3 pairs of socks (I bring a mixed blend so they dry quickly)
    3 pairs of underwear
    2 bras
    3 pairs of pants
    4 shirts with pockets/buttons
    1 light Jacket
    Sweater for colder climates
    2 pairs of comfortable walking shoes

    Lip stick, blush, eye shadow, eye liner
    Moisturizing Cream
    Contact solution, Contact lenses - more than one pair
    Eye glasses and prescription
    Toothpaste, Tooth brush
    Moisturizing eye drops
    2 pair sunglasses
    Comb, Brush
    Dual voltage hair dryer (check with your hotel – they may have them in the rooms)
    Adapter (I purchased a hair dryer in Paris, so I don’t need the adapter anymore)
    Soap in zip-lock or soap container
    2 throwaway razors
    Tylenol Extra Strength
    Melatonin for jet lag (This doesn’t work for me, but it might for you)
    Prescription drugs
    Lip Balm

    Tourist Information:
    City maps
    Copies of hotel letters/emails confirming my reservations
    Travel information copied and placed in a folder
    Guidebook(s). I usually make copies of the pages I need and keep the books at home, especially if the books are heavy. When I'm finished with a particular area, I just throw the copies away.
    Language book

    Record Keeping:
    Small spiral notebook (4"x6") - I use this to jot down where I've dined, my expenses, my list of hotels with addresses and phone numbers, my film log, and suggestions of places to see and things to do that I have collected from others.
    Journal (I now travel with a 10.2” netbook Samsung computer for my journaling)
    Phone numbers & addresses (stored in my computer)
    2 Pens

    Camera Equipment:
    DSLR camera and accessories
    Memory Cards
    Spare batteries
    Battery Charger

    A book to read
    Mini umbrella
    Mailing Tube (this is nice to have if you purchase prints or bring home other paper items)
    Extra zip-lock bags of various sizes
    Bubble wrap - for wrapping those wonderful ceramics from Italy and other souviners!
    1 travel alarm clock
    Extra batteries for the alarm clock
    Airplane headsets – some airlines now charge for headsets. Buy one and keep them!

    Picnic Items:
    Handy-wipes or Purell hand cleaner
    Wine bottle opener (checked luggage only).

    Doing My Undie/Socks Laundry:
    Liquid detergent in a leak-proof bottle
    Bring a few of the small plastic hangers that bras come on and use to dry your delicates.

    For Beach vacations:
    Bathing Suit
    Reef shoes
    2-3 pairs of shorts

    For Cruise vacations:
    I add to my packing list formal clothing, dressy shoes, evening purse, and gym clothing.


Sign in or Join to comment.