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Here’s my tried and tested Europe packing list, which is filled with tips on what to pack for a trip to Europe in fall/autumn.
Updated January 2020
Somehow it has been a year since I left Canada and headed to the UK and Europe for my awesome solo adventure. I still have a lot to share, but I thought I’d start with my Europe packing list. I think I did pretty well with what I packed for fall/autumn in the UK and Europe. It’s honestly a great time to travel as changing leaves make every place look more magical and there are less tourists everywhere. Depending on where you travel and for how long, I recommend using this packing list as a general guide. This took me from Ireland in September to Slovenia in November – a.k.a from 17 to a cool 3 degrees.
My top Europe packing list tips
Step 1: sort your baggage
I didn’t want to be lugging a huge suitcase or back-breaking backpack around Europe for 10 weeks, so I purchased a 24″ Swiss Gear suitcase on sale from Best Buy Canada before my trip (here’s the latest selection and a similar option on Amazon). Although Ruby (of course I named my suitcase) took a bit of a beating, she was perfect for my trip and a perfect size. It was easy to manoeuvre her along cobblestone streets, as well as on and off metros. Honestly, a suitcase any bigger or any smaller would have been too difficult to carry up stairs and too small for all of my thick (but essential) sweaters.
For Aussie readers, I purchased this suitcase from Target prior to my 2019 trip. I also travelled with a cross-shoulder handbag and a $10 Old Navy tote with all of my bus trip essentials. We’re talking my travel notebook, snacks, computer, Kindle, etc. It was the perfect combination for my highly-organised self.
Step two: roll and cube it!
I am a big fan of packing cubes and think every Europe packing list should include them, no matter the season. My original set was from Amazon, but I also purchased some from Walmart before I left Canada. After using them for every trip I’ve taken in the last four years, I now can’t travel without them. Once you cube it, you will never go back. I had separate cubes for my pants (jeans), tops and underwear. I also roll everything I place in my cubes, so I can fit in as much as possible.
My other packing tips and tricks (not just for Europe): storing my socks in my sneakers, always carrying a laundry bag and if you stay in hostels, don’t forget your thongs (flip flops). Havaianas are worth the price tag. They’re the best quality thongs and last for years.
Step three: the Europe packing list
Okay, here’s what I recommend you pack for an autumnal trip to Europe.
• 1 winter jacket. It was below 10 degrees in a lot of Eastern European cities I visited in November, so a winter jacket will be necessary. My blue woollen version is from Aussie Target and I’ve had it for over three years now.
• 1 lightweight jacket. A great layering piece for fall in the UK. I purchased my black jacket from Penneys in Dublin, but I may have packed my denim jacket as well. If you’re saving space, one is more than adequate. Some similar options to my black jacket include this New Look puffer jacket or this longer version from Boohoo.
• All the sweaters/jumpers/ layers. I had five sweaters I rotated wearing throughout my trip. This was a good number, as I didn’t have to do laundry too frequently (which I did at my hostels anyway) and I didn’t get bored of wearing the same things constantly. I also had two t-shirts that rarely got worn, one hoodie, two plain long-sleeved shirts and a collared chambray shirt for layering under sweaters. I purchased all of my clothing from H&M, Old Navy and Joe Fresh in Canada. This winter I also added some great jumpers to my collection from Uniqlo. Fortunately all of these companies offer their clothing in plus sizes.
I need to tell you the random story behind my hoodie. In 2013 when I first visited LA, it was absolutely freezing at Venice Beach and I was in a singlet and skirt. So I popped into one of the many souvenir clothing stores on the boardwalk and purchased a hoodie. It was the warmest, most cosiest hoodie ever, but I gave it to my friend when I left Canada the following year. Fast forward to 2017 and my trip with friends back to LA. I knew I had to get my hands on another one of those ridiculously comfortable hoodies and I DID. It is the bee’s knees. Carrying on…
• Thermals. I basically wore a thermal singlet or t-shirt under every sweater as an additional layer when it was cold. I highly recommend Uniqlo’s HEATTECH section. Otherwise, I bought mine this year in Target.
• 4 pairs of pants. To be honest, three is probably enough if you’re trying to be a minimalist or carry-on only traveller. I had a pair of ponte pants, two pairs of jeggings and one pair of jeans. Three out of four were from Old Navy, while my ponte pants were from Katies in Australia.
• Scarf and headwear. I began my trip with one scarf, but ended up purchasing one in Scotland and one in Paris. I also had two beanies and a wide-brimmed felt hat, which was surprisingly warm.
• Shoes. I had my thongs for walking around the hostels, a pair of sneakers (I wore my Allbirds but I also highly recommend Skechers) and a pair of boots. Easy peasy. I purchased my boots from Call It Spring in Canada, but here are a similar pair from Boohoo.
Speaking of, you don’t actually have to wear socks with your Allbirds. But I wore ankle socks as an additional layer. Honestly, the Allbirds kept my feet so warm, even when it was close to freezing. I also had a few pairs of thick socks to wear with my boots.
• I did bring one dress just in case, but I didn’t wear it. I’m not a big clubbing person in general, but when I did go out for dinner or drinks with old and new friends, I usually just wore what I was wearing during the day. My sweater, jeans and boots combo was perfect.
• Plus, you know, the usual undergarments and one pair of PJs.
Step four: what else to include in your Europe packing list
Okay, so now you have the clothes sorted, these are some other items I recommend adding to your Europe packing list. I won’t go into toiletries, as I say just pare back your routine, decant everything you can and bring the basics.
• A surge-protected powerboard. This is one thing I always pack, because we all have so many things to charge these days and usually only one outlet each in a hostel room.
• Adapters for both the UK and Europe, or a universal adapter to cover all bases.
• Eye mask and ear plugs for other hostel-dwelling travellers.
• Sony A5000. This camera was such a great travel companion throughout the UK and Europe. It’s compact but the photos I captured were excellent. The tilting screen also helped me and my selfie game.
• Travel pillow. I purchased this just before my trip from Amazon and it was used basically every night. I normally sleep with two pillows anyway.
• Reusable water bottle. Fortunately you can drink the tap water in basically every European country, but I always Googled in advance to be sure. I also found many hostels had a filtered water tap or fountain.
• Umbrella. I fortunately had pretty good weather for most of my trip, but I did get caught in the rain in Galway and Belfast. Amazon has so many travel-sized umbrellas available.
• Travel towel. This is one thing I didn’t take, but it would be included in my future Europe packing list. This links to one on Amazon, but they’re also available at Kmart in Australia.