I have traveled to Europe on a regular basis since 1990. I’ve never been one to pack a lot of clothing, multiple numbers of shoes, and an endless count of socks. Of course, cruises are the exception where a person would need a variety of clothing for the various formal, semi- and informal evenings.
I believe it’s important to pack as light as possible. Imagine having to carry one or more suitcases on a bus or train. I don’t want to have to carry a lot of weight up and down the stairs or down long city blocks from the hotel to the bus stop or train station. Since I’m a budget traveler, I choose hotels near the train station so I can walk to/from it, so I usually don’t take a taxi. The exception is when I need to get to the airport and the bus schedule doesn’t fit mine.
I don’t mind wearing my clothes several times on a trip, as I won’t be running into the sample people on a daily basis (cruises are different). I hand wash my delicates and if my tops or pants need washing, I’ll hand wash them when I know I’ll be in one stop for a few days so they have the time to completely dry.
I usually select neutral clothing so that I can wear any top with any pair of pants, thereby creating “additional” outfits. I don’t wear skirts or dresses because I can never find any comfortable walking shoes to go with them. Wearing pants is just easy for me. Keep in mind when going into Cathedrals: No sleeveless tops and not skirts or shorts above the knees.
The following is my basic list of items that I take on my trips. I’ll usually copy and paste my list into a new document and revise for the particular trip.
___One carry on piece of luggage that will fit under airplane seat. Mine has a pull out handle and wheels.
___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. You’ll normally get a better exchange rate.
___Traveler Checks - about $500 - for emergency backup. I have never used my traveler’s checks, but it’s nice to have them if needed.
___ 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.
___List of serial numbers of Travelers Checks in a notebook or journal
___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 typ.
___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.
___Phone service card with oversea numbers
___4 pairs of socks (I bring a mixed blend so they dry quickly)
___3 pairs of underwear
___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
___Contact lenses and prescription - more than one pair
___Eye glasses and prescription
___Moisturizing eye drops
___1-2 hair clips
___2 pair sunglasses
___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)
___Copies of hotel letters/emails confirming my reservations
___Travel information copied and placed in a zip-lock bag or 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.
___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.
*___PDA. I recently purchased a PDA to take on my trips, along with a wireless keyboard. Therefore, I don’t need to bring a book-type journal.
___Adapter for the charger
___Phone numbers & addresses written in the journal, notebook, or on gummed address labels
___35mm SLR camera and accessories
___Print film (20-25 rolls)
___Film Protection Bag
___Spare batteries for the SLR
___Battery Charger for the digital battery pack
___A book to read
___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!
___1 travel alarm clock
___Extra batteries for the alarm clock
___Inflatable neck pillow
___Slippers (or some comfy thick socks)
___2 Small plastic cups for hot or cold
___2 sets plastic fork, spoon, and knife
___Handy-wipes or Purell hand cleaner
___Wine bottle opener (checked luggage only).
Doing Light 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. Or, a clothesline - Mine have hooks at the ends rather than the suction cups.
For Beach vacations:
___2 pairs of shorts