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So you’ve decided to explore Europe? How exciting! I bet you’re wondering what you need without going overboard. I had the same questions when I prepared for my 28 day Europe Trip with Contiki. Each trip is different so it’s important to keep that in mind, but there are certain essentials that should be on your packing list!For those of you who do not know what Contiki is click here for a description and why I’m so glad I chose to travel with them. Basically it’s a travel group with destinations all over the world. They already have your hotel rooms/hostels/camp sites booked, transportation between destinations, food, guided tours, and lots of other fun activities included in one total price. We also bundled our airfare into this and got a good deal! It took away all of the stress of traveling and we were in an awesome group.The cool thing about Contiki is that the trips are for people aged 18-35 so you will only be with people within 17 years of you. That makes it way easier to make friends and have more in common with your group members. I would definitely recommend a Contiki Trip!My trip in particular was one that covered 13 different countries in 28 days called the European Panorama. We went in late May to early June so it was hot in some places and freezing in others. The picture below details our route for the 28 day trip with our Contiki Group. We started in London, very cold and cloudy, before heading to France and looping all the way back up to Amsterdam where we caught a plane back to the U.S.Thrifty Traveler Tips is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. We only recommend products we have personally used and feel comfortable recommending to our friends and family.
As you can tell from the picture, we encountered a huge variation of temperatures. In London it was quite chilly and rainy but Rome was over 100 degrees F. Corfu was another warm stop but we stayed halfway up Mount Titlis in Switzerland where it was 32 degrees F and lower. This huge variation meant we had to be prepared for hot, cold, rainy, sunny, and everything in between. Keep this in mind when planning your trip and when reading my packing list.Make a packing list and check it twice! Write down everything you think you need or want to bring. Even if you’re sure it’s there, check again to make sure! It will save you money and from the panicked moment when you realize you do not have that item. While you can buy most things over there, they will most likely be much more expensive than the one you have at home. We recommend signing up for Amazon Prime to get all of your products quickly and cheaply before you go. You get free 2 day shipping with prime, making it super easy to get those last minute items delivered before your trip. If you’re a student, you get a FREE 6 month trial with Amazon prime. You can claim that by clicking here and using your college email to sign up. If you’re not a student, you can sign up by clicking here and you’ll get $5 when you make your first purchase on the Amazon app. Here’s what we got from Amazon for our packing list for a month in Europe.
- 1 Toiletries To Bring Along:
- 2 Things we didn’t know we would need but are SO GLAD we brought them:
- 3 Clothes to Bring
Toiletries To Bring Along:
1. Sunscreen– This is super expensive in Europe so pack enough to last your entire trip. I like this one because it keeps me protected while still letting me tan AND it smells amazing. They have it in the gel (I mostly use this one) or in a spray bottle if you’re traveling solo.
4. Body Wash– We brought a shampoo and a body wash to share and I brought a small bottle of conditioner for my long hair. We still had the products we were used to and didn’t have to rely on hotels to have shampoo and conditioner. This was also awesome because by the end of our trip it was completely gone and freed up a bunch of room for our souvenirs.
5. Face Wipes– I love these face wipes! They do a great job at preventing annoying acne while on the road without being too harsh on your skin!
8. Sport Fresh– I’m a HUGE fan of gel deodorant. It’s hard to get used to at first but it eliminates those annoying deodorant stains and makes you smell much better when you do sweat! I use Secret. The Sport Fresh is the strongest of their scents to really mask B.O. but their Ooh-La-La Lavender is also really nice!
9. Aloe Vera-The sun is more intense in Europe compared to the US so being fair skinned I needed this.
10. Do not waste your time/money buying travel detergent! Use body wash! It makes your clothes smell way better and is something you already have with you!
11. Band aids– We made a little homemade emergency kit. I’m always finding a way to hurt myself so this was super important to have when I got blisters, cut my finger, and scraped my foot on the rocky beaches. It took up a very small space and kept my cuts from getting infected.
Things we didn’t know we would need but are SO GLAD we brought them:
- Sink Stopper Kit-This enables you to wash your clothes in the sink! Way cheaper than paying the staff to do it.
- Clothes Line with Suction Cups -This was awesome for us to hang all of our clothes up to dry in the shower in addition to utilizing all of the other surfaces to hang clothes. Very durable and folds up very small. Ours specifically was a braided latex one with suction cups and Velcro. This came in handy when the showers were too narrow (which happens a lot).
- Power Bank -This was a lifesaver! We spent a large amount of time on a bus so we could charge our phones anywhere and everywhere! It charges your phone up to 14 times if you get a decent quality one and was so useful to us. We used theKMASHI 10,000 mAh and it was great.
- Waterproof Digital Camera-My boyfriend got me the Fujifilm FinePix xp80 Waterproof Digital Camera as a birthday present which just so happened to be right before our trip. This camera was fantastic! The pictures were awesome and it had so many great features. Being waterproof I was one of the few people who got all of the awesome candid photos as we swam in the pool, jumped off a boat in Greece, and swam with fish. Get the Olympus Foam Float Strap for it! It worked like a charm and then I didn’t have to worry about losing it anywhere.
- This one also had an awesome feature that enabled me to sync my cell phone to the cameras wifi. I could both see and control what the camera was seeing such as zoom in and out, start a video, and take a picture. It was so handy.
- It hooked also onto my selfie stick so we could tell what we were getting a picture of and didn’t need someone to take the picture.
- I could also transport pictures straight from my camera to my phone. This was awesome because it was easy to share with others and post my travels on Facebook.
- To read more about why I love this camera, check out my review on the Fujifilm Finepix xp80!
- Packing Cubes Absolutely necessary for your sanity. It keeps everything perfectly separated so your suitcase doesn’t look like a disaster. I knew exactly what size cube each of my categories of clothes were in so finding outfits was easy! I had one for pants, sweatpants, shorts, and skirts; one for all of my tops; one for my undies, bras, and bathing suits; and one for my jacket, coat, and sweatshirt. We have a pack of Shacke Pak packing cubes and a pack of the Pro Packing Cubes, which I recently tested and fell in love with.
- Multi power outlet adapter– My mom found this awesome adapter that worked for all the countries we visited. The best part about the adapter we used is that it allowed multiple devices to charge at once. It had one U.S. style plug in and then USB ports to plug our iPhone cords into to charge.
- Be very careful when you’re researching because there are a few countries who have totally different outlets compared to the rest of Europe.
- Purse that goes across your body-This is essential. Also make it complex to get into to avoid pickpocketers. Purses that go across your body are harder to rip away and you will most likely always have a hand on it-making it incredibly secure.
- Undercover Hidden Pocket -For the guys! This goes in your pocket, around your neck, or around your stomach under your clothes to hold money and other valuable information.
- Photocopy of your license and passport-If you ever lose either one of these then you still have proof of your ID. In addition, a lot of places will accept this so you don’t have to carry your passport around cities where it has a chance of being stolen.
- Garbage bags rolled up- We used these for various reasons: to put still damp clothes in, to contain smelly used clothes, and to keep muddy shoes in. It’s useful to have a few on hand in those random cases where you need something to keep an item from making your other stuff smell/wet.
- Ear Plugs-Absolutely necessary for the light sleeper. My boyfriend used these to fall asleep so many times on the trip. We stayed on busy streets for most of our trips and didn’t get the full 8 hours of sleep majority of our nights. This meant we needed to block out sound and take naps on the bus or fall asleep immediately when we got to our room. These were a life saver!
- Eye Mask-Again, this was essential to falling asleep in random places like the bus or getting a quick nap in during the day. I like it perfectly dark when I sleep so this was awesome to have. We luckily found a nice Sleep Mask and Ear Plug Bundle that we LOVE!
- There is this awesome Band-Aid Friction Blister Prevent that you rub on your feet before you have a blister and it keeps you from getting blisters. It looks like a little deodorant stick for your feet
- Retractable Cable Lock– This was awesome for cities like Rome where we were nervous about pickpocketters. We locked our backpack that had anything of potential value that we were carrying around and it worked great! We also locked our stuff to a seat on the ferry so our stuff was safe as we slept.
- A credit card with a CHIP! I was denied quite a few times because my Discover card or my VISA weren’t accepted without a chip. My boyfriend had a chip and was never denied. Moral of the story: Have a credit card with a chip!
BONUS TIP: Roll all of your clothes! This saves so much room in your suitcase and keeps your clothes wrinkle freeThe outfits you need to bring depends on a number of things. If you’re going to be backpacking across Europe you will need more athletic outfits and super comfortable shoes. If you’re going to explore different climates then your list will be very similar to mine. It is best to wear dark clothes so you don’t have armpit stains and to bring clothes that are easy to layer.
Clothes to Bring
- Rain jacket-We used this so many times! Then you don’t have to try to stuff an umbrella in your suitcase or your day bag when the weather calls for rain.
- Fleece jacket-I wore a north face for a few of our destinations and layered my sweatshirt and fleece jacket when we were in Switzerland. I was so glad I had brought both of them.
- Shorts-I brought two pairs of jean shorts and did just fine. Make sure they aren’t the kind that you wear once and they grow around your hips (you know the kind). The clothes you bring have to be able to be worn multiple times without being washed. I would also bring one or two pairs of athletic shorts to lounge around in or wear over top of bathing suits.
- Jeans– I only brought two pairs of tightly fitting jeans so I could wear them a bunch without them getting too big around my waist. I only wore these at night when it was cool or to explore in Switzerland.
- Shirts-I would bring a couple tank tops, a couple long sleeves, and a few short sleeve shirts. Enough to make a few different outfits. Definitely bring one chiffon type long sleeve for the girls or a scarf if you want to get into the cathedrals in Europe. They just need your shoulders and your knees to be covered.
- Dressy outfits– I would bring at least one nice outfit. I brought 1 dress, a fun skirt for clubs, a dressy top and one pair of super comfortable heels. My boyfriend brought a nice long sleeve dress shirt and a pair of khakis and was fine.
- Bring one bathing suit and a small beach towel
- Some suggestions for the Men:
- Buy ExOfficio Men’s Give-N-Go Boxer Brief I got my boyfriend 3 pairs and they were super comfortable. It gave him enough pairs to wear while the other pairs washed. In addition, the underwear dried so quickly.
- Buy Zip off pants. They might sound dorky but enables you to have 4 pairs of pants while only bringing two. It also prepares you for a big temperature change and the bottoms fit perfectly in the side pockets when you transform them into shorts.
- Lightweight shirts with roll up sleeves. We particularly liked the color selection and fit of Columbia Men’s Tamiami II.
- Shoes-I would bring your most comfortable pairs of shoes. Mine just happened to be a pair of cowgirl boots that were super worn in with good tread. I could do all the same things as I could with sneakers but I was much more comfortable in them! I would also bring water shoes, for the rocky beaches, a pair of comfy flats for ladies, and a pair of dress shoes, like heels or loafers.
- Socks and Undies– I brought 7 pairs of underwear and 7 pairs of socks. They are small enough I could fit that many and socks take forever to dry so it’s better to have more than what you think you will need. I highly recommend looking into moisture wicking, smell resistant socks. When it’s hot and your feet get sweaty you don’t want your socks stinking up your bag.
This is by no means an all inclusive packing list but it is definitely a good start to your packing list for a Contiki trip. If you have any questions or suggestions feel free to contact me! Check out my other posts to find out how to save money for trips, and how we traveled across the US on a tight budget!