I spent months planning and researching packing essentials for my month-long western Europe trip. After returning to the states and reflecting, I’ve created this list of 15 solo travel packing essentials for Europe! It’s the list I wish I had while packing for my trip abroad, and I hope you find it helpful!
Travel light. Live light. Spread the light. Be the light. –Yogi Bhajan
1. Portable Phone Charger
A portable charger is a solo travel essential! I relied on Google Maps a lot while in Europe, which quickly drains your phone battery. My portable charger was truly a lifesaver when I was out exploring all day. Don’t go cheap with this! The cheaper chargers are only good for 1-2 charges, so it’s worth it to pay more for something that will last all day, especially while you’re abroad.
3. Charging Cube with Multiple Plug Ins
Solo travel requires being diligent about charging your devices, so it was super helpful to charge multiple devices with one charging cube. Keep in mind that your ability to charge electronics also depends on how many plug adapters you bring.
4. Orange Holiday SIM Card
The Orange Holiday SIM card was absolutely amazing and so easy to use! You can buy it online, so your phone will be ready to use when you land in Europe. They sell SIM cards at the airport, but they’re more expensive and there’s usually lines. I have an entire blog about the Orange Holiday SIM card, and I’ll link it here. If you’re traveling for longer than a week, I recommend purchasing one.
5. Day Backpack
Perfect for day trips! I was out exploring all day in Europe, so this backpack was the perfect size to fit all the essentials. Unlike crossbody bags or purses, this backpack evenly distributes the weight on your back.
I chose this backpack because it has:
- Adjustable straps
- Side pocket for water bottle
- Hidden pocket on the back
- Big enough for day trip but not bulky
- Lightweight material
6. Laundry Detergent Sheets
Laundry Sheets: AKA the reason I could pack carry-on only for a month in Europe. And the reason I could do my own laundry and wash my clothes in the sink or bathtub. They pack super light and take up no space in your luggage!
7. Reusable Water Bottle
Reusable water bottles are the most eco friendly and budget friendly way to travel. Buying water bottles in the airport is expensive and creates lots of plastic waste. I brought a thinner water bottle that fit perfectly in my day backpack.
8. Travel Size Umbrella
I used my umbrella twice during my month-long trip, and it was an absolute lifesaver. Plus, it doesn’t take up much space in your luggage. It fit nicely in my backpack, and I packed it in my day backpack if there was a chance of rain. It’s small, but it makes a huge difference when you’re prepared and have one.
These are the most comfortable shoes for traveling, and you can’t convince me otherwise! If you’re flat footed like me, you’ll want the arch support of Birkenstocks. Just make sure you break them in first! I brought tennis shoes with me, but Birks are more comfortable and don’t require wearing sweaty socks all day.
You can buy a pair at (pretty much) any shoe store. They’re pricey but well worth the investment.
10. Reusable Bag
Reusable bags are super useful in Europe. Many cities have banned plastic bags altogether, so it comes in handy to bring your own. I used mine in thrift shops, for quick grocery runs, or for trips to the drugstore. They fold up small and take up practically no space in your luggage, so it’s worth bringing one.
11. Audiobook Subscription
I listened to several Audiobooks during my trip. They’re great for train rides or just walking around the city. And the best part is, they take up less space than physical books. Of course I brought one of those too. But it was a pain to carry around for 3 weeks after I finished it. You can also cancel your subscription (like I did) after your trip, or you can take advantage of the 30 day free trial. And of course, the public library has audiobook rentals too.
12. Wet Wipes or Make Up Remover Wipes
Great for freshening up or cleaning random messes. These came in handy so many times throughout my month-long trip.
13. Packing Cubes
Packing cubes are amazing for organizing when packing light and for avoiding over packing. I visited 6 countries on my trip, and packing cubes are the reason my backpack stayed organized because I didn’t have to disassemble my entire bag just to find one item.
14. Sun Glasses
Self-explanatory but easy to forget when you’re busy packing for a big trip! They came in handy almost every day. Bring a cheap pair in case they break or in case you lose them.
15. Facial Sunscreen
Facial sunscreen is a lifesaver when you’re traveling in the summertime. My favorite is the Trader Joe’s Daily Facial Sunscreen because it’s only $8.99 a tube, goes on clear, is oil free, and sweat resistant. If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you, I also suggest the Neutrogena Invisible Daily Defense face sunscreen.