People tend to shy away from Europe in winter mainly because of holidays and weather. During the winter, Europe is cold but you can combat the weather by wearing layers. When shopping and packing, think “wool, wool, wool.” It is important that sweaters, socks and jackets have high wool content, meaning the product tag should read 70% or more of wool (wool, merlino wool, etc). If you rely solely cotton and most synthetics, the weather will cut right through, so it is important to layer up with warmer fabrics.
When packing layers, begin with silk long underwear. Silk is light and easy to wash in a hotel bathroom, dries quickly and takes up minimal space in a carry-on suitcase. Thermal long underwear also works, but it neither washes nor dries as easily or quickly as silk, and is much bulkier than its silk counterpart.
Additionally, it is prudent to pack every-day long sleeve cotton shirts for when the weather is temperate (like it has been the last several weeks) and wearing a cotton shirt under a wool sweater will do. Beyond the underlayers, it is important to pack clothing that is equally classic or stylish like tall boots over skinny jeans for women and slimmer fitting jeans for men. Skip sweatshirts, tennis shoes, and baseball hats as those scream “TOURIST!” Below is the ultimate packing list, use it and enjoy the freedom of packing light.
Here’s how to pack for a 10 day adventure in ONE overhead bin carry-on suitcase and ONE under seat carry-on bag such as a large purse. Seriously, just take a look below*:
1 Wool or feather down weatherproof coat (wear on the plane and place above suitcase or line airline seat with jacket for a cozy ride)
1 Pair Thinsulate gloves
1-2 Scarves (wear one on the plane to double as a light blanket)
1-2 Hats (for example beanies, classic wool/felt hats, which ever style suits you and keeps you warm. Remember, no baseball hats.)
1 Compact umbrella (Target carries lightweight compact umbrellas for under $20 they come with their own case, great for stowing in backpacks and purses) this should be included in your under seat carry-on
2-3 Wool sweaters & 1 wool blazer (choose one to wear on the plane which may also double as a pillow when balled up)
4 Pairs of jeans, corduroys, or casual wool pants (wear one pair on the plane and pack the other 3)
1 Pair of nice wool slacks or a dress for nice dinners out
1-2 Pairs silk long underwear (e.g. women’s tops and bottoms, and men’s tops and bottoms) these can also be found seasonally at shops like: Marshalls, Ross, TJ Maxx, Nordstrom Rack and REI.
2 Pairs of shoes, one pair leather walking boots to wear on the plane, one pair leather walking shoe to pack (sprayed for water and weather proofing). Remember, Europeans only wear tennis shoes (or “trainers”), when they exercise.
6 Long sleeve t-shirts or fashion thermals (wear one on the plane)
5-10 Pairs of 100% lightweight wool socks depending on how often you wish to wash (see women’s and men’s) good deals on wool socks can also be found at stores like: Costco, Nordstrom Rack, Marshalls, Ross, etc.
2-3 Pairs of anti-bacterial easy wash underwear (see women’s and men’s, which come in various styles for personal preference). You can save a lot of space with these, but it will entail washing a pair of underwear every night.
1 Quart sized Ziploc with liquids (placed near top of suitcase or near zipper for easy accessibility for TSA screening) or purchase necessary items at your destination. Add this item to the under seat carry-on
1 Travel bag with necessities such as woolite and tide, deodorant, toothbrush, make-up, hairbrushes, combs, and razors (or add this item to the under seat carry-on for touch ups after a long flight)
To best fit items, roll clothes and stuff all available void spaces (such as inside of shoes and awkward corners) with items like socks and silk long underwear. Rolling is the most ideal way to keep clothes from wrinkling and has the added benefit of being a space saver.
Still think this is impossible? This is the packing list I used last week on a 10 day European vacation.
Congratulations, you now have no need to delay your adventure waiting for your bags, or filing a claim for lost luggage at your European destination!
*All hyperlinked items are given as examples only, and are by no means an endorsement of a specific product. It is always prudent to do your own research for an item that will work best for you.