I just recently returned from a trip to Italy, where I took real estate photographs and video for two vacation rentals, and I got the opportunity to see and photograph the process of how olive oil is made. I am excited to share those projects soon, but I’ve crazy busy since I’ve been back getting caught up with other work projects, plus I got slammed with not only the usual jetlag, but also a cold, so it was quite the double header. Thus this week I am taking a break from photography blog posts and talking more about travel, specifically packing for Europe. If you would like this list in a checkbox format you can print off, sign up for my newsletter at the bottom of this page for my free packing checklist.

  • Shirts / blouses / long sleeves – I packed 4 for a 7 day trip, plus 2 workout shirts

  • Pants / field pants / jeans / shorts

    • 2 jeans

    • 2 shorts
    • 1 skirt for nicer dinners
    • 1 pair leggings for working out and hiking
  • Underwear & socks

    • I pack the most of these, usually 1 pair per day unless I plan on a laundry day (but this was a short trip)

    • Don’t forget hiking specific socks!
    • Also for the ladies – bras and sports bras
  • Outerwear

  • Other


  • Personal toiletries kit – toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, brush, contact lenses, deo, facewash, makeup, etc

  • Shower items – (make sure they are 3 oz/100 mL containers or less in a 1-quart ziplock bag for carry on!) shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash, lotion, razers, etc

  • Sunscreen – my pale skin is a connoisseur of sunscreen at this point, I recommend something above SPF 15, in a broad spectrum (UVA and UVB protectant) – Neutrogena Daily Facial Moisturizer With Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen, Hypoallergenic is  one of my favorites

  • Bugspray – may be unnecessary for most of Europe in the cities, but if you spend time in the countryside or near lakes you may want to add this to your list

  • Medicine / vitamins / Ibuprofen / first-aid – Meta-U Small Pill Box Supplement Case(Blue)


Camera Gear

  • Camera body and charger – whether this is a DSLR, mirrorless, point-and-shoot, or simply your phone’s camera, remember that the best camera is the one you have with you! Which means there is no sense in buying a huge DSLR that is heavy and difficult to carry around (plus at risk to be stolen) if you would enjoy yourself and the sights more if you simply had your phone camera with you.

  • Tripod / monopod – I don’t go anywhere without a MeFoto MeFOTO Classic Aluminum Globetrotter Travel Tripod/Monopod

  • Lenses – wide-angle, zoom, prime, macro, etc – this will depend wildly on your intent, but for basic travel photography, I recommend a wide angle lens (good for cities, architecture, and landscape) and a moderate zoom lens (good for wildlife, landscape, and general sightseeing)

  • Accessories – filters / flash unit / memory cards / extra batteries – don’t go too overboard, try to think about what you truly NEED and pair down the rest to keep your pack as light as you can, but I do like to always have my Beeway® Tough Water Shock Resistant Protector Memory Card Carrying Case for protecting those valuable memories

Documents & Travel Info

  • Passport and case – GDTK Leather Passport Holder Cover Case RFID Blocking Travel Wallet (Rose Gold)

  • Plane ticket on phone – most airlines have apps where you can check in in advance, although for travel abroad you’ll likely still need a printed plane ticket when you arrive at the airport

  • Bills in local currency (see “General Packing Tips for Travel to Europe” section below)

  • Credit / debit cards – I will write a future post on best travel reward cards, but look for ones that won’t charge you an arm and a leg for conversion rates, and look for ones that offer travel or mileage bonuses

  • Railpass / Subway card / other

  • Travel plans printed or on phone / tablet / computer

Carry On

  • Carry on bag or checked bag – these days, I try my best to pack only enough to fill a carry-on bag, and never check a bag anymore. This keeps me traveling light, and I don’t have to worry about the airline losing my bag. On the way home I may check a bag though if I purchased extra large liquid items or bought more souvenirs – if my bag is lost and arrives later it will be less of a concern. Samsonite Hardside 20″ Luggage is my favorite brand, here in the carry-on size but I also recommend their larger bags as well.
  • Day pack / camera bag – I just purchased the f-stop – Kashmir  camera bag – one of the ONLY camera bags designed for female shooters, so I was pretty excited to get my hands on one. This case is customizable with different ICU inserts, and has a dedicated laptop section, which is important for me so I can do work on trips, and extra space for clothing layers or other travel accessories to put on top.
  • Purse / wallet – I usually have a smaller combination passport holder and wallet that is RFID blocking such as this one: Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Light Convertible Crossbody and Waistpack

  • Sunglasses

  • Water bottle – empty before you check in, but refill before your flights to stay hydrated

  • Ear plugs / eye cover – essentially for better sleep on the plane

  • Inflatable pillow / neck pillow – neck pillows are nice, but so bulky for the one-time use of the flight, so I’ve been bringing my backpacking inflatable pillow (Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow) – light, tiny, perfect!

  • Books to read / Kindle and charger / Guide books – my Kindle Paperwhite is a lifesaver because it reduces my packing weight and I tend to read quickly, so I can get through more books with less weight this way – win win!

  • Plane / train / car snacks – more snacks, less hanger

  • Chapstick / eye drops – combat that dry plane air!


  • Maps printed / purchased / on device – I recommend downloading Google maps offline of the area you’ll be in

  • Flashlight – or just your phone light

  • Luggage lock – this has to be unlocked if you check your bag for TSA, but it can be useful once you reach your destination

  • Sealable plastic bags

  • Laundry soap / clothesline

  • Small towel / washcloths

General Packing Tips for Travel to Europe

  • For clothes, I tend to try and pack things that will all match with each other, so neutrals is always a good way to go. In Europe specifically, blacks tend to be worn more often than brighter colors, which makes matching clothes easy.
  • Make sure your passport is up to date and you know where it is!
  • Order Euros from your bank before your departure (you can also get them from AAA) so you can get them when the conversion rates are best, or at least get better rates than at the stands when you arrive.
  • Make sure there are no issued travel warnings from the US Department of State, make sure you are up to date on your vaccines (usually not an issue for Europe, but you can check with the CDC website), and make sure you don’t need any visas (again, not usually an issue to Europe for US Citizens, but there may be limits if you are traveling for work or for extended periods of time).
  • Research which type of outlets your destination country uses – for example, the United Kingdom uses different outlets than mainland Europe!
  • While some amount of jetlag is unavoidable, I have read up on studies and it’s been suggested that staying well hydrated and eating leafy greens (vitamins, fiber) and lots of fruit (water content, antioxidant) can be helpful. Avoid alcohol on the plane, and consider bringing some healthy snacks to supplement the on-board meals.
  • Pack as light as you can! If you forget something, you can just buy it at your destination. Shirts, toothbrushes  – don’t sweat the little things. You probably won’t miss the things you needed “just in case”, and your back will thank you for packing lighter. Smaller bags also are easier to haul around across the cobblestones of Europe, easier to lift up for that tiny overhead train compartment, and easier to lug up countless flights of stairs in the airport / subway / hostel / etc. – there are decidedly fewer elevators and escalators in Europe, so don’t expect them.
  • The more you travel, the better your packing skills will become, and you will learn how to make this list unique and work best for you. Add things, take things off, make it your own – this list is just a suggested starting point for your adventure. Now go out and have fun!

Did you like this guide?

Comment below if this guide helped you improve your packing, if I left any other tips out you’d like to see included, and what you would like to learn about next. And definitely don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter to be notified of future blog posts, upcoming workshops, shop sales, and more! Plus, get 5 free Lightroom presets and my free travel packing checklist when you sign up!

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