I recently saw a Facebook question asking about a teenager’s first trip to Europe. Instead of answering in Facebook, I thought I’d put together a handy resource that anyone can use for a student spring break packing list.
This list is tailored towards a first time European trip that covers major tourist sites. It assumes you’ll visiting for a week in the Springtime. Of course you can adapt as needed. The list skews female but is appropriate for both men and women.
What you don’t take is just as important as what you do take, and I will address both in this post. Less is more, especially when you are traveling from city-to-city and using public transport. So much of what you think you need will just weigh you down. I also talk about the things most likely to label you as a tourist, and therefore a target for pickpockets and other ne’er-do-wells.
Student Spring Break Packing List: What to Bring
A cross-body bag. You want something hands-free with more than one zippered pocket, preferably one you can face inwards. The AIRBAG pictured above is less than $25 and has a unisex design.
Three bottoms: These can be jeans, pants, bermuda shorts, or skirts. Three pairs are plenty to get you through a week. I personally pack a pair of khakis, a pair of black trousers, and a floral skirt.
Four tops: Fitted T-shirts do well, as do tunics. I go with three solids and one print.
10 pairs of Underwear, 3 Bras and a swimsuit. This is the only thing I overpack. Underwear is small so there’s little harm in having a couple of spares. Ditto for a swimsuit- I might not need it but it’s small enough to throw in just in case.
One medium-weight rain-proof jacket and one pashmina: I like to bring both as you can use the pashmina as a lightweight blanket on the plane. I really like this pashmina as it’s 100% cashmere and less than $40.
Two pairs of comfortable shoes: I can not stress this point highly enough. I always bring two pairs so I can rotate, but no more than two as shoes get heavy in your bag. Don’t forget socks if needed.
An ankle wallet: My single favorite travel security device. You will see many “travel systems” but this simple wallet is under $20 and will hold your passport and credit cards away from prying eyes.
An old tablet or kindle: I specify “old” here as you want something that won’t scream “steal me”. I use mine to carry my guidebooks and reading material in one handy and light-weight package.
Quart and gallon size Ziploc bags: The “3-1-1” rule is universal. You can only place one bag with liquids less than three ounces (100ML) in your carry-on. I like to carry a few spares for checked liquid souvenirs or for dirty laundry.
A hotel-sized shampoo and bar of soap, toothbrush and travel sized toothpaste,lip balm, a sunscreen tube, face wipes, and spray Evian. The liquids here fit in your 3-1-1 bag. The spray Evian is especially great for an instant pick-me-up when you’re feeling jet-lagged.
A washcloth: Many European hotels don’t have them.
An extra suitcase:
You will pick up souvenirs whether you plan on it or not. My shopping trips are a highlight of my wardrobe. I’m obsessed with my Tumi Voyager foldable tote as it’s strong enough to serve as an extra checked bag if needed. It’s worth every penny of the $95 price tag, but if you just want a carry-on any one lying around will do.
Student Spring Break Packing List: What to Leave Behind
Logo or Message T-Shirts: If you want to shout “American tourist!” with your clothing, wear your thoughts on your chest. Ditto for Trucker caps and white sneakers.
Short-shorts and camisoles: If you are visiting any religious sites, you will need to have your knees and shoulders covered. Revealing clothing might also attract unwanted male attention, especially in Italy. Leave the micro-minis and tube tops at home.
Stiletto Heels: Leave the heels at home not only because of the unwanted attention, but because most European cities have uneven or cobblestone sidewalks. Wearing your Manolos is like begging for a sprained ankle.
Large Toiletries: If you are in any major European city, you’ll find a drugstore on every corner with fun new stuff to try. Why waste luggage space with your Clairol hairspray?
A camera: I know that may sound like terrible advice, but hear me out. Chances are you have a phone with a camera you can use for your photos. Carrying an extra camera will become a hassle. Unless you’re a professional, your iPhone will do the trick.
What have I missed that you can’t live without in Europe? What do you always pack but never use? Please share in the comments.