Best Travel Accessories for Europe: The List of Essentials
August 19, 2019
Europe Travel Necessities
Some people collect Burano glass to display in their homes. Others pick up a refrigerator magnet to remind them of their travels. While I don’t collect any particular product, I do have a display of travel accessories that I have accumulated over the years sitting on a table in my bedroom. These products are certainly not displayed in beautiful glass cases, but I do look at this collection of travel accessories fondly as they have made such a positive impact on my travel experiences. Extensive long-term travel through Europe combined with ailments like a herniated disc in my back, allergic reactions to mosquito bites ,and severe motion sickness has caused me to really curate the perfect list of “what to bring when traveling to Europe.” Also, my readers have shown me tons of additional products that they have purchase for their trips to Europe. All of this information has afforded me the opportunity to create this list of the best travel accessories for Europe.
Packing Travel Accessories for Europe
To roll or not to roll, there is no question. Rolling your clothes into a packing cube is a life-changing method for those who typically take longer trips or are serial over-packers. It is truly astounding how much more you can fit into your suitcase. Everyone has their own packing cube method, but I would recommend either using each packing cube for a specific type of clothing or if you are traveling through multiple seasons, using the largest cube for winter clothes and the medium-sized cubes for summer attire. I bought these Shacke Pack cubes from Amazon and they have served me well. I washed them a couple times due to a bed bug scare and they did not fall apart. Travelers also seem to love the Bagail packing cubes so I included both options.
Travel Shoe Bags
I cannot believe it took me so long in life to buy travel shoe bags. Not only do these bags keep the bottom of your shoe from dirtying up your clothes, but they also serve as a dual-purpose laundry bag for wet or worn clothes. I prefer bags that have a transparent window, so you can see what pair of shoes are inside without undoing the drawstring (maximizes space) or zipper (secure).
Leakproof Travel Size Bottles for Toiletries
I never wanted to go through the extra effort of pouring my face wash into a leakproof travel bottle; however, after my precious Philosophy Purity facial cleanser leaked on multiple trips, I have now learned that this extra step is key. I recommend choosing bottles that are all different colors, so you can identify which liquid is in each bottle. ex. blue = face wash, pink =hand cream, yellow = body lotion, etc. This may be instinctive to most, but if you don’t use up the liquids during your trip, make sure you continue to use when you get home. I accidentally left my body wash in one of the bottles for quite a while and it dried up making it difficult to clean.
Anti-theft Backpack or Crossbody
While you should always remain vigilant while traveling, it is nice to have a bag that has anti-theft protections. I bought the Travelon Anti-theft Signature Slim Backpack because I wanted a way to disperse the weight of my belongings evenly across my back, but not have to worry about pickpockets sticking their hand into my purse. Not only did I use this backpack every day for three months in Europe, but it has also become my day-to-day bag in LA. I am including this other travel backpack from Pincnel because it has been a favorite of my readers for its fashionable look. Popular anti-theft bags from brands like Pacsafe and Baggallini are also sold on Zappos.
I use a money belt when I am carrying a large amount of cash from the airport to my accommodation, but not during my day-to-day. This is why. 1) I don’t want to lift my shirt up in public 2) I don’t want to sweat more by wearing something around my stomach in the heat of the summer 3) You should only be bringing enough cash to get you through the day. Everything else should be dispersed in various places back at your accommodation to avoid theft.
Dry Bag, Portable Safe, Luggage Scale
These miscellaneous items are not a travel necessity for every trip, but I wanted to include them on this list of things to take to Europe as they may be useful to you on your upcoming visit.
Best Air Travel Accessories for Europe
Mackenzie Lumbar Pillow
My physical therapist recommended this product for long-haul flights and it has made a tremendous difference. On prior trips, I would land in a new country with a sore back that would progressively get worse, but this lumbar roll mitigates lower back pain for the flight so I start off the trip at 100%.
Portable Travel Fan
I have always been nauseous on planes, but that changed when I realized that using a portable fan gave me the proper air flow I needed. I would get off a plane and be so light-headed when I needed to be on my A-game so I could navigate my way from the airport to my accommodation. Of course, everyone doesn’t have this problem, but if you do get motion sick on public transport, then I recommend giving this a try. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to throw this in your bag to cool off after walking 25,000 steps during the hot European summer.
If you have one iPad, one movie, and two people or if you want to listen to a podcast together whether that be on the plane or on another form of public transport in Europe, then a headphone splitter is a great solution for sharing a device.
I generally just bring my lumbar pillow for my back since two pillows would probably be a bit extra…but I do miss that solid neck support when I start nodding off on the airplane. The Trtl pillow is so compact it barely takes up any additional room which is a fabulous design feature!
Increase circulation, decrease swelling, and prevent blood clots by wearing compression socks on long-haul flights to Europe. Essentially, spend a little and prioritize your health.
Wet Wipes, Hand Sanitizer
Be that person who wipes down your airplane seat. I am, and I take pride in that. Although I will say that the longer the trip, the more desensitized I become to germs along the way.
Accommodation Travel Accessories for Europe
Between your phone, camera, and laptop, you need to not only bring 3 different adapters, but also find 3 outlets in the room where you are staying. Things get real messy if you add a curling iron into the mix. Instead, why not purchase one or two adapters and use this surge protector to plug in all the tech essentials. Now you hopefully won’t end up charging your laptop in the bathroom sink because that is the only plug available.
Adapters are the ultimate travel necessities for Europe. I recommend buying a universal plug so you don’t have to worry about switching adapters if you are traveling between the UK, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, etc.
To be fair, this isn’t a travel accessory that I use. I make a concerted effort to bring clothes that don’t wrinkle –usually a combination of polyester and spandex is best. But, I know many people, especially those traveling for business, who swear by a travel steamer. If you are traveling for a special event or for business, then a travel steamer is a great accessory to bring to Europe, especially if you don’t know if your accommodation will have an iron.
The crazy looking contraption below is a travel clothesline, so that if you do need to do laundry during your Europe trip, you won’t find the wet socks you left out on the balcony on the street corner of your hotel after an unexpected windstorm.
Is laundry detergent a travel necessity? Eh. Depends on who you ask. You can go ahead and use that bar of soap in the hotel; but, you might need something a bit stronger should you spill that glass of red wine on white jeans. Or worse yet, olive oil…I don’t think there has been a trip to Europe where I do not spill olive oil on the majority of the clothes I own.
Hostel Travel Essentials
Lock your luggage/backpack as well as the locker in your hostel dorm room to prevent theft. Many hostels sell locks for a euro or two, but it is definitely more cost-effective to bring your own.
You don’t want to go barefoot in a hostel shower. I love that these flip flops have holes along the bottom so that they dry quickly. I have always brought along a pair of my $1 Old Navy flip flops which I love. But, they always leave a trail of water in the bathroom into the dorm room and don’t dry well. So, if you have room in your backpack/luggage, I highly recommend purchasing shoes specifically intended for the shower.
Microfiber Quick-Dry Towel
Here’s a scenario: Check-out time is at 11:00 so you quickly grab some free breakfast downstairs and speedily take a shower. You are throwing your belongings in your backpack and realize you have this soaking wet towel and nowhere to put it. That is why you need a microfiber quick-dry towel. On my last Europe trip, one of my hostel roommates was lamenting about his wet towel situation and after I told him about the microfiber towels, he bought one off Amazon and had it shipped to his next hostel. And no, you don’t get free shipping in Europe if you are a Prime member in the states, so buy ahead of time.
There is always that one hotel roommate who has zero qualms about turning the light on at 3AM after a night out of partying. Wear an eye mask so that you don’t wake up startled when this inevitably happens.
That same hostel roommate who turns the light on at 3AM will also be up at 6AM to check-out before an early flight. He/she will make an absurd amount of noise as they pack up their belongings and as you wake up for a second time in a 3 hour period, you’ll find yourself struggling to go back to sleep while you wonder how and why this person chose to subject themselves to practically zero rest. Ear plugs can help you avoid this to a certain extent. I always bring Hearos earplugs with me, but the Macks are another reader fan-favorite.
Sightseeing Travel Necessities for Europe
Collapsible or Filtered Water Bottle
It is astounding how much water you will go through on your trip to Europe, especially during the summer. You will always want to carry around a bottle of water with you. I promise. Instead of purchasing plastic water bottles from the grocery store or local shops, plan ahead and bring a reusable bottle. It will not only save you money, but also help the environment. If you are worried about space, then a collapsible water bottle is the perfect option. And, if you are going to a country where you shouldn’t drink the tap water, buy a filtered bottle instead!
I wanted to include my favorite sunscreen on this list of essentials for European travel. Thanks mom for being obsessed with all things beauty and handing me hers the morning I left for three months in Europe. This Australian Gold sunscreen does not feel sticky at all when you put it on your face. It is also a tinted moisturizer so you don’t need to put on goopy foundation on an especially hot day. Everyone’s skin is different, so this product like every other has the potential to break you out, but I have pretty sensitive skin and had no issues!
One of my top travel essentials for Europe is the Anker portable charger. You don’t realize how quickly your battery drains when you are using Google Maps to navigate, TripAdvisor to pick your lunch spot, and your camera to take photos and videos. The Anker portable charger is a bit heavy, but it charges so incredibly fast and has been a life saver (literally) so many times, that it is absolutely worth the extra weight. Note: the one pictured is slightly smaller than the one I use and consequently, lighter weight. Anker is SUCH a well-made product. I highly recommend you choose one from their line.
Waterproof Phone Case
If you plan on going in a body of water during your Europe trip, it doesn’t hurt to pack a waterproof case to store your phone. The cases are inexpensive and useful for boat rides and hiking among other things.
Summer Travel Essentials
Long-sleeve Button Down Shirt
I did not even think about packing a long-sleeve button down shirt on my last trip to Europe because I didn’t own one and I never even fathomed that I would want to wear long sleeves in the summer. Well, if you saw how burned my shoulders got after a month in Greece, then you would understand why I have now purchased the Madewell White Tie-Front shirt and stood in a Nordstrom for 40 minutes as they shipped the last Medium in the company from Anchorage, Alaska to Los Angeles. And if you were curious, the next week these shirts were back in stock on Madewell. Of course. Moral of the anecdote is that you too should purchase a long-sleeve button down shirt to keep your shoulders, neck, and back out of the summer heat during a long day of sightseeing.
Water Shoes for Rocky Beaches
There are a lot of beaches in Europe that aren’t sandy, but pebbly. I have worn flip flops from the sand into the ocean water, but the water pressure makes it extremely difficult to keep the flip flops on your feet while in the water. I recommend bringing a pair of water shoes if you do plan on going into the ocean water in Europe or hiking any waterfalls. I know it is an extra shoe to store in your luggage, so I would recommend doing research before your trip and see what kind of beaches can be found at your destination. If the beaches are sandy and not rocky, then these may not be necessary! Otherwise, you will want to bring a pair along.
Turkish Towel for Beach
If you are visiting one destination and staying at a hotel with a private beach, do not waste space in your suitcase with a beach towel. But, for those of you visiting multiple destinations and staying at a variety of accommodations, then a Turkish towel is a Europe travel essential. The towel is so thin and it dries quickly. The only flaw is that if you are in a windy destination, the towel isn’t as sturdy as your traditional towel because it is so lightweight and compact.
Protect yourself from the sun with this foldable hat. I never brought a sun hat on my travels because I didn’t ever want to carry it around with me any time I was switching locations. Luckily, they have made hats geared for travelers that are packable.
Mosquito Repellent Products
Will these products work for you? This question reminds me of someone asking you what you think about flying easyJet or any other budget airline. Some people will have great experiences and others won’t. It’s completely subjective. The same thing goes for mosquito repellant products. These accessories will work for some and won’t for others. That is why I provided a variety of options for you to choose from. I get massively infected mosquito bites –the kind where I need to visit the cruise hospital and go on antibiotics kind of mosquito bites — so I am willing to try anything and everything. Zyrtec has been most effective for me, but I also wanted to include these products that have overwhelmingly positive reviews because hopefully you don’t have quite as a severe reaction to bites as I do.
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Have you been to Europe before? In your mind, what are the Europe travel essentials that need to be included on this list? Let us know in the comments below!