Men's Packing List


Men's Packing List for Europe

Most packing lists focus on women.  This is a man’s packing list.  This list has been compiled based on my experiences as outlined in in my previous sections - Packing – ClothingPacking – Gadgets-Electronics  and Packing – Accessories.

I have created a guy's packing checklist for Europe which can be found by clicking:
Ultimate Men's Packing List for Europe.  Below is an annotated discussion of the checklist.

Packing light for your European odyssey is key.  I strongly recommend that you avoid checking any bags – carry-on only.  You can usually avoid baggage fees, having your luggage lost, and long lines through customs.  Carry-on-only allows you to be among the first through customs and allows you to retain control of your possessions.

Luggage:
  • Size-Compliant Rolling Suitcase or Backpack.  I prefer a rolling suitcase, but make sure whatever bag you choose meets the dimensional requirements of your airline(s) for their overhead compartments.
  • Day Bag.  This is your “personal item,” like a small backpack, computer case, or shoulder bag.  Choose this bag wisely – it will become your daypack during your explorations.  I have used a messenger bag and a small backpack (the kind kids use for school) – I prefer the small backpack.  Mine is from EMS and has a large main compartment with two smaller front zippered compartments and mesh bottle holders on the sides.  Your daypack should be capable of holding a sweater or light jacket, guidebook/materials, camera, a drink, lunch, and have room for some souvenirs or beer.

  • Packing Cubes – these are useful items to thoughtfully pack and organize your luggage.  They don’t add much weight, but they allow you to be more efficient in packing.  Tetris, anyone?
Clothing:
  • Jacket – a water-proof windbreaker is best.  The idea is to layer clothing for warmth and avoid really bulky coats.  I use a windbreaker from Columbia that packs into its own pocket – really compact and easy to pack, but it has served me well in European rains.  If you’re traveling in the dead of winter, then maybe upgrade to a nice leather jacket that you can layer with a sweater.
  • Hat – not widely used as an accessory in Europe.  If you choose to bring one, avoid a baseball cap.
  • Scarf - Europeans always wear scarves unless it's summertime.  If you wear one, you'll blend in better.  Can also be used as an eye-mask on the plane or on a train.
  • Underwear – three pair, including the pair you will wear on the plane.  Choose quick-drying undies and be prepared to rinse a pair each night in your hotel sink.  I really love the underwear offered by Ex-Officio, a travel outfitter.  Kind of pricey, but extremely comfortable, longwearing, easy to handwash, and quick-drying.
  • Socks – three pair, including the pair you will wear on the plane.  Don’t go cheap on your socks – go to your favorite sporting goods store and invest in thick-soled athletic or hiking socks.  Avoid socks with mostly cotton; if they get wet you’ll get cold, and they take forever to dry.
  • Shoes – two pair, including the pair you will wear on the plane.  Sneakers are becoming more common in Europe, but for a more versatile wardrobe I suggest a pair of black shoes that can be dressed-up, and a pair of brown utility shoes.  Find comfortable walking shoes in both colors.  I have found success and comfort with slip-on shoes from Clark’s.  If your travels are more outdoorsy and less city, then maybe a pair of hikers instead of the brown pair.
  • T-Shirts – three, including the one you will wear on the plane.  I typically pack a white t-shirt, a t-black shirt and an athletic grey t-shirt – each with a chest pocket in which you can store some larger bills or your passport under your top shirt.  These colors coordinate with just about anything
  • Long-Sleeved Shirts – three, including the one you will wear on the plane.  Button-down shirts are the most versatile, especially hiking or travel shirts like those you can buy at EMS, REI, Dick’s Sporting Goods, L.L. Bean, Columbia or any outdoor outfitter.  These shirts are comfortable, breathable, lightweight, wrinkle-resistant, quick-drying and they actually look decent.  They can go from day to night, unless you’re invited to tea with royalty.  Choose colors that coordinate with your pants (each shirt should be wearable with each pair of pants).
  • Long-Sleeved T-Shirts – one or two.  For layering when the weather is cooler, or for a more casual day-look.  Avoid logos or advertising.
  • Pants – three pair, including the pair you will wear on the plane.  Jeans are becoming common in Europe, but they’re heavy and take forever to dry – if you’re going to take a pair, wear it on the plane.  I have fallen in love with Ex-Officio’s line of Nomad travel pants – very lightweight, look great, wrinkle-resistant, quick-drying, stain resistant.  You might wish to include (in the Summer months) a pair of convertible pants that allow you to zip off the legs to create a pair of shorts.  Convertible pants are a dead giveaway that you’re a tourist, but they are comfortable and functional.  I usually travel with 4 pairs of pants, I admit – one pair of brown jeans, two pair of Ex-Officio Nomad pants, and one pair of convertible pants from EMS.  The Nomads are so light and compactible that I consider them a two-for-one deal.  The convertible pants can serve double-duty as a bathing suit. Choose colors that complement your shirts and can mix-and-match.
  • Belt – one.  Get one that is double-sided, brown/black.  Or, a quality fabric belt in neutral colors that coordinates with all of your pants and shoes.
Toiletries:
  • Bar Soap – your favorite brand in travel size, if possible (not necessary, as bar soap isn’t a “liquid” subject to security restrictions).  Having your usual bar soap gives you comfort on a subliminal level – you smell like you.
  • Shampoo – your favorite brand in a travel-sized container.
  • Razor(s) – disposal safety razors.  Optional – you can easily buy these overseas
  • Shaving Cream – travel size.  Optional – you can easily buy shaving cream overseas
  • Deodorant – travel size – your favorite brand, if possible.  Smelling like yourself makes you feel more comfortable.
  • Toothbrush – take a full-sized one.  Not much difference in space/weight vs. a travel brush, but much better at doing the job.
  • Toothpaste – travel size toothpaste tubes only last a few days.  You’ll end up buying a tube while overseas. Trash the remainder at the end of your trip after you squeeze the remaining European paste into your travel size tube for the return journey.  All major U.S. brands available.
  • Comb/Brush – believe it or not, many packing lists omit these items!
  • Condoms – hey, you never know….
  • Self-adhesive Bandages – like Band-Aids.  A few different sizes for nicks and scrapes.
  • Toenail clipper – legal to carry onboard a plane, they can be used to clip finger- and toenails, open plastic packages, and trim wayward threads on clothing.
  • Hand Sanitizer – travel size.  Use this on planes and trains to help avoid getting sick.  Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth at all times when on planes, trains, subways and buses.  Being sick on your expensive trip is no fun.
  • Tissues – travel/pocket packs.  I usually pack three pocket packs of Kleenex tissues – one in my daypack, one in my roller bag and one in my back pocket.  Also useful if the public bathroom you’re using can’t seem to spare a square.  On the go I always snag extra napkins at restaurants and paper towels in restrooms to supplement my tissue supply.
Sundries:
  • Reusable Shopping Bag – can be used for your trip to the beach, but is also really handy to go food shopping.  Most European stores charge for flimsy plastic bags.  In the alternative, remember to take the (free) plastic bag that came with your expensive souvenirs to the grocery store.
  • Bottle opener – twist-off caps are few and far between.  One of the most used items on my trips.  Mine is a freebie handout from Sam Adams.
  • Sink/tub Stopper – many European hotels lack a drain stopper to discourage hand washing in their sinks or tubs. 
  • Cable Ties / Zip Ties – useful for securing bags, certain repairs, and jury-rigging clotheslines.  Can be cut using your toenail clippers.
  • Zipper-style storage bags – for your liquids through security, but also useful to pack a lunch, separate stinky laundry, or waterproof sensitive items on a wet day.  Bring a few each in snack, quart and gallon sizes.  The two-gallon size can also be used as packing cubes for shirts and pants.
  • Notebook/pen/pencil – for on-the-fly notes of all sorts.  I carry a Moleskin pocket notebook and I love it.
  • Luggage Lock – to secure your bag from casual inspection by chambermaids, or when you need to leave your bag at the hotel before checking in.  If you’re going to check your bag on the way home, make sure the lock is TSA compatible.
  • Hidden Money Belt – I admit that I don't always use it, but I sure did on every train I took.
  • Travel Towel – a microfiber travel towel is incredibly compact and has many uses (think of a swimmer’s chamois).  Other than a towel if you need one, you can roll up your recently-handwashed clothing in the towel and wring to remove much of the moisture and accelerate the drying time for your clothes.  I have a medium-sized travel towel from McNett.  Can double as a picnic blanket or a small throw if you’re chilly.
  • Front-Pocket Wallet – have a wallet specifically for travel (after all, do you really need your library card in Lisbon?) A front-pocket wallet is usually slimmer than a typical man’s wallet and is harder for pickpockets to get at.
  • Travel Laundry Soap - I've used Woolite and Tide travel laundry soap.  I prefer Woolite.  Pack one packet of detergent for every three days of your trip.  You'll end up with extra in all likelihood because you'll decide during your travels that you can reuse an article of clothing without washing it first....
Electronics
  • Tablet/Laptop – I use an “old” but serviceable original iPad when I travel to blog, check email, look up destinations and upload photos (with a memory card adapter from Apple).  I also use my iPad as an e-book reader, and I store my travel guides on it. If you’re not traveling for business or you don’t plan to blog or manipulate photos, then I would consider leaving the tablet or laptop at home, especially if you have a smartphone to check email, prefer “real” books, and don’t plan much blogging/websurfing.  Don’t forget your charger!
  • Smartphone – I travel with an iPhone.  I’ve loaded it with travel-related apps like those from DB, Kayak, TripAdvisor and airlines.  Look for apps that can be used offline to save international data roaming charges while you’re out and about.  Also consider adding an international voice plan for a nominal charge to save versus standard international voice roaming rates – a few calls will pay for the cost of the add-on plan.  If you anticipate a lot of international calls, consider a more robust voice plan, or alternatives like Skype, Vonage or MagicJack.  If you’ll be making a lot of calls to numbers within Europe, consider buying a throwaway phone in Europe, or a SIM card for your unlocked phone.  International data plans are also available, but with care you can usually find free Wi-Fi at your hotel, and at certain public places (Starbucks, for example).  My iPad charger will also charge my iPhone, so one fewer charger to carry! Don’t forget your earbuds to use your phone as a music player when riding the rails.
  • Camera – I carry a Canon EOS Rebel T3-i DSLR and it takes great pictures.  I also carry a Canon PowerShot SX260 HS, a “travel-zoom” camera that fits neatly into your front pocket.  The DSLR is good for professional-quality pictures and hi-speed action, and the PowerShot is great when you’re wandering about without your daypack, at night, or in less upscale environs (pictures are good, too).  Memory cards are interchangeable between the cameras, and both will shoot HD video.  Don’t forget your memory cards, rechargeable battery packs and your chargers!
  • Compact Three-Outlet Power Strip – this is a travel version, rated for 110-240v 50-60 Hz, meaning that it can be used in the U.S. or in Europe.  Get a plug adapter for the cord and you can plug your U.S. appliances directly into the strip.


  • Plug Adapter – most of continental Europe uses a two-pronged plug with round prongs (except Britain, Ireland, Switzerland and parts of Italy).  With the universal power strip, above, I only need to bring one adapter.  Make sure, too, that the North American appliances/electronics you bring with you are dual voltage rated – they or their chargers should be marked “120-240v 50-60 Hz.”  Most modern electronics are dual voltage.  Some have a manual switch to change the voltage.

Last, But Not Least:
  • Passport – you’re not going anywhere without it.  Keep a separate copy of your passport in your luggage, and leave a copy of your passport at home to make it easier if you need to replace your passport while abroad.
  • Tickets / Reservation Confirmations – for your flights, your trains, your hotels and for any excursions you have pre-booked.  Email yourself a copy of all of your tickets and confirmations, and also bring good-old paper copies.  Consider preparing a master itinerary for yourself, which includes all of your reservation information in a handy summary.  Kayak.com offers a free service that allows you to email reservations to them (whether booked on Kayak or not) and Kayak will magically assemble an itinerary for you that you can save, email and print out.
  • Credit / Debit Cards – Bring only the cards you plan to use, but consider carefully the consequences if one won’t work overseas – this is particularly true for ATM cards.  Make sure you have a 4-digit pin to ensure the best chance of compatibility with European ATMs.  Keep in mind that European ATM cards have a smart chip embedded in them, and most retailers will not allow you to make a debit transaction (a/k/a point-of-sale (POS) purchase) with your ATM card if it does not have a chip.  Retailers will take U.S. credit cards without a chip (AMEX, Visa, MC, etc.), but investigate the foreign transactions fees your company will charge you.  Use cash for smaller purchases.  You typically get the best exchange rate by withdrawing cash from an ATM with your ATM card, anyway (and some banks do not charge a foreign transaction fee – look around and check with your bank).  Leave a copy of the front and back of your credit and ATM cards with a trusted relative or friend in case you lose your cards while abroad – this will make getting replacements easier.
  • Health Insurance Card
  • Prescription Medicine – bring enough for your trip, and a copy of your prescriptions.
  • Glasses/Contacts – consider bringing a spare pair or a copy of your prescription, just to be safe.

Most of the items mentioned above can be found in my Travel Store.

My Ultimate Men's Packing List for Europe is available here.

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43 comments:

  1. Instead of expensive shaving cream I use baby lotion. If it's safe enough for babies it's OK for me. It's inexpensive, easy to use and moistureising.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I lost confidence in this blog post when I read "Europeans all where scarves except in summer".

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    Replies
    1. You WEAR clothes, you ask WHERE is your brain?

      Good article.

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    2. Agreed. Literally no one here wears scarves.

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  3. Thanks for sharing such useful tips here. Keep up the good work.

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  7. Thank you for sharing this. Some great ideas and tips about this topic. Even though the list seems quite big, as a man, I'm really glad we don't need to carry as many things as women do because that would be really exhausting and frustrating. Anyway, thanks for this blog. Looking forward to reading more from you.

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  11. Wow. That is one amazing post. I really used a lot of the tips and ended up getting a nice Toiletry bag from Amazon that can fit all my Tooth Brush, Shampoo etc... Thanks for taking out the time for making such a helpful post.

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  13. It so refreshing, and frankly very unusual find. I think in general the male gender doesn't exist. Every search I have done for this type of information I only get "girly packing". Duh where do these people think men buy their clothes?
    You gave great ideas. However, one more thing I'd like to add. I'm an avid Photographer shooting mostly RAW, but for the last 10 years I only use high-end compact cameras that shoots RAW. I even used it during an African Safari. The body+lenses of a DSL camera is like taking the kitchen sink. I don't use a tablet so I pack ample supply of SD cards since I don't uploaded until I get back from my trip.
    Also, I no longer use cotton attire. I wear merino wool, or other type of synthetic clothing. I use a travel bag no wheels so I'm only trying to minimize my weight. Overall, thanks for sharing

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