Before you begin packing items into your luggage, it’s important to know what you’re going to need as you tour Europe. Having a checklist for traveling through Europe is a great way to avoid packing what you don’t need, and ensuring you do have what you will need when you get there.
Safety, security, and planning checklist
Beyond knowing how many pairs of socks you need to pack, it’s important to create a checklist for traveling to Europe, including to-do items and research before you start packing your bags.
- Know where your passport(s) are and double-check to ensure they are up-to-date. You can get an expedited passport through the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs if necessary.
- Know entry/exit requirements for the country (countries) you’ll be touring, including customs, visas, and where the U.S. embassy is located.
- Pack your U.S. driver’s license or other state or federally issued I.D. in addition to your passport.
- Make a color photocopy of passports to leave with your emergency contact in the U.S. If you lose your passport abroad, your contact can digitally send photocopies to local authorities or U.S. embassies.
- A day or two before leaving, check for travel warnings where you're headed. You can get real-time security notices from the U.S. Department of State here.
- If you experience a natural disaster, arrest, or other crisis abroad, contact the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs—they offer exceptional assistance for a variety of emergent needs.
- Before you leave, email or hand-deliver copies of your itinerary to family/emergency contacts.
- Planning to bring home wine or spirits? Check out this article!
Make sure you pack:
- Any prescriptions you take regularly and ensure you have enough for the whole tour
- If you are diabetic, have a heart condition, or other illness, consider wearing a medical alert bracelet in the event of an unforeseen health concern
- Bring your medical insurance cards with you: they most likely won’t cover you, but they may, and the information they provide to health care providers abroad allows them to send the paperwork directly to your insurer
- U.S. embassies or consulates can help you find hospitals or doctors where you are if you need them.
Getting around and staying in touch
- Don’t bring your most precious jewelry with you. If you must wear something valuable like an engagement ring, insure it before you go.
- For tech gadgets like laptops, smartphones, or watches, make a list that includes each item's market value, brand, model number, and serial number.
- Download photos of valuables in the cloud (iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.) because these virtually stored images can be shown to authorities from any computer.
Documents & Money
- Debit & Credit Card – inform your bank and credit card company that you will be traveling internationally to avoid any unwanted holds on your account.
- Money – you can use your debit card to withdraw cash when you’ve reached your destination, but it’s a good idea to carry a small reserve of U.S. dollars and foreign currency for emergencies.
- Documents – bring your travel wallet with all trip documents, tickets, ID, and passport.
- Foreign Adapter – bring the proper type of adapter for the country you are visiting so you can use your electronics abroad.
- Cell Phone – note that your cell phone might not work outside the U.S. unless international service has been activated. Check with your provider ahead of time to avoid any unwanted fees. For calling or texting family back home, download Skype or WhatsApp onto one of your devices and use it whenever a Wi-Fi connection is available.
- Digital Camera & Memory Card– many cell phones today have high-quality cameras. If you decide to bring an additional camera on vacation, be sure you’ll feel comfortable carrying it around with you all day. And don’t forget the memory card and batteries/charger!
- Kindle or Tablet – these are great alternatives to laptop computers, allowing you to do everything from browsing the internet (when a Wi-Fi connection is available) to reading books and even interacting with family back home.
- Batteries & Chargers – don’t forget to pack these for all of your devices! Or consider a universal travel charger to charge multiple things at once.
Check out this article for more advice on essential electronics.