How to Pack for Summer in Europe

How to Pack for Summer in Europe (Using Only a Carry-On)

Europe’s warmer summer weather makes it a prime time to partake in outdoor activities and explore the local culture. The last thing you want to do is feel bogged down on your adventure, especially when navigating Europe’s tricky train stations, narrow streets, and tiny elevators. Fear not, unless your trip requires a lot of specialty gear, summer clothing is light enough to all fit into a carry-on suitcase and day bag. The following tips and packing list will keep your luggage light and you feeling prepared for your exciting journey.

This article originally appeared as a guest post for Whisked Away’s blog, read it here.»
Packing Tips

Check the weather forecast

European weather can be finicky in the summer, especially the further north you roam. Research the projected 7-day forecast to plan for unexpected climate changes and adjust your packing list accordingly.

It’s all about layering

Even in summer months, European temperatures can fluctuate between chilly evenings and strong midday heat. The key to staying comfortable is to layer your wardrobe. Choose tanks and tees as a base, then top it with a cardigan or hoodie that can easily be tied around the waist or stowed in a bag. A chic scarf can also add extra warmth and doubles as a shawl to cover bare shoulders in churches and sacred spaces.

Keep it coordinated

Choose classic, basic pieces in a limited color family that can be mixed and matched. Consider packing items that can be dressed up or down – you can never go wrong with something black. Materials that are wrinkle- and UV-resistant, breathable, and quick drying will keep you comfortable.

Re-wear clothing

There’s no shame in wearing the same clothes again over the course of the week. Pants are especially durable and versatile. They can be worn multiple times, so only pack two lightweight pairs. Black stretch pants or khakis can easily be dressed up with a nice top or used for more physical activities like hiking.

Use a packing system

Employing packing cubes or compression bags will greatly reduce space in your suitcase. On top of that, it will also keep your belongings more organized during your trip. Learn more on using packing cubes here.»

Don’t overpack toiletries

Keep toiletries to a minimum. You can always use the complimentary soaps and lotions provided by the hotel or venture to the local pharmacy. If you prefer using your own products, stick to bring multi-purpose items like Castile soap that functions as body wash, shampoo, and laundry soap.

Wear bulkiest items on the flight

Save space in your suitcase by wearing your bulkiest clothes en route to your destination. As an added benefit, sporting a light jacket and sneakers will keep you comfortable and adaptable to the changing temperatures in airports and planes.

Add style with a couple of key accessories

Packing basic clothes doesn’t mean boring. Wearing a pretty scarf or piece of unique jewelry adds personality to any outfit.

Do laundry when traveling over one week

If you’re traveling for an extended period, washing clothes will be necessary. Opt for quick-drying, high-tech fabrics that incorporate cotton blends or synthetic weaves of polyester, rayon, or Nylon. If there’s not enough time to have the your clothes laundered, wash small loads in the sink every few days. Use warm water and a mild detergent (thank goodness you packed that Castile soap). Wring excess water out by rolling clothes in a bath towel and hanging them in the shower or outside to dry. If you’re short on time, use the hotel hair dryer to speed up the process. Tip: If you’re booking an apartment or Airbnb, search for properties that have washers and dryers.

Summer Packing

Have any helpful packing tips? Share your questions and comments.



  • 1-2 lightweight pants (black or khaki can easily be dressed up and down, we like Betabrand or FIG Clothing)
  • 1 pair of shorts or a skirt/sundress


  • 1-2 long sleeve shirts (cardigans and hoodies are easy to layer)
  • 3-5 tees/tanks (at least one black top)
  • 1 packable rain jacket (we recommend Patagonia’s Houdini Jacket)
  • 1 set of pajamas or a cover-up
Adjust When Necessary
Northern regions of Europe may be colder than the south. Adjust your wardrobe by packing heavier pants and replace tees with heavier tops.


  • 5-7 pairs of breathable, quick-drying underwear (we recommend ExOfficio or Uniqlo AIRism)
  • 5-7 pair of socks (pack in shoes to save space)
  • 1-3 bras (including a sports one)
  • 1 pair of swimming trunks or swimsuit


  • Hat for sun protection
  • Scarf (can double as pillow, sarong, or blanket)
  • Sunglasses
  • 1-2 pieces of non-precious, versatile jewelry



Reminder: Liquids may not exceed 100 ml in carry-on luggage.


  • Cell phone
  • Camera (optional)
  • Headphones
  • Memory cards
  • Chargers and batteries
  • Converters and adapters (BESTEK offers a small power strip version so you can charge multiple devices at once)
  • Cables
  • Headlamp or small flashlight
  • Tablet or laptop (optional)


Have any helpful packing tips? Share your questions and comments.

Lara Dalinsky

Lara DalinskyLara was instilled with the travel bug at an early age and has visited over 25 countries. Her mother’s job as a flight attendant enabled a childhood of discovering the world. She recently relocated to Seoul, South Korea, where she hopes to explore much of Asia for the next few years. In addition to being the founding editor of En Route Traveler, Lara also works as a freelance graphic designer. In her spare time, she contributes as a Local Expert to AFAR, is an ambassador for FIG Clothing, enjoys vegetarian cuisine, instructs Zumba, practices yoga, dabbles in photography and, of course, travels as much as possible.


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