Euro Luggage and Gear
Knowing what and how to pack is HUGE when traveling. Overpacking can cause headaches for several reasons, so don’t forget the golden rule: less is more. But don’t spend too much time stressing over which pair of pants you want to bring or whether or not you need a full-sized tube of toothpaste! Anything you need can be found and bought while abroad.
If the most extensive trip you’ve been on is a plane ride to another city for an extended weekend, you might not have encountered the backpack versus wheelie luggage debate. Which one you choose depends on the type of trip you’re taking or perhaps a hybrid version of both is the way to go for you. For example, a cruise and a backpacking trip require very different kinds of luggage. Other factors to consider include whether you want hard or soft case luggage, fixed or spinner wheels, under seat options, and how much weight you’re okay with carrying during your trip. In all cases, I would not recommend a duffel bag that has no wheels. Your back will thank me on that one!
Also note, it pays to do your homework before you purchase. While many will claim to be carry-on-compliant your carrier may have a different set of rules. For example, the three biggest US domestic airlines state carry-on has to be 22 inches high x 14 inches wide x 9 inches deep. In general: 14″-17″ is regarded as personal/under seat, 18″-21″ is international carry on, and 22″ to 23″ domestic carry on but of course it depends on each carrier and it seems like the rules are always changing so they can charge more fees.
The following are brands I would recommend, categorized by type of luggage (not necessarily in any order):
- Luggage Brands: In addition to the above, other popular hard luggage brands include: Travelpro, Samsonite, Delsey, Victorinox, Swiss Gear, American Tourister, Eagle Creek, Tumi and now even Yeti. Also, check out many great discounted luggage websites like Luggagepros.com, LuggageFactory.com, Ebags.com, or L.L. Bean or even major department store sites like WalMart, Macy’s or Target
- Rolling & Wheeled: REI, North Face, Patagonia Yeti, or check out some high-end brands like Hartmann, Rimowa, Away, or Briggs & Riley
- Backpacks and Backpacker Style: REI, North Face, Patagonia, Gregory, Arc’teryx, Kelty, Osprey, Cotopaxi, Eagle Creek
- Carry-Ons: Rugged, sporty options include REI, North Face, Patagonia or for more elegant or traditional travel check out Luggagepros.com, LuggageFactory.com, Ebags.com
And if you’re still not sure which bag to choose, Indie Traveller and Travel Outlandish both have great articles on helping you decide which is best for you. Aside from choosing which type of luggage you want to bring on your trip, there are several other items you have to consider, all of which are dependent on what kind of trip you’re going on.
Whether you’re scaling the Swiss Alps or taking a tour of the Colosseum, staying hydrated is essential. You can’t go wrong with a trusty, insulated standard mouth Hydro Flask, Klean Kanteen, or Nalgene bottle. I recommend a water bottlethat can hold 32 ounces or more and stick with stainless metal or plastic instead of glass, which is breakable.
Another essential is a toiletry kit, which can be found at Eagle Creek, L.L.Bean and Sea to Summit. And the last thing you want to do while traveling is worrying about forgetting things during your trip. Anyone who has traveled will tell you that keeping your items organized is vital. One way to do that is by using packing cubes. The cloth cubes are easily collapsible and come in different sizes to keep your clothes and items separated and easy to find. You can find them at Eagle Creek or several different types on Amazon or Ebay. And if you still can’t decide after looking there, Travel + Leisure has a great guide to choosing which travel cubes are best for your travel purposes.
If you’re backpacking, camping, or hiking, you might consider hiking or walking shoes, which you can find at Merrill, HokaOne, Keen, Danner, and Vasque a sleeping bag, which you can find at Marmot, Mountain Hardware, and REI.
For all trips, you should consider a money belt or neck wallet (Amazon, REI, & Eagle Creek). Many cities in Europe have high pickpocketing rates, so it’s best to keep your cash, cards, and other valuables out of sight and out of the easy reach of petty thieves.
One of the most essential items you can purchase for your trip abroad is a power converter, as European countries don’t use the American two-prong plug. The continent uses a Type C and F, while the U.K. uses Type G. Here’s a map that will show you what kind of adapter you’ll need for your travels, but your best bet is to get a universal adapter (Amazon, Home Depot). While you’re at it, make sure you have an extra phone charger and battery backup, which can be found on Amazon or at myCharge.
There are some other miscellaneous items I’ve found to be helpful in my experience. A wine/beer opener never hurts to have, a trusty carabiner (like this from Black Diamond) always seems to come in handy, and a high lumen flashlight or headlamp can be great, depending on the trip you’ve chosen (Amazon & Home Depot).
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