Vacation packing lists are a dime a dozen on the internet. The problem is: they tend to restate the obvious, the things we already planned to pack.
Beyond the standard list of wet wipes and bandaids, here are:
9 Things We're Glad We Packed for Europe!
Plastic Grocery Bags
Useful for everything from shopping at grocery stores and outdoor markets (both are typically BYOBag in Europe), to wrapping breakable souvenirs, collecting dirty laundry, or containing muddy shoes, these guys are lifesavers!
- Pack 1-2 per person. Be sure to have at least one on hand at all times.
Sandwich size are handy for portioning and carrying snacks in a daypack or purse - a necessity for a day of site-seeing. Quart size bags can be helpful in rinsing fruit purchased in a market, or storing leftovers in a hotel/apartment fridge. Either size can be used to collect souvenirs (like ticket stubs or seashells) and receipts.
- Pack 2 sandwich bags per person (and re-use them!), plus 3-4 quart bags total.
It only takes one drip of olive oil on your shorts or one splash of red wine on your shirt to ruin all your travel photos for the rest of the day (or rest of the week, if you're a light packer). Shout Wipes are phenomenal at taking out tough stains instantly, so you can continue your travels with no evidence of clumsy gluttony.
- Pack 1 Shout Wipe per person per trip. Sure, not everyone will need one . . . but someone just might spill twice. You know who you are!
Traveling for more than a week necessitates washing clothes. But with laundromats priced as they are in Europe, separating loads by color can be cost-prohibitive. Color Catchers absorb any dyes that bleed in the washing machine, keeping the dyes out of your whites, allowing all clothes to be washed in a single cost-effective load.
- Pack 1 Color Catcher per the number of loads you expect to wash.
Clothes Pins (aka Clothes Pegs)
If you're lucky enough to score accommodations with a washing machine, don't assume a dryer is a sure thing in Europe. Often a clothesline is available (which you'll want to wipe with a rag first -see "rags," below), but sufficient clothes pins may not be. No use spending travel time and money on procuring these if you can bring a few from home.
- Pack 10-ish. Then leave them on the line when you return home, and save the next guest the headache.
For Hygiene & Comfort
Mini Spray Bottle
Pack this (empty!) in your purse or carry-on, then fill with water just before boarding the plane. In flight, give your face and hair a quick spritz every 30 minutes to feel refreshed and to minimize airplane dehydration.
Once on the ground in Europe, carry this in your purse or daypack as you site-see. (Half full should suffice, and keep weight down.) A burst of cool mist during long days of urban site-seeing can add hours to the crankiness threshold.
- Pack 1 per family. Then take turns who has to (or gets to!) carry it.
Individual hostels and AirBnB / VRBO rentals vary in their commitment to having toilet paper available upon your arrival. Carrying a roll can prevent a panicked search for the nearest convenience store right after check-in.
- Pack 1 roll. Just don't forget to use it on your trip; no use carrying that back across the pond!
Do you have a sock with a hole in it, or a shirt with a stain? Don't throw it out right before a trip. Cut it into a few pieces and bring it along. You might use the rags as a face cloth in accommodations that only supply towels. Or moisten for a quick "pit swipe" when the local spices and humidity have overpowered your deodorant. Rags can also be helpful in rental units for washing dishes, or even wiping down a clothesline before hanging out your laundered clothes.
- Pack 2 per person.
It's true, we can't protect ourselves from all risk. But when it's 3 a.m. and you're hearing strange noises through a jet-lagged fog, knowing there's a doorstop wedged under the door can give just enough peace of mind for sleep to drift in.
- Pack 1.
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