Okay, here we go – packing!  I’m guessing for most of you that this is THE most hated part of the travel process.  I get it.  I don’t like to pack either.  But…I’ve developed some guidelines, strategies and downright hacks that make it easier to make decisions, keep it efficient and allow you to have everything that you truly need.  There’s a lot to cover about packing.  I’ll be constantly sharing on this topic, so you can get every nugget of useful information.  Consider this a broad overview kicking things off  – packing can be something you conquer and master instead of dread!


Luggagecarry on suitcase luggage

Let’s start with what we’re putting everything in – luggage.  Yep, I’m going to say it, the word you may dread hearing, “carry on.”  Unplug your ears.  It’s okay.  It’s the best decision you will every make.  We have easily traveled for 6 weeks in only a carry on.  We get the 21″ size and actually still check it, so I don’t have to deal with the liquids situation.  I’m very particular about the characteristics of my carry on and why it’s important – more on that later.  Let’s just say, for starters, the smaller your luggage, the less you have to lug around on all modes of transportation or try to stow away in your hotel room.

Backpack – I do prefer a backpack.  I carry this on the plane and it holds all of my in-cabin necessities – book, compression socks, eye mask, neck pillow, computer, etc.  I am partial to a backpack because it is one less thing I have to carry.  It just seems easier to deal with because it’s already strapped to me.

Purse – cross body, for sure!  I like it big enough for a water bottle and umbrella if necessary, but small enough that it’s not weighing me down.  Guys, Dan carries a “man bag,” “man purse,” whatever you want to call it.  Seriously, it is a life saver.  And so many men carry these in Europe.


clothes for Europe packing listClothes 

What to bring, what to bring.  Well, we’re there to run, so let’s start there.  Your shoes!  The most important thing, don’t forget those darn running shoes.

  • 2 workout bottoms
  • 2 workout tops – maybe an extra if you want a long sleeve
  • 1 sports bra
  • Socks can make or break it.  They don’t take up much space, so bring what you need – especially for your race!  *Tech gear dries quickly, so you can wash your running gear in the sink with shampoo or suck it up and run in some stinky gear for a day to give you a break on laundry duty.


For the rest of the trip, my general rule of thumb is neutrals, with a pop of color here and there.  Scarves and jewelry can always up the visual interest on your outfit and they don’t take up much space.  (You can use those scarves to stay warm on the plane too.  Usually I have one around my neck and use a warmer one as a blanket as those dang plane blankets aren’t exactly cozy.)  Mix & match is key!  My personal hack is that if I had to get dressed in the dark, 85% of the time, my pants, shirt and sweater would match.  My go to fabric is merino wool because it keeps you very warm even if the sweater is thin, so you don’t need to compromise room for souvenirs or Belgian and Swiss chocolate because you brought too many bulky sweaters!  For a more comprehensive list of what we pack when we travel, check out our packing lists for women and men.

Shoes…yikes, this is a beast of a subject that can really stump people.  3 pairs – max!  That’s it.

  • Running shoes
  • Sneakers/Comfortable walking shoes – go with everything and you can last in them all day
  • Dressier shoe (definitely optional here) – flat, bootie, loafer, leather lace up


So, I hope this has been a helpful start to tackling the packing situation!  There is so much more to come on this topic.  I’ll get into the nitty gritty on all categories of packing in deeper detail, so stay tuned!

Check out our reasons why you should take a carry-on to Europe, and then check our video of how we pack for six weeks in Europe in only a carry-on.  (Or, check out the men’s version of this list!)

Here’s the list!

  •  3-4 pairs of pants

  • 1-2 skirts/dresses (weather dependent, of course)

  • 1 long sleeve tee

  • 5 -6 sweaters/long shirts (I always do a button down or cardigan for nearly all of them as it makes for easier layering.)

  • 2-3 tank tops

  • 4 tee shirts

  • pajama pants

  • pajama tank

  • 3-4 pairs of shoes (This includes my running shoes and foldable flats that don’t take up much room.)

  • easily packable jewelry

  • 5 pairs of underwear

  • 4-5 pairs of merino wool socks (I use already worn socks for my running socks.)

  • 2 pairs of running pants

  • 2 running tanks

  • 1 long sleeve running shirt

  • 1 sports bra

  • 1 coat

  • 2 scarves

  • 1 running hat

  • 1 umbrella

This list varies slightly considering the time of year, but for the most part, it remains the same as far as functionality.  I would just adjust the thickness of some sweaters and the material of some dresses/skirts.  In the fall, I take a pair of tall boots and in the spring I only bring 3 shoes total or a pair of easily packable sandals.

We have already posted about why we think everyone should travel to Europe with a carry-on.  But, here’s a quick recap:

  • Planes, trains & automobiles!  When you are traveling around Europe, don’t make your transportation more difficult by bringing a huge suitcase.
  • “Old-World” hotels. The rooms are smaller over in Europe, and sometimes there may not even be an elevator – so, make your life easier!

My theory for packing is mix and match the best you can.  I shoot to have about 85% of my clothes all coordinating with everything.  Think of having to pull out a top and bottom from your suitcase in the dark and the likelihood of them matching should be greater than them not matching.  I lay everything out and how many items coordinate with each other.  I like to stick with neutral colors, but always add a pop of color or a small print in a shirt here and there.  Jewelry and scarves can help with this too.

As you all know quite well by now, I love Merino wool.  Banana Republic has had some great options for machine washable Merino wool.  Merino wool doesn’t stink and keeps you warm in cooler weather and cool in warmer weather.  It’s a no-brainer.  I usually do all cardigans or all cardigans and one crew or v-neck.  Cardigans give more versatility for easily taking it off if it gets warmer during the day.   I can layer a tank top under a tee with the sweater on top for a little extra warmth as well.

As for bottoms, one of my pairs will be a stylish legging for travel days or lounging in at night.  (Speaking of lounging, the long sleeve tee, yes, mine is Merino wool as well, is for casual travel days or lounging at night or putting on top of my pajama top on a lazy morning.)  Back to bottoms, the rest of the pants are jeans, but a darker denim wash and a black wash for a dressier look and then I usually do a gray or army green pant.   I would throw in a cropped pant for spring/summer as an addition or in place of one of the jeans.  In the fall, I do a sweater dress.  It’s a little bit dressier, but also really warm.  In the spring/summer, I do a nice knit dress that can look a bit dressy with some jewelry.  I do count the dresses as one bottom and one top!

I wash underwear in the sink to save on space, same for socks.  And same for everything else for that matter if I don’t actually have laundry facilities, but with Merino wool, you don’t need to wash much!

I like the Yosi Samra foldable flats.  They are great for warmer days in the fall and for spring/summer.  They dress up your outfit and are good for a few miles for sure.  I’ve been doing sporty New Balance sneakers and am now trying the Allbirds Merino wool sneakers as, once again, they are breathable.  Thanks to the sneaker revolution in Europe they are acceptable anywhere and you don’t feel underdressed.  All the Europeans wear them.  Mind you, I’m not talking about your chunky athletic shoes.  If you don’t want to look like a tourist, stick with something sleek or simple.  Converse are always popular and the Stan Smith Adidas are on everyone’s feet.  I bring tall boots in the fall to keep me warmer, but also as a dressier option than sneakers.  And it’s often just nice to change your shoes out as you are usually on your feet a lot!

As for running gear, I try to get a couple wears out of each piece to limit my obligation to have to wash them when I could be doing something better like enjoying a glass of wine.

For jewelry, I use a large pill container for the days of the week and put everything in there.  It’s small, keeps things separate so you can find them easily and they don’t get into a tangled mess (for the most part).

Finally, scarves…I bring two as it’s nice to have one that is warmer and one that is lighter.  I often wear the scarf on the plane and the warmer one I can wrap around me for extra warmth because that airplane blanket just isn’t enough a lot of times.  I like to have one that is solid and one that is a print.  Again, this is to allow for mixing and matching as much as possible.

This sounds like a lot of things..but it really does all fit and you’ll be glad you packed light!

(Check out the Men’s Europe Packing Tips and Men’s Europe Carry-On Packing List.)


Check out our reasons why you should take a carry-on to Europe, and then check our video of how we pack for six weeks in Europe in only a carry-on.  (Check out the women’s version of this list!)

Here’s the list!

  • 2 pairs of jeans

  • 1 pair of khaki pants (thickness and material dependent on the time of year)

  • 2 white undershirts

  • 4 “nice” colored t-shirts

  • 3-4 button-down, long-sleeved shirts

  • 3 light sweaters (merino wool, if possible)

  • 1 light zip sweater

  • 1 jacket (water-resistant, if possible)

  • 5-6 pairs of Merino wool socks

  • 7-8 pairs of underwear

  • 1 pair of shoes

  • 2 pair of running shorts (1 if you don’t mind washing clothes in the sink)

  • 2 short sleeved running shirts (1 if you don’t mind washing clothes in the sink)

  • 1 long-sleeved running shirt

  • 1 pair of running pants

  • 2 pairs of running socks (1 if you don’t mind washing clothes in the sink)

  • 1 pair of running shoes

  • 1 running hat (optional)

  • 1 scarf

  • 1 “man bag” (optional – and, if you can’t find one in the U.S., make a quick stop to a department store while in Europe)

Note: we slightly adjust this list for the time of year we are visiting.  We generally visit in the spring and fall, so the temperatures don’t vary too much.  However, if you are traveling in the summer or winter, you will want to adjust this list.

We have already posted about why we think everyone should travel to Europe with a carry-on.  But, here’s a quick recap:

  • Planes, trains & automobiles!  When you are traveling around Europe, don’t make your transportation more difficult by bringing a huge suitcase.
  • “Old-World” hotels. The rooms are smaller over in Europe, and sometimes there may not even be an elevator – so, make your life easier!

Just like the Women’s European Packing Tips, for us men, we focus on getting the maximum versatility and options. I choose nice quality t-shirts over a button-down or polo-style short-sleeved shirts. It is easy to use the t-shirt as an undershirt in cooler weather, but I’m still able to wear it separately in warmer weather. And, when touring a city there have been many instances where I am cool at the beginning and end of the day, so I wear a sweater or long-sleeved shirt, but in the middle of the I’m warm, so I remove the outer layer and just wear the t-shirt.

I swear by the Mizzen+Main long-sleeved, button-down shirts. The “tech” fabric is wrinkle-resistant and moisture-wicking, but it really looks nice — not like the “slouchy” tech shirts I usually see.  I like the Spinnaker shirt for travel days because the 4-way stretch is unbelievably comfortable. The Leeward shirt is great for times when you want a slightly more “crisp” look, but still, retain the comfort of a casual, wrinkle-resistant shirt with a slight bit of stretch to it.

My other go-to item is a lightweight, merino wool sweater. The merino wool is soft and comfortable (not your grandmother’s itchy wool!). It wicks moisture away from your skin, keeping you cool in warm weather and warm in cool weather. Merino wool is naturally anti-microbial and that means no stink! (Even after multiple wearings!)

I also like a light zip sweater.  On travel days, I may be standing on a cold train platform, or stuck in a hot airplane.  So, it’s very important for me to be able to quickly add a layer or shed a layer.  The light zip sweater does exactly that for me.

For all t-shirts, long-sleeved shirts, and sweaters, I strive to have everything match everything else. It’s not 100% possible, but I try to get as close as I can. Almost every t-shirt looks good under almost every long-sleeved shirt or sweater. It makes getting ready in the morning that much easier and quicker, and I should never have a day where the only clean clothes left in my bag don’t match.

The great features of Merino wool are why I also only bring Merino wool socks. They keep my feet cool and dry (or, warm and dry!) and, again, no stink! They also dry very quickly, so I can easily wash them in the hotel room sink, and they are ready to go the next morning.

Shoes take up a lot of space in carry-on sized luggage, so I try to find that balance of comfort and style to allow me to take only one pair of shoes (in addition to my running shoes, of course!) I am currently wearing Cole Haan. It has just enough support for long days of walking around Europe, but it also looks nicer than an athletic shoe. (We always strive to look like a local, and not a tourist!) I am also very interested in trying Allbirds. Allbirds meet all the specifications of my current shoes, but they have the added benefit of being made of Merino Wool. (and, you know how I love Merino wool!)

For pants, I usually bring two pairs of jeans and one pair of khakis. I have a pair of jeans with a bit of lycra, and the slight stretch makes for a much more comfortable plane and train rides!

Don’t forget a scarf!  When you are packing light, it’s a great way to add the warmth you need, but without a lot of bulk in your luggage.  It’s amazing how a scarf can make the difference on what would normally be a bone-chilling day of touring.  (Plus, you will look very “European!”)

Finally, get a “man bag” — ok, call it a purse if you like!  🙂  Everyone over here has one, and they are so functional.  Keep your money, phone, passport, plane tickets, a small umbrella, a bottle of water, and snacks with you and easily accessible.  Plus, I think it greatly reduces the chances of becoming a victim of a pickpocket!  You can rest your hand on your bag in busy & crowded spots, and there is almost no chance of a pickpocket swiping your wallet.  I think diligence is the best way to combat crime — if you look like you are paying attention to your surroundings and your “stuff,” the pickpocket is going to look for a more distracted victim.