Hi Frugalistas! The arrival of spring means I am planning a trip to Europe. Regular readers will know that I often travel to Europe in spring. Over the years I’ve developed an easy travel capsule wardrobe for Europe, that is, well, getting a bit boring. Yes, it’s so easy I can pack it in my sleep but for my next trip I’m looking for a mix and match travel wardrobe that is a bit different, but that will still fit in my carry on luggage. So I’m going for a colourful packing list for Europe this time round.
If you think a carry on packing list for Europe travel means black, black and black, or if you don’t know what to pack for Europe, then this is definitely the one bag packing list for you. As usual, I’m using my own wardrobe to show you how the best travel clothes and the best travel wardrobe for Europe is probably the clothes you already own – just think about how to wear them!
Mix and match wardrobe for spring – best shoes for Europe
As has become my habit I’m planning what shoes to pack for Europe before I think about the best clothes for travel. And as always, I’m only taking two pairs – one pair on and one in my bag. Once upon a time, when I first starting writing packing lists for frugal first class travel I never recommended sneakers as the best travel shoes for Europe. Back in those days they were just too casual and just too clunky to pack easily and do the multitasking I require from a pair of shoes when I travel. But modern sneakers are different. They are light, they are leather and they just look a lot smarter.
So the first pair of shoes in my European travel wardrobe are a pair of white leather sneakers. Mine are Lacoste, but of course, there are plenty of other brands available, like these Keds:
Or for a more European choice, I do like these Superga ones:
Because spring weather can be a bit unpredictable, my second pair of shoes are an ankle boot. I’m giving my usual black patent leather ones a break in favour of an old pair of Ecco ones I found in my wardrobe. They are very similar to these ones:
Colourful packing list for Europe: what to wear in Europe
European women do wear a lot of black, but that doesn’t mean that your travel clothes for Europe need to be full of black. The best travel clothes to pack are those that are can be worn in multiple situations. For maximum versatility it’s important to forget about whole outfits of clothes, and think instead of coordinating pieces. Every top needs to go with every bottom, and every top and bottom need to go with every scarf and every pair of shoes.
Instead of black, look at what other neutral colours you have in your wardrobe, and make them the basis of your travel packing list. Europe women do wear a lot of pants, so I’m skipping a skirt on this trip. This is why I’m packing sneakers instead of a pair of flats. I’ve chosen four pairs of pants: a pair of navy skinny pants, a pair of cream pleated pants, a pair of burgundy straight legs and an old pair of white jeans that I’ll probably leave in Europe when it’s time to come home. Obviously, you don’t have the same colour and style choices as me, but look through your wardrobe and see what choices you can find. Try and find a mixture of colours and fabric choices so your outfit will look even more different.
A light check or tweed pant, camel, grey, olive or even purple and red can be used as a neutral in place of black. Just try and pick bottoms that don’t clash with each other – if your pants all tone together then it is easier to choose tops that will go with all of the bottoms you’ve chosen. You could, of course, also add a denim skirt or pair of jeans to your packing list for Europe in spring. Just make sure that whatever you pack will be comfy and pack down easily.
Packing for Europe in spring: shop for pants here:
Best travel shirts to pack for spring in Europe
Regular readers will know that I am a fan of long sleeved tee shirts for spring. As the weather can be a bit changeable I think a long sleeve is a bit more versatile and tee shirts are easy care compared to blouses. They layer easily under a jumper or jacket and if it’s really cold you can pop a thermal top under them as well. If you are going to more southern parts of Europe you may prefer short sleeved tee shirts. Because I’m going to a mixture of southern and more northern destinations on this trip, I’m packing a mixture of short and long sleeved tee shirts.
To match with my pants, I’m packing a combination of blue and white striped, burgundy, and plain white tee shirts.
Choose your long sleeved tee shirts:
Women’s travel clothes for Europe: how to layer for warmth
Because spring weather can be quite changeable, it is necessary to pack some warm layers. Normally, my go to jacket is a little black jacket, but because black is off the agenda, I’m packing a navy jacket in a light fabric. It will go with all my pants, and all my tee shirts will fit under it.
I like, and wear cashmere at home, so I’m packing a selection of cardigans and sweaters that will match with all my tee shirts and pants. If you don’t have cashmere, that’s okay – just choose some light wool or synthetic sweaters instead:
A zip up hoodie can also be a good option, depending on your own style:
Extra clothes for travelling in Europe
As always, I’m packing a trench coat. For me it is definitely the best travel jacket for Europe. Unfortunately, I’ve had to retire my beloved old trench coat, and have bought a new, slightly shorter trench, still in navy. I’m thinking because it’s shorter I’ll be able to wear it almost as a jacket with just a tee shirt under it as well as an extra layer in chilly weather and to help keep the rain off.
To change up my look and add extra warmth when it’s necessary, I’m packing a couple of colourful scarves – one warmer and one lighter will work best.
Then to keep my bag as light as possible for one bag travel, and so I don’t need to check luggage, I’m packing my liquids into some always fabulous Go Toobs:
And of course, I’m packing everything in some packing cubes. If you haven’t used packing cubes before, trust me, they will change your life!
Australian and New Zealand readers should choose their packing cubes and thermals from the great choice at Kathmandu – my choice for thermals and packing cubes when I travel:Choose Kathmandu thermal tops Find packing cubes here
This list will work perfectly as a packing list for two weeks in Europe. But by choosing every garment carefully, I’ve planned a packing list that will work for longer – much longer. Because every item goes with every other item, I’m able to wear a total of 48 different outfits, not including scarves and my coat. Add a cross body bag, and you are good to go!
You can easily adapt this list to accommodate a Europe backpacking packing list, a Paris packing list or even work out what to pack for a trip to Europe in winter. Use these principles for how to pack for Europe, and the number of items I’ve outlined, and choose something that fits with your personal fashion style, your travel style and when you are travelling.