Everything is sorted – your tour is booked and paid for, visas arrived in time (phew), and the only thing left to do is pack your bags. Fun or not, packing is a significant part of any trip – no matter the destination.
Any seasoned traveller will vouch that planning thoroughly and getting organised are essential first steps in the packing process. We’ve asked our most experienced packers, the Expat Explore tour leaders, to share practical packing tips, tricks of the trade and cures for the over packer.
Step 1. Get your bags sorted
“I am getting very excited for my upcoming trip! What kind of baggage do you recommend your travellers bring? The type with wheels or the ‘backpacking’ type?” – Expat Explore traveller
On Expat Explore coach tours your luggage may not weigh more than 20kg/44lb. Most of the time you are required to carry your luggage when on tour and not all hotels have elevators. We strongly recommend that you use a light suitcase and pack only what you can comfortably carry.
Be realistic, keep it minimal and make life easier for yourself. It`s better to get by with what you have than to carry a heavy suitcase around. – Tour Leader Sarah
Wheeled suitcases are the most common suitcase used on tour, but backpacks are also popular among younger travellers. Both options have its pros and cons to consider:
Step 2. Before you pack think of these three important factors
The length of your stay
The amount of time you spend in a specific area/country influence your travel wardrobe the most. Pack one casual outfit for every day and one or two smart outfits for when you have to dress up. For longer trips remember that you can wash clothes in a laundromat. Laundromats or laundry services can be located in or near most hotels. We recommend doing your laundry in destinations where you spend 2-3 nights. When packing, remember that you’ll have to repack almost daily, so distribute weight evenly when you pack and keep it organised. It’s so much easier if you know what you are looking for.
A lot of people think that Europe is always cold. Do your research and find out more about the weather. Dress yourself mentally from head to toe to make sure you have everything you need. Remember that you always need less clothing than you imagine. – Tour Leader Helen
Season, weather & climate
You might experience different types of weather as you travel and should be able to adapt your clothing accordingly. You can find all sorts of information online about the seasons, weather and even the amount of rainy days to expect. Keep any eye on trusted weather sites like Wunderground when you start packing. Allow yourself enough time to shop before you leave. The best way to master the weather on tour is choose outfits that you can mix and match. Remember quick-dry and wrinkle-free clothing is best – especially in summer.
Related: Wondering what suitcase essentials you need when heading out to Europe in the winter months? Find out here!
The type of activities you will be doing
Refer your trip itinerary to see how active you’ll be when on the road. You might need special equipment and should find out if you can hire what you need from the intended destination.
Comfortable shoes is an absolute must. Think about a pair of sneakers that can pack up tight and always throw in a pair of flip-flops. They are versatile and can be used as “slippers” in your hotel. When travelling in fall or winter wear your bulkiest pair on the plane.
Walking is by far the activity you do the most. If you’ve got your passport and comfortable walking shoes, you’ ve got everything you need! Greg Fleming – Tour Operations Manager
Step 3. Take note of these important items that you can’t leave at home
Passport & visas (if required) . Check the expiry date on your passport- are there at least six months remaining from the date of travel? If not apply for a new one! Take two photocopies of the information pages of your passport and your travel insurance policy with you on tour. Keep both sets with you (for example, one in your hand luggage and one in your main luggage).
A suitcase strap and name tag to identify your bag from the rest, and include an address or contact number so it can be returned if lost, e.g. by your airline.
Money belts or secret compartments in your bag. When travelling between destinations keep passport and money on you. When you’re just going out for the day, only take what money you need, and leave the rest (plus your passport) in the hotel room where its safe.
Daypack. A small backpack or handbag to keep your camera, wet-wipes, a sweater and snacks in. You’ll also find souvenirs to buy while travelling and wouldn’t want to carry them all the way.
Travel adapter. Most countries in Europe use a standardised two-pin plug. However there can be variances, particularly in Switzerland, so a multi-country plug adapter that is compatible with all plug types is worth the extra cost
Gadgets like your camera, iPod and their chargers. Finding these in a foreign country can be difficult and expensive.
International Phone Card. Research options for an international cellphone card well in advance. Is your best option to pre-oder or will you find it at your destination at a cheaper rate? Also contact your hotel to find out about wi-fi options.
Zipping bags for you toiletries. The lids on bottles can come off in transit, or be affected by the air pressure in the hold luggage when you fly. In the unfortunate event of spillage, it will be contained and not ruin your clothes and other items in your bag.
Chronic Medication you need is vital. It might be tricky to find these in a far off country.
Don’t carry large sums of any currency. Europe widely accepts major credit cards and cash cards. Make your bank aware of your travel plans. – Tour Leader James
Step 4. Forget about these non-essentials
The worst things it coming home after two weeks in Europe and you unpack stuff that you did not use or wear a single time. Consider leaving the following items to save some much-needed space:
If you’ve already booked a tour you can find more packing information and other travel essentials on our Help section. We’d love to hear about your packing headaches and how you solved them! Share with us in the comment section below.