• 5 May 2016

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:

  • Bath towels. Hotels provide these,  so all you need is a swimming towel.
  • Heavy Guidebooks & maps. You can find brochures and fold-up maps in all major tourist destinations. We supply a fun regional guide for you to read while on board.
  • Jewellery or valuables. Leave anything that you do not want to get lost or damaged.
  • Expensive, heavy clothing and heels. Outside of one or two smarter outfits for a night on the town you will not get much chance to wear fancy clothing and heels. Comfortable and light clothing is the name of the game!
  • A flashy camera bag. Try to camouflage your equipment by using an ordinary daypack or shoulder bag.

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.


Questions & Comments

  1. Please advice me and guide me next march i will be going for vacation to China kindly let me know what i need to carry with me as well as what more i need to arrange explain to me in details

  2. Hello, how can we joined the optional tour? We’re going on May3-20 Europe explorer tour.

    • Expat Explore says:

      Hallo Maria! You can book and pay all optional excursions with your tour leader in the local currency. The tour leader will explain how it works on day 1 :) If you have more questions, please feel free to send us an email at info@expatexplore.com. Have a fantastic trip!

  3. On the Europe Explorer tour, can I leave my carry-on bag in the bus while doing a walking tour? Thank you.

    • Expat Explore says:

      Hello Mario! You sure can, but you would do so at your own risk. The coach might not be under supervision all the time and we cannot take any responsibility for any damages or loss.

  4. do we need to bring shoes for the snow when we go to the Swiss Alps and to the Ice Palace?

    • Expat Explore says:

      Hello Mel! When you go up Jungfrau you will most definitely set foot in the snow, but you don’t need specific snowshoes for the excursion. We can recommend that you wear comfortable, waterproof shoes that will keep your feet nice and warm. Skates, sleds and boots can be rented from a rental shop if you decide to get active and go sledding or skiing.

  5. What do we need to bring for our Switzerland stop. We are planning to go up to the glaciers. Won’t we experience altitude sickness up there at 4,000m. I’m 57 y/o and my wife is 55. What is the experience of your guests like our age.

    • Expat Explore says:

      Hello Cecil! All you need is a warm jacket, sunglasses and comfortable shoes (you will walk around on ice and in snow). With regards to the altitude sickness – anyone can suffer from light case of altitude sickness when travelling up to the Jungfraujoch peak. Precautions apply to children under the age of 2, anybody that is pregnant or in poor health. In most cases, however, staying at this altitude for short periods is not a problem. You tour leader will also be able to help you prepare before you head up. If you have any more questions, please send a mail to info@expatexplore.com. We’re happy to help!

  6. It says your luggage will be with you at all times. If I am doing the European Jewel does that mean every minute of the day I will have to carry my luggage? Example would be if I’m walking the streets of Italy for example, do I have to drag my suitcase with me?

    • Expat Explore says:

      Hello Morgan! As we travel your luggage will be safely stowed in the luggage compartment of the coach. Your daypack (backpack, camera bag, handbag) is with you and can be stowed in the overhead compartment when we’re on the coach. We hope this answers your question? Please get in touch if you need more information >> https://expatexplore.com/contact-us/

  7. We are travelling on 16th July early in the morning for Europe Tour . Do we get breakfast on the way ?
    Thank you

    • Expat Explore says:

      Hello Deepa! Yes, breakfast is included and gets served at the hotel you stay at. To explore to the max – you need all the energy you can get!

  8. during claasic europe 14 days coach tour from 25th july-07 Aug, only for the optional ‘train to Jungfrau’ we need to carry the winter jacket that occupies large space and wt.
    Is it avaialable rental for this purpose only?

    • Expat Explore says:

      Hallo MD! The weather is fairly mild/warm that time of the year, even up on Jungfray. You will be able to get by with just a jersey/sweater and light jacket. If you plan to go skiing/sledding or spend long periods outside, you might need something warmer. Simply ask your tour leader. He/she will be able to help you find a rental in the area. If you have any other questions, please reach out to our customer support team >> https://expatexplore.com/contact-us/

  9. Hi, I am going on the Euro Jewel in July. I REALLY want to do the skydive, But also some of the other excursions on that day. Do you know the times of each of the excursions on the Swiss free day ?

    • Expat Explore says:

      Hello Victoria! There are so many exciting options for your free day in Switzerland! Your tour leader will be able to provide all the details to make the most of your time. Skydiving and Jungfrau are by far the most popular, but unfortunately you can’t do both. Jungfrau is a full day excursion as it takes more than 2 hours to get the top. Once up there, there’s a lot to explore! If you need more info, please send us a mail to info@expatexplore.com. We’re ready to help! Find out more about Jungfrau excursion here > https://www.jungfrau.ch/en-gb/jungfraujoch-top-of-europe/

  10. we have two bags each weighing about 20 lbs. that needs storage from 29th July until we return from tour. Could u please advise how and where we could store them. We would be staying in Greenwich London on the 29th. Thank you for your assistance. Charmaine Wijesinghe.

    • Expat Explore says:

      Hello Charmaine! I’ve sent on your question to one of our customer service members. They will be in contact with you shortly. Have a fantastic time on tour!

  11. Do the hotels in Europe on our 26 day trip provide shampoo and soap?

    • Expat Explore says:

      Hello Charmaine! Some hotels will, but others might not. We definitely recommend that you bring your own.

  12. We booked the Taste of Spain tour starting on the 24th of Aug. Booking Ref: 2017xxxx4 . The tour ends on the 30th of Aug. We booked the return flight back to Canada through Gatwick, London. Our Gatwick flight is on Aug. 30th at 21:50. (9:50pm) We have to be at the airport 2 hours before to check in. That is 19:50 (7:50pm). Your last e-mail to us says that you will drop us at the Holiday Inn at Madrid at 21:30. or at the Central Train station at 19:30. What is the best way to go to the Terminal 1 Airport on time? Please send me an e-mail also to the address given above. Thanks. Joseph

    • Expat Explore says:

      Hello Joseph! Our team will be in contact with you to answer your question. Have a fabulous time on tour!

  13. I’m intending to bring a suitcase but also a day backpack (suitable for cabin baggage on a plane); is this okay?

  14. Hi,

    I am joining the Ultimate Europe tour. I have one luggage on wheels (typical airline check-in luggage) of approx. 20kg. I also have one carry on luggage on wheels (standard size airline carry-on-luggage). Is that OK?

  15. I am traveling in Europe tour from Sept 24-Sept 30 2017, how much cash do I need to carry and in what currency?

  16. Hey Guys,
    I’ll be joining you for the Europe Jewel tour on Sept 14 to Oct 8th, which means we’ll be visiting Switzerland on Oct 4th, should I pack my winter jacket? I’ve heard some other countries get rainy during these months as well so I’m thinking is a good idea to pack both my winter jacket and sorel boots since they’re water proof :)

    Thanks in advance!

    • Expat Explore says:

      Hi Tania,
      Europe Jewel really shows all that Europe has to offer so you need to be prepared for all kinds of weather and activities! Boots and winter jacket is always a good idea for the cooler evenings and Swiss Alps. But then there’s also warmer Italy, where you’ll want to wear open and comfortable shoes. You can take a look at this helpful article for you >> https://expatexplore.com/blog/europe-by-season-when-to-travel-where/ *A helpful tip: to save space you can wear your boots and jacket to the airport to save space in your bag.

  17. Can you confirm that instead of a backpack for carry-on, I can bring a wheeled small luggage such as that cabin bag for planes?

  18. The New Year Taster tour from 12/19/17 till 1/4/18. Towards the end of our tour where will we be going back to ? Is it the same hotel we started from the check point? Do I need to arrange it now?

    • Expat Explore says:

      Hi Amareux, I’ve asked someone from our team to contact you and give you all the relevant information. Look forward to welcoming you on tour with us!