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Travel Essentials For Europe: The Ultimate Game Changers!

I’ve been to over 30 countries and over the years, I’ve curated my own list of travel essentials to pack on every trip. These are the true game changers!

Most recently in October, my husband, L, and I visited Italy and Switzerland and we were so glad we had all our essentials with us – they really made our trip so much more convenient and enjoyable!

If you want to be prepared, save money, and enjoy your trip with peace of mind, then keep scrolling to see the ultimate list of travel essentials for Europe (or your next adventure!).


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  1. WRINKLE REMOVER SPRAY AND ODOR ELIMINATOR

    L and I both agreed that this was our #1 game changer. To deal with the cobblestone streets of Italy, we decided to bring smaller suitcases. This meant that we could only bring a few key pieces from our wardrobe, so we had to re-wear many of our clothes over and over again during our 15-day trip.

    This Begley’s spray was a miracle worker. It not only safely removed wrinkles from all our clothes (even my satin dresses!), but it also eliminated any unpleasant odors (even after L’s heavy sweating). Our clothes were refreshed just like that! We brought 2 bottles of the fragrance-free version, and best of all was that it didn’t irritate my sensitive skin! It’s also a much lighter and more convenient alternative to bringing a clothing steamer.



  2. TWELVE SOUTH AIRFLY DUO

    On our long plane ride to Switzerland, we wanted to watch the Harry Potter movies together and “at the same time.” With this bluetooth wireless transmitter, we were each able to connect our own wireless earphones to the movie audio (no more using painfully uncomfortable airplane-provided earphones!).

    It worked like a dream – we watched all the Harry Potter magic on our own screens but shared the same audio. It made our flight experience that much more enjoyable (and made time fly by way faster)!



  3. UNIVERSAL TRAVEL ADAPTER

    This is a must when traveling internationally. Europe has different outlets than the U.S. so be sure to pick a universal travel adapter with different plugs covering many countries. To be safe, we always like to pack two different universal travel adapters brands in case one stops working for whatever reason. We used this and this for our trip.



  4. CLUTCH PHONE CHARGER

    Trust me when I say… YOU NEED THIS! When you’re traveling internationally, you’re going to be out and about. Whether you’re navigating to museums, searching up restaurants to eat, or taking pictures and videos of all the beautiful places you are visiting, you will be on your phone all day.

    Clutch really thought of EVERYTHING. This portable charger is thin, lightweight, has an attached charging cable, magnetizes, AND is safe to bring onto plane carry ons. L and I each got one for ourselves (depending on which version you get, iPhones and Androids may need different ones) and they made a world of difference on our Europe trip. No more worrying about our phones dying mid-day! You can use code BOWANDTANGLE to get 10% off now!



  5. BEACHWAVER DUAL VOLTAGE HAIR CURLER

    When I’m on vacation, there are some days that I just wanna change up my hair look for all the cute pictures and memories. But using hair appliances abroad can be tricky with all the voltage and plug differences. I can’t speak for other hair curlers, but I have to say that my Beachwaver Dual Voltage 1.25 worked perfectly in Europe when used with either of the universal travel adapters mentioned above. The dual voltage feature really gives me peace of mind when traveling internationally. 😌

    And if you’re not the best at curling your hair (like me), this is a godsend. It rotates at a press of a button and the 1.25 barrel keeps my curls looking full and bouncy all day, even under the Tuscan sun!



  6. AIR TAG

    Ever since the traumatic experience of losing my bag in Peru, I’ve always made sure to put an air tag in each of my checked bags. There’s nothing more assuring than being able to instantly track that your bag has landed in the same airport as you!

    Most days, we also weren’t able to check in to our hotels until late afternoon, so we dropped off our suitcases (with air tags in them) at the hotel reception desk. The air tags helped us track that our bags were right where they should be until we returned to the hotel later on.



  7. COMPRESSION PACKING CUBES

    If you haven’t tried compression packing cubes, you really need to! With our limited suitcase space, these were the only reason I was able build multiple outfits with the limited pieces of clothing I brought. I actually can’t believe how much more stuff the compression versions fitted into my bag compared to the normal, non-compressed ones. And if you’re a serial packer like me, these will be your best friend.

    PRO TIP: Just in case our airplane loses our check-in bags, we always pack one small compression packing cube with one day’s worth of essentials into our carry-on backpack. I like to pack a fresh pair of undergarments, socks, a light jacket, a top, and a pair of bottoms into the cube. This way, I’ll have at least one full outfit to change into after the long flight.



  8. COMPRESSION SOCKS

    Long flights can be very uncomfortable, but certain items can help improve your flight experience. For me, my legs get very stiff on these flights, and it’s so bad that I can’t fall asleep. A few years ago, a friend turned me onto compression socks and now you’ll never catch me without them on flights.



  9. TRAVEL LOCKS (TSA APPROVED)

    Europe is known for the aggressive pickpocketing (Attenzione Pickpocket!) and it really is no joke. L carried a backpack wherever we went and we wanted to walk around without worrying he was going to get pickpocketed. These travel locks are amazing! They are solid, durable, and easy to use. My favorite part is the flexible cable secure loop – we were able to bend it to lock a few compartment zips with just one lock.



  10. LOOP EARPLUGS / BLUETOOTH SLEEP HEADPHONES EYE MASK

    I’m a very light sleeper and I’ve used disposable earplugs all my life to go to sleep. So when I first saw the Loop Quiet Ear Plugs on Instagram, I was intrigued. They come in so many colors and look so cute compared to traditional ear plugs.

    Surprisingly, these really are much better earplugs. They really do block out noise better than the average ear plug. They come in a few different ear tip sizes, and they fit snug in my ear all night. My favorite thing about these are the loops – they make it so easy to insert and remove the ear plugs. They also come in a cute little case for easy traveling.

    My husband, L, on the other hand, likes falling asleep to documentaries or music. I make sure that his bag is packed with this Bluetooth Sleep Headphones Eye Mask that not only blocks out light, but also syncs to the bluetooth on his phone so he can listen to his favorite content as he drifts to dreamland.



  11. BACKPACK

    Yup, like almost everyone else, I got the viral travel backpack! And yes, it does fit a lot… BUT! Realistically, for a serial packer like me, I really don’t think I could do an international trip with just this backpack.

    The Large size was perfect for my personal item/carry-on on the plane. I was able to fit in my 16-inch Macbook Pro, one compression cube for one outfit, one pair of sandals, and other little items like snacks and my sunglasses. I also like that the shoulder straps are padded. The one thing I wish they improved upon is making the water bottle compartment bigger.

    My favorite feature of the bag is the way it opens up like a suitcase when fully unzipped. I hate rummaging through my bag and messing everything up inside, so this feature was super useful for packing and unpacking.



  12. PORTABLE AND REUSABLE LINT ROLLER

    When I saw this gel lint roller on Amazon, I just had to have it. It’s so cute and easy to pack compared to traditional lint rollers. Best part is that it’s washable, so you don’t have to peel away used lint roller sheets anymore! It’s perfect for picking up lint on all my vacation outfits, and is especially useful when you’re a dog mama like me.



  13. SMALL BELT BAG

    I love my Lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag (1L). The size is perfect for all my essentials and there is just the right amount of compartments. I am able to fit my Clutch charger + iPhone, lip balm, sunglasses, wallet, hand sanitizer, and our passports in the back compartment. I’ve also included some alternatives below.

    PRO TIP: Europe pickpockets can be quite aggressive with your personal belongings. We zip tied the buckle fastening so they couldn’t try to unclip the buckle and run away with our bags.



  14. WIRELESS EARPHONES

    I’ve used these wireless earphones daily for years and they always come with me on all my trips. I didn’t want to bring my headphones because I was trying to pack as light as possible, and the small size was perfect for the plane and on the trains we took in Switzerland and Italy.



  15. MINI DISPOSABLE TOOTHBRUSH WISPS

    These mini toothbrush wisps were a recent addition to my travel essentials list. I used to pack my toothbrush and toothpaste onto the plane but I hated how messy and inconvenient it was. When I came across these, they were just too good to pass up.

    The best part is that you can use it straight out of the package. It doesn’t need water, and you don’t even need to rinse. You literally just brush and go! It’s great for an instant refresh and especially useful if you wear retainers or Invisaligns.



  16. FOLDABLE WATER BOTTLE

    One of the best parts about traveling in Switzerland is that there is fresh water available everywhere! You can literally fill your water bottle at the public taps and fountains and they taste so good and clean. We saved so much money and time with our foldable water bottle, and it was so easy to fold away when it wasn’t filled.



  17. REUSABLE STICKY SILICONE NIPPLE PASTIES

    Without my adhesive pasties, it would not have been possible for me to wear all my cute vacation outfits. They fit seamlessly with no gaps, and they really blend in with my skin. They even held up in both the cold of Switzerland and heat of Italy. At the end of the day, I just wash them with mild soap and air dry them, and they’re ready to go the next day. They also come in a sort of hard shell travel case that helps retain the shape of the pasties during travel. They also have a more supportive version when you need a little more lift.

    I really like the Nippies brand – I’ve been using them for a few years and have consistently bought them over and over again. They are a closet staple for me and I use them in my daily life, even when not traveling.



  18. SUNSCREEN

    Sun protection is serious business! L burns very easily in the sun so we had to make sure we were fully prepared. The sun in Italy was really unforgiving. We were there in early October and it was consistently hot the whole time we were there.

    For our bodies, we wore the Elta MD Sport Body Sunscreen since it was sweat and water resistant. For our faces and necks, we wore the Elta MD UV Restore Face Sunscreen. I have sensitive skin (mild eczema) and these sunscreens all worked well for me. We also used this Aquaphor Lip Protectant with Sunscreen for extra coverage!



  19. WHITE LINEN SHIRT / SCARF (TO COVER SHOULDERS)

    Having a white linen shirt or scarf to throw on can come in handy when traveling abroad. When visiting museums, churches, cathedrals etc in Italy, make sure to check dress codes. Many of the beautiful cathedrals we visited required at minimum, for our shoulders to be covered.

    I wore a lot of tank tops and sleeveless tops in Italy, so I made sure to either bring a lightweight scarf or a linen shirt to cover my shoulders when visiting such places. It’s also great to throw on if the weather gets chillier than expected and you need to travel light on the go.



  20. SNEAKERS + SANDALS

    If you’re packing light, then you know that picking the right footwear that is both functional and stylish can be a difficult choice. I recommend picking one pair of sneakers and one pair of sandals that could be easily matched with all your outfits.

    My Reeboks and Birkenstocks were the PERFECT DUO for travel footwear. They were comfortable, versatile, and I could switch off between them depending on how I felt or what we were doing for the day. Best of all is that these made navigating the uneven cobblestone streets of Italy so much easier!

    I wore these thin, lightweight white ankle socks with my Reeboks, and it was like walking on clouds. I also used Dr. Scholl’s mole skin padding for effective protection against blisters, rubs, or any spots of discomfort.

    And if the Reeboks don’t fit your style, check out my other tried and tested picks for cute and comfy travel shoes for Europe!


  21. HAND SANITIZER / WET WIPES

    In Switzerland and Italy, we were always snacking on the go (pastries, gelato, pizza slices, sandwiches… YUM!! 😋 ) and we were able to quickly clean our hands before each meal with our mini hand sanitizer bottles.

    We also love these Wet Ones wet wipes for Sensitive Skin – especially when walking all over Rome and needed a quick refresh. These were so much more convenient since restrooms in Europe were hard to come by.



  22. AQUIS QUICK DRY HAIR TOWEL

    I’ve been using my Aquis Quick Dry Hair Towel for years, and it still holds up like I bought it yesterday. I love packing it on vacations to cut down my hair drying time and to reduce any frizz right out of the shower.

    I like using mine on tropical vacations, for when I’m done swimming and want to dry off my hair quickly so I’m not dripping all over. Or when I’m in colder climates like Switzerland and want to dry off my cold wet hair faster. It’s also great to use when you’re in a pinch and you gotta make your dinner reservation and you’re already running late. My favorite part is that it’s not bulky like other microfiber towels – so it’s not heavy when wrapped up on your head.


  23. MINI DETANGLER WET BRUSH

    I have very thick hair that tangles up very easily, and with this Wet Brush, detangling my hair is a breeze. The bristles are soft yet firm for brushing. It works well even when I’m brushing through my wet hair. I’ve tried other brands but none of them even come close to the Wet Brush.



  24. COIN PURSE

    This may seem like an odd one on the list, but I’ve learned from my April trip to Japan that coin purses are really handy when dealing with foreign currency.

    In the US, we use cards a lot more; even my daily wallet holds only cards. But when traveling, I always make sure to bring a coin purse so that we can easily keep all the change. This proved especially useful in Italy – they love it when you use coins for small purchases!



  25. TOILETRY BAG / ORGANIZER

    With this bag, I can keep my shower essentials, hair care items, self-care items, makeup, earrings, and hair accessories all in one spot. The interior compartments are waterproof so I never have to worry about my liquids spilling in my suitcase.

    The best part is the top hook that makes hanging the bag so easy and convenient when unpacking in different hotel rooms. I’ve used this one for over a year now and it’s still in great condition!



  26. PIMPLE PATCHES

    I love trying all the local foods and delicacies when I’m traveling, but my skin sometimes breaks out with all the sudden change in my diet. Whenever I feel a pimple developing, I quickly throw on a pimple patch to soothe the angry spot of skin before it flares up.

    I also have sensitive skin that flares up with all the time change and travel schedule. So these patches really come in handy – I like using mine on small eczema spots where the skin barrier has been breached, so I can keep them protected from germs and bacteria while I’m out and about.


  27. MELATONIN GUMMIES AND SMOOTH MOVE TEA BAGS

    To help cope with jet lag for the first few days, I make sure to take my melatonin gummies so I can drift off to sleep and feel well rested the next day. When I’m on vacation, my itinerary is full with all the activities I wanna do and all the things I wanna see, so this supplement is a must when traveling!

    With all the diet and time changes, my digestive schedule also tends to get messed up. I make sure to drink lots of fluids and still eat my vegetables on vacation, but sometimes I just need an extra push. My secret weapon for travel constipation are these Smooth Move tea bags – I prefer this more natural option over the laxative medicines. If you’re thinking about packing these, I would recommend trying them out a few weeks before your vacation to see how your body reacts to them.

  28. MINI ON THE GO RAZOR WITH TRAVEL CASE

    I used to travel with the normal-sized shaving razor, and I really didn’t like how much bulk it added to my toiletries bag (when you’re a serial overpacker like me, every little thing helps!).

    Ever since discovering these mini on the go razors, I’ve been able to slim down just a little more on my packing, and make sure my legs and underarms are smooth while on vacation. I also love that it comes in its own cute little hard case that’s great for convenience and safety.


  29. STASHER REUSABLE SILICONE STORAGE BAG

    I like staying organized, especially when I’m on the go or on vacation. It reduces travel stress and makes sure I have all my essentials with me while I’m out and about exploring new cities.

    These Stasher Reusable Silicone Storage Bags are such a cute and convenient option for storing my hair tie, lip balm, eye drops, lip gloss, and other small items all in one spot. I just throw it in my belt bag and then I’m off! They’re extra handy when you’re changing bags on vacation – you can just move the Stasher bag from one bag to the other, and off on your adventure you go without worry!



  30. BONUS FUN ITEM! 360 DEGREES WATERPROOF ACTION CAMERA

    If you or someone you’re traveling with loves documenting your travel adventures and experiences, this 360 Degrees Waterproof Action Camera is a must for any high-action quality content.

    Take it to the great outdoors or on your vacation trips, and capture your best memories no matter the adventure – rain or shine!



    What are YOUR non-negotiable travel essentials that are on your packing list?

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