Ultimate Guide: Packing for a Summer Vacation in Europe with Only a Carry-On

How we travel for 2-3 weeks in only a carry-on bag!

7/6/20235 min read

Summer is right around the corner and that means its time to start packing for that highly anticipated trip to Europe! While I can definitely overpack just like the rest of us I have learned that brining a carry-on bag is the easiest way to go especially when traveling through Europe. Checking bags while nice in some sense can turn into a bigger headache than its worth, for starters it gets pricey especially if you're going to be visiting multiple different locations. Most importantly there is a HUGE chance that the airline loses or delays your bag which is zero fun!

Edit: I'd like to note that we have since graduated to rolling bags but we still only carry-on.

Europe in the summer is such an exciting adventure and remains one of my favorite areas I've visited. This corner of the world offers such a rich tapestry of cultures, breathtaking landscapes, and a myriad of historical sites to explore. To make your trip even more convenient and hassle-free, I highly recommend to pack in a carry-on bag. In this post, I'll talk about practical tips and essential packing strategies to help you maximize space and minimize the stress of lugging around heavy luggage. At the end I have linked all of our packing essentials, these are all items we use and love! I try to keep this list up today and add new things as we upgrade and add new must haves!

  1. Research Weather:

Before you start packing, research the weather conditions of your destination(s). Europe can experience varying climates, even during the summer months. Make sure to take into account if you're visiting multiple countries you may need to pack for two very different climates. This past summer we visited London where temperatures were in the upper 90s and then we flew to Zermatt where the lows were mid 40s at night. We tend to pack light clothes that we can layer for this situation.

  1. Condense your clothes:

Optimize your packing space by creating a capsule wardrobe. Select versatile clothing items that can be mixed and matched to create different outfits. Stick to a color scheme to ensure coordination and maximize your outfit combinations. Remember, neutral colors are great for creating a cohesive look, and lightweight fabrics are ideal for summer travel.

Essential clothing items may include:

  1. Pack Efficiently:

Efficient packing is the key to fitting everything into your carry-on bag. Here are some strategies to help you make the most of your limited space:

  • Roll, Don't Fold: Rolling clothes takes up less space and reduces wrinkles. Roll your clothes tightly and place them strategically in your bag. While this is our standard there are still some clothes that are smaller when folded such a jeans, denim shorts, or jackets

  • Use Packing Cubes or Compression Bags: Packing cubes or compression bags are lifesavers for maximizing space. These handy organizers allow you to separate your clothes and compress them, saving valuable space in your carry-on.

  • Minimize Toiletries: Toiletries can quickly take up space and add weight to your luggage. Opt for travel-sized containers or purchase your essentials upon arrival. Additionally, check if your accommodation provides toiletries to avoid packing unnecessary items.

  • Limit Accessories: Accessories are an easy way to enhance your outfits, but they can also take up valuable space. Choose a few versatile pieces that can be worn on the plane or with multiple outfits, such as small jewelry or a scarf that can double as a blanket or shoulder cover when visiting churches.

  1. To ensure a smooth trip, don't forget to pack these essential items:

If you've read this far thank you, I really do appreciated it. Here is a link to my amazon travel list. Not everything in this list is for carry-on only travel but a majority of it is. If you have any suggestions or think I should add other items please leave a comment or feel free to send me a message! Were always looking for new or better travel products. Remember to pack light, leave room for souvenirs, and embrace the freedom of exploring Europe with just the essentials at your side. Bon voyage!