The tour we went on (May 24 – June 13) was a little hard to pack for because we were going to experience around a 20 degree change in temperature throughout the various countries we were visiting (60-80 degrees).

To get a good gauge of what the temperatures might be, we looked at the previous year’s recorded temperatures for each country during the dates we would be there. The start of the trip in Amsterdam was going around 55-60 degrees, then warm up to about 80 degrees in Italy, cool back down to the 50’s in Switzerland and end in Paris with the temperature at around the mid 60’s.

So, it was important that we packed clothing that would keep us warm when it was chilly, but also have the appropriate outfits for hot weather. To do this, we packed clothing that could be added on top of each other in layers to keep us warm (or peeled off if it got too hot.)

For the most part the temperatures on the trip were what we expected, except for in Italy and Paris. These two countries were experiencing a heat wave when we were there and so  it was good that we had packed appropriately.

Stephen’s Packing List

Stephen tried to pack as light as possible and keep all items within the same color scheme. That way he could mix and match outfits without much effort. His color scheme was blue, black and brown. He also packed several layering items for cold days: long sleeved dress shirt, cardigan and light jacket.

Total weight was 17lbs (including one 1-quart sized liquid bag, one 1-quart sized medicine bag and some of the “Essential Technology and Supplies” listed below).

Stephen's Packing List

What He Packed:

  • Rick Steves Convertible Carry-on
  • Rick Steves Packing Cube Set
  • Pacsafe Metrosafe 200 Gii shoulder bag
  • 4 Exofficio give-and-go boxer briefs
  • 4 Drymax run lite-mesh mini crew socks
  • 4 Moisture wicking crew neck undershirts (2 black and 2 gray)
  • 2 Polyester blend polo shirts (1 black and 1 blue)
  • 2 V-neck t-shirts (1 blue and 1 brown)
  • 1 Long sleeved dress shirt (white and blue checkered)
  • 1 Zip up cardigan (gray)
  • 1 Light jacket (black)
  • 1 Jean
  • 1 Khaki pant
  • 1 Shorts
  • 1 Pair Keen Austin shoes (brown)
  • 1 Pair Sperry Top Sider canvas shoes (blue)
  • 1 Baseball cap
  • 1 Packable portable raincoat poncho (Packed easily into his day bag and doubled as a layering item on cold days)
  • 1 Rick Steves moneybelt
  • 1 Small binoculars
  • 1 Small flashlight
  • 1 Earbuds

What He Would Have Changed:

Stephen did not need the pair of Sperry Top Sider shoes, baseball cap or flashlight. He never wore the shoes or cap and his smartphone had a flashlight app on it.

He also would have increased the underwear and socks to seven pairs each. His under clothing garments did not always fully dry within 24 hours and he felt like he was doing laundry too often (every 2-3 days). Laundry wasted unnecessary time in the evenings. It would have been a lot better if he had enough of these items to last a full week, allowing him to do laundry only three times during the trip. There were a few hotels we stayed at that would do laundry for you, but he did not want to spend the $15 Euro fee for it.

He also would rather have had the Rick Steves Rolling Carry-On. While the Rick Steves Convertible Carry-On was convenient to throw on his back to walk from the bus to the hotels, after several days of carrying 17lbs on your back does start to feel heavy. He noticed that there were not any instances on the trip where carrying a rolling suitcase up stairs was cumbersome for Summer or other tour members.

Summer’s Packing List

Total weight was 17lbs (including one 1-quart sized liquid bag, one 1-quart sized medicine bag and some of the “Essential Technology and Supplies” listed below).

Summer's Packing List

What She Packed:

  • Rick Steves Rolling Carry-On
  • Rick Steves Packing Cube Set
  • Pacsafe Metrosafe 100 Gii hip and shoulder bag
  • Conair 1875 watt dual voltage folding handle hairdryer
  • 4 Drymax run lite-mesh mini crew socks
  • 1 Jean
  • 1 long skirt (black)
  • 1 scarf (black, blue and white blend)

What She Wished He Had Packed:

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Essential Technology and Supplies

  • Olympus SZ-12 14MP Digital Camera with 24x Wide-Angle Zoom (This was the cheapest, smallest, and best camera we could find that had an amazing zoom. It also shoots video. It allowed me to get great photos without having to carry my big DSLR on the trip.
  • 16GB SD Card (This was the perfect size for this trip. Because we also shot video, which takes up a lot of data space, we maxed out the space on this card. We took almost 2,000 photos and 100+ video clips.)
  • Verizon Wireless Global Plan (This add on plan gave us phone access for short calls and emergencies while in Europe. This plan came with 100 minutes, 100 texts and 100MB of data. We put this on Stephen’s Moto X phone line.)
  • KeepGo SIM Data Card (This is a data SIM card that replaced the one inside Summer’s Moto X 2nd Gen smartphone. This was essential for us to have Internet connection on our smartphone while we were out exploring or on the bus rides. We bought the 1GB card and only ended up using about 300MB of it. We used it mainly for connectivity to Google Maps GPS for locating places or to search the Internet while we were out and about. Every hotel we stayed at on the tour had free Wi-Fi so a lot of researching online was done at the hotels which relieved us from using much of the data card.
  • Weather Channel App (This app allowed us to per-program each city and town we would be in so we could instantly check the weather each morning.)
  • Stay.com App (This app has offline access to maps for many popular European cities. It shows the location for cafes, restaurants, museums, hotels and more. You can create your own personal guide for each city too, so you can quickly find out how to get to places you want to visit. We used this a lot.)
  • Rick Steves’ Audio App (This app has a ton of walking tours and educational interviews related to each city we visited on the tour. We took advantage of all of the walking tours for each city we visited, allowing us to learn a lot while also seeing the city.)
  • WhiteNoise App (This app generates many different noises that you can listen to in order to block out any city street sounds when trying to sleep. It has white noise, rain, nature and other soothing sounds.)
  • SleepPhones (This product has flat earphones lined inside of a headband that allows you to sleep comfortably while listening to the WhiteNoise app or music on your smartphone. Definitely a must have if you are a light sleeper.)
  • USA to Europe Outlet Plug Adapters (These small outlet adapters allow you to plug your USA devices into the wall outlets. We took six, but only ended up using three – one for our camera, and the other two for each smartphone.)
  • Rubber Sink Stopper (This is essential if you plan to wash your clothes in the sink like Rick Steves suggests. A few of the hotels we stayed at were missing the sink stopper so this came in handy a lot.)
  • Woolite Soap Packets (These packets allow you to wash your clothes in the sink. We took 20 and only used about 10 since we did laundry about every third day.)
  • Rick Steves Travel Clothesline (This product was essential for us to hang dry our clothes in the bathroom. It includes velcro strips on each end which allows you to hang it anywhere.)
  • Rick Steves Traveling Toiletries Kit (We bought two of these. One for each of us to use. As Rick mentions on his blog, European bathrooms don’t always have a lot of counter space. The included hanger allowed us to hang it anywhere in the bathroom and gave us quick access to our toiletries. Definitely a must have item.)
  • Shout Wipe & Go Packets (If you get a stain on your clothes these small cleaning sheets let you clean it up on the spot. There was an instant where I kneeled down to take a photo and got black pavement gunk all over my pant knee. This product got rid of it instantly and kept me from having to wash them in a sink. Definitely a must have item you keep in your day bag.)
  • Band Aids (To help with feet blistering or accidental cuts.)
  • Moleskin (This saved Stephen’s feet. After the first day of the tour his shoes started to cause blisters on two of his toes. The moleskin added a layer of protection and eliminated any sign of blistering for the whole trip. He was able to use the same piece of moleskin for one week straight. Tip: Cut the moleskin into strips to fit your different toe sizes before leaving.
  • Small Notebook (To keep notes of what happened on each day of the tour. This allowed us to create this blog when we returned home.)