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10 Must-Pack Items for Your European Getaway

Prepping your carry-on with these essentials can make a big difference on your trip across the pond.

U.S. News & World Report

10 Must-Pack Items for Your European Getaway

Open suitcase on bed with camera and photographs

Add a universal plug adapter, copies of your passport and a local map to your packing list.(Getty Images)

While a jaunt to Europe can be the vacation of a lifetime, it can also leave you longing for the comforts of home. After all, the Atlantic Ocean represents more than just a body of water. It also represents a different way of life that can be simultaneously exhilarating and culture-shock inducing. With that in mind, here are 10 essential items to bring along your next trip across the pond.

1. A Guidebook

Keeping a guidebook in your pocket is the best way to get the most out of your trip – and your vacation dollars. Most guidebooks include resourceful maps, recommendations for local restaurants, attractions and hotels, as well as tips on attraction visiting hours and local tours.

2. Photo Copies of Your Passport

If you're a U.S. citizen, you'll need a passport to enter any European country. And if you misplace this valuable piece of identification, you may have trouble getting home. To protect yourself and your travel companions, keep photo copies of each family member's passport locked inside your luggage.

3. A Phrasebook

While you'll likely encounter English-speaking tour guides in most popular destinations across Europe, it doesn't hurt to learn a few key phrases to communicate with locals in their native tongue. You may not need to use them, but knowing a few resourceful words in the event of an emergency will help you feel more comfortable.

4. A Money Belt

An old-fashioned money belt, a flat pack tucked underneath your clothing, helps keep your personal possessions tight against your body, which makes you an unlikely target for thieves. Your money belt is a great place to keep your money, credit cards and even your passport when you travel.

5. A Local Map

If your guidebook doesn't include a local map of the area you're visiting, you'll want to pick one up. The best maps include a rundown of the top points of interests and attractions in the area as well as public transportation details.

6. A Suitcase Lock

While you'll want to carry cash, a credit card and copies of important documents in your money belt while traveling, you'll need a safe place to keep important documents in your room while you're away. If you know in advance that your lodging doesn't offer an in-room safe, your best bet is bringing a suitcase lock with you.

7. An Adapter

If you're planning to power up your cell phone, hair dryer, camera, laptop and other electronic devices abroad, it's a smart idea to invest in a universal plug adapter that's well-suited for a variety of outlets and can be used in multiple regions across Europe. Bring it with you, and you'll never be stuck without power again.

8. A SIM Card

A SIM card is essential if you want to use your cell phone overseas without breaking the bank. Typically, you can buy a local SIM card online before your trip or pick one up once you arrive at your destination. To find out whether your phone will work abroad with a SIM card, call your cell phone provider two to three weeks in advance of your trip.

9. A Credit Card with Zero Foreign Transaction Fees

While you'll need plenty of cash when you travel, it's also a smart idea to bring along a major credit card to pay for hotel stays or emergency expenses. However, you'll want to make sure your card doesn't impose a 1 to 3 percent foreign transaction fee for purchases overseas. If you're unsure whether your card charges foreign transaction fees, make sure to call your provider ahead of your trip.

10. Back-Up Batteries

Jet-setting across Europe means taking plenty of pictures. And sadly, your foray into travel photography could run off course if you fail to bring an extra set of batteries (and memory cards) along. You can easily buy batteries in Europe, but there's no need to spend precious vacation hours searching for batteries. While finding batteries may seem like a cinch in a big city, it can be tricky pinpointing a convenience store if you're out traveling the countryside or in the middle of a cruise excursion.

The Bottom Line

Forgetting essential items on a European getaway can be a major headache. So remember to bring along basic necessities and important extras. After all, when it comes to planning an international vacation, a little research and forethought can go a long way.

Tags: travel, Europe

About En Route

Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.

Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.

Edited by Liz Weiss.

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