Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Europe Packing List - What Not to Bring

I mentioned that I was most looking forward to this post on what not to bring to Europe. That's mostly because there are so many "tips" on things you should leave at home that i don't agree with. However, there are some things that you just should not bring unless you want to call attention to yourself as an American tourist*. Some of the things I would leave at home include:
  • Sweat pants/yoga pants - Unless you plan on engaging in sports or using the hotel gym do not fly in or pack active wear. I love my yoga pants and sometimes wear them on the train home from pilates but that's when I'm literally between the workout and my shower so I give myself a pass. There is no other excuse to wear lounge wear in public, Americans get a reputation for being sloppy largely because of this.
  • White sneakers - same exceptions as above. These also carry an American stereotype, besides they'd be grey by the end of your trip so leave them at home.
  • Backpack - I know this is a traveler's best friend but I hate them, if you're not a student they pretty much scream tourist. How about a messenger or tote instead?
  • Shorts - Unless it's over 30 degrees Celsius for an entire week, most Europeans won't be wearing shorts. Again, there are activity based exceptions and shorts will come out at BBQs in the park, by the beach, etc. but not in a city and not unless it is really hot. As a woman, wear a skirt, it's suitable for more occasions anyway. Men, you're out of luck unless you like the look of man-pris.
  • Hair dryer - aside from the electricity being a different voltage and potentially frying your device, save room in your luggage. Sadly, the same applies to hair straighteners.
  • Traveler's checks - This also applies to American Express/Visa gift cards. Such things are often nearly impossible to redeem, specifically if they are not in the currency of the country you are visiting. Make sure your ATM card works abroad and let your bank know where you will be so they don't freeze the card for suspicious actions. Pack a Visa as well, it really is everywhere you want to be.
Things other people tell you to skip that I would bring include:
  • Flip flops - (for walking around the hotel room if nothing else) but this is a vice of mine.
  • Jewelry - Yes, diamond engagement rings are not typical in most European countries so that may be a leave at home piece but I find it stupid to leave all jewelry at home. If you feel uncomfortable wearing the necklace that your late grandmother gave you as a present for your 18th birthday, leave it at home but there's no reason to leave everything behind, you most likely have a similar chance of losing it/getting robbed in a local big city, just be aware of your surroundings.
So that's the last of my packing segment, hope it can help someone prepare. Again, please feel free to add or subtract from my lists. I am interested to do more mini series type posts on worthwhile topics going forward so please email me if you have a topic you'd like to see me post on.
*I don't think anyone should be ashamed of their nationality and I am proud to be an American but I don't like to contribute to negative stereotypes of my culture and therefore won't encourage anyone else to do so.

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