Oh Europe. You have without a doubt stolen my heart.
You see, back when I was a Sophomore in college, my sister and I started planning our trip to Europe. We were going to go during the summer, and we’re so excited. We were clueless as to where we were going to go, but we were going to make it happen! And then something big happened in our family that changed our lives, and definitely made Europe not a possibility.
While I was so sad at the time, I’m so thankful that at 32 years old, I finally got to go- and with my hubby AND friends!
AND our time in Spain was all expenses covered by Young Living, so that obviously made it really incredible!
This blog post isn’t going to be an all inclusive guide to Europe. I am farrrrr from an expert, but I will share the things we learned along the way. Good and bad.
First off, our trip was two weeks long. For all the places we wanted to see, we could’ve been there for a month, easy. But you see, we have three amazing babies at home, so two weeks was definitely our max! And at the veryyyy end, we actually were ready to be home.
We spent almost an entire week in Seville, Spain. That whole portion was with our Young Living friends. And then it was just us two for Italy. We did Positano, Florence, and just a quick day in Ostia (right outside of Rome). There are still lots of different places I want to visit in Europe (including this voco Oxford Spires hotel which looks stunning!) But I think I’ll have to save up for a while before I go travelling again.
Writing those words still feels surreal. I can’t believe we got to go and experience all of the beauty we did. So thankful.
First let’s talk about what you definitely need to buy before this trip!
–a converter/adapter. Now listen friend! There is a difference. A LOT of products that you need to charge, like Apple products, etc can be used in Europe with just using an adapter. The one I linked is great because it has a ton of outlets and USB ports!
–Curling Iron. But if you have a blow dryer, curling iron, or straightener that you absolutely insist on bringing, you’ll also need a converter. I figured all the hotels would have a blow drier (they did), so I skipped that. I did however buy a cheap curling iron here so that I could use it with just an adapter instead of having to get a pricier converter/adapter. I figured it would be nice to have a cheap one to travel with in general, so i went this route. It worked great, and was great for peace of mind knowing I wasn’t going to blow a fuse/break my regular curling iron.
One of our hotels actually said they had adapters at the desk if you need one, but definitely don’t rely on that. And some of our hotels had USB outlets by the bed which was nice for our phones. But again, don’t rely on that.
-Exchange your money. You’ll also want to exchange your money at your bank before leaving, in order to get the best exchange rate. There are atms all over, AND most (not all!) places accept credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve Canada card, but to get the best rate, do it at home.
Speaking of money, in Florence a lot of stores we shopped at (which it might be everywhere, but we didn’t shop in any of our other destinations) offered tax free shopping for non-EU residents. You have to show them your passport, and they give you a special receipt that you take with you to the airport. After checking in, there will be a place you can take those receipts and get your money back. It really adds up!
Stuff needed for the flight
–Compressions socks. Another thing you will definitely want to grab beforehand is compression socks. We have a pair of both female and men’s compression socks, which we comfortable use around the house. And I have a friend use who wore them while she’s pregnant to help with her feet, she loved them! They seem unnecessary, but trust me, on a flight longer than like 4 hours you will be glad you have them! A friend of mine told me to try out sockwellusa.com a few months ago and we have not looked back since! Even on our 11 hour flight from Rome to Dallas, we had no swelling. But they are not just for swelling, they can also prevent blood clots. I grabbed these from amazon and they worked amazing too. And when you get to your destination, nothing will feel better than taking those bad boys off!
–Neck Pillow. Get this neck pillow! It worked great, didn’t take up as much room as the normal ones, AND is machine washable.
–Comfy cardigan. this cardigan is pretty cheap and SO soft. You want layers upon layers for your flights. Most of our flights were freaking freezing, but one was warm. So layer it up! And that Max and Mia cardigan is so soft, BUT MAKE SURE to wash it a few times before your trip. It sheds like crazy with only one or two washes. Another cardigan option thats even more amazing, but more pricey, is this one!
-Make sure to bring your usb cord for charging your phone. In Premium Economy, they provide you with a blanket, eye mask, ear plugs, headphones, and even a mini little toiletry set for refreshing. I’m honestly not sure what they give you in economy, but we loved all the stuff they provided for us.
-We also made sure we had our thieves wipes and hand purifier available at all times, because yuck! I also brought Immupro on the plane for helping with sleep! It also boosts your immune system, which is a huge bonus! And if you wear contacts, do yourself a favor and bring a case with solution already in it, and your glasses. Your eyes will want the rest during the flight.
I bought a cute little fanny pack from target for this trip, and I’m so glad I did. My phone case blocks radiation, so it already protects against people being able to steal your card info, but if you are concerned about that, or are knowing you’ll be in unsafe areas-look into one of these types of purses. While in the airport, I kept both of our passports, my phone, our tickets, chapstick and hand purifier in my fanny pack. All the necessities!
I did wear a purse while walking around sometimes, and felt totally safe. If we went to a super crowded area, I was just aware of my surroundings and kept the purse in front of me.
I should pack what?
Now listen, when I tell you what I packed, know this. I am not a “carry on only” type of girl. I would muchhhh rather fill up an entire big suitcase and have options while there! It was torture to me to only bring one big case and one big backpack. I legit had to just keep pulling stuff out while packing. And even then, we we’re wayyy over EU limits, but I’ll get to that later!
I also made sure to bring a good comfy pair of tennis shoes, BUT I also brought comfy cute shoes and even a fancier pair. Not every single day of our trip was spent walking for miles, so I wanted to be able to have some cuter options while there. I brought:
-1 tennis shoes
-1 fancier shoes
-1 comfy sandals
-1 cute but comfy shoes
I brought 5 pairs of jeans (one white and one black), and then a bunch of tops. I also brought two dresses, one specially for a dress up night for YL, and the other for a night while in Positano.
Last minute the night before we left, I ran to Nordstrom to get a North Face jacket (on serious sale, normally like $250, and I got it for $80!). I knew I would want something warmer than the couple sweaters I was bringing, but all my jackets were seriously bulky and heavy -aka your packing worst nightmare. I’m so glad I bought that, because I definitely put it to use! If you are going in the summer, obviously not an issue, but still bring some sort of layer Incase of cool nights. And FOR SURE have a warm sweater for the plane, all our rides were freezing!
I brought yoga pants for my pj bottoms. It was nice because that way I could wear them as needed. Wear them to bed, but want some comfy pants for that morning? You’re good to go. And only brought 3 PJ tops, and just made sure wore them for bed only, and kept them clean.
We also did do laundry half way through at a local laundry mat. That was an experience to say the least. Most places we went, at least someone around us knew English. Not here though ? and of course we forgot to bring euros with us, and she didn’t take cards. It was a rocky start, but our clothes got washed for cheap. Our hotels service would’ve legit cost us like $300, instead we spent $20. And the laundry mat was right next to a restaurant, so we just went and had breakfast while they got clean. And most laundrymats have detergent included (not an ideal choice of chemicals lol, but it was at least nice not having to go and buy that too)
Ok I think that’s it for packing, now let’s get to the fun stuff in the next post. I am going to break it down place by place! Seville, Spain. Positano, Italy. Florence, Italy. Ostia, Italy.