How to Pack for a European Road Trip

In The Wild

How to Pack for a European Road Trip

Our friend Amelia Le Brun is a photographer, writer and, of course, traveler, currently based in the U.K. When she's not packing up her van for weeks-long trips, you can find her in the Lake District, often wearing Topo Designs.

Packing for a road trip across multiple climates and countries is no mean feat. There is only so much weather research and fact-checking you can do before you accept that you need to pack a skeleton wardrobe with essentials to cover each country, every climate and all eventualities.

Despite the fact that I have been traveling since I was born, I have never been good at packing. I am what can only be described as a "panic packer" with the phrase, "I'll take it just in case" being uttered far too frequently. Where some people are able to reason the need for two pairs of shoes, a smart and casual outfit option and a sensible amount of underwear, I seemingly cannot. I have packed for weeks away, every eventuality and far too many hoodies, only to arrive at the destination and realize I left my entire pile of underwear on the floor of my room. I swing erratically from re-packing 3 times to throwing things in a bag at the last minute and dashing out the door. I will either spend the trip wishing I had brought a smarter outfit or cursing myself for the pile of clothes I won't wear that are taking up precious space in my bag or van.

I recently teamed up with Topo Designs for a three-week road trip through Central Europe. The plan was to pack some friends into a camper van, start in Tuscany and head north through Bavaria, into the Black Forest and Belgium, before taking the ferry back to Calais.

We were forecast pretty middle of the road weather; warm and dry, the perfect European Spring.

Naturally, I packed for every possible condition, armed with a new wardrobe from Topo Designs (which came in very handy later). The first few days of the trip were spent in glorious sunshine, shorts, and t-shirts, perfect. We spent our days by the coast, at hot springs and exploring the lush rolling greens of the countryside. As we headed into the mountains, the temperatures dropped, the weather became more erratic and I took to packing many layers of clothes as we wandered the streets of deserted villages nestled high in the Italian mountains.

I found myself spending most of the trip in Boulder Pants: flexible, waterproof and unbelievably comfortable, they fit in every climate and kept me cool in the warmth and dry in the rain. (Two very important things when you are ending the day in a van or tent.)

It was fantastic to have a variety of clothes with me during this trip. One of the huge bonuses of traveling in a van is the ability to pack more than you may be able to if you were to fly. Having my Topo Designs Travel Bag was a lifesaver. With multiple compartments and a huge capacity, it meant that my habit for severe overpacking didn't pose too much of an issue. I was able to keep wet and dry gear entirely separate and avoid spilling my luggage all over the street as I rummaged about looking for that one specific piece of clothing I was sure I had packed.

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