Packing Tips for MEN – What to Wear & Pack on a Trip to Europe/Italy

It seems most Men’s Packing Guides for European Travel are either 1) outdated & misinformed, or 2) minimalist & outdoorsy to a fault. Asher discusses how he strives for a smart, snappy casual style that works at both home and abroad. So buckle in and prepare to gain some insight into how light packing doesn’t have to come at the expense of comfort and style.

Below is a list of many supplies mentioned in the video:

Packing Tips for Women – What to Wear & Pack on a Trip to Europe/Italy

Unsure what to pack and wear on your upcoming trip to Europe? Follow along with this deep-dive video as Melissa shares her method — including clothing, shoes, toiletries, bag selection, and countless small tips & tricks to pack efficiently and still look great!

Below is a list of many supplies mentioned in the video:

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Trusty Travel Tech

From curling irons to headphones, we’ve come to depend on electronics and digital media as an integral part of our lives and our travel. We’ve compiled this useful list to help you prepare for your trip overseas. This is simply a guide/resource, so feel free to read only what applies to you! So let’s get to it ….

Power Adapters

European outlets use a different voltage and therefore, a different plug. You’ll want a US to EU (Type-C) converter/adapter for each plug/cable you plan on using on your trip. If you plan on packing your current phone chargers & plugs, this is what we use and recommend.

These simple and lightweight adapters will convert all US two-prong plugs to work/fit in (nearly) all wall sockets in Europe … even if the wall socket is 3-prong.

Curling Irons, Flatteners & Hair Dryers

There is one major exception to the power adapters above: if you plan on packing a curling iron or flattener, ensure it is labeled DUAL VOLTAGE. If it’s not dual voltage, it will not work without an additional large, brick-style converter that’s bulky and heavy. Additionally, most of the converters have a third grounding pin and it’s sometimes hard to find a three-pin plug near a mirror. 

If an iron or straightener is an absolute must, we strongly recommend going ahead and purchasing a dual voltage hair appliance (you can always use it back at home too!). There are countless choices on Amazon, and most of the “best” are dual voltage. Just search for “dual voltage curling iron”. I (Melissa) happen to use a L’ange curling wand that I love and all I have to do is use that simple little adapter linked above. It’s SO easy and I appreciate not having to worry with yet another cumbersome electronic box!

As for hair dryers, I don’t bring one anymore. Years ago, I purchased a Europlug hair dryer for my frequent trips and toted that extra weight around with me. But thankfully they are much more ubiquitous now and all of our hotels and accommodations have them. If you insist on bringing your own, again, a dual voltage one is a must. Some of them have a little dial on the side that allows you to manually change from 110 to 220. This will convert (i.e., knock down) the output to one speed. Please be aware that even your favorite home hair appliance probably won’t work in Europe exactly the same way that you’re used to it working at home.

Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Of the many (non-essential) items we find useful on the long-haul flight overseas, a good pair of headphones is near the top of the list. There’s nothing like slipping on a pair of noise-cancelling headphones during your flight. Tune out the snores, cries, and engine noise and tune into soothing music or a captivating movie.

I (Asher) typically carry two sets: 1) Apple Airpods Pros for use with my iPhone and laptop, and 2) in-ear Bose QC20 — wired in-ears — to plug in and use with back-of-seat media units. The noise-cancelling capabilities on the Bose are superior, but travel companions (kids!) typically get to them first, and I’m left with just the Airpods (which can’t connect to the flight’s media system, so I either just use my personal devices or the provided headphones in Business Class). My wife swears by the over-ear Bose QC35 II because they are more gentle on her ears, even though they do take up extra space for the duration of the trip.

Downloaded Media (Movies, Shows, Songs)

Consider downloading your shows/movies/music on your media apps prior to traveling. Most popular apps such as Netflix, HBO, Spotify, and Pandora all provide this option and make for much smoother, more enjoyable flights and layovers. Do this prior to heading for the airport as most airport wifis aren’t capable of downloading large files.

Portable Chargers

I (Asher) am always on the lookout for tips, tricks, and tools to pack lighter, so I will be trying this Anker PowerPort Atom III charging station on my upcoming trips. This single unit (along with the appropriate cables) replaces my Mac charger, iPhone charger, Apple Watch charger, and noise-cancelling headphone charger!

Many travelers also like to bring a portable cellphone charger to “top off” on longer days. If you have an older phone with dwindling battery capacity, we highly recommend one. We’re fans of all things Anker, so one recommendation is the Anker Powercore line.

Cell Phone Plans

Have you ever come home from an international trip and opened your phone bill to a staggering and unanticipated sum?! In this digital age, we’ve grown accustomed to staying connected and well-informed. While traveling with us, you may want to seamlessly call back home, navigate through cities on your own, or at least find your way back to a rendezvous point.

First, you’ll want to activate an international plan with your cell phone service provider. This will allow you to not only have cell phone service while abroad, but also tap into data, if needed. When in a foreign country, wireless access is available but not always guaranteed, so the ability to use cellular service is a bonus.

AT&T

International Day Pass

Add this free option to your account via the online portal prior to traveling. Each day that you use data, talk, or send a text in any of the 210+ included countries, you’ll be charged $10/day for 1 line and $5/day for each additional line used on the same day. They cap to a maximum of 10 daily fees per line per monthly bill cycle (i.e., $100/month for the first line if used >10 days in a given month). We feel this is a great deal if you want to use your phone exactly like you do at home.

We both (Melissa & Asher) use AT&T, and appreciate the flexibility of only being charged each day the phone is used, but also the comfort of a maximum monthly amount if traveling for an extended time.

If you are certain you will not use your phone except in the most extreme case, AT&T defaults to “pay-per-use rates” including $2.00/minute calls from Europe. Text messages run $0.50/message. If you include pictures and/or video in your text messages they charge $1.30/message. Data rates are $2.05/MB.

Verizon

TravelPass

Add this feature by texting TRAVEL to 4004 or through the online portal. With TravelPass your wireless plan travels with you. You are charged $10/day per device on the days you use calls, send texts or use data. High-speed data is capped after the first 0.5 GB/day. After that, you’ll have 2G reduced speeds data and then if you still need more they will send you a text to opt in to more data. If you happen to be a member of VerizonUp you may be able to claim a Free TravelPass day.

Verizon’s default “pay as you go” rates are $1.79 for talk, $0.50 for texts you send and $0.05 for texts that you receive and $0.25 for (both send and receive) multimedia texts. Data is charged at $2.05/MB.

T-Mobile

Check with T-Mobile to determine what plan you currently have.

The Magenta®, T-Mobile ONE™, Simple Choice™, New Classic and Select Choice plans provide unlimited 2G data, unlimited texting and calling for $0.25 per minute. The T-Mobile Essentials plan provides unlimited text and calling at $0.25 per minute (but not data). If you have one of these plans, there is no need to add a separate feature or service to your account. International roaming is included in qualifying plans at no extra charge.

Data speeds abroad with T-Mobile may not be fast enough to stream music or movies or to use GPS apps extensively. If you think that you want a more high-speed streaming experience, there are several packages that you can purchase.

**These are current international plans for the largest U.S. cell phone carriers at the time of this writing. Please check with your personal provider for more details on how best to activate your desired international coverage.

Hot Tip: We all mindlessly pick up our phone and start browsing social media or searching for information without thinking twice about the effects on our future wireless bill. If you want to alert yourself that you are about to dip into your international plan, keep your phone in airplane mode while in foreign countries. This forces you to make the decision on whether to turn on data to help find that delicious gelato shop!

Helpful Travel Apps

Below are a few basic apps worth downloading now that will keep you in-the-know while you’re exploring Europe.

Trip Plans App

The Trip Plans app is where we’ll provide itinerary information, from train tickets to daily activities. No need to download this quite yet, we’ll send you instructions closer to travel-time with all the details.

FaceTime and WhatsApp are your friends

We suggest searching for free wifi at your hotel or restaurant before using your international calling plan because FaceTime (usable only on iPhones) and WhatsApp (available for both iPhone and Android phones) allow you to call via video and voice and also text message with only a wireless connection.

FaceTime (iOS only)

If you and the people that you call most often have iPhones, then you are in luck! You’ve probably used the FaceTime app that came preinstalled on your phone, but if you haven’t then all you will need to do is make sure that the recipient’s phone number in your contacts has a “+1” at the beginning. If you are connected to wifi, you can call back to the U.S. for no charge.

WhatsApp

If you or the people that you call most often don’t have iPhones, then WhatsApp is your best bet. It functions similarly to FaceTime providing end-to-end encryption for both video, voice calls and text messaging. Both parties will need to download the WhatsApp app to communicate. WhatsApp is frequently used in Europe to get in touch with our friends in-country (iPhone/iMessage usage is not nearly as ubiquitous in Europe as it is in the U.S.).

Google Maps

Whether you are tooling around Rome on your own or need to meet us back at a particular location, you’ll probably want to have Google Maps downloaded and at the ready. Drop a pin at your starting point, change your directions from driving to walking and you’ll be ready to navigate to your heart’s content. Some people like to stick an AirPod in one ear to hear the spoken directions, but most just follow the map as they move along. The use of GPS apps will use data, so again, make sure your phone plan is enabled to do that.

You’ll see us using the Waze app while driving as it alerts us to accidents, roadblocks, and cameras used for speed checks (we don’t plan to exceed the speed limit, but even one mile over the speed limit in Italy and other European countries can lead to tickets!).

XE

Quanto costa? How much is that doggie watch/scarf/handbag/house in the window? 

If this is your first foray abroad, you’ll likely get the feeling that you’re playing with Monopoly money when dealing with a new currency. When browsing stores and open-air markets and even perusing real estate For Sale flyers, you’ll want to quickly convert those numbers to U.S. Dollars. For a no-frills quick converter, we recommend the XE App. ATM and credit card rates will vary +/- 2-3% but the app will give you speedy results. If you are a money mathematician or just good at doing percentages in your head, you could forgo the easy app and add 20% to a given price in Euro to get close to the USD value.

Free Now

Need a ride? When in Rome …. do as the Romans do!

The easiest way to find a taxi in Rome is at a taxi stand. Fortunately, there is one just outside of our hotel in Rome. While we will be managing your in-tour transit, there’s a chance you may find the need for a taxi while you are out and about. Uber and Lyft are rarely used because the taxi lobby squashed them. Introducing the Free Now app to the rescue! It works basically the same way as the Uber and Lyft apps, however you’ll just be getting an official white taxi instead of someone’s random car … so maybe that’s a win?!

Airline and Hotel Apps

If you haven’t done so already, go ahead and download the app of the airline you’ll be using to get to Europe. Boarding passes and delay updates (here’s hoping you don’t have any!) are so much easier to maneuver when you have the info in any easy to access format right on your phone. If you’ll be spending any extra nights in large chain hotels (we sometimes spend the night in a gateway city prior to catching our overseas flight) download their app as well. The convenience of having your room key on your phone is wonderful.

While international phone plans and a few apps are not absolute necessities, the conveniences they provide make traveling even more of a joy.

Do you have an app for travel or a perfect device you just can’t live without? Share it with us!

P.S. Do you know anyone who would like to travel with us? Check out our upcoming dates at gohubandspoke.com!

P.P.S. Like & Follow our Facebook page for more trip insights & photos.

Travel Shoes for Men & Women

Travel shoe tips and recommendations for European tours.

We’ve all been there. You’re excited to wear those new shoes on your big trip and then *bam* you hit some unexpected humidity — and what you thought were comfortable shoes become blister-inducing torture chambers! Or maybe your tried-and-true favorites have simply lost their luster & bounce. If it’s time for some new kicks, we are here to help.

Below are some helpful hints for finding solid travel shoes, as well as some specific examples to get you started. Our goal is to give you confidence in your next pair of touring shoes!

These Boots Travel Shoes Were Made for Walking!

Melissa’s Criteria for Finding the Best Travel Shoes

FIT: I have a wide foot, so I’m always on the lookout for cute, comfortable travel shoes that don’t look too geriatric! Seriously, it’s a huge challenge to tick the boxes of both style and comfort, and in my case, finding the right fit takes lots of trial and equal amounts of error. So I recommend shopping NOW for footwear and wearing them a good deal prior to departure — even taking long walks — to accurately assess whether they will work for you.

CUSHION: European destinations add another dimension to your quest as you must anticipate regularly walking on uneven ground. Cobblestones and gravel paths are prevalent, working the lower leg and ankle differently than we are used to on smooth sidewalks. This means you will want extra cushion and support.

COLOR: Some of my favorite travel shoes are black, and that is no accident. We will talk later about the “capsule wardrobes” we adhere to for packing, and black happens to be a cornerstone of my travel outfits for that reason. Black shoes travel well because they hide that bit of mud or drop of gelato you’re sure to encounter, and their versatility allows them to be worn in a multitude of settings. By all means, if another color works best in your wardrobe, have at it … but you can’t ever go wrong with black.

WEIGHT: The weight of shoes is also a significant factor in my choice of footwear. When I know I’ll be lugging my suitcase onto planes, over cobblestones, into and out of vehicles, and up and down train stairs, I want my suitcase’s overall weight to be minimal. Since shoes are almost always the heaviest item I pack, their weight impacts my decisions on what to buy and pack.

How Many Pairs to Pack?

I recommend packing a minimum of 2 pairs and a maximum of 3 (with a few caveats). This means I typically end up with 1) an athletic lace-up, 2) extremely comfortable slip-ons, and 3) often a nice pair of booties for trips in the late autumn. Most of our tours are not held in the summer, so sandals are usually not an option due to cooler temperatures. For those who only pack 2 pairs of shoes, a thin, light pair of lounge-worthy slippers can come in handy for evenings when you return from a long touring day.

Favorite Women’s Travel Shoes 

(some I own, others come HIGHLY recommended)

ATHLETIC SHOES: I never leave home without a pair of black athletic shoes.

LEATHER LACE-UP SNEAKERS: A bit more stylish than athletic versions. These type shoes in white or black could also be worn with a dress or skirt.

SLIP-ONS: Classic, easy comfort.

HOT TIP – Your Shoes on the Airplane: Some people report that their ankles and feet swell over the course of the long travel day/night over the Atlantic. To ward off this condition, wear compression socks on the plane (there are actually cute, fun ones out there) and drink plenty of water inflight. Also, make sure to wear a pair of lace-up or stretchy shoes.

Their adjustability across the vamp will allow you to fit comfortably in your shoes even if your feet are a bit puffy when you reach your destination. The bonus to wearing the lace-ups is that you’ll likely have one of your bulkiest pairs of shoes on your feet, providing more valuable space in your luggage.

Favorite Men’s Travel Shoes

Asher’s Addendum for Men

While you’ve likely heard that European countries dress more “put together” than here in the states, in reality they have become much more lax in dress code expectations. Younger generations are likely to be seen wearing premium sneakers, and leather-soled oxfords are seen less and less often — especially in tourist-rich locations.

Like Melissa, I recommend two pairs of shoes for your trip — typically wearing the heavier of the two on travel days and packing the other. You’ll likely find me with 1) crisp athletic sneakers and 2) a pair of “snappier” shoes (or boots, depending on the destination). When in doubt, choose whatever you are more likely to wear at home.

ATHLETIC SNEAKERS: I have joined the all-black team, especially for athletic shoes. Since black sneakers work in so many situations, they often end up being my go-to Day Shoe. Of course, choose comfort over color, but at a minimum consider leaning towards neutrals over neons.

The most comfortable sneakers I’ve ever worn are Adidas Ultraboost, and I much prefer the black-soled version (white sneaker soles get chewed up and dirty very quickly).

CASUAL/PREMIUM SNEAKERS: This is my favorite category of shoes, and also has the most options based on your personal style. Classic lines, versatile and universally accepted, you really can’t go wrong.

Traditional: Rubber-sole oxfords are a solid option. Cole Haan’s “Zerogrand” line may be the perfect fit, and includes traditional oxford-style tops (leather or fabric) with comfortable rubber soles. Many models also come in Wide, which can be a bonus. If you’re a fan of a more traditional look, I highly recommend these shoes.

Conservative: The Crown Northamptons below are what you’re most likely to see me wearing at the time of this message. They’re a tad expensive, but extremely comfortable and will last a (literal) lifetime — the premium leather only wears better with time and the hand-stitched soles allow for re-soling. Like dress-shoes, ensure plenty of time to break in, but I’ve yet to find a more versatile & comfortable casual shoe.

Trendy: “Retro trainers” are fair game for the more progressive/stylish traveler, and colors are more widely accepted in this category. I won’t make recommendations here, as you either know what you’re doing or not, but here are a few examples.

LOAFERS: If you have a comfortable “go-to” pair of loafers, feel free to pack/wear them. I personally prefer lace-ups over slip-ons for reasons mentioned above, so I don’t have any recommendations for this category — but I will say Sperry-style boat shoes are typically reserved for when you’re getting on a boat! 🙂

BOOTS: While often heavy and unwieldy for packing purposes, boots can make a fantastic travel companion. Rubber or cork soles are ideal for cobblestone-style environments (I recommend leaving leather-soled shoes behind unless you’re extremely confident in them).

HIKING: For more “hike heavy” destinations (such as glacial tours in Switzerland), many crossover/hiking shoes are available that are great on the trail and can still pass in certain casual settings. They provide great support and grip when needed, and are favorite “one-pair” shoes for heavy world travelers.

DOWNTIME: I always pack a light pair of flip-flops or slides to let my feet breathe once I’m back to my accommodations — they come in handy fetching laundry or lounging around the room.

***

We hope this gets you thinking about what shoes that you’ll be bringing to Europe, and we are extremely interested in what shoes you like to take traveling. Are you searching for a new pair for this trip? Please share your travel shoe finds. Happy Shopping!

Attire Golden Rules

Some of our most asked questions center around Attire. We go into detail with travelers to ensure they’re comfortable with their selections, but to help ease your mind, here are a few quick Attire Golden Rules:

  • Keep it simple. We discuss tips to cut down on the number of outfits needed and make your mornings less stressful — so you can focus less on clothes and more on your experiences. The core premise behind our recommendations is that simple always wins.
  • Keep it light. Nobody ever said, “I wish I’d have packed more” as they navigated uneven cobblestone paths & stairways from airport to tram to train to taxi! We provide recommendations on shaving a few lbs … whether you follow them or not is up to you. 🙂
  • Stay comfortable. Your trip is definitely not the time to try out anything new — especially shoes! In fact, our first message re:attire discusses shoes in detail to help you get a jump on any necessary purchases, with plenty of time to break them in.
  • Be yourself. No matter how hard you try, you won’t fool anyone into thinking you’re a local, and that’s OK. We’ll provide some pointers to help you “fit in” a little better, but the overarching rule will be to dress like you do here. No need to stock up on special outdoor travel clothes or Fall Euro Fashion outfits, unless of course that’s what you wear at home.

Ultimately, we encourage you not to stress over dress. When you travel with us, we’ve got you covered.