If you've spent any time on social media this summer, you've probably noticed two things: Everyone is traveling, and the airports are a mess. From lost luggage to canceled flights to hours in security lines, summer travel is chaotic right now, to say the least. I was recently one of those people braving the chaos to visit Portugal, and thankfully, I had a smooth travel experience. While I can't help with canceled flights or security lines, I can offer packing tips for anyone still planning to get away this summer. I highly recommend purchasing an AirTag to pop into your luggage if you plan on checking it—that way, you can track its location on the off chance it doesn't make it to your final destination with you.
If you're able to bring just a carry-on, that's even better, and streamlining your packing list is the best way to do so. I spent two weeks in Europe and found myself wearing the same items over and over again, so those are the ones I would pack first if I was going back right now. Each piece was comfortable, versatile, and polished, which is why I kept wearing them despite having other options in my suitcase. From oversize button-downs to slide sandals to linen pants, these are the eight items well worth the suitcase space. Consider this my guide on what to pack for Europe in the summer if you're trying to optimize your suitcase space.
The unofficial pant style of summer, linen trousers are the perfect combination of comfort and polish. They can be dressed up or down and pair well with everything from simple tanks to swimsuits, making them the ideal travel pants. I wore mine with almost everything in my suitcase and even chose them for the plane ride back—they're that comfortable.
Cropped tanks are always a good travel item, especially during the summer. Dress them up with tailored trousers or down with denim shorts, as they pair well with anything. Whatever color you choose, it will be one of the most-worn items in your suitcase.
Oversize button-downs are having a major moment in 2022, and I'm all for it. They're particularly good for travel thanks to their versatility. Throw it on over a swimsuit, a tank, and trousers, or even sub one for a jacket in the evening. To say I got my money's worth from mine this trip would be an understatement.
Sundresses are a summer staple, and I always opt for easy styles when traveling. I don't want anything that's too short or only pairs well with heels. Instead, I pack versatile dresses that I know I love and can be worn day or night. That one dress you never wear at home but think you'll wear on vacation? Skip it—trust me.
If you've been to Europe, I don't have to explain how much walking you do. I'm talking over 20k steps a day. The only sensible shoe choice for this much movement is comfortable sneakers, and they also happen to pair well with the summer dresses and shorts already in your suitcase. Wear yours on the plane so you won't even have to pack them.
Nothing says summer like colorful beaded jewelry, and it's the perfect way to infuse some fun into your vacation wardrobe. A stack of beaded necklaces can be worn to the beach, to go sightseeing, for dinner—you name it. They also dress up even the most basic of pieces, so your tank and shorts suddenly become an outfit.
Protect your face and keep UV rays at bay with a chic wide-brim hat. This can be a tricky one to pack, but it's 100% worth the hassle. You'll be thankful once you're there. My tip is to stuff yours with a rolled-up T-shirt to keep the shape in your luggage.
Slide sandals are a no-brainer when traveling, especially in Europe where the general vibe is more relaxed. They're comfortable enough to walk around all day in but can also look polished when you're heading out in the evening. I wore the below Zara sandals on repeat during my trip and can't emphasize enough how comfortable they are.