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What to Pack for Germany- Traveling to Germany Checklist

What to Pack for Germany- Traveling to Germany Checklist


I really am my father’s daughter… I have a thing for lists. This includes making a fairly detailed traveling to Germany checklist every time I go (He even makes notes on his lists after returning, and files them for future reference… I’m not THAT far out there). In the old days you could pack 5 bags and have clothes for every eventuality (invited to a Costume Ball? covered…. hiking in the Alps? covered…. A day at the spa? got it). Sadly, today you are far more restricted by luggage allowance and increasing costs per bag. And honestly… who wants to schlepp all that luggage?? Worst of all, I found out the hard way that you can’t fit THAT many suitcases into the trunk of a small European car… (and then there was the time I had to take a stroller apart to make it fit).

Obviously, everyone will have different needs when they go to Germany. If you are visiting family, you won’t need to worry so much about toiletries (presumably, they will be there for you, or you can run to the store to buy your favorite shampoo). People on a tour, either by themselves or with a group, you may need to insure that you have everything you need in your bag.

This Traveling to Germany checklist leans more to what women need than men (sorry guys) but it’s general enough for everyone to check out.  One of the great things is that you really don’t need more stuff for a 2-3 week visit than you need for one. You can wash in between.

To make things even more complex, WHEN you go to Germany is important. You won’t need those tank tops unless it’s July… and even then, it’s iffy. I’ve broken it down by type of thing,  and I also recommend if you should carry it on or pack it into the suitcase.

Traveling to Germany Checklist

Keep in mind, this is just a guideline! Different types of visits obviously have different needs. When I visit family for a wedding, I packed differently than when I went to Berlin for the week. Take a look at the list, and consider the other things that you may need that are specific to your trip.

And in the worst case, if you’ve forgotten something? They have shops…

packing list for germany

Packing Documents

If you are nervous about losing them, keep these things handy in a Passport Pouch around your neck.  I know they can be uncomfortable, but you don’t have to wear it there all the time. Once you arrive, you can secure passports and important documents in the hotel safe. I like a passport pouch that doubles as a wallet, and fits into my purse.

Also make sure that none of your documents must be translated. For example, you might need translation of medical insurance. If such a translation is needed, my advice is to order it beforehand, you can use websites offering online translation services. After start packing documents with pure soul.

All of these things go into your Carry-On bag, or in a strap around your neck. DO NOT CHECK THEM IN YOUR LUGGAGE.

    • Passport– make sure it expires at least 6 months after your return date. (also, keep a photocopy of the passport somewhere safe)
    • Driver’s License– You can drive in Germany with an American license for up to 6 months.
    • Airline Tickets– I know many of you keep them on your phone. I’m too paranoid for that. I print out the paper.
    • Accommodation Information– You may have to fill out forms saying where you are staying. Have that information handy. It’s also good for handing to taxi drivers.
    • Student Identification Card– If you are a student, bring your ID card. It will get you discounts everywhere.
    • List of Medications- If you travel with medications, make sure you have a list of them by name, just in case you lose them, or get asked about them at the border, or you have a medical emergency. (And believe me, don’t put them all in one bottle thinking you will “remember” which is which… get one of those pill container thingies.)
    • Health Insurance Policy – Make sure you also have your travel insurance policy with you when traveling to Germany. Trust me when I say, it is always better to feel safe, especially when it comes to medical bills or any other similar health-related emergencies. Your travel insurance should be one of your best friends.   

Like to Pack Light? Or Just Going for a Quick Trip?

small travel bag
The Journey System from Idea Mountain is a fantastic set of bags! It’s a small day pack that fits into a bag large enough to hold a few changes of clothes and toiletries. AND you get a small waist bag that fits inside too. All fit in the overhead compartment as one. Take them apart on arrival, and lighten your load. Travel with JUST this set as one… or use it in addition to a suitcase.
Learn more about it here–> Journey System

The question of Euros

I am frequently asked whether to exchange dollars for Euros in the US,  and if credit cards work in Germany. To make things simple, I just carry around 80-100€ in my wallet while going over (my bank will change it, or I hit the money exchange at the airport before getting on the plane in the US). All of the rest of the money I need, I get from the ATM machines in Germany. Honestly, there are ATMs in every town. The exchange rate is good, and you don’t have to worry about carrying hundreds or thousands in cash with you. (Read more about that here–> ATMs in Germany)

Don’t take a lot of American Dollars. Most banks won’t change them anymore, unless you have an account there. And forget Traveler’s Checks. It’s not worth the hassle.

As for credit cards, more and more German stores and restaurants are happy to accept them… but cash is still king. Save the card for the big purchases like Hotel rooms and car rental, then have cash handy for food, tours, and souvenirs. (Although, if you do decide you want to buy a few apples from the weekly Farmer’s Market with a credit card, please get it on video and then share with me so I can laugh).

For Safety-
Photocopy the credit card and debit card (front and back), then keep the paper somewhere safe (like in your passport pouch). Maybe leave a copy at home with a trusted person who will answer the phone in an emergency. This way if they go missing, you can report it immediately. (Phone numbers for reporting are on the card).

Let your bank/credit card company know your vacation plans. You don’t want to be touring Tübingen on a Sunday, and discover that the bank has placed a hold on your card because of suspicious activity out of country.

How much Clothing do you Need?

I love Rick Steves, but he and I have some serious differences when it comes to clothing. I need more than 3 shirts. And I’m NOT washing out my undies every night.

That said… I’ve also learned that you have to carry everything you pack, and there is no sense in stuffing a suitcase full of cute tops that you “might” wear if the right invitation comes up.

Keep it simple, and stay with a color palate so you can mix and match items you are wearing. Don’t worry about wearing the same shirt twice, because if you are traveling around, no one will notice… and if you are staying with family, no one will care.

Avoid bulk! Hoodie sweatshirts will eat up half of your luggage space! A fine gauge sweater over a long sleeve t shirt is just as warm, and takes far less room.

Check the weather before you go! If they are having an unseasonably warm summer, bring more light things… but I’ve been to Germany when it rained for 3 weeks straight in JULY. (Every photo of me is in a raincoat with umbrella).

One more thing…if you have a fitness routine at home, such as running, pack the things you need. They aren’t “extras”, they are essentials! Read more about the importance preparing for and maintaining your fitness routines while traveling HERE–>How to Stick to your Fitness Routines while Traveling.

Most Importantly!
DO NOT TAKE BRAND NEW SHOES. And don’t bother with that pair that “only pinches a little”. You will be on your feet a lot. Take care of them with comfortable, slip-resistant shoes that you’ve worn in a bit. Those cobblestones are hard on your ankles!
(I seldom wear high heels, and brought a pair along for a wedding. EVERYONE ELSE was in flats. And by 3 AM on that dance floor, I was ready to cry.)

Remember, this list is a guideline, it’s not in stone. Depending on what you are doing and where you are going, you may need to make some adjustments. Keep in mind, every time I threw 3 extra shirts into the suitcase “just in case”, they’ve come back unworn.

Packing for Summer

  • 3-4 T-Shirts or Tops (don’t wear shirts with giant slogans, stick with plain and simple)
  • 2-3  Blouses  (you can wear them alone or over the T-shirts)
  • 1 Fine gauge Sweater or cardigan
  • 1 lightweight Jacket
  • 1-2 pairs Jeans (or pants that you like)
  • 1 pair slacks (for going out)
  • 1 pair light pants
    A dressy outfit …
  • For women maybe a dress or nice slacks and blouse.
  • For men, a nice shirt and tie
  • Comfortable walking Shoes (try to avoid white sneakers!)
  • Sandals
  • Shower shoes (like flip flops) are great for public pools (but not for touring churches)
  • 5-7 pairs underwear (wash Travel Underwear in the sink, and it dries fast)
  • Bras
  • 3-5 pairs socks
  • Pajamas or Nightgown
  • Bathing Suit

Also… in summer I know that shorts are comfortable, but in Germany, adults tend to reach for capri pants or skirts. And men, if you put on a bulky pair of cargo shorts, you will look like a tourist.


Packing for Winter

Remember, even though it’s COLD outside, it will probably be warm inside. You need a coat for the elements, but when you are in a restaurant or museum, you will overheat if you overdress. Most places have coat rooms, and I learned that security HATES when you walk around a museum with bags and coats.

  • 2-3 Long Sleeve T-Shirts or tops
  • 2-3 Long Sleeve blouses
  • 2-3 Fine gauge Sweaters (they take less room than bulky ones)
  • 2 pairs Jeans
  • 1-2 pairs Long Pants
  • 1 pair nice slacks (for going out)
  • 1 Heavy warm Jacket
  • 5 pairs WARM SOCKS (don’t think cotton socks will keep your feet warm)
  • 5-7 pairs Underwear
  • 1-2 pairs Tights or Leggings
  • Undershirts (if you need them)
  • Bras
  • Pajamas
  • Lounging Clothes- if you like wearing a track suit around the hotel room, perfect… otherwise Leggings and a long sleeve t-shirt.
  • Boots for Winter (my last visit was in the dead of Winter. I found a great pair of boot that are warm, waterproof, and look a lot like shoes)–> Ugg Waterproof Boots
  • Walking or Tennis shoes- for indoor touring days
  • Slippers or House Shoes for indoors
  • Gloves
  • 2-3 Scarves (because you will be wearing the same coat in every photo… might as well have a pretty scarf showing)
  • Umbrella– compact and portable.

Packing for Oktoberfest

Pack a mix of the above stuff…

traveling to germany checklist

Packing Cubes

I recently started using Packing Cubes, and I find that my clothes stay cleaner and better organized. While they are not necessary…. they do help (your dirty clothes stay separate from your clean ones… and the shirts don’t get all rumpled).

What goes in the Carry On Bag… What goes in the Suitcase

Admittedly, I don’t mind checking bags. (I’d rather not be laden down with too much stuff as I’m racing through the airport and security.) And with rules and restrictions about what can go into the passenger cabin of the plane, it’s easier to check things.

Instead of a donut for your neck…. Why not take a Trtl? It packs smaller, and gives great support!

In your Carry-On (And purse if you carry one)

The type of carry-on you use is up to you. Sometimes I use a back-pack, but the older I get, the more I feel like I need a more “grown up” bag. Your carry on bag can double as a day trip bag.

Remember, security won’t let you take liquids above 3.4 oz. And they will take away nail scissors, pocket knives and sun lotion. Just pack things in your suitcase so you don’t lose them. (By the way, if you need pocket knives, check out–> Globo Surf

(In no particular order)

  • Your wallet, and important paperwork. If you have a passport pouch keep things in there too.
  • Something to entertain you … a book or magazine or e-reader
  • Electronics– Camera, laptop, Tablet
  • Neck Pillow
  • Medications – and I always take a sleeping pill to sleep on the plane
  • Scarf- I love a larger scarf that works as a bit of a blanket… airplanes get chilly.
  • Jewelry– I just like to keep it close
  • Slippers or slides– Wearing shoes on a Trans-Atlantic flight is uncomfortable, but you DO NOT want to go into the bathroom in socks. (Trust me)
  • Brush, toothbrush, basic make up (to touch up before getting off the plane)
  • Snacks – Because you NEVER KNOW when you might get hungry.
  • Water Bottle – Note… you MAY NOT carry liquids through the security checkpoint, but you can carry an empty bottle. Fill it up at the fountain on the other side. Keep hydrated on the plane!
  • I like to keep a clean shirt and pair of undies in my carry on… just in case the suitcase is delayed.

Own a gsm world cell phone that works in over 170 countries from just $29

Traveling with Electronics

    • Smart Phone- If you like to stay in touch with people back home, or feel like you will need to make phone calls while in Germany (and you probably will) you will need a phone. BE CAREFUL. Roaming charges are crazy expensive!! It is possible to buy a SIM card in advance–> International SIM Card from Mobal
      Here’s a great article on taking your phone without breaking the bank–> Rick Steve’s Phone tips
    • Camera– Yes, you can use your phone, but for really good shots, you may want the best camera for pictures. Don’t forget the batteries, cables and memory cards!
    • Laptop– Is this a working trip? Pack along that Laptop, and don’t forget the Charger!
    • Tablets/e- readers– Instead of packing a stack of books, you can download them all onto an e-reader. And tablets are useful for watching movies, getting information you need, or keeping up with family at home. Just be sure you are using WiFi.
    • Power Converters!– The plugs in Germany are a different shape than our American ones… and the power coming in from them is 220V not 110V. Rather than buy German appliances, or a bunch of little plug things, I bought myself a Bestek power converter. It’s lightweight, can support charging 3 plugged in things at once as well as 4 USB ports, and I don’t have to worry about my electronics. (I can blow dry my hair AND charge the phone at the same time!)

Other Things You May Need

  • Notebook and Pen–  I like to keep a loose diary or journal of my travels. This way, when I get home it’s easier to remember what I saw on each day. Also, it’s great for notes and reminders, and for keeping score when we play games. You can also use it to write up your itinerary for the day. Of course, we already talked about how I am a list person…
  • Cards or Dice Game– My family loves games! And small travel games are great for killing time in Airports or in the evening over a drink before bed.
  • Neck Pillow– For sleeping on the plane. (The Trtl Pillow fits well in your bag when you arrive)
  • Guide Book– I like to take guide books, or photo copy pages of guide books, of the places I’m visiting.
  • Extra Shopping Bag– I like taking along a string bag, so I can use it when I shop. Also, I often pack an extra empty medium sized bag into my suitcase, in case my shopping gets out of hand, and I need to check another bag to get home. (It also works as a nice beach bag)
  • Jewelry– Don’t bring irreplaceable expensive jewelry. A few nice pieces that go with most outfits should be enough. (Plus, if you don’t have much along, you have an excuse to shop)



I have a neat bag that opens up and hangs from a towel rack so it doesn’t take up space on the bathroom counter.

  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss
  • Shampoo and Conditioner– buy SMALL bottles, or fill small travel bottles with your products at home
  • Brush/ Comb
  • Hair Dryer- if you are staying in Hotels, they may supply them. CHECK
  • Deodorant
  • Basic First Aid Stuff- Band Aids, Aspirin or Tylenol
  • Nail file or Clippers– For the privacy of your bathroom in the hotel.
  • Lotion or moisturizers
  • Any Make-up you need


If you are staying with family or friends in Germany, you might want to pack along a host/hostess gift. I list some ideas here–> Gifts for a German Host Family

PHEW! That’s a Long List!

Remember, the list is a guideline. Most important is to not over pack!
Take the time to put together a wardrobe that will mix and match.
Lay out all the things you need BEFORE you start putting them in a suitcase.

And most of all… HAVE A GOOD TIME!!

Preplan some fun Tours and Activities in Germany!


  1. Most of today’s electronic devices are dual voltage so all you need is an adapter to go along with your device. I took (OREI European Plug Adapter Schuko Type E/F) three plug adapters with me on my last trip and bought a power strip in Germany to fit them all into. I travel with cameras, computer, iPad, and phone. I tend to set aside funds to buy clothes where I’m going. I figure I’m going to buy souvenir shirts anyhow, so I Just skip a step and not take many clothes with me. I like to blend in with the natives a bit and not stick out so much as a tourist. German clothes tend to have zippers, a minor deterrent to pickpockets. I use a metal wallet to carry my credit cards and drivers license so they can’t be scanned while I’m walking around. I tend to carry a thumb drive with all my travel info on it in my passport pouch. I also have photos of me with all my electronic devices and serial numbers. Make arrangements with friends to accept any large souvenirs you may purchase. I always have those items shipped home because the place where I buy them from pays to ship, pays the insurance and packs them. Speaking of shipping or sending things. Before I leave I pack a majority of my clothes in a box and send it to my house. I’ve found I like having a light suitcase on the return trip. You get tired while traveling and pulling a heavy suitcase through the hotel and airport is not a lot of fun. My carry on is a bit heavy due to my electronic devices. I switched camera systems from a full frame to a 4/3 camera and the one I used fit into my jacket pocket. I wear soled house slippers to and from the airport they are easy to slip on and off going through customs and protect your feet on hard surfaces. I pack deodorant and a toothbrush, you can buy travel toothbrushes to clean your teeth on the plane if you want. I don’t pack any shower stuff in my suitcase. I go to the store and buy the travel size stuff there. I tend to stay a bit longer than most, I find three weeks a minimum. Traveling to Germany you lose a day going over and gain a day going back.

    1. Oh! GOod to know! I’m notoriously bad at electronic stuff… I tend to drop or blow things up regularly.
      FOr me, it’s better safe!

  2. If you want to save money on packing cubes, use ZipLock bags. They’re obtainable at any supermarket–and they’re cheap too.


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