What to pack for spring in Europe | Travel capsule wardrobe | Styling You

How to plan and pack for a European spring-summer holiday

Nikki Parkinson Life, Travel 19 Comments

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There are a lot of excited people out there right now with tickets booked, passports checked, travel insurance secured and the countdown firmly on until they jet away to Europe for spring or summer. 

This is peak time for Australians heading to the Northern Hemisphere to take advantage of the warm weather and longer days. 

Don’t hate me but I’m one of them.

As part of my Festival of Fifty, late June we’re heading to Italy and Croatia. We’ve been to Italy once before but only scratched the surface of what’s on offer. Croatia will be completely new to us.

Unlike my previous biggest packing challenge – Europe in June/July 2015 – where my luggage was limited to 20kg and the weather was a mix of Queensland-winter cool (UK) and hot (Italy), this time it will be easier with only warm/hot weather options needed.

But if you’re travelling to Europe in spring or to northern European countries through summer then my tips for how to pack for a European spring-summer holiday start where all my packing tips start: checking out the average temperatures of where you’re headed and then following them more closely via your phone’s weather app as it gets closer to your departure date. You then need to compare those projected temperatures with how that feels like where you live.

{This is my #1 tip on my e-book: Confessions of a Reformed Over-Packer}

One country’s version of summer can feel like your winter at home. And you may travel to a few different countries and need vastly different clothing pieces for each.

To give you an indication of temperatures in Europe in May, Paris has an average minimum of 11 degrees and maximum of 20 degrees; Barcelona 14-22 degrees; Rome 11-23 degrees; London 10-18 degrees. Yes, that’s a Queensland winter! Mild but nowhere near spring temperatures in most parts of Australia.

When creating a travel capsule wardrobe, one of my other key packing tips is to keep the colour palette tight. This is purposeful so most things can be worn back with pretty much everything in the suitcase. 

If you’re travelling at the start of spring or to northern European countries in summer, then you will need more layering pieces and the addition of ankle boots to your travel capsule. It will still be quite cool/cold so having thin, warm layers that don’t take up much space but are there if needed are key. You may also need a jacket warmer than a leather one. I’d include long-sleeve tops and tees and at least one knit.

The capsule I’ve created below works for spring and summer in cooler regions. Add or subtract heavier or lighter pieces (see the second summer capsule) to suit your destination/s and the timing of your travel. 


What to pack for spring in Europe | Travel capsule wardrobe | Styling You

For links to items featured, head HERE. (Guide only: please note items may no longer be available)

If travelling in the height of summer and only to warm countries, then drop the boots, jeans, long, pants, knit and jacket and sub in sandals, a light jacket, shorts and a skirt. Include a hat, swimsuit and fold-up beach bag that can be stowed in your suitcase. The wedges are optional but I do like to include them for evenings out. In cooler months I’d feel dressed up enough in a mid-heel boot.

Key extras for both ends of the season: a raincoat and umbrella. Accessories-wise, a statement pair of earrings and/or a statement necklace can go a long way to transform your day dress or separates’ combination into evening.

What to pack for SUMMER in Europe | Travel capsule wardrobe | Styling You

For links to items featured, head HERE. (Guide only: please note items may no longer be available)

Why travel insurance is as essential as your passport

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So tell me, are you headed to Europe this year? When are you going and where are you visiting?

How to plan and pack for a European spring-summer holiday | Styling You | Travel capsule wardrobe

A typical spring-summer European travel outfit (for milder days): Sassind tee and cardi; Bohemian Traders jeans; FRANKiE4 Footwear sneakers


*Discount based on standard premium rates and applies to International Comprehensive policies only. Please note some discounts may have already been applied to premiums when a product is purchased through a certain channel (for example, online) (Original Discount). In such a case, the greater of the discount offered under this voucher and the Original Discount will be applied. Discount applies to standard premiums only. No discount will be applied to other premium components such as pre-existing medical condition cover.

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  • Great tips as always Nikki. I can vouch for your tip about being guided by the temperatures. I’m currently enjoying Paris in the springtime and about 2 days ago the maximum (!!) was 7 degrees. Layers have been my saviour! Rugged up for outdoors and then as soon as you step into the museum or cafe, unlayering! Enjoy your travels to Italy and Croatia. Croatia is on my wish list so looking forward to your updates!

    • YAY for being in Paris right now! But yes those temps are still very low!! Croatia is new for us, can’t wait to share! x

  • Katie Weeraratne

    It’s tricky packing light for different climates. We’re going to be in Brisbane, Dubai, Greek Islands, London and Shanghai in May. Third world problems!! Thanks for the tips though.

    • Kristy Ward

      If you can, get your hands on a Uniqlo Ultra Light Down jacket. They pack down into a little pocket and they are so flipping warm. They’re skinny enough without adding huge bulk and they’re a good price if you can get them on sale. Just keep it in its pocket in your handbag (or pocket) until you need it. They’re a great investment for travel.

    • So tricky. That was us a bit two years ago. Packing cubes are great for keeping the cooler weather garments separate from the warmer weather pieces. Layering is key. Your bottom layers might work when warm on their own … then add others to suit in the other countries.

  • Kristy Ward

    I’m an Aussie girl who lives in the UK and travels a lot through the year. I’m more of a blues/grey palette with some white, and a definite is always a big scarf with a good pop of orange (pretty much always found at Zara). I fly a lot with just carry-on within Europe, so you have to pack smart – that’s where the big scarf comes in, they work for warm or cold destinations, and a back-up for freezing cold planes. Always tuck a few cheap “statement” type necklaces in as well, they lift a plainer outfit and make it look a bit special. One thing I’ve found is that unless you’re at a beach destination, shorts will mark you out as a tourist. I like a maxi skirt or dress instead of the shorts option. A cross body bag is a must – it’s safer and leaves you two hands free for shopping or wine. 🙂

  • Mara Pritchard

    As part of my Festival of Fifty hubby and I are heading to France, Italy and England in August with a stop in Singapore on the way home. Ticking off a long-held bucket-list dream and spending actual birthday on the Orient Express. Sooo excited!! And even more excited now that my travel capsule will feature a gorgeous OTS white dress. And I have you to thank Nikki – I never would have tried this before (being over 40 and rather big-busted) but I’ve been following your blog for a little while now and you gave me the confidence to try it. And WOW! It looks amazing. I found the right bra, bought the dress yesterday and showed my husband last night. He is still picking his jaw up off the floor. THANK YOU! Looking forward to more posts from this fabulous community.

    • Oh WOW Mara. All the WOWs. I’m so excited for you and your trip. Yay for 67 girls! And yes, I’m excited about your jaw-dropping white OTS!! x

  • Lesley Hughes

    I am off to Italy next week and watching the weather closely. Have packed a light winter white overcoat as it is supposed to be spring but temps look chilly. My capsule wardrobe is similar to yours in black, navy and white. Love travel but try not to look too touristy.

    • Yes to not looking too touristy! And yes to watching the weather extremely closely. So changeable right now! Enjoy your wonderful trip Lesley!

  • Dagmar

    Germany, Spain, France and Italy for a 50 / 60 / 70 birthday gatherings
    . I’m starting to put together the wardrobe now and am pleased to see the concepts I am using fit in with your suggestions!

  • merilyn

    your trip sounds wonderful nikki! … part of your fifty festival! very good thinking hun!
    and you are definitely on par with your travel capsule … /packing!
    much love m:)X

  • Adrienne

    That time of year for me but as always, I have to pack for hot and cold. Connecticut, New York, Ireland, Portugal, London.
    I do the colour capsule thing but for me it tends to be shades of blue rather than grey/ neutrals.

    • Yes, you’ll need a mix of all seasons for that – but what a fun trip! I’m a blues girl too!

  • Vicki

    Thanks for the tips. I’m going to Tuscany in June. So excited. I want to travel light.