Are you planning a trip to France, but not sure what you should pack? Are you getting stressed about over packing on unnecessary items? We have broken it down into the essential items to pack.
One of the most important things to pack for France, are the correct documents. Not packing the essential documents, could prevent entry to France. Here are the important documents you will need to pack:
- Passport/identity card – To travel to France you will require a valid passport. With many airlines you will require more than 6 months before expiry. Many European countries offer a National Identity card. If you have a valid National Identity card, this can be used when entering and exiting France.
- Visa – Non-European passport holders, will require a visa before entering France. You will need to obtain the visa prior to your departure, and it must be applied for online. Just by following the steps online and using the application form, you’ll get a notification via email to confirm if you have been granted a visa, or not.
- Money – Always make sure you have sufficient funds for your travel and some for emergencies. Be organised, plan your trip and make sure you have a budget set and keep too it. The currency in France is the € (Euro). If you have a credit card, check with the card provider, how much the interest will be if used. It may not be too expensive, as we found out.
- Driving License/International Drivers Permit – All drivers in France, must carry a full driving license or international drivers permit. Any EU national can drive any type of vehicle listed on the driving license. If you are from outside the EU, you can only drive a small vehicle (such as a car or motorbike) listed on your license for up to 12 months. You can obtain an International Drivers Permit from your home country, or from the country you are in prior to your trip
- Insurance – We would suggest purchasing travel insurance from your home country. This will cover you in most eventualities. But you must read the full terms and conditions to find out what is and isn’t covered under your policy. If you are hiring a vehicle, or driving a vehicle from within the EU, you must have the minimum level of cover, which will cover any damage caused to another person or their property, in the event of an incident. Rental companies do offer vehicle insurance on booking. Please check with your car insurance provider before travelling to know if you are covered. And always check the terms and conditions before travel.
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This is an obvious one to include when packing for a trip to France. But there could be some additional things that you may have forgotten you need:
- Sun Tan Lotion – This is a seasonal item, that can be purchased in France. If you are travelling during the winter months, it is unlikely that you will need to pack the sun tan lotion. But during the spring, summer or autumn months, it is a good idea to pack sun protection to prevent burning, especially if you are light skinned. If you can budget for purchasing sun cream in France, then this is a good way on saving on space and weight.
- Medical supplies – if you need to take medication regularly for a condition, then you will need to pack a good supply for your trip. It is good practice to have at least four days’ worth of medication in your hand luggage, in case your main luggage is lost or delayed. You may also require to keep the packaging to produce if stopped by security
- Mosquito repellent – Whilst we haven’t encountered mosquitoes in France. To prevent bites, we would suggest packing mosquito repellent. We swear by the Jungle Formula roll-on mosquito repellent, as it prevents you from being bitten. It’s very easy to apply. Dries very quickly, with no strong smell and is quite small so won’t take up much packing space.
- Tissues – you can pick-up pocket-size packs of tissues, which will prevent the spread of germs. You can purchase these in France, but again take into account the cost implication and budget for this.
- Mini first aid kit – In your little first aid kit. Make sure you have plasters, painkillers (with any medication, it is always a good idea to keep the box or instructions, in the event you need to provide these to authorities), antibacterial hand sanitizer etc., Please note, whilst we have never encountered problems taking painkillers with us, there have been cases of travellers being jailed for taking painkillers into a country, which banned those drugs. If you have any concerns about the type of drugs you will be taking with you. Then consult the relevant agency or government website to get clarity.
What electrical items to pack for France?
- Camera – Whilst on holiday, you may wish to take some pictures or videos along the way. For this you will need a good camera.
- Mobile phone
- Electrical items – you will require the relevant chargers, to charge your phone, camera battery etc., If you are coming from outside of France, you may need an adapter to fit on the plug and in the electric socket.
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These will be useful items to pack and have for your trip to France.
- Phrase book – you may need a phrase book to help you to communicate with the locals. Especially if you are not familiar with the French Language.
- Guide book – To help you plan and budget your holiday, it is likely that you will need a small guide book. There’s often a map of the major cities in the guide book, to help you navigate to your next destination.
- Note pad/pen – You may wish to write some notes as you travel. Although to save paper and space in the suitcase, most smart phones these days will have a notepad, or something to write down notes, so this would be a great alternative.
- Kindle/book – if you have time for reading, then pack a good book to read on the plane, or by the beach. The book could be a physical book, or electronic book, the latter being more practical, as you can store more books on an eReader/Kindle, which would take up less packing space.
- Padlock/key – if you are checking in any bags, you will need to lock the bag with a padlock and key. As this will prevent items or your belongings being stolen.
- Bum bag – this is a great item to have to store your cash, credit cards, and keys. It’s close to your body and can be hidden, which should prevent your belongings being stolen.
- Water – you must remain hydrated at all times. Take a couple of spare water bottles with you, so you can refill them as you go. You can always purchase bottled water, should this be your preference! However, if you are on a budget, buying bottles of water can become expensive and are bad for the environment especially the plastic bottles. We would recommend a camelback pouch (these come in different sizes), which you refill with water and would be stored in your backpack to drink as you go. The great thing about the camelback pouches, is that when empty they don’t take up much space. When they are filled with water for drinking, it doesn’t feel heavy as the weight of the water is taken across your back and makes it easy to drink from.
- Snacks – taking some healthy snacks with you, will save money and keep you going between meals. Always keep some spare, in the event of an emergency.
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The weather in France is seasonal, in the winter, the climate is cold and icy, during spring and autumn, it is warm and mainly dry. The summer is the better months to travel, as the weather is hot, with the occasional wet day.
You must always ensure you have the correct clothing for your trip. Here are the important clothes to pack for France:
- Clothing – Make sure you only pack the essential items for the time of year, and do not over pack. It’s always good practice to take enough clothing for the number of days or weeks you are visiting for, plus a few extra as spare. For example, if you are travelling for 5 days, then take 5 days’ worth of clothing and 2 spares. Alternatively, you could wash the clothes as you go. This would reduce the amount you pack and the bag weight, leaving more luggage space. We would advise to pack warm clothing and even thermal under layers for travel during the winter months. During the spring, summer and autumn, it would be a good idea to pack a mixture of cool clothing for those hotter days, but something that will keep you warm for the colder days. In the evenings in the summer, the temperature can drop drastically, so you could feel somewhat colder. Always pack something that will keep you warm on a chilly night.
- Shoes – only take a few pairs of shoes with you. We know us ladies can over pack on shoes, but it is important to remember that you don’t want to over pack. Make sure you have the appropriate shoes for the occasion, e.g. if you are hiking, take proper hiking shoes, if you are visiting the beach, take beach shoes. It is quite easy to say I need this pair, I need that pair, but really take it back to what you will be doing and only take one pair of shoes for that activity or occasion. To keep your feet dry when it rains, pack wet weather shoes.
- Wet weather gear – whilst you are out and about, you will want to stay dry, so if it rains having good waterproof jacket and trousers will prevent your clothes on the inside getting wet.
- Thermal underlayers – this is seasonal. Therefore, if it is winter, packing under layers should be included, they will keep you warm while you are out in the cold.
- Back pack – you will require a backpack or a bag to keep your main belongings, along with your first aid kit, camera’s, snacks and water etc. Bring a good size reliable backpack with you to store these items. We would highly recommend Osprey, as the backpack we purchased has been reliable, but also a well-known brand. Anti-theft bags are great backpacks also. It helps to keep your belongings safe, as the zips on the inside, making it more difficult to see and open.
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Whilst this may seem quite a large list, but you want to pack the right balance. You’ll need enough for the trip, but you don’t want to over pack your bag with things that are unnecessary.
Depending on where you will be flying from, will depend on what baggage allowance you will have when entering the country, in accordance with the airline. On most European airlines, you will need to pay extra for checked in bags. It’s worth doing your research before purchasing any connecting flights around Europe and the costs of flying with checked in bags.
Please also check the airlines T & C’s (terms and conditions) and then pack and book accordingly. It also depends on your trip, and whether you will need to pack all the above items, especially if the items are seasonal. Being sensible about packing, will help you pack economically and with the least amount of weight.
With this comprehensive list of things to pack for your trip to France, you should now be able to pack with ease and with the least amount of stress, especially with the downloadable check list.
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