Weather, Packing, Travel and Hygiene

Weather, Packing, Laundry and Hygiene


  • The pack light challenge:  Americans almost always bring TOO MUCH STUFF!
  • The webmaster generally restricts himself to one large suitcase for clothes and one backpack for maps, reference books, etc.
  • Pack smartly:  Select clothes that can be matched easily; Put toiletries in little bottles, etc.; Reduce weight and space with electronic versions of books and research materials.
  • Electronic versions of reference materials can also reduce weight and mass.
  • Travelers can also purchase soap, shampoo, etc. in France.

Packing—What not to Forget

  • Tickets
  • Passport
  • Prescriptions
  • Phone and laptop
  • Money, travelers checks, credit cards
  • Maps, reference books, research
  • Camera and video equipment
  • A Wash Cloth:  Europeans travel with their own washcloths.  Hotels do not supply them.

Laundry, Hygiene and Space

  • Don’t bring a new shirt and pants for each day:  To minimize luggage, travelers should plan to wear the same day-time clothes for two to three days when they’re out stomping the battlefields.  Then, bring a nicer outfit or two for dinners at the hotel or nights on the town.  (See below.)
  • Showers are generally “petit” compared to American showers; as are the complimentary soap and shampoo portions in the hotel rooms.

Outer Wear and Clothing

  • Consult the weather section below before considering outer wear.
  • Except, perhaps, for the summer months, a combination of a long-sleeve shirt, a heavy wool sweater, and a good waterproof jacket is the most practical.  In Northern France, the weather can range from sunny and beautiful to bone-chilling cold and damp.
  • A good pair of hiking boots is recommended for the hearty battlefield stomper.  Travelers who aren’t so adventuresome are probably fine with a good pair of walking shoes.
  • Again, it is a good idea to bring one pair of nice shoes for dinners and nights on the town and one pair of hiking boots or walking shoes for walking the battlefields.
  • Jeans are the preferred pants for those who really want to get off the beaten path.  Khakis are probably fine for the less adventuresome.
  • A compact umbrella is always a good bet, because it can rain every day.
  • Finally, a waterproof case for maps and research notes is a smart choice.


  • Northern Europe is COOLER and DAMPER than most of the U.S.; as shown in the chart below.  Also, the weather can change frequently, especially during the spring months.
  • As a general rule travelers prepared for cold, damp weather will be prepared for the worst and will still be able to enjoy the warm sunny days too.
Month Avg. Low Avg. High Days w/o Rain
 Jan. 34 43 14
 Feb. 34 45 14
 March 39 54 19
April 43 60 17
May 49 68 19
June 55 73 18
July 58 76 19
 Aug. 58 75 18
 Sept. 53 70 17
 Oct. 46 60 18
 Nov. 40 50 15
 Dec. 36 44 15

Source:  Rick Steve’s Europe Through the Back Door, 2001

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