Visiting Poland has never been easier. Travelers from the U.S. and the European Union, including the U.K., don't require visas or need to take any particular health or safety precautions. Indeed, Poland is a member of the "Schengen Zone" (EU-speak for the European Union's common border area), and if you're arriving from a bordering EU member state (Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Lithuania), you're unlikely even to have to show a passport or ID card at the border.
As far as packing goes, your suitcase or backpack will look pretty much the same as for any other U.S. or European continental destination with four distinct seasons (bearing in mind that a Polish winter might be colder than what you're used to). If you forget anything, rest assured that, just like at home, there's likely to be a shopping mall or drugstore down the street where you can find a suitable substitute.
More challenging might be deciding where to spend your time. Poland is relatively large as European countries go, and road and rail connections still leave a lot to be desired. That means you'll have to pick and choose your target destinations carefully, leaving plenty of extra time for getting from here to there. A week in Poland, for example, would leave a comfortable amount of time for seeing Warsaw and the northern half of the country or seeing Kraków and the southern half, but unless you plan on flying from city to city, it would not leave enough time to do it all.
Another factor to consider is what you plan to do. Poland is an active destination; depending on what you interests are, you might want to bring golf clubs, hiking boots, or even skis. Whatever is in the cards, don't forget comfortable walking shoes. Although there's great public transportation within the cities, you're going to do a lot of walking wherever you go.
What to Pack -- Poland is a modern European country, and there are no special packing needs. Rest assured that anything you might forget at home is fairly easily obtainable once you arrive. A couple of items which might come in handy include a good mosquito repellent if you're planning on traveling in the summer (plus lotion to take the itch out of the bites) and an eye mask, since many hotels and pensions for some reason lack heavy curtains to block out the early morning sunshine. Bring along sturdy and comfortable walking shoes, since you're going to be using them a lot. If your itinerary includes any special activities like cycling or skiing, you might consider lugging your own gear. The quality of rental equipment has gone up in recent years, but it's probably not what you're used to at home.
Destination Poland: Pre-Departure Checklist
- Is your passport valid for at least 6 months after the end of your trip?
- Do you have the address and phone number of your country's embassy or consulate with you?
- Did you notify your credit card issuers that you would be traveling to, and using your cards in, Poland?
- Do you have your credit card/ATM four-digit PIN?
- If you purchased traveler's checks, have you recorded the check numbers and stored the documentation separately from the checks?
- Did you bring ID cards that might entitle you to discounts, such as AAA, AARP, and student IDs?
- Did you leave a copy of your itinerary with someone at home?