After visiting Europe almost a year ago in June 2013…I get asked. “What did you pack?” – “How did you travel for two weeks and pack enough clothes without over doing it?” I would love to gloat about what an amazing job I did packing everything in to a super compact wonderful suitcase…but I’d be lying. I actually did the opposite. I packed too much. Brought too many pairs of shoes, too many sweaters, and not enough underwear. Sadly, it made for a miserable time going from train to train, and airport to airport watching my poor husband carry my backpack, duffle bag and LARGE traveling pack, and purse (yes he sometimes carried my purse). I went in to the trip with full intention to bring “only what I needed” but one thing lead to another and by the time I said bon voyage it was too late. I even considered giving away articles of clothing along the way to help lighten the load (because no way was I giving away my shoes).
SO here I am giving you advice on packing for Europe…because I utterly failed at this and I now know…how I would do things differently. I am living proof that breaking your back (or your significant others) to feel stylish and cute. Is really not worth it and not realistic. So dress appropriately. Dress comfortably…and don’t worry about it.
Below I have highlighted five categories that I feel are necessities when it comes to traveling abroad during warmer months. You can attempt to put these all in a carry on suitcase or in a larger pack to check in. The great thing is you can mix and match these pieces to create different looks for multiple occasions. From morning coffee at a small cafe, sight-seeing, dining out and then hiking! I have also included a list of travel tips below. Good luck in your adventures! Please feel free to leave your thoughts/ideas in the comments below!
I am a bit of a neutral colors person…so you can see grey, white and black are colors I keep fully stocked in my closet. They make for great travel items because they can be mixed and matched with different bottoms. Go with solid colors and stray away from prints or patterns…patterns limit you from mixing different combinations. Not to mention…you’ll be taking lots of photos and people will definitely remember that you seemed to wear that ” floral blouse in a lot of pics”. Solid colors also go well with layering different clothing items such as sweaters – making for versatile options that make it look like you packed A LOT more than you really did.
There are 6 different options all which can be rotated between the different tops. Do not pack more than 2 or 3 pairs of denim items – I recommend 2 pairs of denim shorts and 1 pair of your favorite jeans. Denim is bulky and takes up a lot of luggage space. A skirt you can dress up or down and wear with either top listed above – tuck it in for a dressy look…let it hang out for more relaxed! People tend to focus on outfits a lot when it comes to “getting dressed up” – but one accessory you have that can really change a look is YOUR HAIR. If you want to make something look dressy add a pair of faux pearl earrings and a high bun and your ready to go to a fancy diner – nobody will be able to tell you wore the same skirt sight-seeing earlier that day!
Photo of me in Cinque Terre, Italy wearing a lovely striped pencil skirt – super comfy! (just like the one above) and a simple tank and flip flops – oh and I am carrying a sweater because it was chilly in the evening next to the ocean!
Dresses are wonderful in that they are all one piece and you can easily throw it on for day or night. However, I found that it limits you to really only “one look” so pack one or two…and that’s it! Actually…if you can get away with one – do it! Bring along your favorite dress that could be relaxed or dressy and call it good!
Long dress – comfy Aerosole sandals – cardigan and some simple jewelry! (oh and thats a food baby in there – just in case you were wondering – this girl can’t pass up a custard filled cannoli)
If you are traveling to Europe even during the warmer months packing a rain coat is a MUST. A thin rain coat will guard you from the wind and the rain should there be any. And it is easy to put in a suitcase or ball up and put in to your backpack/purse – OR tie around your waist if need be. I also recommend packing two or three light weight sweaters. Evenings can be cool and these can be easily tossed over your shoulders. Again, go with neutral colors to make sure it matches any top you choose!
So…this an example of what not going to Europe prepared for rain looks like – poncho? garbage bag? so stylish. I learned better and picked up a raincoat in London before heading to Ireland – THANKFUL I did. It was drizzly!
Shoes…shoes…shoes. I think there is a terrible Youtube Video Spoof out there about Shoes…anyways, this is where I made a HUGE mistake. I thought bringing shoes to basically go with every outfit was a good idea…NOT. NOT. NOT. STUPID. STUPID. STUPID. DO NOT by the good graces of God…pack more than 3 or 4 pairs of shoes or sandals. You will forever regret it if you do. Go with flip flops, a comfy pair of sandals – I took Aerosoles with me on my trip to Europe and they were cute/stylish and COMFORTABLE! Also, a good pair of gym shoes are a must and lastly some flats. Don’t bring heels, and don’t bring wedges…just don’t even let it cross your mind. Hide them, bury them, BURN them if you have to in order to fight the urge to pack every pair you own! Your welcome.
While in London…the sense of feeling “glamorous” was…shall we say…extinct and I am pretty sure this is a fashion passe…wearing tennis shoes with jeggings…but it was a day where we did A LOT of walking and it was chilly and rainy so I wore my good old sneakers! – so worth it! Obviously you don’t have to do this…you can totally wear the stylish flats posted above, but at least you have an option!
Totes or small handled purses can be really uncomfortable. I LOVE the idea of a cross body pack like the camel colored one below and a back pack comes in handy for hiking days or just having that extra storage if you need it. I didn’t take my backpack out much but it helped on the plane/train to carry my books or magazines etc. OK and lets talk about the fanny pack please DO NOT judge the fanny pack until you consider what I am about to say…1) it really isn’t THAT bad…especially the super cute one I found for you below and 2) When your hot, sweaty, tired and don’t want to think twice about a pick pocket in the train station…it comes in really handy to have it right in front of you where you can see it…I rocked a fanny pack while in Prague (not nearly as stylish as the one below) and I must say it did not phase me one bit. It was well worth it.
Keep jewelry simple and light…things you can also mix and match with any outfit you wear and also go well together i.e. if you have gold earrings, make sure your necklaces are gold. Bring at least one scarf that can be worn with multiple outfits…this will be wonderful to add a bit of class and also some warmth if it gets chilly – not to mention I loved covering up with mine on the trains/plane!
10 Travel Packing Tips:
1) If you are traveling abroad for more than a week bring a small bottle of tide to go laundry detergent to wash undergarments in the sink and let hang dry in your room (don’t pack a different bra/pair of underwear for each day – it will take up too much space – just wash them at each overnight stop you make).
2) Roll up clothing items in what I call “tube or hot dog” shape and lay them throughout your suitcase to save room.
3) I recommend bringing a small compact umbrella, this helps in case of rain, which we seemed to have run in to quite a bit while in Europe, especially Ireland and the UK.
4) You cant go wrong with wearing black…yes it can be hot during the day but it hides sweat marks better than any other color out there. And nobody wants to look like a sweaty pig and chances are if you are doing a lot of walking and sight-seeing you’ll want to hide those areas that make it look like you got in to a fight with a garden hose.
5) Keep jewelry simple and light! And pieces you can mix and match. Do not bring anything with you that you consider valuable! (i.e. wedding ring, diamonds, pearls) you can get knock offs (and even fake wedding rings) for a fraction of the real cost and not risk losing them – or worse…having them stolen!
6) Go for less dense fabrics such as chiffon, items with nylon, polyester or light cotton knits. They also are light and airy to wear and can be rolled up easily to fit in to your suitcase!
7) Keep Kleenex, band aids and wet wipes in your daily bag = life saver.
8) Embrace the fanny pack. Just do it.
9) Bring a small bottle of Downy Wrinkle Releaser.
10) Put a handful of dryer sheets in to a sandwich bag and use one each day to just stick in the top of your suitcase or bag to keep things smelling fresh (even if you’ve worn some items more than once with no wash it will help keep the smell out)!
I am sure there are 100 or more tips and tricks that a lot of people could add to my list! I barely touched the surface – so please share – what are some of your best travel tips?