When planning my trip to Europe, I spent countless hours on google trying to find the perfect solution to packing everything I wanted in a carry-on. My advice, especially if you’re going to be visiting a few different cities, is to pack as little as possible. In general, Europe is smaller and older than the United States. Elevators and escalators are scarce, hotels rooms are small, and public transportation is crowded. The less you have, the more you will enjoy your vacation.
- I took this spinner, carry-on suitcase and this bag ($295, although it was $200 on sale) as my personal item. I bought the suitcase two years ago and it’s held up through numerous trips. It’s also surprisingly lightweight for a hardtop and I love that it has four wheels for easy maneuvering.
- Packing cubes: Loved these! No more digging through my nicely folded clothing to find something at the bottom (while subsequently messing up all of the folding.)
- Travel folder ($13.99 on Amazon): A first, this seemed like an unnecessary purchase, but I liked that it was smaller than a regular folder, and wide enough to hold all of my ticket information, hotel reservations, our passports, etc. The color also made it super easy to find!
- Dirty clothes bag ($12.00 on Amazon): I love this and already use it on a weekly basis when I teach in the mornings. It’s easy to fold up and store when it’s not in use and it will help keep my clean clothes smelling fresh.
This was the tough one for me because I felt an unnecessary amount of pressure to look as un-American as possible while in Paris (but let’s be real – every French person that I’ve ever met has told me that I look nothing but American. C’est la vie!) Fortunately, the best color to pack for travel aligned perfectly with French style: black! I am also brought a lot of neutral colors since it was the start of spring 🙂
Quick tip: two items I brought to mix up my outfits were: scarves and lipsticks. Easy, light-weight, and they totally change an outfit!
Something to keep in mind when you’re packing: bring clothes that you can mix and match, bring items that you know you love, and make sure they are comfortable. Layering is also key during unpredictable weather months. Here is what I brought:
- Shirts: 5 long-sleeved shirts: 2 black, 1 white, 1 tan/navy stripped, 1 grey
- Pants: 2 pairs of jeans, 1 pair of black pants
- Jackets: 1 super portable rain jacket (in photo above,) 1 faux leather jacket (in photo above), 1 cotton military jacket, 1 pea coat (will wear on the plane, also seen here)
- Accessories: 3 scarves (1 navy (seen here), 1 green/black plaid, 1 cream plaid)
- Shoes: 1 pair of black boots (I got fitted at The Walking Company and these were perfect for my narrow feet), 1 pair of black flats, 1 pair of tennis shoes
- Workout clothes: 2 full sets of workout clothes
- Dresses: 1 nice dress
- Intimates: 1 pair of pyjamas, extra undergarments just in case
- 1 small, cross body bag that holds my camera (in photo above)
- Inflatable neck pillow
- Playing cards
- ipad (loaded with books & movies)
- Map of Paris
- French Phrase Book
- Nikon D60 camera, extra battery and charger
- Belkin 3-Outlet Mini Travel Swivel Charger Surge Protector
- First-aid: dramamine, ibprofun, bandaids, neosporin, etc.
- TP-LINK Portable iphone charger ← seriously, a life saver with my short iphone battery!
- Ear plugs, facemask
MONEY & VIP INFORMATION:
- I opened a Schwab Checking Account which allows me to take money out at overseas ATM’s at no cost (they will reimburse the fees.) We took money out when we arrived in Paris. It was the easiest way to avoid exchange fees and get the best exchange rate. ← Luckily for us, it was the best I’ve ever seen: (1 Euro = 1.07 USD).
- Copies of everything: passport, credit cards, all our travel information, etc.
I don’t know if I need to go in to too much detail here, but I’m basically bringing this toiletries bag for everything (found on sale at Marshall’s!) I splurged on some Aveda shampoo/conditioner/lotion, but everything else is fairly standard.
A FEW STRATEGIES:
- Check the carry-on baggage policies. We flew Turkish Airways and learned at the airport that carry-on baggage had to be under 15 lbs. Boo!
- Buy early: I accumulated a lot of these items slowly (over the last 6 months,) mostly because I knew I would feel overwhelmed if I waited until the last-minute to buy everything.
- I made sure to buy my shoes over a month ago so I would have time to break them in before we left.
- Leave room for souvenirs: this is really obvious, I know. But I always tell myself I’m not going to buy much and then…I do.
- Alternative: pack a duffel to check on the way home: many international airlines allow 1 free checked bag. Take advantage of it on the way home when lost luggage won’t leave you with nothing to wear.
- I have to repeat this because it’s so important → remember that you’re going to be hauling your bags up a lot of stairs, on and off trains/metros, through airports, etc. The lighter your luggage, the happier you will be later on.
- Find a way to do laundry, but be careful with the water temperature °C/°F! (I dyed all of Alex’s shirts blue in Paris.)
- Absolutely invest in the TP-LINK Portable iphone charger. It was the #1 most used item we took on the trip
- Invest in a pair of Converse. They are very ‘in’ in Europe and a great way to be comfortable without looking like a tourist
- I used my nice camera the first three days of the trip, but it stayed in the hotel room for the rest of the time. If you have a good camera phone, I don’t know if a DSLR camera is necessary.
- The travel folder I mentioned above was a serious life-saver!
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