What to Pack for a Fall Trip to Europe:
12 Dos and Don'ts

Posted by Katie Hamlin on September 15, 2009 at 3:22:38 PM EDT | Post a Comment

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Judging by current conversations in our forums, many of our members are heading to Europe this fall and they've already started obsessing over the right combination of clothes, shoes, and travel necessities. Others don't stress at all; they have their own foolproof packing systems and are generous enough to dispense packing advice. Packing is personal, but you may find some of the general dos and dont's below useful as you determine just how much (and what) to bring along on your trip.

The most repeated piece of advice in our Forums? Pack lightly and use only a carry-on. Know what to leave out. Think you could never survive an 8-day trip with only a carry-on? Here are a few of the ways our members make it work.

Do pack items that can be easily washed

"All my included pieces are hand-washable/dry flat or hang, many are quick dry & none require ironing! All can be mixed & matched for day or evening dressed up with snazzy earrings." -- 2010

Do remember that no one there knows who you are

"I finally figured out years ago that no one knows us and it's not important to load my suitcase with matching outfits and shoes to go with them." -- Katie2 (more)

Don't forget the creature comforts

"I always bring some empty gallon-sized bags; easy enough to pack, and useful for leftover picnic items or foods bought at markets. Also a couple of plastic spoons and forks; it's amazing that we seem to have uses for them. And a couple of teabags - sometimes there's a chance to have a late-night cup of tea in our hotel room, which I love, and they're so small, that it isn't a big sacrifice of weight." -- Lexma90

Do pack a pair of flip-flops

"A pair of lightweight flipflops have so often come in handy. They can be used as slippers, walking on the beach or just slipping on if you want to run out for a few cups of coffee before showering and dressing for the day." -- LoveItaly

Do consider designating one or two outfits for night time

"Another thing I like to take is an outfit (top and bottom) that I *only* wear in the evenings. It's often no dressier than what I wear during the day. Nice, though, to have something fresh(er) to put on for the evening." -- tahl

Do shop as the locals would for basic necessities

"I try to never check a bag when I'm traveling to someplace (I'll check if I have to on my return), which means that I can't pack a lot of toiletries. But that's OK, because as part of my experience in a given destination (especially France!) I have a great time heading to a local pharmacy to buy whatever I need. It makes me feel even more immersed in the place I'm in, and I've discovered some great products to bring home!" -- Rachel_K (more)

Do plan for "in a pinch"

"I make up a little kit of handy things like: earplugs, tiny flashlight, safety pins, bandaids, individual packets of some over-the-counter meds. I also put two plastic hangers in the bottom of my suitcase for hanging damp tops or undies after doing hand-wash in the hotel sink." -- suze

Do make room for tiny binoculars

"I always take a small pair of binoculars to look at the details of church ceilings and exteriors." -- Jean (more)

Do wear your bulkiest items on the plane

"I will wear the heaviest and bulkiest things [walking shoes, jeans, jacket] and stuff my handbag in my carry-on whilst we go through security. Once you're through there, they don't seem to care. but it's maddening not to have access to your handbag at all times. Fortunately my new jacket from Boden has zipped pockets where I can put my passport for going through security. which was my excuse for buying it." -- annhig (more)

Do pack shoes that do double-duty

"I took two pairs of shoes for a 3 week trip to northern Italy 2 years ago - one pair of running cross trainers that also doubled for the hikes we did (not too difficult terrain) and one pair of Privo black/brown flats that looked fine with either walking shorts or skirts." -- cmeyer54 (more)

"Seriously consider the Keen Sydneys. I cannot tell you how comfortable they are, while still looking cute. I am an avid walker, and I walked all over Europe in them, both in 2006 and 2008. The other good thing about them is that if it's cold, you can wear socks with them." -- LucieV (more)

Don't pack jeans...or do

"I have been to Italy in Sept. 4 times. We packed capris and slacks and were fine. I find that jeans are slow to dry and use up too much room in the suitcase. Bring a sweater or light jacket for evenings." -- jetsetj (more)

"My jeans are a great travel garment. I take them and wear them every time I go to Italy and France. I think that jeans these days are a much lighter weight than they used to be. At least for women. And, you can turn the leg bottom up if it's hot." -- zoecat (more)

"I always take a a pair of jeans, too. They do not take up significantly more room, and I've even successfully washed and line-dried them (in the summer at a rental apt., not in a hotel bathroom). They're one of the few clothing items I can count to wear & pack multiple times without wrinkling or looking too worn or dirty." -- hazel1 (more)

And if you do...consider black jeans

"On a related note: I find that black jeans are great for trips to cities; they can double as "nice" trousers at night." -- ekscrunchy (more)

Sample Packing Lists

Fodor's member Marianna's list:
3 or 4 pairs capris or cropped pants
2 skirts
2 pairs of pants (black and beige)
tops (short and long sleeves) for the bottoms
1 or 2 sweaters
2 nice tops for the pants for evenings
2 dresses(one casual and one simple black for evenings)
a pashmina (can fold down to nothing and fit in my handbag)
a pair of jeans
(more)

Fodor's member LucieV's list:
1 dark-colored cotton skirt. It washes and dries beautifully and quickly, dresses up or down as necessary
1 pair of very lightweight slacks (last year I took Ex Officio, which I loved)
1 pair of lightweight shorts, for hiking
1 solid color polo-type shirt
1 solid color sleeveless shirt
1 solid color long-sleeved cotton shirt
1 lightweight cotton dress, sleeveless, that I can wear either with or without shirt underneath, depending upon weather
1 pair flats (Keen Mary Janes)
1 long-sleeved lightweight T-shirt (which I layer under stuff if it's cold)
1 pair running shoes (for hiking)
swimsuit
1 long-sleeved lightweight cardigan, cashmere if possible (lightweight and washable.) 1 lightweight windbreaker-type jacket
1 fleece
socks
underwear
one pair of tights, which I can wear under the lightweight pants if it's cold
(more)

Fodor's member 2010's list:
1 black dress trousers (light weight/washable)
1 black cotton pants (casual)
1 summer-weight denim jeans (skinny-legged)
1 black capri
1 short-sleeve print blouse
2 sleeveless silk tops - black/cream
1 white 3/4 sleeve t-shirt
1 white Brooks Brothers Miracle Shirt
1 black sleeveless dress
1 pair of Ecco sandals (brown)
1 pair of Ecco flats (silver)
1 pair of Tsubo walking shoes (black)
1 black silk cardigan
1 brown linen cardigan
1 North Face hooded rain jacket (light weight)
1 brown quilted jacket
1 silk pashmina
Tilley quick-dry socks, undies, sleep wear
1 black Baggallini across-the-body shoulder bag for day
1 black shoulder bag (small/flat)for evening
(more)

Love lists? Here are other packing-minded sites to check out:
- Fodor's member thursdaysd outlines her master packing list on her personal travel site
- Onebag.com's One-Page Packing Checklist
- Create a list using Packwhiz (you'll need a Google account)
- Download a PDF of TravellersPoint.com's packing list
- Don't Forget Your Toothbrush
- Check out Fodor's member Therese's epic in-depth packing topics including her most recent one

Have a "what to wear" question? Ask it in our forums. Wonder if it's a dumb question? Keep these words of wisdom in mind:
"What to wear is NEVER a silly question. Presumably one of the reasons to travel is to do and see things you can't do or see at home. Asking what people wear when doing or seeing something you yourself don't normally do or see is, to me, a very sensible question. You ask it because you want to feel socially comfortable (a very different, but not incompatible thing from physically comfortable!) and to show respect for those around you." -- Celia (more)

Have a list or tips to share? Post your recommendations below in our comments section!

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