First trip abroad- What to pack

Old May 4th, 2007, 12:30 PM
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First trip abroad- What to pack

Hi everyone! I am new to this site and am hoping for some input from more seasoned travelers.
Who: Me (25), my husband (26), my mom (43), my dad (44)
Where: Germany- Koln, Munchin, Koblenz (and stops between)
When: August 24th- September 1st
Why: Our honeymoon AND mom and dad's 25th anniversary
We will be visiting catherdals and castles but mostly enjoying the scenery and beer. We are renting a car and staying in the three cities listed in smallish hotels. The "nicest" thing we are doing is a Rhein/wine cruise with dinner and fireworks...

I am deciding what to pack. We are trying to keep it at one small suitcase per couple and one "carry-on" for each person. I don't know what kind of purse or other bag to carry around during the day for starters...
But this is what I was thinking of packing for myself:
1 pair slacks
1 pair nice jeans
1 longer skirt
1 pair nice walking shorts
1 black dress that can be casual or nicer
3 nice t-shirts
2 button down blouses
2 camis
1 night gown
obviously essensial undergarments
one pair walking sandals
one pair black walking flats

Is this too much? Too little? What am I forgetting? Is it too casual for Germany? What about weather in August?

I'm sorry this post is so long- again, I'm new at this...
Any input about what I should pack... or a male should pack... would be helpful. Also other items I might forget (electricity converter, etc..)....

Thanks a bunch!
spacelace is offline  
Old May 4th, 2007, 12:39 PM
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there are lots of packing lists online (I like rick steves). Take one of those and adapt it for yourself. But you seem to have good instincts for not going overboard--you can dress anything up with a scarf or necklace.
Congrats and good luck!
Check weather stats online, too (wunderground, etc.)
Put at least some underwear in your carry-on in case your luggage is delayed.
yorkshire is offline  
Old May 4th, 2007, 12:46 PM
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I would include something waterproof, and a lightweight fleece or similar in case August proves to be as miserable as it was last year.
Have a great trip!
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Old May 4th, 2007, 12:49 PM
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Hi spacelace, welcome to the forum and congrats on your upcoming trip! It sounds like a wonderful experience for you, your husband, and your parents.

The weather in Germany in August could be hot and sunny or cool and rainy, so your best bet will be to check the weather forecast in the final days before your trip, and finalize your packing list at that time. (We had a heat wave in July last year, but August was cool and rainy.)

For a purse or bag, I suggest a comfortable shoulder bag that you can wear across your body (when in the city) that will fit all your daily essentials - camera, wallet, sunglasses, water bottle, etc.

Your packing list looks pretty good, but I would nix the shorts and replace them with a pair of capris (IF you like them). Women in Germany hardly ever wear shorts - even nice walking shorts. They wear them mostly when hiking. Skirts are great because you can dress them up or down and they are very comfortable in hot weather. You will not need to dress up any more than YOU want to. That means bring the black dress for your river cruise (it's your honeymoon after all!) but you probably won't need it anywhere else.

You will need a European plug adapter if you are bringing any electronics or a hairdryer. These are easy to find at stores like Target, Best Buy, etc. Most camera chargers and the like are dual voltage these days, so all you need is the adapter.

The other thing I might add is to learn a few simple phrases in German - the people are generally very welcoming and friendly here, but a few words can go a long way in showing that you have made an effort.
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Old May 4th, 2007, 12:51 PM
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I would take one small suitcase per person, not try for 2 people to pack in only one suitcase. Plus the benefit that you can split the items, and pack some of each persons clothes between the two suitcases, just in case one gets delayed. Your packing list sounds fine.
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Old May 4th, 2007, 01:18 PM
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I would also make sure your rental car has air conditioning... it could be very hot and AC in Europe isn't in every shop or restaurant. Make sure you have plenty of trunk room for your suitcases to not leave anything in the car while you sight see. I agree to not take shorts. Capris are great. Europeans dress just like we do..except Germans they wear great Puma shoes that cost a fortune.
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Old May 4th, 2007, 01:42 PM
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Thank you so much for the help! I thought it was not much different- climate and style-wise- between Germany and the U.S... But I wanted to make sure. I will look into the weather and a nice shoulder bag. Thanks again!
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Old May 4th, 2007, 01:56 PM
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We lived in Germany for 6 years and I (male) always had the impression that how you acted towards Germans (and Americans) counted for more than what you wore. Clean and neat counts, but shorts vs. capris matters less than whether or not you smile at people when you greet them.

You did not mention a jacket or an umbrella. Weather can be hot and sticky, but it can also be cool and wet.

Have baseball cap, will travel.

Regards, Gary
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Old May 4th, 2007, 02:18 PM
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I bought a black SportSac purse last year before our trip to Germany, and it worked great. It is made of nylon, so it is very light and has an adjustable shoulder strap. The adjustable shoulder strap is great because it can be shortened so you wear it close to your body, under your arm or lengthened so you can wear it across your body, messenger-bag style. My bag is rectangular, about 5" tall by 8" long. This turned out to be perfect for a guidebook, map, and a small bottle of water, plus a few odds and ends like chapstick, hair clip, etc. SportSac makes larger and smaller bags, but this one seems to be just right.

I am more comfortable in capri pants than shorts, so that is what I took. It was hot and I seemed to fit right in - it seemed every other woman in Germany was in capris or a skirt. But I think shorts are fine too. It's not like Germans will be offended to see your legs or anything - LOL.

My husband took cargo shorts, jean shorts, a pair of long jeans and a pair of khakis, and an assortment of shirts - nice t-shirts, standard t-shirts, short-sleeved button up shirts with a square bottom so they can be worn untucked, etc. For shoes, he had black tennis shoes, a pair of black regular shoes, and a pair of sandals. With the long shorts and the sandals, if he wasn't Mexican, he could have passed as a German - LOL. There are always people who say grown men in Europe do not wear shorts, but we found that wasn't true. We saw plenty of men in shorts - they tended to be long, well-fitted, but they were definitely shorts.
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Old May 4th, 2007, 02:31 PM
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Good tips by all.

The rain gear is essential. We usually run into some rain in Germany whenever we go. This year we are doing end of June and I will take a hooded jacket for rain, if needed.

I got into "travel underwear" a few years ago and highly recommend it. They make socks and underwear. I made it through 2+ weeks in India with 3 pair of each. Just wash in the sink each evening and they are ready to go in the morning. It sure eliminates carrying a new change for each day. Plus, the quality is good.

You will not need to really dress up unless you go to that kind of restaurant. We usually go very casual and go to casual places to eat. If you are planning to go to a real nice place you will need to dress for it appropriately. We have been traveling to Germany off and on since 1970 and casual has always worked for us with no problems.

Have a great time!
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Old May 4th, 2007, 02:36 PM
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I agree: the Germans are not nearly so uptight about how one dresses as a traveller in their midst as some of the anti-shorts crowd amongst the Fodorites would lead you to believe. Main point: be comfortable both physically and psychologically with whatever you wear.

My experiences in Germany teach me that a modicum of politeness and mutual respect when dealing with those you'll encounter will go far in making the visit a pleasant one for you. It helps if you're comfortable in using some basic German for "Hello", "Please", "Thank you", "Good Day", etc. even if you speak not another word of German.

You'll have a grand time.
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Old May 4th, 2007, 04:52 PM
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You need a folding umbrella and some sort of jacket - since you can still get days that are rainy and turn chilly at night. I have a paper thin reversible rain jacket with hood that's perfect for summer vacations (TravelSmith I think - several yeaars old).

And don;t forget something that you can use as a robe (I take a knee length Mickey tee - but if later in the yer a raincoat can be used) and the lightest weight flip flops available for shower and bedroom.

It sounds like the hotels you're staying at may have wood floors (I much prefer to carpeting - but you never know).
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Old May 5th, 2007, 03:59 AM
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I like shorts as much as the next guy or gal, but I live here and you just don't see women wearing shorts very often. In fact you don't see that many women hiking or even running in shorts - they all seem to wear capris or capri-length skin-tight running pants (ugh!). I actually feel like I stand out wearing shorts when I go running, but I don't care because they are comfortable and cool.

I'm not going to get into the whole "do you want to blend in" debate. Just offering my observations.
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Old May 5th, 2007, 04:59 AM
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I'd nix the jeans. They are heavy and take forever to dry if you wash them (though, on a 7 day trip, perhaps you won't need to do so). They're also unbearably hot if you were to get into the high temps Europe has had the last couple of years.
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Old May 5th, 2007, 05:49 AM
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Do heed the advice re possible weather changes.and also the "jeans" advice. As a first time traveller, there is a tendency to buy "travel clothes". Try not to do this. You almost certainly have things at home which will undies- I find my regular old nylon panties dry overnight if I wring them out then wrap in a bathtowel..and step on the towel before hanging them up. Have a great time. I hope this is one of many trips.
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Old May 5th, 2007, 09:00 AM
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I suggest also taking a bathing suit! just in case you find a pool or lake along the way somewhere.

remember to wear you bulkiest clothes and shoes on the plane, that helps alot in packing light.

i say keep at least 1 pair of shorts, you can decide if they are appropriate once you see the weather and the situation after you arrive. personally i hate to be overdressed if you hit a heatwave, which just could happen that time of year.

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Old May 5th, 2007, 10:02 AM
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congrats on your wedding and your parent's anniversary.
the most important thing to remember is to TRAVEL LIGHT. THE LIGHTER THE BETTER.
remember you can buy anything you need once you are there. my husband and i travelled to italy and france one summer with one suitcase each but they were heavy and we ended up taking half of what was in the suitcase and leaving it in a closet at a small hotel for a week!
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Old May 5th, 2007, 11:49 AM
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I think one should not think about buying what you need in Europe..the dollar is worth next to nothing and they have at least a 17% VAT tax on top of it all, so it makes things VERY expensive. I do feel one probably has what one needs in the closet here at home. So don't sweat it... you'll never see anyone there again, so as long as you are friendly and polite, you'll be just fine.
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