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Help! Packing for month long trip in Europe. What have been your mistakes?

Help! Packing for month long trip in Europe. What have been your mistakes?

Old Jun 2nd, 2004, 01:50 PM
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Help! Packing for month long trip in Europe. What have been your mistakes?

Does anyone have any recommendations on how to pack for a whole month? Specifically:
1. What size baggage?
2. What kind of shoes?
3. What kind of clothing for July in Italy, Spain and France?
4. What are some of the biggest packing mistakes you've made that I can learn from?

THANK YOU!!!!
WonderShay is offline  
Old Jun 2nd, 2004, 02:13 PM
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Here's a great thread about packing to get you started:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...p;tid=34467252
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Old Jun 2nd, 2004, 02:16 PM
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The biggest mistake is to pack too much! Think about having to lug your luggage around for a month - different airports, trains, buses, metros etc.

Bring something wheeled, and a small backpack that is comfortable to carry around (unless you are backpacking, but it doesn't sound like it). Bring the smallest wheeled suitcase you can get away with. You can wear things multiple times, bring colors that go together so you can mix and match etc. Summer clothes, comfortable shoes for walking, and a pair of shoes for evening. Bring a mix of shorts, skirts and tops, maybe a light cardigan for churches or cool weather. Maybe a dress if you eat in fancy places or plan to go somewhere dressy.

Bring Febreze, and plan to wash things in the sink at night.

Also, don't think you need every luxury or convenience you have at home. Think about what you can live without for a while, and leave those things home (special pair of shoes - not worth it!).

I think I read a rule of thumb on this board that you should pack what you think you need, take out half, and then bring what's left.

Good luck and have a great trip!

Karen
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Old Jun 2nd, 2004, 03:34 PM
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The biggest mistake (which I made) is forgetting to pack items that are a basic part of your travel wardrobe. You can't always find what you need once you get there.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2004, 03:36 PM
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Overpacking is our mistake always. We don't use half of the clothes we take. And don't forget you can buy things in Europe in case you didn't bring them.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2004, 03:43 PM
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Figure out how often you want to do laundry and how you will do it. The more flexibility you have with that, the less you can pack.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2004, 03:45 PM
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My wife and I discovered "travel underwear and socks" at a travel store. The lady there said once we got hooked on them we would be back for more. She was correct!

I now travel to Europe for 2 weeks with only my 3 pair of travel underwear and 3 pair of socks. You wash them in the sink at night and they usually dry by morning.

Cannot imagine not using them for these long trips. Plus, you are not carrying around dirty stuff. Brand name is TILLY. They are not cheap, but have a long guarantee.

BAGS? We prefer hardside for the safety. You cannot lock bags anymore, but the hardside case always holds up better.

You need to be careful on weight though. The airlines are collecting on overweight now to get more money. 70 pounds is limit for Europe. You are better off taking 2 small bags than one large heavy one. Remember: You will need space for items purchased while in Europe. Do not completely fill your suitcase.

PACKING: Take some extra baggies. You will usually need them for something. If you do not like the travel underwear idea do what we used to do. I would take all my old underwear that had one last wear in it. (My wife saved them for Europe trips). You wear the FINAL time and then throw it away. That way you are reducing your load as you travel.

SHOES: Easy...take a pair you have already worn that is comfortable. Not a good trip for new shoes as you will encounter cobblestones that are not smooth and easy to walk on.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2004, 03:51 PM
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We stayed at the POST for the first time in 1988 and then again in 1991. Both times were great and the hotel was full. We then took friends back in 1997 and things were "not so great". We noticed the changes, but not the friends as it was their first time. We stayed again there in 2001 and again it was heading downhill. Not the same place as 1988.

Disappointing as we enjoyed the hotel, the rooms and the restaurant. Your post shows me that my impression of decline was correct. Sad.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2004, 03:57 PM
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Don't forget that there are places one can buy clothes and other necessities in Europe. It's not as if they don't have C & A on every main street. Also, there are places that you can toss old or worn out clothes rather than schlepping them home.

It will be hot, also humid in many parts of those countries, and air conditioning is not as prevalent as in the US. Think drip-dry.

Shoes are ungodly expensive in those countries compared to the US. If you're a shoe person, take your own.

All airports and almost all train stations have free bag carts. I refuse to be crazy about "over-packing." If I take something I don't use, hey, no big deal.

Buy another tote bag before you leave or after you get there - for hauling home souvenirs, but meantime as a laundry bag for journeys to laundrettes. BTW, good luck on that one in Spain - scarce on the ground.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2004, 04:11 PM
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22" wheel suit case and a shoulder bag for camera and such.

I can say that I have taken less each time I have gone to Europe. This year I will be taking less tour guides as I find I don't use them, I find myself useing the typed up notes prepaired before leaving home.

We have always been able to do laundry or have it done about 2 weeks into a trip which works just fine.

The concept of not bringing everything back also works for us, shoes, umbrellas, books. Also consider mailing things home or if you can arrange it send stuff off to meet you. Guide books for the 2nd half of your trip maybe, paperback novels, whatever you might need only for part of the trip.

I definitely take my zip-of-the-leg pants, never a pair of shorts. Being a man I don't feel the need for more than one pair of shoes in most cases.

Rick
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Old Jun 2nd, 2004, 04:31 PM
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My best advise is don't think of it as one month, instead: pack for one WEEK and wash clothes as needed. Baggage I prefer is a 22-24" rolling suitcase along with one large carryall, daypack or pocketbook. I splurge with 3-4 pair shoes (wear 1, pack 3) or sandals, comfortable but stylish. Basic summer clothing for those countries in July.

It's not a mistake I make because I've been traveling for 25+ years now, often solo, but just taking too many clothes and generally packing too much stuff, in too heavy a suitcase, is a big mistake you can make (or not make!).

Taking small sizes of cosmetics and toiletries is another good tip. Even for a month, I doubt you'd need full-size of most things. Bon voyage.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2004, 05:36 PM
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If I don't need clothes for a lot of different occasions, I pack one wheeled bag that will fit under an airline seat and one shoulder bag that will go in the overhead. I have never lost a bag or waited in a baggage claim line.

Shoes should be just shy of disreputable (well worn, and above all, comfortable).

Summers have been pretty hot lately, so dressing for 80s-90s should get you fairly close.

The biggest mistake I made (once - in 1963) was to carry way too much stuff that's readily available in Europe. And don't pack the whole bottle of anything, only what you will need while you're there. The goal is to throw away the shampoo bottle when you check out, to make room for the miniature Eiffel Tower keychain/flashlight.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2004, 05:56 PM
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My husband and I just returned from a month in Italy and Spain. I had the same concerns as you before we left. Here's my advice:

1. I used a 21" wheeled luggage while my husband used a 20" one. We also each had a small bag. We made the mistake of not buying the 22" luggage and bringing a small backpack for daytrips.

2. I packed a pair of loafer/casual shoes, sandals, and flip-flops (and wore my sneakers). My husband packed sneakers and wore his casual shoes. The flip-flops came in handy because all the hotel floors were tiled and I didn't have to touch the cold floor. I really didn't need my sandals because I found them to be not as comfortable as my other shoes. I would suggest bringing only your most comfortable shoes that you can walk all day in and not get blisters.

3. Can't help you here, but I would assume light summer clothing for July.

4. Listening to other people tell me what I "should" and "shouldn't" pack. I get cold very easily, so I really should have brought a thicker jacket for the beginning of May in Madrid, but I didn't. Everyone thought I was being silly for packing winter-like clothing for May! As a result, I had to buy a sweater in Spain to keep myself warm.

As the other posters said, packing too much is a HUGE mistake especially if you plan on taking buses or trains to get around. Also, a couple of places we stayed at were on the 3rd floor. Imagine carrying your heavy bag up 3 floors and you'll quickly leave behind a few items.

Have a great time on your trip!
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Old Jun 2nd, 2004, 06:14 PM
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WonderShay: I pack exactly the same for a "whole month" as I do for a week (or 5 days for that matter). Well maybe I'll stick in one or two more tops but even that is not necessary.

Choose things that coordinate -- eveything doesn't have to be the same color but they should at least go together. 2 or 3 pairs of shoes (1 on your feet and 1 or 2 in the suitcase) is more than enough. By mixing/matching 3 pairs of slacks and/or skirts plus 5 or 6 tops plus a cardigan plus a light jacket/blazer will give you more than 30 distinct outfits w/o adding scarves or accessories.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2004, 06:34 PM
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I know this is silly, but I really like doing laundry once or twice on a Europe trip. I ask the hotel where there's a place nearby and haul off with my extra foldable duffel full of my dirty clothes. I enjoy the down time while I do the wash, talk to the friendly locals at the laundromat, use up my small euro coins, then enjoy the rest of the week with clean, fresh smelling clothes.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2004, 07:51 PM
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I don't think it's silly to enjoy doing laundry! Anything local is fun to me, including post office, grocery store, laundry services, internet. It gets you into day-to-day life and a small bit off the usual tourist path.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2004, 07:53 PM
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Don't even get me started on the grocery store--DH had to drag me out of the supermercato last time!
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Old Jun 3rd, 2004, 01:57 AM
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We tend to travel very light, have become better over the years at packing. You'll be surprised how little you can get by with. 3 tops is enough, one on, one dirty, one clean to wear next day. Do laundry as you go. We wash knickers, socks, t-shirts, even trousers almost every night. Things that are lightweight should dry overnight, if you have 2 or 3 night stops then no problem drying. We don't take anything that needs ironing. Take a travel clothesline with you, they take up practically no room and you don't need pegs. Hang the clothesline over the shower then the wet clothes on it, so drips go in the shower. Next day hang in the wardrobe to finish drying.
I usually take a light scarf to dress up an outfit, takes up very little room. 2 pairs of shoes is enough as long as they are very comfortable, say one pair flat sandals and one walking shoes. Take small bottles of shampoo etc, just enough for the trip.
Kay
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Old Jun 4th, 2004, 09:46 AM
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Another tip is to be willing to wear things more often between washings than you would at home. I rinse out undies and t-shirts in the sink (I use hotel shampoo and don't bother with a clothesline) but other stuff just shake out, air, hang up, and wear multiple times. Think about this when you pick wardrobe pieces and you can get lots of use out of fewer items.
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Old Jun 4th, 2004, 09:52 AM
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That's a personal preference for sure. I feel depressed if my clothes are less clean than usual, which is why I'm so insistent on doing laundry every few days at a laundromat.
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