Need tips for packing light

Aug 14th, 2011, 10:50 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 26
Need tips for packing light

I am a senior lady, determined to learn how to pack light. I would love some specific suggestions for a trip that includes Tulips in Amsterdam May 1st (will I need a heavy coat or a lighter jacket with a hood?) and a 12 day cruise, Venice, Istanbul, Barcelona ending May 30.. How warm will the weather be in the Med? When talking layers - is that t shirts, sweatshirts? cardigans? denim jackets? Would two pair black pants, one casual, one dressy be enough? What about that "travel" fabric for pants? is that too dressy for day wear in Europe? What are good colors for Europe in the spring? I once wore a pink sweatshirt and white pants in St Petersburg in spring and felt like a cupcake!
Aussiemaid is offline  
Aug 14th, 2011, 11:18 AM
Join Date: May 2011
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I bought Merrell capri's that were light weight and handwashed/dried well. They were black. Second pair of pants is a good idea, once again light weight. I would also take a very light skirt. Denim jackets are too heavy. I would take a couple of tank tops, a couple of good quality light weight shirts, a blouse that does dressy double duty, and an all purpose cardigan that goes with everything. One warmer, very light packing jacket that is also a rain jacket, dressy enough to go with the dressier clothes would be goods also. Europeans wear all colours despite what some will tell you, but for travel clothing, you really need to stay with basic colours that will wear well and not show every little thing. Have fun cupcake!
Jonava is offline  
Aug 14th, 2011, 11:23 AM
Join Date: Oct 2007
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I'm still working on "traveling light" and I'm not a cruise person, so my tips will be limited. We travel for a month at a time and I now can pack in a 20" bag plus a tote. My biggest "find" is wrinkle resistant, hand washable slacks made of poly, rayon and spandex. While they don't dry overnight, they will drip dry usually in 24 hours and never need ironing. I take only 2 pair for a month, plus one pair of twills (or jeans -- depending on itinerary), and one pair of nylon zip-off slacks-to-shorts. For cooler weather I add silk undies to each. For tops -- don't take sweatshirts -- too bulky, too casual -- I take only lightweight knits -- short sleeved, 3/4 and/or long, again depending on itinerary and weather. I take a cardigan sweater, a rain jacket, and a leather tailored jacket that not only keeps me warm if it's cool but looks like a blazer with my slacks. All these can be layered to suit the climate. If you still have room in your suitcase, add a Chicos-type travel knit outfit which, with nice scarves and/or jewelry would be nice on the cruise. Add perhaps a dressy, lightweight, non-wrinkle jacket (SteinMart often stocks these) and you can make many different outfits. Of course, sticking to one basic color scheme is the secret. Choose black or brown or navy as your base; (no pink LOL) then add the tops. That way everything goes with everything else. Be sure to take a couple pair of comfortable shoes, one of which should be sturdy enough for all day walking, the other a little dressier but still comfortable. You will hear from lots of travel light gurus on this forum and can decide how you want to pack. Now that I've lectured about packing light, I need to go pack light for my upcoming month-long trip to Europe.
crckwc1 is offline  
Aug 14th, 2011, 12:40 PM
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 9
I'm a very seasoned traveler in my 60's and I think the best tip is to resign yourself to re-wearing the same thing over and over and pack only black or beige/brown (never ever white!) basics, with a few colorful tees (both long & short sleeved) that go with black or beige/brown. I wear sturdy shoes while traveling and 1 pair of comfortable dressy-ish flats and no skirt for me. I wear the black slacks (very, very lightweight) for dressy & sometimes in daytime. 1 other pair of lightweight slacks for daytime, 2 pair lightweight shorts and 2 lightweight dressy-ish tops. Travelsmith has jackets that reverse to make 2 outfits, so I take only 1 of their lightweight jackets. I have found that rather than taking a sweater, taking a light wool shawl that packs flat to wear over the jacket is the answer for warmth, if needed. It can also double as a dressy top if belted and worn over a long-sleeved tee. If windy, wear it under the jacket & pull up part of it as a hood. If really cold, I've layered the aforesaid with a short-sleeved top under a long-sleeved top as well. I bought a very tiny umbrella for rain and wear a small waistpack by day and pack a small clutch for night. I take a lot of faux jewelry & colorful silk scarves for extra outfit looks and a small sponge in a plastic bag to sponge off dirt. Don't forget a few clothespins to hang wash & close drapes! I also pack a few wire hangers since there's never enuf & then leave them behind. I'm not a cruise person, but understand things are more casual now than years ago. Voila! - I never carry more than a 20" rolling bag + a tote!
Sheila0 is offline  
Aug 14th, 2011, 12:50 PM
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I like the Chico's Zynergy line for travel. I'm not a fan of knit pants or jackets.

There is likely going to be a laundry on the ship so you can plan on washing and rewearing a lot. I usually take a couple of pairs of black pants, a couple of skirts and tops that go with everything.

We were on a Mediterranean cruise with many of the same stops last year and a light jacket was all we needed.
Judy is offline  
Aug 14th, 2011, 12:59 PM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 123
My one suggestion from many trips abroad is to bring an assortment of light scarves. I pair them with turtlenecks or t-shirts, and they instantly change the outfit, giving you an entirely different look. I also always bring a slighter larger lightweight shawl, which comes in very handy on chilly nights or going into churches with bare arms. Indispensable!
Maria_G is offline  
Aug 14th, 2011, 03:50 PM
Join Date: Sep 2008
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The clothing question is perennial on Fodors.

I have never read such well packed good advice for what women should wear in Europe as what crckwc1 and Sheila0 wrote above. This is from a geezer (60+ gent) who has lived in Holland and also has traveled extensively in Europe. You never need a heavy coat there. Dress in layers. A black leather jacket is good. It is very common in Spain.

Here is a view of the flowers at Keukenhof If you go a couple of days earlier and are a party hound you'll never find a better one than Queen's Day in Amsterdam
spaarne is offline  
Aug 14th, 2011, 05:04 PM
Join Date: Oct 2007
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Well, I did what I said -- packed for my month-long trip to UK and Ireland. Here's what I packed:
2 pair brown slacks (poly-rayon-spandex fabric)
1 pair jeans (will be doing some hiking
1 pr. nylon travel pants (convertible to shorts)
1 brown cardigan sweater
1 brown turtleneck cotton knit
1 brown (different shade) turtleneck cotton knit
1 teal turtleneck cotton knit
1 brown mock turtleneck cotton knit
2 poly 3/4 sleeve print tops
1 short sleeve brown knit
1 long silk scarf to dress things up a bit
1 acrylic long scarf for cooler days in Scotland
1 pair brown light weight lace up shoes (Ecco)
1 pair brown low-top boots (packed in tote bag)
1 waterproof rain jacket with hood
set of silk undies
3 pr. undies
2 bras
4 pr. sox
nylon gown
rubber flipflops (use in shower as well as houseshoes)
4 lightweight hangers (for drip drying things)
clothespins, detergent packets
cosmetics, hair products re-packed into small containers
comb, brush, curling iron
All this (except the boots) in my 20" case which I will check.
In my tote, I carry miscellaneous creature comforts including my can't do without small electric coffee maker (which sends the baggage inspectors into a tizzy), umbrella, notebook, headphones, meds, snacks, etc.
On the plane I will wear a pair of jeans, white shirt (with scarf wrapped around my neck to prevent makeup from staining), Scottevest (which holds passport case, wallet, small cosmetic bag, inflatable neck pillow, Kleenex, etc.) and my sturdy waterproof walking shoes. I will carry a compact shoulder bag which carries my meds and will carry a brown leather jacket, both of which will go in the overhead while the tote is under the seat.

For a cruise or tour with other people I would exchange a couple of turtlenecks for blouses (wrinkle free) and probably add some jewelry (cheap), another dressy scarf, and a lightweight dressy jacket. In addition, I would omit the jeans and opt for a black wardrobe rather than brown because, IMO, black looks dressier.

For my itinerary, my packing list is fine, if a little boring, because we'll be at one place only 3-4 days so no one will know I repeat myself.

Good luck packing. I've not mastered carry-on only and am not likely to since I need to carry more liquids than allowed, but I have downsized greatly and love the freedom of dealing with one small bag.
p.s. I'm a "senior" too. Senior-plus really. LOL
crckwc1 is offline  
Aug 15th, 2011, 12:10 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 26
What great help! Thank you all so much. spaarne, your Keukenhof site was really inspiring - can't wait to see it all for myself. crckwc1 your list was especially helpful. Maria_G, Jonava and Sheil0 your advice re the scarves, shawls, silk undies and specific stores and brands were just what I was hoping for. No more hauling two extra large suitcases on and off trains!
Aussiemaid is offline  
Aug 15th, 2011, 01:07 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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crckwc1, almost all hotels in the UK have tea/coffee making equipment in the room. Have you checked with yours to see what's available?
bettyk is offline  
Aug 15th, 2011, 02:18 PM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1,146

It's been three years since we were in the UK but back then all available was an electric kettle and instant coffee. I have a neat, compact little electric device that lets me brew real coffee. It will boil the water or I can use the kettle in the room but either way, I get real coffee using this thing. I know -- it's ridiculous.
crckwc1 is offline  
Aug 15th, 2011, 05:13 PM
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Hi Aussiemaid, go have a look in Kathmandu and Mountain Design stores. Kathmandu is having a sale at present, I plan ahead and only buy my bits and pieces on sale!

The best thing I have purchased is an Icebreaker Merino cami. - on sale from Mountain Designs. Its very fine wool, weighs nothing but is very warm and makes a good layer against your skin. If I get hot I duck into a loo and wriggle out of it and stuff it in my bag.

I also have a good pair of Exofficio travel pants in black, nice deep pockets one or two with zips, elastic waist so very comfy for the plane journey. Last year I even wore them to dinner on our cruise with a nice top - who would know! I think I got these from Paddy Pallin.

Now don't discount a store like Millers, I purchased a basic pair of black pants for $13 they don't wrinkle or crease, can be hand washed and don't need ironing. I ALWAYS do the squeeze test when buying, if it wrinkles leave it there. Millers also have plenty of tops that are easy care - if you aren't paying much then you can wear them to death while you are away then recycle them when you get home if you are sick of them. Remember that no one knows you, you will be with different people everyday, they won't know that you have worn the same top/pants 10 times (washed in between of course).

Everything I purchase with the intention of packing I hand wash first just to see how it looks when dried and also to see how long it takes to dry - don't pack it if your not happy with the outcome - find something else. I take two blow-up clothes hangers with me, Korjo brand, you can find these in any place with a travel stand (Myers etc). I did all my own washing on our cruise, once our rooms had been made up I hung washing in the window and in the shower on a small line.

I usually purchase my scarves while on holidays, they make wonderful souvenirs, weigh nothing and I love being able to say "oh I just picked this up in Paris".

For the cruise you will need your basic pants for evening and two pretty tops to alternate with, maybe a lightweight black cardigan, part of the layering system. I wore a pair of black 3/4 pants with t-shirts/tops during the day.

Decide on your suitcase size and stick to it, lay everything out weeks before hand and slowly discard until you are happy with your wardrobe, have a test pack a week before you go. Wear your heaviest clothing on the plane.

Just remember you can pick up anything you need along the way, relax and enjoy your holiday. One you have travelled light you will have such a sense of freedom and satisfaction. When you return you can give all those huge suitcases to a thrift shop!

Have a wonderful time.
Maudie is offline  
Aug 16th, 2011, 03:45 AM
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 2,911
Per bettyk all hotels and B&Bs have the equipment in the room, plus tea bags and sugar. They must be a national law in the UK requiring this.
spaarne is offline  
Aug 16th, 2011, 03:58 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 406
Second the suggestion for Icebreaker - either a cami - or anything else.

I never travel without two or three - and love wearing my long sleeve one on the plane.

Always take blow up hangers as well.
For a light weight rain jacket that looks OK have a look at some of the Rainbird ones - they come in great colour range and are wind proof and rainproof - in my experience.I have taken mine in early October to Switzerland and Germany and in July when in the Alps.
Usually manage to keep dry and warm - and if really cold then I have a light weight Icebreaker jumper or jacket underneath.
However - this was not warm enough in late October in Berlin - but may well suit your travel plans.
There is always the fun of buying something when travelling as well...
love_travel_Aus is offline  
Aug 16th, 2011, 11:24 AM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 272
If you are doing a cruise, you must bring dressy clothes for the evening meal in the dining room. (Otherwise, you may feel uncomfortable - people really dress up - even formal evening wear and tuxedos.) When I went on a cruise (7 days) I brought black separates - skirt, pants and two tops that I dressed up with scarves and jewelery. Black is always dressy and you need nice shoes or sandals. You could bring three different tops to vary the outfit. This may make it difficult to travel light but you need these clothes for the cruise.
Taltul is offline  
Aug 16th, 2011, 07:40 PM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,538
When you arrive, presumably in Amsterdam, shop for a really good European scarf. I mean silk, and big, approaching shawl size. Get the sales person, if possible, to demonstrate how to wear it in many useful ways. Apart from a fine souvenir, it serves as a coverup, a fashion statement, and another layer of warmth, so you can leave one or two items back home. By the way, European men are equally creative with their scarves.
A more mundane suggestion: Put whatever cosmetics you need into several small plastic zip-lock bags from the kitchen. They can be stuffed into corners of your suitcase, and weigh less than a fancy cosmetics case.
Southam is offline  
Aug 17th, 2011, 12:03 AM
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Ditto the scarf suggestions. Just throw it around your neck a few times. Here are some Paris students on strike
spaarne is offline  
Aug 17th, 2011, 06:47 PM
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 304
bookmarking for my next trip as I don't know how to travel lightly
nz101 is offline  
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