Packing for Italy and France -First Trip

Dec 30th, 2003, 07:54 PM
Original Poster
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Packing for Italy and France -First Trip

My husband and I will be traveling five weeks in France and Italy in June and July. Our transportation will be primarily by train. My husband tells me that I will be responsible for my own luggage. Help! What kind or type of luggage do you suggest? What about the type of clothes and other necessary items?
Thank you Patrick for the suggestion of packing for two weeks and using a laundromat.
ginn is offline  
Dec 30th, 2003, 07:57 PM
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Hi Ginn,
My thoughts on luggage - take 1 bag, with wheels and a long handle with griphandles on the top and the side for easier carrying up and down stairs, softsided and expandable. You can find inexpensive travel bags at Bag and Baggage or REI. Don't forget a lightweight bicycle lock to lock the bags together on the train. Also - pack more tops than pants.
weddinginitaly is offline  
Dec 31st, 2003, 05:27 AM
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Agree with one wheeled bag - 22" should do. You are fortunate to be traveling in summer when clothes are lighter weight and washable and more can be packed in a small case. Several pairs of light-weight, washable slacks, skirts and tops will get you through 5 weeks if you are able to dryclean or launder. It is so much nicer to travel with only one suitcase - you are not a slave to your luggage.
mamc is offline  
Dec 31st, 2003, 05:42 AM
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hello ginn-
I consider myself a rather "high maintenance girl" and was able to pack for 20 days for a trip to Italy in only a carry-on! I am so glad that I did not have a lot of luggage as we did a great deal of train travel as well ans it is great to not wait for your bags when you de-board the plane. I would highly suggest a rolling duffel bag. They are soft so you can cram a lot into them and they usually have lots of pockets. Call the airline to see what the max weight is allowed on int'l flights. I also had a large tote like purse. I agree with the laundromat idea. We washed our clothes in a little Sorrento laundromat with a cute pub next door!! Bring basics that can mix match such as khaki,black and grey capris-black and white tops, a jean jacket, bathing suit, a few tank tops, a black skirt, two pairs of walking shoes and a pair of dressier heels. It can be done, forget about the blowdryers etc and get all travel size bottles. Dont forget bug spray, sunglasses and band-aids for blisters!! Wear something very comfortable on the plane flight out (jog suit) and continue wearing that for your long train rides. Good luck, once you do it you will never be a havy packer again!!! If I can do it anyone can. Rose
mansfield is offline  
Dec 31st, 2003, 05:51 AM
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Hi Ginn,

My wife and I are in our late sixties. We take one large, wheeled suitcase with a handle, two carryons and a small case for the camera, maps, etc.

For five weeks, you will want to use a laundermat at least once.
ira is offline  
Dec 31st, 2003, 06:35 AM
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another option to help lighten the load..

PACK OLD underwear and toss it out daily...then you don't have to do that much laundry.....Gives you a new excuse for buying fancy French Lingerie....

Definitely a rolling suitcase..
Hubs and I always pack in 1 suitcase-HE LIFTS it!! LOL
Then I carry a smaller wheelie ( like we use on the planes in the US)..and also a BLOW UP carry on bag for souveniers..

Make sure pants are darkish- shows less dirt- and take lots of tee tops--
You can wash out laundry overnite ( or if you are staying 2 nites in certain places) and then your laundry will be dry...NO JEANS- Unless you hit a laundramat...they do NOT dry -even in a week - in high humidity.....

Definitely have COMFORTABLE WALKING SHOES and break them in here in the states Before travelling....

At least 1 dark skirt and Shawl to dress up-or a little black lycra dress that shows no wrinkles...

Sun Visor
andy is offline  
Dec 31st, 2003, 07:22 AM
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Hi Ginn,

If you want specifics, look at Rick Steve's Europe Through the BAck Door. I am not sure if it is on his website, but his book outlines the specifics for women and men. You will definatley have to be doing laundry too.
ilovetulips is offline  
Dec 31st, 2003, 07:36 AM
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Andy, I like the underwear suggestion! I'll keep that in mind for next time!
suec1 is online now  
Jan 1st, 2004, 08:53 AM
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When traveling by train, luggage is key! After 15 years with my old, faithful travel pro, which was a good 22" on its side (in rolling position), I downgraded in size. My husband bought me for xmas a shiny sapphire colored Swiss Army suitcase. 14" in rolling position -- much easier to get down the aisles of trains, but surpringly bigger capacity than my old one. You need to make sure the suitcase is not too puffy, or it won't fit under the seat of a train or in the overhead luggage bin. Also make sure it doesn't weigh a lot before you put any clothes in it. There was another Swiss Army suitcase I looked at that had bullet proof material (I swear!), but it was as heavy as lead. So that wouldn't do, because if you don't have a lot of uppper body strength, once you put your clothes and shoes in it, there's no way you can get the thing up the steps to the train or in the overhead rack.

I would also carry a day back pack, especially if you are spending the night on the train. You don't want to keep dragging your suitcase down or out to get stuff out of it. Put a change of clothes and a washcloth in a plastic baggy in the day pack, along with a travel size liquid soap and toiletries (like toothbrush, etc.). Also a bottle of water so you can use that to brush your teeth, since you don't want to use the tap water for that (it's non-potable).
Surfergirl is offline  
Jan 1st, 2004, 08:58 AM
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ginn, I know from experience that most people (read: women) can't resist buying some new clothes for their trip, but here's some serious advice: DON'T DO IT AT HOME. Do it in Europe! That way, you pack less and have the fun of shopping! Yes, it may be more expensive, but there are sales going on in June & especially July. It's more practical and much more fun!
jenviolin is offline  
Jan 1st, 2004, 09:29 AM
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>>>>>>Also a bottle of water so you can use that to brush your teeth, since you don't want to use the tap water for that (it's non-potable).<<<<<<

Hi Surfergirl, at the risk of drifting the thread off topic, I was surprised to read this. In France, Germany, Holland, Belgium and UK we've used tap water for brushing our teeth with no ill effects. I've never been to Italy, but Rick Steves says tap water in Western Europe is okay, unless the tap has a sign that the water is not potable, e.g., on a train.

Yes, I used bottled water for brushing my teeth in Africa and Latin America, but I've never done that in Western Europe.

Ginn says she and her husband will be using trains a lot, and maybe that's what you had in mind, but I wonder if you would clarify when you use bottled water for brushing your teeth in Europe -- just on trains or everywhere, including hotels.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jan 1st, 2004, 09:46 AM
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I'm female and often travel solo so have always had to hoist my own bags - here's my tips:

I use a rolling 22" suitcase plus a large pocketbook/shoulder bag/daypack.

Traveling in summer makes it easier. I take a few each of: loose, lightweight print fabric pants, knit capris, tanks, t-shirts, lightweight vest, one silk cardigan sweater, one pair of shorts.

Depending on fabrics you can either use a laundry a few times or rinse stuff in your sink now and then.

IMO the absolute most important thing is/are your shoes. I take 3+ pair, sandals and shoes, all comfortable, already broken in, but nice looking. You can always buy an extra shirt or wear an item of clothing an extra day, but if your shoes give you blisters or hurt your feet... that can ruin a trip. Plus of course undies, bras, (and I like) lightweight ankle socks (again for foot protection).

For a small & lightweight personal kit: collect little travel size bottles. I am fussy about cosmetics and toiletries and can take everything I normally use by downsizing products into tiny bottles and jars, saving sample sizes, etc.

Watch out for the stuff you are tempted to toss in at the end (i.e., booklight, guidebooks, more than one paperback, clothesline, detergent, food items) you really don't need them. And remember you can buy anything you are missing in Europe! Really!!
suze is offline  
Jan 1st, 2004, 10:04 AM
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Judy -- Yes, sorry, I was still on the train! So, to clarify, the tap water on the trains is generally non-potable. I always drink tap water in Europe, especially good in Norway.
Surfergirl is offline  
Jan 1st, 2004, 10:09 AM
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My husband and I just spent 30 days in Europe traveling by train. We each took a carryon size duffel (no wheels--they add a lot of weight and can be awkward to handle on rough streets) and a daypack. We bought extra-soft shoulder straps for the duffels. They were easy to carry, more mobile than suitcases and much lighter to lift up onto the racks in trains. We're in our 60s and carrying them was no problem. Fully packed, each weighed about 19 pounds.
As for laundry, I took a laundry kit with expandable clothesline, inflatable hangers, etc. and did hand-washing of underwear and socks every two or three nights. In the middle of the trip we planned an R&R day where we did laundry at a laundromat in France. I took basic black with coordinates and it worked perfectly. I do recommend the microfiber underwear for men sold at the travel catalogs as it really does dry quickly.
happytourist is offline  
Jan 1st, 2004, 10:26 AM
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We count on a laudromat once a week. In fact, for this last trip, I had to plan to stop in Dinan (worth a stop anyway) because it was the only town in our itinerary that had a self-serve laundromat within the first ten days of our trip, or at least according to the French Yellow Pages.
Michael is offline  
Jan 1st, 2004, 10:29 AM
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On clothes, I'm probably in a minority here, but I always wear black or blue jeans when I travel, unless it's horribly hot, then it's a black cotton-knit summer dress, which can be jazzed up with fake jewelry if going out at night somewhere nice and the shoulders covered up with a little lightweight sweater when visiting churches etc. in Italy. Slip on sandals are really useful, because you can use them both for the dress, beachwear, and walking the corridors of trains at night.

My husband takes 2 weeks worth of clothes, while I'm more of a rinse, towel pat and dry overnight person. However, we do go to the laundromat once every two weeks when traveling, like Patrick, and either do it ourselves or, better, go to one of those places where they do it for you in a day (lots of them in Italy). MUCH cheaper than hotels doing it. Tip on laundromats: some do next day service and others are closed two days in a row (like Sun & Mon). When you have laundry to do, try to find a place and take it there the day you arrive in a city and make sure you'll still be in the city when it's ready for pick up!

One more thing, running out of underwear (or leaving it on a train, as my husband once did) is not fun. Buying new underwear in the foreign country may be okay for women, but for men the fabric may be much different than you expected, and it may be necessary to wash it first. (hint: rash).
Surfergirl is offline  
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