What to wear/pack...

Old Apr 25th, 2003, 10:38 AM
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What to wear/pack...

Since this question comes up frequently on the forum I've decided to post what I pack when I travel to Europe (and pretty much everywhere else as well). If you're interested read on, if not then just click on some other thread.

Some guiding principles first:

1. A bag larger than a carry-on is too large. You don't have to carry it on the plane, but you will have to schlep it everywhere else and there's no point in bringing more anyway. The length of the trip is immaterial: a weekend or three weeks, it's all the same.

2. Layers are the key to comfort and style when traveling. To this end you should pick items that go with each other: a base color like black, and one or two other colors (like red, green, or aqua). If you can't wear an item in more than one way you probably shouldn't bring it.

3. Scarves are an easy way to accessorize, and take up very little space and weight relative to their wardrobe punch. Jewelry, on the other hand, should be kept to a minimum. Wear the same thing everyday, basically.

4. Toiletries are bulky and heavy. Take only the minimum, and transfer them to small containers. Travel-size toiletries are relatively expensive, but most can be re-filled, and the space saved is worth it. Don't forego perfume if you're used to wearing it.

5. It's okay to wear things more than once. Not underpants, but certainly jeans and trousers and sweaters.

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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 10:39 AM
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So, with these principles in mind, what did I pack on my last trip (a week in Italy)? This list includes what I wore on the plane.

1 quilted red jacket
1 pair black jeans
1 pair casual black trousers
1 pair black dress trousers
1 pair black and white check capri pants
1 black turtleneck
1 black cardigan
1 black shell (matching cardigan)
2 black t-shirt camisoles
2 white t-shirt camisoles
1 blue t-shirt camisole
3 silk blouses (patterned, black/green/red)
1 white knit shirt, 3/4 length sleeve
1 red silk scoop neck sweater (dressy)
1 short black dress, sleeveless
1 long black linen dress, sleeveless

shoes (my weakness):
black boots,suede, flat rubber sole
black boots, mid/high heel, rubber sole
black mules, fabric (dressy)
black sandles (comfortable)

Scarves and underwear and umbrella and toiletries as well, of course.
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 10:43 AM
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Now, I'm a pretty good packer and always carry on, but the fact you fit all of your list into a carry-on suitcase is reason for a standing ovation from me. Kudos on great advice, too.
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 10:50 AM
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It is NOT possible to pack that much stuff into a 22 inch (or less) bag unless you are a negative size 4 (i.e. you wear doll clothes).
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 11:16 AM
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C'mon now! The shoes alone would take up most of the suitcase.
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 11:18 AM
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Heh heh. No, I'm not a negative size four. I'm 5'6" and wear a U.S. size 6.

You're absolutely right, Holly, it is not possible to fit all that stuff into a 22 inch bag. Some of it I wore on the plane (as I mention in the post): the quilted jacket, the casual trousers (which contain a little bit of lycra, so bounce back from the flight), the blue camisole, one of the print blouses (worn open, as I was coming from warm Atlanta), and the flat suede boots.

Toiletries and umbrella go in a separate black tote (a freebie from Lancome years ago that has served me well), along with a couple of books, some sort of snack bar, and (you're really going to hate this one) my pillow. It's latex and particularly compressible and I take it pretty much everywhere as I travel frequently for work and find it helps me sleep (hotel pillows are almost always too bulky for me).

My purse is small enough that, should I need to do everything carry-on and happen to be using a U.S. carrier (not as stringent as, say, BA when it comes to carry-on) I can cram it into the tote as well, and then just have two bags.
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 11:34 AM
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All that for one week?? Now, I'm guessing you wore a lot of that on the plane (at least one of the pairs of boots). Good suggestions, tho. I usually carry a backpack as well as a carry-on size bag. During our last trip to Italy we had no problem managing w/2 small bags & 2 medium size packs (ie not the hard-core backpacker packs) for 2-plus weeks which incl. hiking in CT (w/boots etc). I bought a pair of Travelsmith "essential" travel slacks for that trip - wore them nearly every day. They held up beautifully are still one of my favorites. Highly recommended.
 
Old Apr 25th, 2003, 11:48 AM
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Exactly, bursnurks, I totally overpacked. The weather was cold and rainy, so I didn't get to wear the capris, the dresses, or the non-boot shoes. But had it been as warm as I'd hoped (and the weather reports led me to believe) I'd have been in great shape. As it was I was still in great shape, and even braved a snowstorm in Venice.

Hey, at least I didn't pack my long evening dress...I do have one, in black knit jersey, that I works in both social and formal work settings.

I don't use Travelsmith products, but that sort of thing, stretchy and compressible, really maximizes your luggage space.

Backpacks are great, particularly if you'll be doing hikes or if kids are along. I don't use one as so much of my travel is work-related and I'm supposed to look sort of business-y when I get off the plane.
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 11:55 AM
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Pretty good, Therese, pretty good! I found myself agreeing with almost all your "rules", except that I think everyone has their "luxury extras" that they rationalize taking. I think scarves are a great way to accessorize, but I'm sure I take more jewelry than you do. I couldn't bear to wear the same earrings every day! On the other hand, I don't use perfume or a hair dryer, so I figure I've got some space there.

There's no need to spend the extra money for travel-size toiletries. Just buy the little containers at the drugstore or save the bottles from hotel amenities and fill them with your own stuff.

I can't seem to go away without 3-4 pairs of shoes, but I COULDN'T take 2 pairs of boots! I'd have another pair of comfortable walking shoes instead.

I just told a friend yesterday that when I get my clothes together for my next trip I expect I'll have 3 pair of black pants -- how boring can you get?
But you need a casual pair for day, a dressier pair for night, and I like to travel in that stretchy Chico's stuff that fits like pajamas but looks a lot nicer than sweats or jeans and takes up less space in my suitcase.

I certainly do agree that a week or a month -- it's all the same. I can get everything for a month into my 23" wheelie, plus my carry ons: a tote and a small backpack.
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 11:59 AM
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Shoot! I take that much just for a weekend LOL~
We went to Florida a couple of weeks ago, I brought 4 pairs of shoes and a top for each day and a couple for nights, about4 pairs of trousers. A skirt. Pajamas, a jacket a sweater.
Odds are, Scarlett will never be posting on that thread that people boast that they went away for a week and didn't take pack any clothes Lol~
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 12:07 PM
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If you are not riding on the train, and don't mind checking your luggage, is there really any negative to taking a 27" rolling suitcase? My husband says he doesn't mind carrying it up any stairs we might encounter, so I can't think of any negative. We will probably each have a carry-on. Comments?
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 12:17 PM
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Your point about the "luxury extras" is a good one, Marilyn. I always take perfume, for instance. I don't actually get by with just one pair of earrings, but I do make a point of making sure that they're likely to be worn if I bother to bring them. Also, I don't want to be too upset if I lose them or they're stolen or something (hasn't happened yet, but you never know).

I do recycle the little bottles from hotels when I can't find a travel size, but then I forget what I've put in them. Not a problem if they're the sort of bottle that's going to stay dry, as you can just label them, but most of mine end up damp from the shower or condensation or whatever and the next time I'm ready to go somewhere I have these half-empty bottles of mystery stuff.

My boots ARE my comfortable walking shoes: the flat ones are Arche and I can go pretty much forever in them (and they have no steel shank in the sole, so I don't set off metal detectors), and the high ones are fine for half-days. I like to change my shoes (if possible) during the day anyway. Better for my feet, better for my back.

Scarlett, you and me both. I love clothes and like to wear them in cool places.
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 12:29 PM
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Your right, wren, so long as you're traveling upmarket the larger suitcase won't be a problem. But...

Negatives to a large suitcase in Europe other than the train and stairs (since you've got a willing and strong husband):

1. Elevators. Lots of European hotel elevators are just about big enough to fit you and a small suitcase and maybe a piece of paper.

2. Rental cars. If you're planning on renting a car do make sure that you've not exceeded the capacity of the trunk. They're not nearly so large as they are in the U.S., and you don't want to store luggage in the passenger compartment as it is an invitation to thieves.

3. Even if you're not taking a train you may well end up in some form of public transportation.

4. A tendency to overpack. Can you imagine what I'd do with a 27" suitcase? I'd be stuffing ski boots and diamond tiaras into the thing.

5. No option to carry-on (or at least rush to the gate and then end checking it there) if you are unexpectedly delayed. Note that I typically do check my luggage on transatlantic flight, but have had occasion to take advantage of carry-on in a pinch.

The primary advantage to the larger suitcase would be space to bring things home. Of course, your husband might see this as a bit of a disadvantage...

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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 12:59 PM
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I will be taking a lots of trains and my son is not coming this time to help me with the luggages...packing is going to be a problem..Mostly I must choose what to wear and where to wear it. I am going to Rome for 4 days,and then to CT for a week, others italians cities, Avignon , Uzes and Paris my final destination before coming back home..On top of that my grandson is coming also , he is 9 years old,(first trip to the Continent for him)..As you can see taking the train is a necessity...I started lifting weights just in case I cant find a handsome gentleman to help me with the suitcases.. Leaving June 18 and coming back july 22... Any suggestions? In Cinque Terre I need to wear casuals clothes...but in the city is different...
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 01:37 PM
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Okay, kismet, so first I have to say that I'm very jealous of your upcoming sojourn in Europe.

That said, your 9 year old grandson can definitely take care of himself luggage-wise. My 9 year old daughter just did this herself (also her first trip to Europe) and had to schlep her own bag up and down bridges and stairs and on and off buses and vaporetti in Venice. She used a carry-on (from Target, rolling bag, Eddie Bauer-branded) and her backpack (the one she carries to school, a sturdy Coleman, also from Target).

He can wear shorts pretty much anywhere, an advantage as they don't take up much room. He doesn't need squat in the way of toiletries, so you can cheat a bit and have him carry something of yours as well (just don't make the bag too heavy).

As for you, I'd use the same configuration of rolling bag and back pack. Great for the train.

What you pack depends on what you like to wear. Hot as heck summer vacation puts me in sundresses for the most part, with a sweater (your grandson can carry it in his backpack, along with the guidebook) for churches and cool evenings. Drapey fabrics that don't wrinkle, probably lighter colors (though I'd stay away from white, instantly dirty when traveling). Dresses are automatically, well, dressy, and fine for either country or city. You're on vacation---nobody expects us to look like we're going to the office.

One pair of shorts if you're really hiking. In which case are you going to need hiking boots?

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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 01:39 PM
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Therese, use a Sharpie felt pen (permanent marker) on those plastic bottles and the ID will stay on even if it gets wet.

All this stuff is SO on my mind right now, as we leave in 10 days for about a month in England and France. Will be doing everything from hiking in Devon to attending a conference banquet and dining out in Paris. Plus the weather is so unpredictable in May. I'm hoping for warm, but know it will rain at some point.

This will be a real test of packing light! My favorite suitcase is 23" but has a great expandable compartment on the front that holds 3 pairs of shoes.
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Old Apr 26th, 2003, 04:45 PM
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For whatever reason I find that Sharpies are nowhere near as permanent as they're billed. Same problem labeling my daughter's toothbrush and soap cases for camp. Oh well.

The Paris/Devon trip sounds great, Marilyn. Hiking boots tend to throw a real wrench into packing, and you definitely don't want to leave your nicely broken-in ones behind. And then there's those bulky socks.
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Old Apr 26th, 2003, 05:15 PM
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If you're not doing serious mountain climbing, a good sturdy pair of running shoes should suffice for hiking. I hike in my sneakers all the time and haven't had any problems.
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Old Apr 26th, 2003, 11:30 PM
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I'll be "hiking" (nothing too extreme) in my favorite pair of Merrell trainers. I'd be taking them anyway for the couple of chances I'll have to work out. If the weather gets serious, I'll even wear them walking around the city -- they're brown and black so a little more subtle than white.
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Old Apr 27th, 2003, 06:08 AM
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Then no problem whatsoever with the small bag, Marilyn. Sounds like you'll have room for the formal gown after all...
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