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April 04, 2019
There used to be a time when I believed that I had to pack a lot for vacation. I would pack a new outfit for every single vacation day, with matching shoes and accessories. I would pack “just in case” or “I might go out” outfits, lol! The way I packed in the past, was initially the plan for my European trip. However, something deep down told me that packing for a European trip takes some sort of strategy. As a result, I started Googling, “How to pack for a European vacation?” And, because it’s the internet, I got back quite a few results. Mainly packing videos, that I surprisingly enjoyed watching! The tips I give in this blog are what I used when packing for my overseas trip, but apply to domestic trips as well.
First, purchase a carry-on size luggage. Make sure the carry-on size is as close to international [regional] airlines standards as possible (think: Vueling or Ryanair), and not just U.S. airline standards. You want to do this because, if you ever take a trip overseas and use regional airlines, you won’t have to invest in yet another piece of luggage. Thing is, even if you go European airline carry-on guidelines, you're covered for many U.S airlines since many U.S airlines allow larger carry-on dimensions. So, it does not hurt to get the smaller luggage; unless you plan to pack a lot, which we’re trying to avoid!
Last year, I bought an "it! Luggage" suitcase in one of the smallest sizes I could find. It (no pun intended) worked great! A nice perk of the suitcase is it can be rolled upright. It was so nice not to pull the bag behind me while trying to find my apartments in 3 different European cities all while taking public transportation.
In addition to your luggage, get a well-made large personal bag that will complement (in size) your carry-on bag. I bought a large, Longchamp Le Pliage and I absolutely love it! Plus, it works well as a large purse, and it's great for exploring a city. For the items that couldn’t fit into my carry-on, I was able to fit them comfortably into my Le Pliage. The only downside to this bag is that there are no compartments on the inside, except one small slit near the top. That said, I was able to put my liquids, cords, sunglasses, jewelry, Chromebook, wallet, passport, snacks, travel towel, and so much more into this bag.
I find that I tend to over pack. When I return home, there is usually something that I didn’t wear. To prevent this, choose your outfits ahead of time. Even choose accessories you may want to bring. For longer trips, try to rewear some items. This will reduce the number of items in your carry-on luggage.
During my 15 day European trip, I think I brought one weeks worth of clothes. I washed at my second stop (Paris), and had enough clean clothes that could be reworn through the rest of my trip. If you’re going to rewear items, you may need to find accommodations that have a washer and dryer. This requires pre-planning but can be done (many AirBNB’s and hotels have washers and dryers). Additionally, before you leave home, it’s a good idea to put outfits together and take a picture of them. It’ll help you remember how you planned to wear your clothes. For shorter trips, this step isn’t necessary, as you hopefully won’t have as many items to begin with!
Once you have all of your clothes figured out, invest in some packing cubes. They will keep your suitcase organized. Packing cubes come in a range of sizes and quantities per package. Mine came in a three-pack for about $12 or $15. I used the largest cube for pants/jeans, the midsize cube for tops/dresses, and the small cube for intimates. I was able to fit sleepwear in the larger cube.
You can buy packing cubes pretty inexpensively, especially during spring and summer. However, there are more expensive brand name options as well. The key to making everything fit is rolling your clothes. Place the rolled clothes into the cubes, and cubes into your suitcase. Some people say that rolling helps with wrinkles too, but that has never been the case for me.
Another thing to consider when packing
My most recent vacations were a European trip in July 2018 and a family trip to Los Angeles August 2018. I found that, especially in Europe, I wanted to shop. I was limited because, even though I brought very little, my suitcase was full. When I travel for leisure again, I would bring even less clothing from home to allow for things I want to buy along the way. If you know you want to bring items back with you, it's wise not to bring too much with you!
Safe travels and smart packing, friends!
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