Or Lessons From A Chronic Over Packer
Oh the dreaded “what do I pack for a trip to Europe” dilemma.
I’ll be honest, I’ve been such an over packer most of my life. I always take too much and return home vowing to not take so many clothes the next time. And then I simply do it all over again.
But no more!
As I prepare for a 2-3 month journey to Europe, mostly the British Isles, I think I’m finally getting the hang of things.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m probably never going to be one to only take a carry on. This is mostly due to the fact that I need my laptop and DSLR camera since I am working as I travel and need my tech tools to do so.
But to know that you are taking only what you need is a good feeling.
So I want to offer up some tips to help you (and me) learn to be an efficient packer for that trip to Europe.
Lay out all of your clothes
Now take half the clothes and twice the money! Okay, this is some silly travel quote someone once said.
But there is an element of truth to it.
Lay out those clothes. And take about half the amount of clothes you have set out.
However I don’t think you need twice the money.
Pack for the best case scenario
Not the worst. Seriously. If you absolutely need something, you can probably buy it. It’s Europe. If you need a nice dress or a pair of dress pants, you can buy it there.
We tend to think, “What if I …” go to a fancy restaurant or go hiking (and you’re really not a hiker).
Think about the fact that you’ll be carrying these items around with you. Will you use it once? Then leave it. If you know it’s something you’ll wear or use a lot, then take it. If it’s a big fat maybe, DO NOT PUT IT IN YOUR SUITCASE!!
Speaking of suitcases…
Please take one bag. And please be sure you can lift it. If you can’t lift it or it’s bigger than you, then it’s too much. Seriously. You don’t need all of that.
You are going to have to lug that bag up stairs because not all places will have elevators. Taking a train? Then you’ll be carrying that bag up the few steps to get on the train.
Trust me. I’ve had bags that were too heavy and struggled lifting them onto trains and up stairs. NOT WORTH IT!
One bag. And keep it a reasonable size and reasonable weight. You will thank me.
Be aware of what the typical weather is where you are headed and when you are traveling there. You may need warmer clothes. You may not. In my experience, packing layers is always a good thing.
Unless you are going in the dead of winter, you probably don’t need a heavy winter coat. Take a lightweight jacket or sweater and layer up under it if the temps drop.
I typically take a couple of tank tops, some nice t-shirts then some nice long sleeve t-shirts. Add in a sweater and/or a fleece and a rain jacket and often you can get by with that for top layers. For bottoms, I never take nicer shorts, only running shorts. Shorts aren’t worn as much by Europeans except by the beach.
Casual, lightweight pants that don’t wrinkle are the best option for men and women. Ladies, you may want to take a skirt or a dress for warmer climates.
Then simply layer up as you need to or peel off layers if it warms up.
Use packing cubes
I LOVE THESE! The Eagle Creek packing cubes are the best which is why I promote them on my site.
They keep you organized and keep you from over packing. I roll my clothes and put them in these cubes. It keeps things packed tightly and I know which color packing cube has which items so I stay very organized when I travel.
The toiletry kit
I highly recommend using one of these. And please use travel sized bottles. You’ll be surprised that you don’t need as much shampoo or lotion as you think.
Also note that you may actually get soap and shampoo at many places you stay. But it will depend. Some simple B&B’s won’t have these items.
I always take a travel-sized bottle of body wash and I always bring my own shampoo and conditioner. I’m picky that way. But the bottles are always small. I buy travel sized deodorant and take small bottles of face cleanser and lotion.
If you run out of something, go buy it. It’s actually fun to go to a pharmacy to buy toothpaste or sunscreen.
First aid kit
I do recommend taking a few items for your first aid kit. It’s a good idea to have some ibuprofen/Tylenol, tummy remedies (just a couple of tablets), a few band aids, maybe a tablet or 2 of Benadryl and a small tube of antibiotic ointment for cuts, scrapes or burns.
But take very little.
Chances are you’ll never be far away from a pharmacy so you can get what you need for what ails you.
The one exception is prescription medications. You should always take a bit more than what you need just in case. And it’s a good idea to have a copy of your prescription with you in case you need to refill it or lose your meds.
I am reiterating this…one more time! Do not take all those things laying out on your bed right now!! You don’t need it all.
You know, I had some folks travel last summer to Scotland and Ireland. I remember telling them they won’t need everything they take. I kept telling them, “Take less than you think you need.”
Well when they returned they did tell me that they had too much.
Let that be a lesson.
Seriously…where are you going to where those cute heels? Cobblestone streets and heels don’t go together. Trust me. I tried!
Happy packing and happy travels!