Packing and What to Wear

Someone in my European Vacations class asked me about the biggest mistakes I’ve made in my travels. This was a very easy one for me: packing too much! On our first few trips, we had too many pieces of luggage and way too much in them. This was especially stressful when traveling by train, since we needed to be able to manage your luggage by yourself, sometimes during a very short station stop. Storage space on many trains is limited. And your seat may be at the far end of the car from where you entered, meaning you must lug your bags all the way down the narrow aisle. On some trains, you may even find that your seat is on the top level of a double-decker train car, accessed by steep and narrow curved stairs.

Excessive luggage creates other problems too. It will be difficult to take public transportation to the city center and you’ll have to pay for a taxi or limousine. You may not be able to fit everything in the trunk of your rental car or in the tiny elevator at your 17th century hotel. Worse, you may find yourself lugging your bags up three flights of steps in a building that doesn’t have an elevator.

My advice: Limit your luggage to one manageable-sized rolling bag (26″ maximum) for each traveler AND a small carryon bag that you can sling over your shoulder or a carry-on sized backpack. You must be able to lift your rolling bag on your own. Pack a small fold-up extra bag that you can use for purchases during the trip, one that you can manage along with your other two bags, either by carrying it on your other shoulder or setting on the top of the rolling bag.

These links provide resources on what to pack for a trip to Europe and how to pack light. Pay close attention to the advice you’ll find here– it really will make your trip much more enjoyable. And honestly– no one will notice that you’ve worn the same pair of slacks three times that week.

What to Wear in Europe

How to Dress for a European Vacation (My article on what to wear while you are in Europe)

What to Wear in Europe – Travel Clothes for All Occasions

Packing Tips for a European Vacation

Packing for a European Vacation (My article on the Slow Travel Tours blog, including tips from five experienced European travelers/tour leaders… an excellent resource!)

Traveling with just One Bag (This is a really wonderful website!)

Packing checklist

Go Europe packing tips

Tips for Packing Light from Rick Steves

5 Tips to Travel Light and Dress Well from the New York Times

The Universal Packing List

Six Tips for Wrinkle-Free Packing