What are the must haves when you travel? These are the first things I put in my bag!
Is the summer travel bug not gone yet?
The ever clever Wendy from Wendy’sLookBook has an excellent video on packing for warm weather!
Armed with 20/20 hindsight and a load of information here is my Europe trip packing re-do.
A few things first.
July 2009 in France was very warm, about 90+; in England it was much cooler with a little rain. If I had my way I’d go back earlier in the year, but, to make this re-do legit I’m going to pack as if I was going the same time of year, schizophrenic weather and all.
I’ll try to include many of the same clothes from the first time or things I had in my closet but did not make it into the suitcase do to idiocy on my part. If it’s a new item I’ll let you know. We had a washer/dryer in our apartments so I’m keeping that in mind too.
The first step is to think about what you’ll be doing. Are you there for work? A wedding or other family event? We were sightseeing.
How I thought I’d be taken for anything other than a tourist is beyond me. Though next time I’m gonna be that super cute tourist!
Loose fitting is the key here. Makes the inevitable “plane bloat” that happens about the 3rd hour of the flight much more tolerable if you’re not being cut in half by the waistband of your pants. Also, if you dig the nice warm socks out of your carry on and wrap up in your pashmina or sweater you’ll be cozy and warm.
Several articles I read prior to going to Paris said Parisians don’t wear shorts. It’s true, all the Parisians I saw were not wearing shorts as they were all on their way either to or from work and no doubt (like in the US) are not allowed to wear shorts to work. All of the people I’ve met from Paris who were on vacation in the US were wearing shorts. It’s 93 degrees out, wear your shorts!
For dinners out I took a different dress, I liked it fine but I cannot believe I didn’t take my “miracle dress!” I’ve told you about this dress right? I call it my miracle dress because I bought it after I had my youngest son. It fits me no matter what! I bought it at Ann Taylor Loft 13 years ago. Pretty awesome, right? Next time for sure! Also, my snugly cardigan sweater and ankle strap kitten heel shoes.
This is what I call my Mom uniform. It’s a wraparound tissue weight sweater and black pegged pants. I’m performing the dance of the flapping chicken for you so you can see the bottoms of the sneakers. The stripes wrap all around! I get complements on them all the time.
You see how I could mix and match all of this stuff lots of ways?
So that’s what I’m packing for Europe when we do it again.
Next time little things that make a big difference when you’re traveling.
Q: What is a Dopp Kit?
A: The Dopp Kit was designed by Jerome Harris in the early 1900′s for his Father-in-Law, Charles Dopplet. The term was later used to describe the shaving kits issued to G.I.’s in the Second World War. It is now a registered trade mark owned by the Samsonite Company.
The “dopp kit” has become a generalized term for a man’s travel shaving kit, plenty of women have adopted the term to describe what they take when traveling too.
Wouldn’t it be nice if I could be happy with the few items my husband takes?
Here is what my husband takes when we travel:
shampoo (2oz go-toob)
body wash (2oz go-toob)
a small vial of Advil
toothbrush/paste (travel size)
after shave lotion
Sometimes he’ll bring hand sanitizer or cologne. That’s it, he’s all set!
I’d like to whine about the un-fairness of it, but I have only myself to blame.
Remember when I confessed to bringing full sized shampoo and conditioner bottles on our trip to Europe? I can only plead my case by admitting that when packing I’m always wondering “what if.”
You’ve been there right? “I’ll take it just in case.” So you throw it in thinking, It’s not going to take much room, and soon your lugging around 10 pounds worth of cosmetics that you don’t use.
I devised a plan to take ONLY what I knew I’d use. It’s not going to be as carefree and easy as my husband’s dopp kit, I’m a girl, and girls’ have stuff; lots and lots of stuff.
Yes, I do need the exact brand of shampoo and conditioner, face wash, and moisturizer. My complexion is temperamental to say the least, but lugging around my 24oz bottle of Purity Made Simple was not an option.
And lets not forget your local Target, or Grocery or even your Salon. Keep on the look out for your brands.
Why not transfer your product into those little squeezy bottles? If collecting travel sizes is not your thing, by all means get yourself some squeezy bottles.
Trouble with those is you open up your Dopp Kit to find they have squoozed all over!
The best thing I’ve tried is GoToobs. They haven’t glooped allover in my luggage and carry enough product for about a week.
The next step was to determine what to bring and only bring what I would use.
I thought about what I do to get ready in the morning; shower, shave, hair, make-up. As I went about my normal routine I set out everything on the counter. As chicks go, I’m sort of low maintenance it turns out.
Here’s the list I use now:
Shampoo/Conditioner (2oz GoToob)
Body Wash/Bath Sponge
Body Lotion (2oz GoToob)
Face Wash (travel size) doubles as make-up remover
Moisturizer (travel size)
Hair Product (travel size)
Face Powder & Brush
Blush & Brush
Eye Shadow Duo & Brushes (2)
Eyeliner Shadow & Brush
Eyeliner Pencil & Sharpener
Brow pencil & Brush
Mascara (travel size)
Deodorant (travel size)
Perfume (travel size)
Sunscreen (travel size) If I’m going someplace tropical I’ll buy a full size when I get there
Toothpaste (travel size)
Comb & Brush (travel size)
If it’s a two week trip I pack an extra set of GoToobs and throw in one more toothpaste.
I don’t take a hair dryer because so far every place we’ve stayed has had one, even the apartments in Europe. I do take my curling iron and my mini flat iron for special dinners out when “vacation hair” is not acceptable. You should practice a simple blown dry style that does not need a lot of time or product. C’mon you’re on vacation!
Next time I’m calling “Re-do” and showing you what I would pack for my trip to Europe knowing what I know now!
So the airline rule (for now anyway) is you are allowed 1 carry-on plus 1 personal item such as a purse. These should be small enough to fit into the overhead compartment or under the seat in front of you.
As a chronic over packer faced with her first 7hour flight this meant I should try and squeeze every legal thing I could think of into a backpack. I needed options, lots and lots of options!
Remember, I talked about over thinking and freaking out about this trip?
Yeah, here we are again. I didn’t use half the things I took.
The silliest thing I took was a folder containing about 50 DVD’s.
Because the 11 movies on my laptop and the 3 episodes of my favorite TV show on my i Phone weren’t good enough! I needed OPTIONS!
Most of my stuff just got a free tour of Europe, grinding it’s self into my back with every step I took.
This my is my carry-on now:
It’s a Samsonite brand laptop back pack. Empty weight 2.4 lbs. I got it at Office Max after I got back from Europe. It has so many nooks and storage crannys it’s unbelievable!
The front outside pocket is for your phone, passport, boarding pass, lip balm, sunglasses, anything you need to access quickly.
The main center compartment is for a magazine, business files, your 3-1-1 kit , sleep mask, emergency feminine supplies, e-reader, snacks, camera, extra change of clothes (I usually pack my jammies), warm socks, ect.
The back pocket is super padded and is for your laptop and charger.
Laptop/charger/mouse (if it’s just a weekend trip I leave it at home. I can check my e-mail from my phone)
E-reader/charger (you can have 100′s of books and magazines)
Trip file (confirmation e-mails for hotel, airplane, maps, guide articles, etc) Guide books are a packing light no-no I either photo copy the pages or the guide books are on my E-reader or i Phone
Snacks (though in reality my snacks for a trip are not this virtuous)
Water Bottle (Check out this article by none other than Jason Mraz on water bottles, then check out these water bottles. Next time in Europe I’m getting one!)
My Knit wrap/shawl I bought about 5 years ago at Ann Taylor Loft
undies and bra (Not shown) No, I’m not showing my smalls on the internet!
Hair band (2 for 5$ at American Apparel)
I forgot to show my sleep mask and the feminine supplies. I’m sure you’ll forgive me for that one.
Maggie once compared her carry-on to the Tardis. That’s definitely my goal here.
Other articles you should read about packing carry-ons or what to pack for the plane:
How To Make Sure Flying Doesn’t Suck Out Your Soul
10 Days In A Carry-On
What about you? What’s your favorite thing to take on the plane?
Next up: Just what the hell is a Dopp Kit?
Okay where were we?
Oh yes, suitcases.
This was my suitcase for the aforementioned trip to Europe.
Look at this giganto thing! Filled to busting with mostly stuff I didn’t wear, but had to have with me because, Hello! Paris!
But that’s a matter for another time. Today it’s about the suitcase not what goes in it.
When in search of a new suitcase there were definite things I wanted:
#1 Something other than black
- A black suitcase is more likely to be stolen
#2 No bigger than a 25 inch case.
- Maggie took a carry-on case for a two week trip to Greece! If she can do it so can we!
#3 Must weigh no more than 10 pounds or under (empty weight)
- This one is obvious. Weight=$$$ when you fly.
#4 Must have quiet rollers and sturdy handle
-These traits are signs of quality. You definitely get what you pay for.
Since I had a limited budget I took my time researching the best prices and times to hunt for the perfect bag.
Luggage season tends to be around January through April, or, the off-season for travel. The beginning of summer or during the big travel holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas are not ideal for getting a good deal on luggage.
I wound up at Macy’s stalking a Diane Von Furstenburg bag. It was a little more expensive than I liked, so I had to wait until it came down in price. All that month I’d pop by and zip and un-zip, I’d wheel it around, then, go over and check out the others I was considering, and play with them too. But, I’d always drift back over to the DVF.
I’m sure the shop ladies thought I was some kind of fetishist. A luggage perv, that’s me!
Finally, I got a coupon in the mail and trotted my self over and bought my bag! With the sale plus the coupon, I saved a ton! So much so that my husband said “Wow, that’s not so bad.”
Ladies, you know that’s high praise indeed!
Now before you shriek at me, “Are you crazy woman? It’s suede!”
Yes it is. Faux suede.
I decided when I got it that, as much as I traveled by air, (once or twice a year) it would hold up well, and I could live with a few scuffs here and there.
It’s the construction and quality of the bag that counts and this has it, big time.
Know what else it has?
Oh and this little pouch?
Un-zips into a shopping bag!
The other specs are:
22 ht. x 11wdth. x 14 across The interior is 25″ diagonally.
9.5 lbs (empty weight)
On a weekend trip to Las Vegas, it weighed in at 28.8 lbs! And, I’m proud to say that if I needed to yank it around the Paris Metro it would be something I could have done myself!
Let me tell you about the time I almost killed my husband in the Paris metro.
As I was packing to go on my first European vacation I suffered a common but serious illness. I completely freaked out!
I did not want to look like the silly American tourist, in short I didn’t want to go to Europe as myself. I wanted to be in an Audrey Hepburn movie. Uh-huh, yeah you see where this is heading right?
So, I went ahead and packed three 50 lb suitcases. Plus carry-ons.
My first indicator that this might go all pear shaped was the fact we could not fit all the suitcases into the car after we purchased them.
The other huge mistake I made was to take along full sized bottles of shampoo, body wash, conditioner, and mouthwash.
I don’t know why! I’m a rational person most of the time. I realize there are grocery, and drug stores in Europe. Like I explained earlier I freaked out! I over-thought the whole thing and let my insecurities get the better of me.
The last and possibly most regrettable mistake was to take the RER and The Metro from the airport to our apartment in the 6th Arr.
This is where it gets bad for my husband.
In Paris they don’t do escalators in the Metro like they do in the U.S. and the U.K.
I won’t scar you with the details of our journey through the Metro, but I will say that by the time we arrived at our apartment my husband had sweat completely through his shirt and was very red in the face. To his credit, he did not kick me in the hiney. He’s totally getting into heaven on this alone.
The lessons you learn hardest are the ones you learn the best.
I came home determined to learn how to pack light and be able to do it well.
I payed attention to people who travel a lot. I read what they had to say and tried to apply it to my life style.
In the coming posts I want to share what I learned about how to pack light, plus, share the sources of my education.
I’ll leave you with the photo of our luggage as we were leaving Paris to go to London. Where we took a taxi from the train station to our apartment. That is a lesson we learned very very well.