Day 99: Winter Carry-On European Travel

One of my intentions was to share how I packed for a trip to London in late November in a small carry-on (plus purse). Unfortunately, life happens and I still haven’t gotten around to it. Y’all are in luck, though, because the PashbyMauls are traveling this weekend and I’d like to illustrate how I packed for a 4-day weekend in a small backpack+purse.  To start, here are some photos for your reference:

First I laid out all the items I wanted to pack, rolled the clothes as tightly as possible, and purged all unnecessary items that made their way onto the packing scene.

As you can see, I managed to stuff everything in my small deuter city light backpack and my Kate Spade NY cross-body medium-sized purse.

Here I am on platform 3 in Vicenza waiting for our train to Torino. Notice that I do have a 3rd small shopping bag in my left hand. That’s mainly because we’re staying in an apartment, so we brought kitchen items like espresso, bananas, lemons, almond butter, coconut milk, herbal tea, and sprouted grain bread.

Why, you ask, did I feel the need to go to the extreme and pack so little? There are many reasons: We’re in Europe and in general people have less stuff.  Walking from the train station to an apartment/hostel/hotel with a ton of crap is not appealing to me. Also, a lot of us tend to overpack and get weighed down with useless items. I call this the Girl Scout Syndrom. “Be prepared” can happen in travel-size too, I assure you! Finally, if all you have is a carry-on or backpack, the less likely you will be to shop for stuff you don’t need. The “less is more” mentality really does apply here. You will be much happier on your trip with less stuff lying around.

Here are my personal strategies for packing light:

  • Roll your clothing. Sometimes this strategy doesn’t help, like if you are packing a blazer, but in general, rolling your clothing can help save space.
  • Don’t pack a different outfit for every single day. On this 4-day trip, I packed only 1 extra pair of pants and 2 tops. Make up for this by packing enough underwear/socks/undershirts for every day. No one cares if you wear something over again and you’ll be the only one who knows that you wore it once already.
  • Reduce toiletries and makeup. Trust me, you do not need to bring your entire makeup bag with you. Do you even use all of the makeup in your bag? Limit yourself to packing 5-7 little things of whatever you need to feel human and awake in the morning, and come alive at night.
  • Pack only one pair of shoes, the ones you’re wearing. It’s spring in Vicenza already, but we’re headed to the mountains, where it will still be cold! As a result, I’m wearing black Timberland ankle boots, slightly in the motorcycle style. Be smart about your footwear. It’s looking like rain this weekend, so waterproof footwear is a necessity. If you have a wardrobe full of stylish shoes, but nothing with function, you need to go shopping. Find something with form and function, fork over the ridiculous price once, and have a great pair of shoes for 5-6 years.
  • Pack liquids and gels in a clear plastic bag. Why did I do that, since we took a train and didn’t have to go through security? Well, if something leaks, it won’t get all over my preciously rolled clothing! Also, this is a great way to discipline yourself into packing less. I basically held myself at the airline standard for my liquid items. The clear bag allows you to easily see what’s inside as you’re sifting through your stuff.
  • Pack necessary travel items in your purse/personal item. I spent a lot of time stuffing my backpack and I really don’t want to go sifting through it in public. I feel like that would ruin the “chi” of my packing effort!That’s why my wallet, phone, passport, sunglasses, tiny cosmetic case, tissues, sunglasses and book/kindle get packed into a purse. I understand this strategy doesn’t apply to gentlemen unless you want to “go native” and get yourself a man purse, as a lot of European men do!
  • Don’t freak if you forget something! It’s always fun to explore new stores and products. Two weeks ago we took a quick trip to the Friuli region and I forgot my deodorant. I ended up using Drew’s Aqua di Gio Armani men’s deodorant, and I survived!

I hope all of these tips help those of you who want to practice packing light. As for me, I’m ready to get to Torino and explore!

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One Response to Day 99: Winter Carry-On European Travel

  1. Louise Brady says:

    I need to pack like this!! I always look like I am away for a month!

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