By now you know I love to travel. I have a mad case of wanderlust and desire for adventure that fuel my passion of exploring both new and old places. It’s a real problem trust me. However, with all of that traveling comes the very very un fun part of a traveler’s life … packing, unpacking and repacking. This year alone I’ve gone from Texas – Mexico – NYC (in January!) – Mustique – DC – California – Dallas – California – New York and now off to Europe. I’m openly going to admit right now that up until about about 2 years ago I was the absolute worst packer, I’m talking 75 lbs suitcases and full-on suitcases for weekend escapes were the normal.
Once my travel schedule ramped up, I quickly figured out that I needed to learn the art of packing. There are times when I have less than 48 hours in between trips so the art of packing really means being a more efficient packer altogether because honestly who wants to haul three suitcases up and down five flights of stairs for a month long trip?! Not me but if there is a tall dark handsome guy in my neighborhood that wants to you feel free to email me 😉
On 95% of my trips I refuse to check a bag, I mean honestly who wants to spend a second longer in the airport than absolutely necessary? I try to do carry-ons at all cost however, with a long trip such as this European excursion with stops in four different places the checked bag was inevitable. I had knew that I needed to be strategic. Editing down as I went and then again at the end to ensure that I was taking only ONE suitcase because I had to pack 23 days worth of outfits into one suitcase.
So here are my tips to packing the perfect suitcase for an extended trip to Europe ensuring you look chic no matter what and leaving you a little room for that inevitable shopping excursion!
Plan ahead. Know where you are going.
As you know I’m not really a minimalist so when packing I have to put myself into a bit of that mindset to ensure that I don’t pack my whole closet. I evaluate what I will be doing because with such a long trip I know I’m going to dinner, cocktail parties, sightseeing, churches, markets, breweries, pubs, wine bars, you name it and I’ll be there so I need to be prepared.
Look ahead of time at the dress code for some places, particularly the churches and restaurants that may have fairly strict dress codes.
I always take a great pair of black pants (such as these) that can be dressed up with a cropped leather jacket for a night out or dressed down with white adidas and a tee with a trench coat for a casual look. Pack easy dresses that can be versatile and worn casual or dressed up.
Create a color scheme.
While this isn’t necessarily for everyone I do recommend creating a color palette for your trip. Not only will your Instagram thank you, but it is so much easier to pull outfits together and you can pack fewer bag and shoe options.
Roll don’t fold.
If you aren’t doing this then you are missing out on a big space saving move. Strategically lay your pieces out flat and roll. Pretty simple you guys and it ensures that I don’t have triple the amount of wrinkled clothes.
Shoes. Let’s get smart.
Shoes take up A LOT of valuable space in your suitcase so make sure they ware working hard for that space they’re occupying. I roll up socks, workout clothes, etc to slide into shoes. Maximize the space as much as you can inside your suitcase.
With shoes I tend to go overboard with overpacking. This goes back up to rule #1 – plan ahead. I found myself packing 3 pairs of black heels, while they were all different heights, stacked heels vs. stiletto it was wildly unnecessary so I edited down so that I was taking only 1 pair!
I always pack a pair of white sneakers in addition to my workout sneakers. White sneakers go with everything. LITERALLY EVERYTHING. They’ll act as a neutral. For this particular trip I have a pair of comfortable black ankle boots that go with just about every single outfit as well as a pair of very cute, very comfy black pointed-toe flats.
Never leave home without: A mini-steamer
This is the absolute one thing you need to ensure is packed. A mini steamer will ensure that you are not sitting there hunched over ironing for a few hours (yikes that doesn’t sound fun.) I am particularly fond of this steamer – it’s small, mighty and does a fantastic job. Also of note, no I am not being paid nor have they ever sent me this product, I just love it and can’t live without it.
Layers. Layers layers.
Spring in Europe is hit or miss. You might get sunshine in the morning and a bitter cold northern breeze and rain in the afternoon. Sprinkles will inevitably fall daily in London, even when the sun is shining at its brightest.
You will shop. You will buy things. You will need more space. Prime example, I buy vintage jewelry everywhere I go. Needless to say I try to keep 50% of my suitcase open and ready to be filled with little treasures from all of my travels!
Now if only I could really learn the art of unpacking. Guess that will have to be another post for another day!