Ten days in Europe in one carry-on

0c7717c9-b477-4388-a7dd-01390034dbfcThis summer we spent a glorious ten days in Paris and Brussels.  It was a magical trip and I’ll share more recs for each city soon, but in the meantime… packing!  I’ve had more than one request to share my tips for traveling (relatively) light, so here we are.

Due to both the hassle of wrangling suitcases on trains and metros and the airline fees involved for checking bags, we decided to only take one carry-on for each of us (plus my purse, of course).  It was warm and summery in both cities so I didn’t need to worry about bulky outerwear, which helped immensely!  I knew we were going to be walking quite a bit, so I planned outfits with that in mind.  Stylish and easy, with several options to dress comfortably for a day of sightseeing, or dress up a bit for dinner out.

Here is what I packed:

  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 3 dresses
  • 1 jumpsuit
  • 1 knit pencil skirt
  • 5 tees
  • 1 denim jacket
  • 1 cardigan
  • sandals
  • sneakers
  • studded flats
  • silk scarf
  • 2 pair statement earrings
  • underwear/socks/bra

I wore my sneakers on the plane, not only for comfort but also to avoid having to make room for them in my suitcase.  My trusty Coach dopp kit fit my toiletries perfectly, with the liquids/gels in this clear pouch.  As far as luggage, this suitcase was actually quite sturdy for the price, and just the right size to meet European carry-on size guidelines.  And I am now a packing cube convert!  A pair in my suitcase made my clothing organized, compact, and much easier to get at without trashing everything else in the process.  It was also a lifesaver when our bags were examined at security — no stuffing errant things back in while hurrying to zip my bag back up!

For days we were out and about, I just carried my crossbody leather Longchamp.  With a zippered gusset, top handles, and a crossbody strap, it is my Mary-Poppins-esque travel bag.  It looks small and polished, but somehow it carries a ton of stuff.  I can fit a medium wallet, cosmetic case, water bottle, sunglasses, earbuds, iPhone, and lightweight scarf with room to spare, plus the interior pockets give me a secure place for my passport and metro passes.  (Whatever bag you carry, I highly suggest something with a zipper or other very secure closure, so as to avoid issues with pickpockets.)

Most of the items I brought were low- or no-wrinkle, and all the shoes I brought were very comfortable to walk in — no one wants to cut their sightseeing short due to blisters or aching feet.  Also I wore my normal low-key everyday jewelry and brought a couple pairs of statement earrings I could swap out depending on my mood and my outfit.  Nothing too precious, just in case.

Most importantly, everything I brought I know I feel good in!  If you pack for the “you” that is most at ease rather than the “you” that you might envision yourself as in a fantastically different life/locale, you’ll have less unused items in your suitcase.  Unless you have actually been invited to a ball, that gown you don’t have occasion to wear at home still won’t get much use on your trip, amirite?

Bon voyage!

sneakers  sandals  flats  gathered dress  tie-waist dress  jumpsuit  stripe tee  u-neck tee  palm tee  crew neck tee  scarf  crossbody bag  jeans  skirt  pants  cardigan  jacket  earrings
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