If you regularly …
- Stress out about what to pack for travel,
- Overpack and/or pay overweight bag fees,
- End up wearing half of what you packed, and/or
- Pack too many shoes because you don’t know how else to plan your outfits
Then this post is for you.
I wanted to share how to pack for Europe using one bag (a carry on size bag) that is easy to navigate without overpacking or having to buy an entirely new wardrobe. You have everything you need for a trip in your closet, you just have to visualize it differently.
This post is all about how to pack for cool weather, for warm weather travel see this post.
The process is always the same!!
How to pack for Europe for 2 weeks – the process
- Know how you travel and what you will be doing each day. When my husband and I travel, we walk and use mass transit. When travelling abroad I know what I will be doing each day, want to dress as stylishly as I can, pack light and bring comfortable shoes. Your daily activities may be completely different, but I advise that you know what you are doing (more or less) each day of your vacation or trip.
- Plan on doing laundry. This is key for any trip that is more than 7 days. We always plan to do laundry during our trip (sometimes trips to the laundromat are adventures unto themselves!). Plan to do laundry at least once during your vacation – it is the only way to pack light and for it to work over a longer time period.
- Check the weather. I think this goes without saying, but I will say it. Check the weather before you go. I tend to check about 3 days before packing and again the day before for any drastic changes. Once you have completed steps 1-3, it’s time to pack.
- Start with the shoes. As I mentioned above, I walk A LOT. However, even if you do not walk a lot, still start with the shoes. Why? Because when you start with the shoes, it automatically limits and refines what you will take with you. The shoes will dictate the style and color of the clothing you pack. You don’t want your entire closet to be available for packing. You have to narrow down the selection somehow. Start with the shoes. Also, when you start with the shoes, it helps limit the color palette. For any cold weather trip, I always pack one pair of tall boots (I started doing this on a trip to Paris four years ago) and it worked great. These boots have taken me from Paris to the Alps and they are perfect for the activities and places I go when I travel.
Here’s what I’m packing…
- 1 pair of boots
- 2 dresses*
- 2 skirts*
- 3 “base layer” shirts (I have three from Uniqlo which work great)
- 3 sweaters
- 1 short sleeve sweater
- 2 pairs jeans or corduroys
- Lounging clothes – leggings, sweatshirt, slippers
- Coat – vary weight depending on season and where you’re traveling
- Scarf, gloves, hat, legwarmers
- Two pair tights – one pair more sheer, other heavier
*I started taking a casual dress on my last winter trip to Europe and I wished I had more. So I’m now adding to the collection with both skirts and dresses. If that’s not for you, then pack three pairs of jeans instead. Do not take more than three pairs of pants!
The reason I started packing base layer shirts is to protect my sweaters. Sweaters are heavy, difficult to wash and take even longer to dry. I wear my “base layer” shirts, they get sweaty and then I wash them – not the sweaters I wear over them.
If you are traveling in the shoulder season (fall vs winter), consider booties vs. tall boots. I have a pair of Chelsea boots that work just as well as my tall boots.
See how all of these pieces go together and how to create outfits with what I’m packing: