Travel style tips – pack light for spring travel to Europe

If you stress after your travel plans are made because …

  • You tend to overpack,
  • Feel that you have to buy a new wardrobe for your upcoming trip,
  • Only wear half of what you pack, and/or
  • Pay or have paid overweight baggage fees?

Then this post is for you.

I’m sharing how to pack for Europe for 2 weeks with one suitcase. While I do take more than one bag, I only check one suitcase, and it is a carry on size (making it small and easy to navigate). I’ve made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot during my travel to Europe going from overpacking to packing “just right.” The formula I use has been tried and tested, it works, and I want you to be able to do the same.

How to pack for Europe for 2 weeks – the process

  1.  Know how you travel and what you will be doing each day. When my husband and I travel, we visit a lot of sites that require us to be on our feet. We walk and use mass transit. When traveling 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Check the weather. 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.
  4. Start with the shoes. Always 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 this trip I planned on wearing primarily warmer colors (or earth tones). This helped to limit my options for packing.

Here’s a packing list to help (for travel in the spring/summer)

how to pack for Europe warm weather

See how all of these pieces go together to create outfits:

how to pack for Europe warm weather

What worked, what didn’t and things I learned

What worked

This was absolutely the lightest I have packed for a trip. By the end I found that I had worn my clothes two to three times already. I am glad I packed so lightly because we traveled by train three times, and there were countless stairs and hills (especially in the Cinque Terre) that we had to navigate with our luggage. I also was really happy with the color palette and fabric of the items I brought. I am trying to move to more natural fabrics because they are self cleaning and packed a number of those fabric types. I did laundry once halfway through the vacation and routinely let my clothes hang outside to refresh overnight.

What didn’t work

So as I mentioned the importance of shoes, this was a #shoefail!! I bought new Danskos due to their durability, found them secondhand for $10 and thought they would be perfect. The problem was that they were a European size 38 and even though they fit my feet, they were too small – I am only allowed to buy size 39s from now on. By the middle of my trip, I had blisters everywhere on my feet. Unfortunately, I had intended on wearing the Danskos for the majority of the time. My plan was to wear my black wedges for dinner or just to alternate on light walking days. Because the Danskos hurt my feet, I relied way too much on the black wedges. So while the black wedges are one of my favorite pairs of shoes and are very comfortable – they are not meant for 8 miles of walking.

Solving the problem

I found a shop in Florence that sells Tevas. Teva is one of my favorite brands because their shoes are so comfortable but not so great from a style perspective. But because I was hiking in the Cinque Terre, it was time for Tevas.  I was able to find a very helpful sales person, I told her I was hiking and she recommended the pair I ended up purchasing. Are they the most stylish? Nope, but did they answer the mail? Absolutely. The footbed of those shoes was incredible and soft. I hiked quite a few trails in the Cinque Terre and these shoes held up beautifully.

What I learned

It’s OK to buy things when traveling. You won’t pack “perfectly” for every trip. A benefit to packing light is there will be room for new items. Lesson two – Even though the shoes I bought “fit” I didn’t test drive them enough before the trip to realize that they were too small. Make sure you vet your shoes first especially if you plan on doing a lot of walking.

Scroll to Top