This was originally posted on Wheroins, which is no longer a functioning site. My friend had encouraged me to contribute to her site and it lead me to creating this blog. Below is the original post from November 2014, hope you enjoy the somewhat embarrassing pictures of me from 2013.
I am a classic over packer. Going to my childhood home for a weekend? Great so I need 5 pairs of shoes, 3 going-out outfits, plenty of panties, 5 bras… the list goes on and on. When I began planning for my stereotypical postgraduate European Excursion (as I liked to call it), I knew I couldn’t overpack. At the same time I didn’t feel like I had to sacrifice style in order to do so.
By the time I left home I had with me a backpack and a carry-on suitcase for my 9 week journey.
Here are some of my tips to keep it light and stylish.
1.Wash frequently – Washing machines exist in other countries and are (mostly) easy to use. Most Hostels and Airbnb stays have washing machines available. If not there are plenty of laundromats in these dense cities or hand wash! Packing light becomes a lot easier if you wash your panties and other clothing on a weekly basis. You no longer have to worry about running out of clothes or underwear.
2.Material of the clothing matters. This tip applies to both washing and packing space in your suitcase. Difficult materials to wash include silk and wool and denim (dying time is super long). I would limit these items in case you have to wash everything in one load and cannot be picky with water temperature. I found cotton and polyester to be the easiest to wash, dry, and take up the least amount of space.
Heavy clothing makes up too much valued space. Instead layer in cold weather. Limit yourself to one pair of jeans for the entire trip. They are super durable and easily replaced if need be ($10 at H&M). Instead I brought a couple pairs of leggings which take up a lot less room and worked in hot/cold weather.
3. Bring a scarf – I know this sounds like a silly frivolous item but its useful. I brought a light 2×2 ft scarf with a wild print that matched a lot of what I had brought. Everyday it was in my purse along side my wallet and camera. I used it on hot days as a blanket to lounge in the Luxembourg Gardens, I used it when I was freezing and slightly depressed in Cologne, and I used it when I decided an impromptu trip into a cathedral when I was wearing a tanktop. Basically it was the most useful and most worn thing I brought.
4.Wear neutrals – For dresses I don’t really think this applies but for separate pieces it is crucial they can match anything else you are bringing. Don’t waste space on something that only matches one other item of clothing. Wearing neutrals also makes it easier to wear the same outfit in tons of different photos without anyone noticing you have worn the same outfit 5 days in a row (it happens don’t judge).
5. Don’t bring your favorite or most expensive items of clothing. If something gets lost you will regret having bought it at all. Traveling can be dirty and things can wear out fast when you have a limited about to bring with you. Pack stylish but leave your Rebecca Minkoff bag at home.
6.Throw it out and Shop. This ties into the tip above. Things wear out fast when you are walking 7+ miles a day around the city and you don’t want an expensive pair of shoes or jeans to die in a couple of weeks. Many major cities have a lot of inexpensive stores where you can replace something that had to go.
This also helped when deciding what to bring with me. Packing clothing that I was ready to give away anyway made it easier to throw away after a couple weeks on the road.
7. Use the 5-4-3-2-1 Rule – This is an addition from the original post. This rule was created by A Pair & A Spare, you can read more about it here. I first used this on my trip to Boston/Chicago and it is a perfect packing guide for a trip of any length.
Good luck on your journey!