Now that you’ve decided to go somewhere its time to pack!
I don’t know about you, but while I have a great love of traveling I don’t really enjoy the packing. I find it stressful trying to decide what to bring… What will the weather be like? Do I have the right shoes for walking? What if I forget something? How many outfits can I fit in the suitcase? Will I feel comfortable and look good in what I brought? Will I look good in the travel photos? HA! HA!
To make matters worse… We also have packing rules in our family. We can all bring ONE european size carry-on each! No matter how long the trip, no matter the time of year. That’s right, the same amount of space whether it be winter or summer. In fact we only took one carry-on our honeymoon for BOTH of us, that’s right we shared the same carry-on suitcase for 12 days!
Thankfully, we don’t have to share anymore, a girl’s got to put her foot down, and over the years I’ve even gotten quite good at making it all fit into my own small sized suitcase! Okay, sometimes I can’t make it all fit, but that’s what the kids suitcases are for… sneaking in a few items here and there!
My Packing Method
About three days before the trip I start pulling clothing from my closet and dressers. I pull everything I currently love to wear and lay it out on my bed. I always pull out too much in this first go around. There will probably be multiple go arounds!
Next, I make outfits out of everything I’ve laid out weeding out the items that I don’t feel comfortable letting someone else wash and/or that don’t match everything else as I go. Space is very limited, so making sure it’s not wasted on items that need to be handled with care, will only be worn once, need to be dry cleaned or don’t match everything else isn’t an option.
The following list is everything I was able to fit into my European sized carry-on suitcase for a 14 day trip. Of course the items will vary according to the time of year and location, but in this case our upcoming destination will be for the most part warm. I’ve tried to allow for cool evenings and a few days in London where the weather can be questionable. Keep in mind the dimensions of a European sized carry-on suitcase are 22in x 18in x 10in, in other words, small!
- Two light weight cardigans
- Two lightweight dresses (one sleeveless, one long sleeve)
- Two Scarves
- Four Long sleeve t-shirts
- Two Short Sleeve T-shirts
- Two pair of Shorts (One denim and one olive-green)
- One travel skirt
- One cropped Jean
- One skinny Jean
- One pair of pants
- Four Layering tanks
- Eight Sleeveless Shirts
- One Swimsuit
- Two pair of socks (for the plane)
- Three pair of shoes (two flip-flop one closed toe)
- Two bras
- Fourteen pair of underwear
- * PJs are included only if there is room after everything else is in the suitcase (in this case they aren’t included)
Items that I never put into my suitcase for international travel
- Jacket/Thick Sweatshirt
- An extra pair of underwear and one pair of socks in my purse in case of an emergency
- Makeup and medicines NEVER go into my suitcase!
I always assume that I won’t have time for shopping and bring everything I might need. After all I am traveling with three boys and no matter what they say, the chances of them waiting patiently while I go shopping are for the most part slim…
But what about the laundry?
I try to pack for about 7 days and hope to wash about halfway through the trip. Of course some items will have to be worn a few different times. This is where layering comes in! In the event that time or location can’t get me to a laundry service I always make sure to have some extra underwear… a lot of it!
If we pack for only seven days what do we do for the rest of the trip? There are multiple options for clothes washing: hotel laundry services, hand washing, and the Laundromat. We’ve tried them all!
The laundry service in hotels is surely the most convenient, but it’s so pricy you might consider throwing out your dirty clothing and buying new, it might actually be cheaper.
Another option is to bring laundry detergent packets with you and hand wash the items yourself in the sink or bathtub of your hotel room. I’ve tried this method and it absolutely doesn’t work. I don’t care what anyone says it just can’t get clean enough! However, it does take forever to dry and gets really crispy! Besides, who wants to waste time hand washing when there are sights to see!
Lastly, and the method I prefer most is to drop the clothing at a nearby laundry mat. We’ve done this multiple times in many countries and it is in my opinion the best method! Simply load up your suitcase or suitcases and wheel them to the closest laundry service. The hotel concierge will be able to assist you in locating the nearest one. In Scotland, not only did they wash, dry and fold all of our laundry, but they delivered the clean items back to us at our hotel! YAY!
Remember! Don’t bring anything you don’t want washed AND dried!
Happy Packing & Safe Travels!
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