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Packing and travel ideas

Hello! Now that all the logistics of my trip are done (plane, train, rentals), I have a short amount of time to plan some of the things we'd like to do (we leave for Switzerland in 10 days) and what I should pack. We will be in St. Anton am Arlberg for 2 days, Salzburg for 3 days and Vienna for 4 days, and would love ideas on what to do. Typically we prefer very non-touristy, off the beaten trail types of activities where we actually feel like we can blend in to the day to day life of the country we're visiting. That's not to say that we would not do something "touristy" if it's amazing and not to be missed, but mostly I would love suggestions for some more out of the way things. My son will be pretty busy practicing (he has two music competitions which are the reason for this trip), so he will likely most enjoy the times we pull him out to a cafe to eat, etc. So those kinds of ideas are welcome too.

Second, what are your suggestions on packing? I tend to really, really, REALLY overpack (it is so hard for me not to - almost impossible!!), but we are taking a lot of trains this time and I would love to be more streamlined than usual. But on the other hand, I hate to be cold or unprepared in some other way. So any suggestions for 30 days mid/late August to mid/late September (mid/late August Sion Switzerland, first part of September St. Anton am Arlberg, then Salzburg and Vienna, and finally mid/late September Budapest, Hungary). Not really sure what to expect regarding weather, and any suggestions would be welcome.

Thanks in advance!

Posted by
9885 posts

The best advice I might have ever gotten on this forum when I first started light packing was to pack on paper first which means to develop a packing list, then stick to it.

For 30 days I take the same as for 2 weeks or 8 weeks.

Pants - 2 pr long pants (wear 1 on plane), 1 pr capris if weather is still hot, or another pair of long pants. My current colors are dark wash blue jeans, black jeans, gray jeans. If the weather is VERY hot (it was last year in August in Paris, Germany and Austria but I don't think it is as hot so far this summer), I would take 2 capris and 2 long pants

Shirts - 5 SS shirts which match ALL my pants. In April/May I took 2 merino wool Tees (dark teal, light teal), plus a black Tee, white Tee and cobalt Tee. I did goof this spring in Paris. I left out a long sleeve shirt at the last minute to save weight and regretted the 9 oz it saved, lol. It was pretty cold in Paris the first few days.

Cardigans - 2 that go with all tops and pants (which might be overkill but it works for me) - In April/May took a black Lands end cardie and a cobalt one

Accessories - 2 scarves which go with

Outerwear - 1 waterproof jacket, 1 pr smartwool glove liners

Shoes - I take 2 pr. Wear one and pack one. If you have to go to dressier functions with your son's competition, then perhaps slip in a pr of ballet flats.

All of this fits in Rick's 21 inch rollaboard. It is around 22# and I am able to lift it up in to the overhead. I can also get it on and off trains on my own altho you will have help there.

I am pathetic at math but by my calculations 3 pants X 5 shirts = 15 outfits. Add each cardigan to each outfit and you've added 30 more outfits for a total of 45 outfits. Add each scarf to the 45 outfits and you've got...uh...135 potential outfits?

I do suggest you lay your streamlined potential capsule wardrobe out on the bed and try everything on to make sure they all work together. If something only goes with one outfit, it should not make the travel team!

Editing to add a link to a capsule wardrobe discussion we had last spring.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/packing/capsule-wardrobe-paris-and-western-france-april-may

Posted by
1252 posts

Pam's list is fabulous. I personally like nice knit or stretchy pants for travel instead of jeans since they are too heavy, take too long to dry, and creep up when you are sitting. Dark colors usually work best; although dark tan or olive will work for capries. When I was in the UK I wore wool; it rolls so nicely. I would take one skirt at least. You might like one cotton turtle neck to wear under those merino sweaters. I like fleece vests with pockets. And a swimsuit even though the weather may be cool you never know when you may have a heated pool available. I think people do dress more casually around the world. So dress according to your own style. My next trip I might try 3 2-piece outfits and rotate them.

Posted by
8852 posts

Pam has a great list and there isn't much I can add to that. I also pack/wear jeans. They are comfortable and you can wear them many times between washings. I don't attempt to hand wash them. I tend to stay in an apartment or some place with a washer every 7 days or so. All tops I bring can be hand washed, along with underclothes, etc. They are all able to dry overnight. You will obviously have to plan on doing laundry for a trip of your length.

Considering the time of year you're traveling, I would take 2 jeans (1 dark wash & 1 black) and one knit or fast drying pant. You can find pants that convert from long pants to capris. My jeans are skinny leg, so I can fold them up to capri length and they still look good. I also bring a dress or skirt for warm days.

One pair of walking shoes and a pair of really comfortable sandals are all you need. If necessary you could add a pair of ballet flats, as Pam suggested. I take a cheap pair of flip flops to wear around the hotel room.

Posted by
132 posts

Pam, your list is very admirable. Thank you for your suggestions. I am going to do it on paper as you suggest, and see how "minimal" I can get. This will be a very big challenge for me since I usually bring a ton of stuff with me when I travel. I am also watching videos on Youtube to help motivate me to do it differently this time.

I never wear skirts or dresses, so I am guessing I can substitute with capris. I am considering 3 lightweight pants, 1 thicker pair of pants, and 2 capris, as well as yoga pants that can double as pajama bottoms. For tops, I am thinking that 4-5 tanks tops with a couple of cardigans and maybe one warmer long sleeve shirt, one sweatshirt or sweater, and one down vest. Does that sound pretty good or still too much? Also, I know this will sound bad, but I absolutely can't go without my yoga mat and my rather large pillow. But hopefully cutting back on the clothes will help.

Thanks for everybody's ideas, and please keep the ideas coming. Any ideas on nontouristy things to do in those areas?

Posted by
132 posts

Oh, I meant to add that I will take a swimsuit, as well as a jacket, as suggested. Also, I will wear comfortable shoes on the plane, and pack hiking shoes, sandals, and a pair of flip flops.

Most of my clothes are black or grey, so that makes matching very easy. :)

Posted by
9885 posts

You have to do what you can live with! I would max out at 4 pr bottoms + the yoga pants.

Take a look at what you are bringing for cardies/jackets. It looks to me like you've got too many?

Now, I suggest you cull out what you think you want to take. Put it in another room and then do a test pack. Once you have your stuff in the other room, no going back in the closet unless you are going to swap things out, lol!!

BTW, I do sink wash my jeans using a 2 gallon ziplock bag for my washing machine. They all are some kind of cotton/poly blends and they dry overnight. I still try to do laundry when I am somewhere for at least 2 nights though, just in case they don't completely dry. I've never had that happen.

Posted by
132 posts

Great idea about not going back to the closet. I'm going to try this weekend and I'll keep you all posted on how I do. I'm feeling motivated!!

I'm so impressed with all of you who pack light and wash your things in the sink. I pack heavy and I always rent apartments with laundry! 😂

Posted by
2326 posts

For 2 weeks I have 2 pair jeans, 2 pair shoes, appropriate weight hooded jacket (it will rain where you're going, be prepared), outer cardigan, mix of tops depending on weather predicted but always something sleeveless, short, 3/4 and long-sleeved, usually 6 or 7. A pullover sweater, usually cashmere or light merino if chilly weather predicted. 5 pair panties and 4 socks. Nightie and ballet-style slippers, a couple of scarves if cooler weather. I do sink laundry and have found I am able to get through weather extremes with 30 degree variances with a good mix of tops and things that layer. If you're taking the train you'll be very glad if you stop the over-packing now. Yes, you get tired of the same tops every few days but get past that.

Posted by
10114 posts

You can do it! I take 3 pants/skirts (wear one) no matter for 1 week or 8. You do not need to wash bottoms every time you wear them. I make my jeans go for 3 or 4 days. (Only I know when they will stand up by themselves in a corner.) My go-to list is much like Pam's although for me specifically, it is two pair of nice jeans (I love NYJD) plus a pair of dressier black pants.

TWO pairs of shoes, wear one. Seriously, this is where a lot of women make a huge packing mistake. You do not need shoes for every occasion. My shoe choices are light hikers (usable in city and country) and a pair of black leather Mary Janes. I will not take shoes that I cannot walk at least 3 miles in.

Posted by
132 posts

Yes I am one of those people who brings way too many shoes! I went to Siberia in the winter a couple of years ago and took three pair of boots, three pair of shoes, and flipflops. But we weren't taking any trains, and I definitely get how that makes a big difference in what I should bring. I think in terms of shoes, I can reduce to one pair of regular walking shoes (and wear those on the plane), one pair of hiking/athletic shoes, and one pair of open toed shoes for dressier occasions. And maybe flipflops in case we visit any spas?

Posted by
2326 posts

I think your shoe choices are fine--I travel solo so usually don't have a need for any dressy shoes, but when I visited Budapest and planned to see an opera and a musical at the Operettszinhaz I knew I'd feel better bringing a jersey dress and heels. But I hated the idea of dragging along another 2.5 lbs, even though it was worth it to look nice!

Posted by
3239 posts

I read a suggestion to take leggings to wear alone or as a layer-and they don't take up much space. I plan to do this the next time I go somewhere chilly.

Posted by
10114 posts

I think in terms of shoes, I can reduce to one pair of regular walking shoes (and wear those on the plane), one pair of hiking/athletic shoes, and one pair of open toed shoes for dressier occasions. And maybe flipflops in case we visit any spas?

For me, the deciding factor is can I get it all in my 21" rollaboard? If not, I pare it down. "Just in case" does not cut it. You can always buy flip-flops if you decide on a spa day. My "dressy shoes" are my leather MaryJanes. Wearing pants, feet under the table, in the dark: No one cares if you have the perfect shoe for each outfit. Instead, "dress up" with a scarf and nice earrings or a necklace.

I also limit jewelry to 2 or 3 pair of earrings and two necklaces, leaving room for a new piece or two along the way.