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Weather in May?

I know this is probably an unanswerable question, but... For those of you who are well travelled, I am wondering how to pack for my RS 21 Day Best of Europe Tour. The tour begins in early May and I'll have almost a week pre-tour in Amsterdam/Haarlem and a week post tour in Paris and Scotland. I'm determined (and frightened) to bring only a carry on. I bought a High Sierra rolling carry-on backpack with detachable daypack and I have a pacsafe cross shoulder bag. I did a bit of experimentation with packing to get a feel for what I can/can't bring. But in May, it's so hard to even decide what kinds of things to bring! I plan to brings things I can layer, but should I bring capris and a pair of shorts, or stick with jeans/khakis/pants? Do I need something heavy/wintery for Switzerland- as it hat and gloves or a bulky sweater/sweatshirt to wear under my jacket? I was planning to only bring my long (thigh length) windbreaker/rainjacket and perhaps one regular sweater and a sweatshirt "hoody" to layer with nice t-shirts. But I'm really, really hoping to be able to paraglide in the Swiss Alps (bucket list!). When I was in England/Holland two years ago (July) I know I often wore capris and a short sleeved shirt and had my hoody and my jacket for mornings and intermittent rain and they were perfect. So will I be freezing in May? Is there a big weather difference between early May and late May? I just splurged and bought a pair of ECCO shoes (kind of a mix between a tennis shoe and a hiking boot- so comfortable!) and for Christmas plan to splurge again for a 2nd pair of (probably ECCO) slip on shoes- so I can alternate shoes as needed based on climate and condition. I saw a nice pair of semi sandals (open on the sides, covered toes and heel) but wondered if it will be too cold/wet in May for those to be practical. I'd like something easy on/off and lighter weight to alternate with the bulky shoes.

Any suggestions are appreciated!

Posted by
5837 posts

...rolling carry-on backpack with detachable daypack....
Hope you checked your carry-on's thickness with it fully packed.

...paraglide in the Swiss Alps....
Active travel requiring more than quick drying tourist clothing challenges packing. Will your paragliding provider also provide or rent flight suits along with safety gear?

...something heavy/wintery for Switzerland....
May is spring not winter but elevation and exposure certainly suggest the common advicer of layering. And bring credit cards if you need to buy or rent more gear/clothing.

Posted by
656 posts

I went paragliding in September. They provided everything. Even had jackets if we needed them. Best experience of my trip. You will love it. Enjoy!!

Posted by
333 posts

Steve~ I'm very excited! I just hope the weather cooperates, as we have one day there!

Edgar~ I know I'll have to remove the daypack to fit within carry-on measurements. I plan to pack my cross shoulder bag for the flight, and use the daypack as a "purse" with the carry-on packed overhead. I'll have to make sure I don't overpack and bloat the bag as it is close to maximum measurement for a carry on. Thanks for the warning!

Posted by
2788 posts

In going to Europe for a month in 12 of the last 13 years, we have always traveled with a 21" RS roller bag carry on size plus one personal item when allowed. It took a couple of years to perfect our packing list but RS provides a good one elsewhere on this web site. We take a RS tour every year in Europe and have taken the RS 21 day B of E tour and had no problems in the high countries. The real important thing is to take clothing items that can be layered so that you can put on as much as you need given the daily weather. There are numerous web sites that can give you the average temperatures for all of the places you will be visiting. You can just start by Googling the country and its weather. One of my favorite RS tours ever. However, it is really a quick overview of most of Europe where you do not stay in one place long enough to feel at home. I remember our guide telling us at the beginning that the tour would be providing a real quick overview of lots of place and we should be taking good notes for the places we would want to visit on another trip. He said, remember that most of you will return. We have returned 11 more years. Happy travels.

Posted by
16894 posts

I'd stick to the middle ground and most flexible (less extreme) options, like you used before. I'd say yes to capris, yes to sandals, but no to shorts and anything bulky. On the day you go up the mountain, you can wear all your layers together. On that day, a decorative scarf or wrap can work like a warm scarf/hat, especially under a hoody hood or rain jacket hood. See also http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/packing-light/packing-list-women.

Posted by
796 posts

The beginning of May can be cool. I took a Village Italy trip that began in the end of April, it was damp and cool. Layers, layers, layers.

I am in Paris now where we had some cool and damp days and a couple of warm days. A rain jacket with a fleece underneath has served me well. I have worn my 3/4 length sleeves shirts more than my short sleeved ( tshirt like) shirts. A travel umbrella is necessary. A thin T could be layered with a button down shirt for cooler days. I have a silk, very thin, long sleeved T and a tank in the same material. In the past I have been very cool at night and worn my silk T under my usual sleep T.

I like cool max type of materials whoch dry quickly when skink washed. Good socks are important; i have some smartwool and 2 layered Wright socks.

Enjoy your trip planning.

Posted by
796 posts

The beginning of May can be cool. I took a Village Italy trip that began in the end of April, it was damp and cool. Layers, layers, layers.

I am in Paris now where we had some cool and damp days and a couple of warm days. A rain jacket with a fleece underneath has served me well. I have worn my 3/4 length sleeves shirts more than my short sleeved ( tshirt like) shirts. A travel umbrella is necessary. A thin T could be layered with a button down shirt for cooler days. I have a silk, very thin, long sleeved T and a tank in the same material. In the past I have been very cool at night and worn my silk T under my usual sleep T.

I like cool max type of materials whoch dry quickly when skink washed. Good socks are important; i have some smartwool and 2 layered Wright socks.

Enjoy your trip planning.

Posted by
14249 posts

I agree you should leave out the shorts. I would pack 1 pr capris or possibly pants that roll to capri length. I would take a total of 3 pr pants, 2 long, one capri length. I would not bring sandals either, just the 2 pr of ECCO that you will have. If you have lightweight flipflops you could add them in. I wound up wearing my cheap light flipflops to breakfast about half the time, then went back to the room and put on shoes.

I think a sweatshirt hoodie will be pretty thick to pack, but it might work if you wore it in transit. Will your rain jacket fit over the sweatshirt? If no, then I would go with 2 sweaters and perhaps a fleece headband if you were going to count on the hood to keep your head warm.

I'm excited you are starting to test pack, lol!!

Posted by
1502 posts

We've gone in mid May a few different trips and experienced some very cool and rainy days. Layers is the best answer. I agree you won't need shorts. I have some pants that roll up into capris which are perfect for trips like this. I would recommend having at least one pair of fairly warm pants (not super lightweight travel). I usually take at least one long sleeve shirt, a micro fleece and a rain jacket (with lining). That way I can layer appropriately. I would also recommend water proofing your shoes. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best! You'll have a blast no matter the weather:)

Posted by
333 posts

Thanks everybody for your suggestions and input. It definitely gave me some good ideas on how to pack. I'm so glad I have plenty of time to practice pack and make adjustments as the time gets closer and the weather forecasts become more accurate.

Lisa

Posted by
1194 posts

This isn't as hard as it looks - once you know the secrets.
The first secret is clothing temperature extenders - silk long underwear tops, leggings for under skirts/pants/dresses, a pair of light gloves, merino socks, a good quality cardigan. and a waterproof packable raincoat. These things convert "regular" clothing into multi-season clothing.
The next secret is one set convertible clothing. Not the ugly jungle stuff with patch pockets, but nice looking clothing made out of technical fabric. Think Royal Robbins discovery pants - these roll up into capris but look great as regular pants. I like a top with roll-up sleeves for warm/cool weather like the Royal Robbins expedition shirt. These will work for your outdoorsy adventures but look great in town too.
The 3rd secret is to bring layering clothes like a few shells that layer under shirts and sweaters.
the 4th secret is to have one pair of water resistant/water proof shoes for walking and a pair of sandals for dress. Those Ecco shoes sound great.
Instead of jeans, think about jeggings or jeans made out of a combination material like Lee EasyFit jeans.. Not only are these lighter than regular jeans, they are thinner, cooler, and dry more quickly when laundered. They are also incredibly stretchy.
If you are really worried about the cold bring a packable/stuffable puff jacket.

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