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Drats - I overpacked again!

My recent trip to PA for a week illustrated the need for more upper body strength along with culling the packing list. My packed bag weighed in at 23 lbs and as time went on I found myself having a little trouble getting it up around me and onto my shoulders. Time to start hitting the workout machine in addition to walking!
One other note: I didn't realize how unused to stairs I had become. I grew up in a split level and had been used to running up and down stairs all day, but that was thirty years ago. Now? No. snort. After two days of climbing stairs to get to my bedroom every time I wanted something and two days of touring I was sorta used to it again, viewing long flights of stairs with less trepidation. You know... the "I'm gonna fall down those stairs anyway so I might as well throw myself down now" type of feeling. I DID have a little soreness in my quadriceps muscles.
What I took in RS convertible bag:
hairdryer (never used, just air dried and threw in hair glue)
6 pair panties (only 3 used/hand washed at night)
3 bra (only 2 used and hand washed nightly)
beach towel, sun hat, and 2 bathing suits (plans changed-never used)
2 pair wool below the ankle socks (wore one, washed and re-wore)
Keens presidio shoes (walked 7+ miles one day in Philly and 5+ on another touring day)
2 flip flops (both used daily)
2 nice sandal (wore one pair once on flight, never unpacked other pair)
1 legging (wore on flight home as it was the only clean bottom)
6 shirts (wore 5 of them)
2 shorts (wore twice each and would have needed washing with dryer if worn again)
1 maxi skirt (wore once on flight and touring day of arrival)
Marmot precip rainjacket (never needed but would take just in case)
2 pair pj's (wore only one to lounge in before bed)

Personal bag: large Laurel Burch zip close bag contained:
electronics hub, cables for phone, tablet, and ecigs
E-cigs, extra batteries, wall charger
3-1-1 bag
snack bag
jewelry sack
Travelon small crossbody (I LOVE that bag!!!!) which contained:
cash/credit cards/id
little lipstick case with mirror that held chapstick, colored Burt's bees lip shine, and a Aromas solid perfume stick
skinny bottle of ibuprofen

What I wish I had taken - my light gauze maxi skirt

I used packing cubes for almost everything to keep more organized and rolled all my clothing. My rolled shorts looked fine. The shirts that were mostly thin cotton looked absolutely awful while the synthetic ones had no wrinkles.

I tried to pack almost everything within the main body of the bag with only flat items in outer pockets so the bag wouldn't catch while trying to stuff it into the overhead compartment. Extra flip-flops went down into the back where the shoulder straps can be stored.

warning for ecig users: If you use a tank, it will probably leak on the plane due to pressure changes. I switched to a plain carto for use in the airports and wrapped the 1/4 full tank in a paper towel and put it in a plastic bag within my 3-1-1. There was evidence of leakage on the paper towel, so beware!

Our european vaca is getting closer so I guess it is time to start practice packing with the mindset what is the LEAST I can get by with?

Posted by
1840 posts

The ladies here will help. My wife keeps her convetible carry-on under seventeen pounds whether the trip is two weeks or six weeks. Have a look at for some inspiration.

Posted by
14150 posts

What a good trial for your BOE!

If you can get by without drying your hair, leave the hair dryer at home. All the hotels had hair dryers but they often did not have the dryer capability of even the small ones here. I am a wash/goo/go gal as well, but did try to use the hair dryer at times to speed drying for clothing items.

I would do the 3/2 on the panties/bra, but woudl go ahead and take the 2 pr of socks even though you only used one this time.

Take 1 pr of flipflops that you can get wet in case you have a shared shower in Switzerland. That, your Keens and one more pr shoes should do you. I'm glad you put some miles on your Keens! Your clothes look good altho you will probably not need shorts, but probably figured on a pr of long pants? Definitely pack the Marmot. I usually slide mine into the full-zip front pocket on my convertible.

Your carry on and your small purse look good, altho I would leave the perfume stick at home.

I also found the toughest thing was hoisting that bag up to my back!

So glad you are working on what the least you want to carry is. Much better to find out in PA that things are too heavy rather than when you are trying to get to the hotel in Haarlem, lol!!

If you don't already have your list written down (with notes) I encourage you to do it now before you forget, then start a written packing list for your RS tour.

I just had to smile at your post because I just got the RS 20" roller during the last sale and took it with me last week to Yellowstone. Of course, I drove so I had my various levels of outerwear and hiking boots in the back of the car, but it was a good trial to see how the new bag would pack with packing cubes.

Posted by
985 posts

Thanks for the link Monte. I'll be certain to check that out.

I have always been a pants person but just recently started wearing skirts again. I like both and am now wondering whether to add one or two mid-maxi or above knee length skirts into the bottoms mix and just take two pants. For those who have been on the 21 day tour (I'm on the Oct 11-31st tour) were there lots of days you would have been just as comfortable in a skirt as pants?

Posted by
15969 posts

For a WEEK? Girl, what were you thinking?? (chuckling).

OK so you already figured out that this list isn't going to fly for Europe.

This is what I would leave out?
Hairdryer (most hotels have them)
All beach stuff except a pack-able hat unless you KNOW you're going to swim.
2nd pair sandals: wear one pair shoes; pack one
2nd pair PJs
3rd bra
jewelry - two pairs of earring that go with everything will do
cotton shirts that wrinkle and /or are heavy and won't dry

What I'd keep:
Leggings: wear them on the plane as long-distance flights can be chilly
6-7 shirts - cotton/poly blends or synthetics that will wash and drip-dry overnight, and mix with all bottoms
Pair of capris.
Pair of long pants
Skirt (I never take them but lots of women do)
Walking shoe
I pair sandals that can be walked distances in
Electronics/personal item stuff/sunglasses

What I'd add:
Adaptor plugs (2)
Couple of clothespins for drip-drying
Small, lightweight clothesline
Laundry soap - but not a lot. Heck, I've even used shampoo in a pinch
Throw in a plastic bag or two: we're ALWAYS needing one for something.
Guidebook if using one
Trip insurance documents, passport+ backup copy, copies of front/backs of CC and bank cards

Posted by
2145 posts

Hi Nance, here's my packing list for 3 weeks in Europe. I revised the list on the plane and made adjustments regarding what I didn't wear, what I wished I packed.

2 jeans - wear 1

2 black Dockers

1 pair shorts

6 short-sleeved T-shirts - wear 1

2 dressier tops

1 scarf

2 cardigans

1 fleece

rain jacket

I also bought a "souvenir" sweatshirt and wore it several times

2 pair shoes - wear 1

6 underpants

8 pair socks

4 bras

2 nightgowns

In addition to normal toiletries, I also took:

Disposable makeup removal cloths (it's rare to find hotels with wash cloths)

Cloth shopping bag (for trips to the grocery store)


Small packages of Kleenex (save me in a couple of restrooms)

Plastic hangers (2 pants, 2 regular - for sink washing)

I took photos of the outfits and kept them on my I-pad. It helped when I was worrying that "I didn't bring enough stuff". My RS rolling suitcase was 18 pounds. Good luck!

Posted by
3521 posts

Forget the hair dryer. Unless you have a dual voltage/European model, most US hair dryers go up in smoke the first time you plug them in in Europe!

Posted by
23411 posts

IMO, the key to packing light is exactly what you have done. Make a list, analysis the lists, make a revised list for the next and stick to it. What kills packing light is the last minute things that you throw in for, "Just in case." By the way, ecigs are being frowned on in Europe in the same manner as regular cigs. Hair dryers are everywhere so don't pack one. Just wearing sandals on the plane is not enough justification to bring them. Scratch from the list. After every trip, keep refining the list.

Posted by
3235 posts

Here's what I packed in my 20" RS wheelie for a recent 17 day trip:
2 nice long sleeve tee shirts, black and navy (they dry overnight)
1 black tank top
1 pair black NYDJ (jeans)
1 PJs > pant(yoga pant) and Large tee shirt top
5 pairs of socks (wore 3)
3 bras
3 pairs of underpants
2 scarves
3 prs of earrings (wore 2 pr)
1 pr of flip flops
1 sweater, light
3-1-1 bag (face cream, mouthwash, toothpaste)
dry items in separate bag: baby powder, meds, tiny hair brush, tiny mirror, toothbrush and deodorant/lipstick/chapstick, small hand soap bar(I use this to hand wash my clothes); sink plug and clothesline
Electronic chargers, adapters, cords, xtra camera battery (once I started checking my bag I removed this stuff and put it in a recyclable grocery bag…just in case), umbrella, door wedge-never again, eye mask, ear plugs, neck pillow, whistle(why?-never again), spork, back up eye glasses-3 pr.
And one plastic folder of documents, one folder of info, and one large document folder of genealogy info, which was particular to this trip only.

On plane I wore a blouse, quilted vest, and spring jacket, NYDJeans, shoes and leg belt. My purse/camera bag combo had camera, battery, cord, charger; CC, Passport, and RX meds/eye drops; iPod, US phone, eye glasses-3 pr,

I bought a silk pashmina and a linen scarf…part of my plan. And bought shampoo…I didn't realize I was particular.

Next time: I might consider one more pair of light pants if not traveling alone, and one more blouse (although I didn't need them at all). And packing lighter PJ's, not yoga pants. The suitcase weighed 21 lbs, but almost 2 lbs of that was my genealogy and info paperwork, which disappeared as I went on and was particular to this trip. It seems I carry more 'other things' than clothes. Lots of times I just kept wearing the things I washed the night before. Each trip I pack a little differently so I don't have any hard and fast rules to help you so I thought I'd just give you this list. I traveled way up north so some of my clothes were warmer than you will need; i.e., vest and spring jacket. I love figuring this out each time. Have fun, Wray.

Posted by
985 posts

Thanks everyone for your replies and lists - very helpful!

Posted by
2616 posts

That's a lot of stuff for a week! For 2 weeks in Europe last month this is what I brought, includes what I wore on plane:

2 pair Hudson jeans-lightweight and dried easily overnight, wore 3 or 4 days then washed
5 3/4sleeved cotton jersey/spandex tops-wore them all, washed a couple
3 short-sleeved tops--wore them all, washed a couple
Navy light cardigan
Black light pullover
Black Calvin Klein light but warm anorak

Black Fly London Yel boots--sublime comfort, wore on plane
Orange/red Fluevog oxfords--super comfy alternate
Lightweight ballerina style slippers for lounging
4 pair socks, Smartwool and Wrightsocks--washed daily
5 pair panties--washed daily
2 bras
Nightshirt--short sleeves, since last year I got too cold in a sleeveless one & didn't want to bring a robe
Coach leather cross-body
Canvas messenger bag for bigger day trips
Toiletry bag

I never bring a hair dryer but I do bring a dual voltage curling brush for touch-ups. I got in the habit of washing out panties and socks every night and hanging with those plastic clips--no fancy detergent, just shower soap provided by hotel--until I had enough clean for rest of trip. I felt clean & fresh every day, very important to me. Some days in Poland were quite warm, mid-80s, while Prague was mid-50s so I needed my layers.

I'm sure I could pare down another top or two but overall I feel I've finally learned to make good--and versatile--choices. My packed rolling bag weighed 27 lbs.

Posted by
985 posts

Thanks for another list Christa.
I know there will be nights I won't want to or can't do laundry but don't mind doing it every other day so bras, socks, tops, and panties should not be a problem.
I will be in Europe the whole month of October. Going in the fall is iffy weather but I am hoping for the best and will certainly check weather last minute before I fly. This is my initial list of options. Everything is a synthetic blend except for maybe the jean jacket. I bought it at a consignment shop and they had cut all the tags out- rolling eyes. Please, please, feel free to critique and pick the list to death! To make it easier for a response I have lettered items so you don't have to type out the name of the clothing unless you wish. I have placed a question mark after items I am really unsure about but the whole list is debatable lol.
All opinions greatly appreciated!

a. 2 sleeveless mock turtleneck tops (red, cream)
b. 1 sleeveless silky shell (black)
c. 2- 3/4 sleeve tops (colors to be determined)
d. 1 red/navy long sleeve striped Breton sweater top? Or a 3rd 3/4 top? Or long sleeve?
e. 1 very thin open front sweater (golden tan) - wear over 3/4 tops, turtlenecks, shell ?
f. 1 thicker mid thigh comfy sweater (black) ?
g. 1 embroidered jean jacket to wear with shell, turtlenecks, 3/4 tops
h. 1 Marmot precip jacket (black)
i. 1 pr. corduroy synthetic legging (navy or brown)
j. 1 jegging (dark blue)
k. 1 jegging or pant (black)
l. 1 midi/maxi skirt??? or the 2nd corduroy? do I need a 4th bottom?
m. 3 pr. below ankle wool socks
n. 2 pr. mid calf wool socks
o. 1 wool tights???
p. 3-4 microfiber panty
q. 2 bra
r. 2 camisole (nude, black)
s. knit headband
t. thin gloves
u. waterproof Teva ankle boots - med. brown (I wear the heck out of these)
v. Keens walking shoes (rust)
w. Alegria or Skechers black shoes walking shoes???
x. Teva flip-flop

No Y? No Z? Dang - almost have the alphabet. Not everything is going though, so for those of you who have traveled a lot or been to Europe recently would this be appropriate for a fall trip? All shoes/boot are well broken in btw. I may kill two birds with one stone and buy the Keen shoes in black or brown. They fit and perform well so I definitely want to take them along with the boots and flip-flops. I guess I just feel like I need to have a dark shoe.
And there you have it... have at it. Please!

Posted by
7377 posts

First, I can tell that you're going to have a fantastic time in Europe! : )

If you want to consolidate further, I would start with eliminating "w" and question if you need "x". Go for the rust color on "v"! : )
Next, I would reduce "e-g" down to two maximum. I think you will want the 4th "l" as the shorter of the two skirts options for some variety. Personally, I like having the option to wear a skirt, even to change up my wardrobe a little for evening group dinners.

Question about the tights: on our trip to Switzerland & Italy last Sept., the weather forecast was cold & rainy for Switzerland. I quickly purchased a pair of grocery store tights before we left. Those underneath my pants kept me plenty warm on those cold days, and they didn't take any room. If your wool tights are bulky, you may want a lighter option.

Aim to have your suitcase at least 1/4 empty when you start your trip, so you can bring home some items, and keep your suitcase lighter. Also, print out your final planned list of clothes & electronics. It's amazing how you will start to think of "maybes" the morning of your flight; the list will keep you from over-packing those "maybe I should add this!" stuff you don't need. : )

Posted by
14150 posts

c or d. I would probably take a short sleeve shirt in case it is warm in Italy, but have it so you can wear the jacket or sweater over it.
f. The mid-thigh sweater sounds like it might be bulky? If you can wear the jean jacket with the jeggings as well as the lighter sweater, I would just go with that.
h/i. Assuming the Marmot goes over the jeans jacket or the sweater?
o. I am not sure I would take wool tights (that says to me they have feet in them?) but at your time of year I would consider either a light wool or silk base layer bottom. I would probably not take it for myself but I know you are from FL and might feel cold in Switzerland!
r. Not sure about the camisoles. They are not going to take up much room but I am not sure you need them??
v. Unless the rust Keens go with your red items I would get them in one of the neutrals you listed.
x. I would keep the flipflops in to wear in the shower if you are in a shared shower situation.

Thanks for sharing your packing list. I love to look at what others are taking! And Jean is right about having your list printed out and making yourself stick to it. It is so easy to throw in I might need this items when really, you don't!

Posted by
985 posts

Jean and Pam - thank you both for taking the time to read my big list and respond.

Yes Jean, the tights are sorta thick and I didn't think about them sticking to my pants but they would so those are out!

Pam - going to have to put those shoes up next to the shirt and see how they look!

Posted by
1420 posts

yup, keep the flip flops for the shower, down for breakfast, and around room in the evening. my tip is to get a new pair from the 99 cent store and then leave them behind in europe if you run out of room.....

Posted by
14150 posts

Well Nance, I woke up during the night thinking about your list! You didn't list your extras, but if you plan to sink wash, take a 2 gal (or is it 2.5 gal??) slider zip lock bag where you have reinforced the seams with tape.

Plus if you are taking jeggings, then a base layer is not going to work under them nor are the wool tights as mentioned above. You could probably take the thicker opaque panty-hose/tights as an emergency layer under the jeggings.

Posted by
985 posts

Thanks Doric and Pam!
I think I'm going to stick with my Teva flip flops because they can be worn in place of shoes for short periods of time if I want. My feet just won't tolerate thin flip-flops for long.
Pam - yes, those jeggings are tight enough so that only pantyhose might go under them. I actually wore the jeggings underneath my yoga pants this winter when I went snow tubing and stayed marvelously warm! If push came to shove I could do that.
Yes, I didn't list all the sundries, but have already bought some big baggies for laundry and a bar of Zote which I will cut down. I do still need to reinforce them the way you explained in one of your posts.

Posted by
2616 posts

Everything sounds right to me, except I'd keep it to two pairs of shoes, and the flip flops you have a good reason for plus they can double as slippers--I hate to walk barefoot on hotel floors.

Posted by
2454 posts

Kudos for test driving your packing list!

Reading your original list - you don't need two pairs of pajamas - just pack something that you can wash in the morning and have dry by the evening - I found a mixed fiber (cotton/rayon blend) long night shirt that works great (I tested it before I went on my trip). I'd second the recommendation to take nylons or thin tights as a backup under layer. I personally like wearing skirts when traveling and the nylons or tights will be a necessity in October if it is cold. I only bring two pairs of shoes - one can be worn with skirts (mary jane style Keens) and the other regular walking shoes - plus very light flip flops that work in showers and as slippers in the hotel. As mentioned on other inquiries on this topic - see the Vivienne files for suggestions on wardrobe assembly (the "4x4" section is great). You may want to pack a lightweight extra bag - if you're on a RS tour, they usually let you put things in "deep storage" on the bus, a good spot for trinkets and things you find you don't need a lot, plus you can use it as carry on for your return trip. Lastly, as a person with very sensitive allergies, I second the recommendation to ditch the perfume stick - the people on the (very close quarters) bus will appreciate a clean, freshly showered person, rather than strong perfume.

Posted by
8 posts

Lots of good advice already.
As you travel more, you will likely be able to trim a little each trip for quite a while - celebrate all progress!

Few general concepts that help me:
1-I pack for 4 days and then re-wear and wash as necessary. 4 tops, 4 bottoms, mix and match that gives you 16 unique outfits (and you are wearing at least 1 so need pack only 3). Plus a dress or 2 depending on where you're headed and what you are comfortable in. Lower half example: summer I likely bring a pair of city shorts, an almost-knee length skirt, a pair of long pants (wear on plane), and a pair of capris. Winter, 3 pairs long pants (wear one on plane), possibly a daytime skirt depending on activities.

2-especially in cooler seasons, if you can wear 3 of your 4 top items simultaneously, you won't need to drag along extra outer layers (no, you don't have to look like the Michelin man - a thin base layer, long-sleeved fitted layer, button-up top and then cardigan or warm vest and outer rain layer can look quite nice if selected carefully imo). Sometimes I play a game on the way home, how many of my clothes can I wear at once? A button up shirt dress can be worn as a tunic....

3-fabric matters, not just weight and easy wash/quick dry, but also texture. I have a pair of quick-dry Columbia pants that are smooth woven material and seem to shed dirt. I have a pair of soft Coolibar pants that are woven and a bit fuzzy and attract dust and dirt. Guess which ones get packed more often? I used to get special items and save them to wear on upcoming trips, now I test drive around town first :)

4-once you've conquered bulk, there's weight. Similar items can have drastically different weights. I have a dress that I toss in on most trips, it is light weight silk with a matte texture, packs flat, and weighs less than 3 oz (!). I have socks that take up more room :)

5-I find a silk (or silky) scarf does wonders, both for temperature (cold flights!) and avoiding boredom with my wardrobe. Tie the scarf a over the same outfit as 2 days ago, and it's a whole new 'look'. 2 days later, tie the scarf differently, and another look :)

6-if you have items that can be worn in different ways, that helps avoid boredom too. I removed tags from my down vest so it is now reversible (solid one side, pattern on the other). I have a knit dress that is stretchy enough I can wear it as a top, a tunic, a short or long dress, can tuck in the sleeves and wear sleeveless, can scrunch the top at the waist for a skirt with a ruched waistband look, etc. It does weigh more than the dress in #4, but 8oz or so and all those options makes sense.

Have fun! I find it a bit addictive to try to 'pack less' each time...

Posted by
985 posts

Thank you Christa, CL, and babysteps for your replies! Yes, I'm keeping it at one boot, one shoe, and flip-flops for the trip. Last year I bought a big packsafe 400? bag that I thought would be good for my personal item and have used that several times when traveling. I think it would work fine for holding two days of clothing when going into Venice - thank you Pam for that tip!
I've been doing my best to only buy synthetic materials and then wash/roll/hang dry to test drying times. I'm going to have to find a different pajama though as mine are all 100% cotton -mostly tops and shorts, or just a mid thigh tee. Oddly enough I found that my cotton panties dry faster than the microfiber (just barely) but they dry stiff and the microfiber don't so microfibers will go with me. When I retired last December I received a bunch of scarves as gifts so I have a wealth to choose from to take 1-2 with me - plus I want to buy one or two while I am there and will probably choose scarves as gifts for the ladies in my family as they will be lightweight!
I'm sure I will have more questions and I sure appreciate all of your responses.

Posted by
687 posts

Putting my 2 cents in here too.

I don't really get along with flip-flops and I'm wondering if there's an alternative anyone can suggest. I wear bedroom slippers at home. It's odd--I wore flip-flops when I was a kid--lived in them, but now having something between my toes like that bothers me a lot.

Posted by
8582 posts

SandraL you might want to start a new separate thread with your question.

Posted by
2616 posts

SandraL--I take a pair of those ballerina-style slippers for wearing in the hotel room, like by Dearfoams--they're light-weight and flat and tuck easily into a suitcase, cheap enough that I could toss if I needed the room. My mom instilled in me a lifelong aversion to having my bare feet touch a hotel floor, sigh.

Posted by
15969 posts

I don't know if this makes a difference to any first-timers where flip-flops/slippers are concerned but a vast amount of Italian hotel rooms are floored in tile, wood or vinyl. We've yet to stay in one with carpeted floors, and this includes 3 and 4-star accommodations.

The lack of carpet makes the floors feel much cleaner to walk on barefoot, and cuts down allergens (if that's a problem for any of you). I realize that some of you use flip-flops for the shower (we don't) so would take them anyway but if the ick factor is carpet, it's more likely than not that you won't have to deal with that. A pair of footie socks could be tucked in for warmth if needed.

Posted by
681 posts

You've gotten wonderful suggestions on what to take - and what not to take. Be sure to make a final packing list of what you actually take and, as you go, make notes as to what worked and what didn't. It's funny how we forget these things once we get home, but, by doing it while I'm traveling, I've been able to fine tune my list to near perfection (for me).

Posted by
985 posts

Nancy - I have hand written a list and will type it up to take with me. Planning on using tally marks every time I wear or use something so I know for next trip. Thank you for the reminder though in case I had forgotten to do that. And yes, this forum is a wealth of wonderful advice for a newbie month long traveler.

I am primarily taking my flip-flops to use as a third shoe for evening after touring is done and I can't stand having shoes on my feet another minute. Not for restaurant use, just casual use, short -term use.