Female packing help please?? Aug-Oct

Hi guys. I'm a notoriously bad over packer and I've scheduled a 2 month trip to Europe. It starts in London on Aug 20th and will be traveling hopefully to at least Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Italy, Amsterdam over that time until the 2nd week of October. I'm one of those people that always has the heavy tag attached to my suitcase, but I've bought just a light suitcase that has backpack straps if needed so I need to get this way down for ease of travel and carrying purposes. I've looked at the packing suggestions on here and some other threads and I've gotten some ideas, but are those the guidelines I should stick to with a longer trip planned? and just plan on washing in between? Also, weather seems all over the place so any help on what I might need to pack based on places would be great as well. Thanks so much!

Posted by Sherry
San Jose, CA
1994 posts

No matter how long the trip I take the same things. The following list includes what is packed, as well as what I'm wearing on the plane:
– 2 pairs of pants
– 5 to 6 tops that coordinate and can be layered
– 3 sets of underwear
– the walking shoes that I'm wearing (black, and ok with dressy pants), plus a pair of flip-flops
– A hooded rain shell and umbrella
– A hat that is appropriate for the season
– Something to sleep in
– A few pieces of inexpensive light weight jewelry

Since I travel in the spring or fall, I also add the following as appropriate, depending on anticipated plans and weather:
– A lightweight zip-up fleece top that can be layered under the rain shell
– Light weight silk long underwear
– Swimsuit
– A nice black cardigan sweater, if I'm going to need something little dressier

And I simply do a little bit of laundry in my room every night or two.

If it ges particularly cold, I pick up a scarf and gloves along the way. I also tend to buy one or two shawls in Europe to dress things up.

This has worked fine for me on a number of trips, and gives me enough flexibility to go to nice restaurants or performances.

Posted by gone
2081 posts


packing is packing.

You still have some time to filter out alot of garbage in your luggage. what you can do is.

  1. lay out the stuff you want to pack on your bed, living room floor, back yard, nearest park or foot ball field and pack it into your case and see how it works out.

  2. then once reality bops you in the face, start to whittle things down.

  3. repeat #2 until you can get stuff into your pack.

  4. Think about doing laundry- period. Dont be afraid of it, just plan to do it every week or sooner.

  5. Choose your clothes colors carefully, so they will mix and match.

  6. Dump as much as your e or i garbage as you can.

  7. Look at having multiples of undies and outer wear. IE. If you pack 4 pairs of undies and wear them once then look at packing 2 pairs of outter wear. that way you can wear your outer wear 2x and then do the wash. Just an example though.

7a. you can wash your undies in the sink of where you are staying if you care to to minimize your laundry days.

7b. Dont bring cotton or minimize it. It takes longer to dry especially jeans and they are bulkier and heavier. Of course humidity will affect the drying times, but for my travel clothes, i bring synthetics. They are lighter (less bulk) and dry faster.

  1. Bring at least a second pair of COMFORTABLE shoes and swap them from day to day.

  2. Jacket/coat.ect. bring one with a hood if possible so you dont need an umbrella. If an umbrella is part of your ensemble, then go for it. Also, try to bring one that is water proof and wind proof and breathable. Aso, try to find a jacket/coat that will squish down.

  3. On your airplane travel day(s), wear you jacket, bulkiest shoes and whatever else so you can free up or make your bag less bulky and weighty.


Locals and other travelers wont care if you wear you pants/shirts/dress/ect.. more than 2 or more days. so dont worry about it. They have the luxury of home turf, you dont.

If youre into buying souvenirs, think about sending them back home once you get a box full. Sometimes it beats carrying them across the world and maybe cheaper if youre flying alot.

happy trails.

Posted by ukkrazy
29 posts

You may not have time to get something new, but I wear merino wool no matter the season. Even on days like today where it was in the low 90s in middle Tennessee with humidity over 90%. Icebreaker, Smartwool and Ibex have some very nice tops and skirts which can be layered or worn alone. They also have some pants and tights for cooler temperatures if traveling in the late fall or winter. These are more expensive but are wonderfully comfortable to wear, dry quickly, do not stink (you can wear for days, exercise in them, sweat profusely and still no stink). Also, merino wool packs really small as I role my tops and skirts. You can find Icebreaker and Smartwool on Zappos.com or from their sites directly. Ibex usually must be purchased from them unless you leave near a store. Good luck and safe travels!

Posted by Lo
1678 posts

Google the Vivienne Files for advice on packing (topic in group on right side of page) and wardrobe coordination (almost every posting). The illustrations of options with real clothes help to visualize how you can do this. It's the ideas, not necessarily the specific items that are important. I take much cheaper and many fewer items than are shown.

I pack for a week and a day and wear the heaviest and bulkiest garments on the plane. Even with the variable April weather in the Netherlands and Belgium last year, I found that I could have taken less than my normal 8 tops because I took a vest, a cardigan and a couple of scarves.

One place I take more than most who post here is with undergarments. It's definitely a week and a day for those. My husband packs the same amount, thereby guaranteeing that we do laundry once a week.

If we are in an apartment with a washer, we might do laundry more frequently, but I'm not hand washing my clothes in a sink unless it's an emergency, and I'm certainly not hand washing his under any circumstances.

Posted by Pam
Troy, Idaho, USA
2642 posts

I'm with Lo, I love VivienneFiles blog!

When I first started lurking on this forum someone made a comment about light packing and said to start packing on paper first. I don't know who it was (maybe one of the guys from Colorado?) but that has stuck with me and really works. I start with a spread sheet (and really I am barely spread sheet literate) and figure out my In Transit outfit (got that from Vivienne Files), then add my other pr of pants, possibly capris. Add shirts next. The shirts need to go with everything. Don't take anything that can't be worn 3 ways which means if you have a really cute top that only goes with one pr of pants, that stays in the closet no matter how much you see yourself riding a canal boat or gondola in it! Write down the number of underwear, bras, socks, pjs.

There are also lots of websites that have packing lists. If you are young you might enjoy Travel Fashion Girl. http://travelfashiongirl.com/planning-summer-barcelona-vacation-follow-8-packing-tips/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=planning-summer-barcelona-vacation-follow-8-packing-tips

Have fun! I'm going for about the same time frame as well. The only thing I am adding is a fleece vest for Switzerland, otherwise taking the same things I took to Ireland. A waterproof jacket that will roll into your purse is a necessity.

PS: I'm a reformed packer as well. My bag was the huge wheelie with the orange Heavy tag on it as well!
PPS: You need to do a trial pack this weekend so you are not struggling on Wednesday morning!

Posted by Claudia
Land of La
2786 posts

Have done a two month stay more than once. Usually November and December so I packed for colder weather than you are likely to experience. Learned over the years that packing light is the key to traveling. Use the rolling method, packing cubes and don't take things I know I can find in Europe. Shampoo, toothpaste, etc. For years used the Original RS Classic Back Door Bag. Two years ago I switched over to a 21 inch roll on and Kensington Contour Overnight Bag. As previously noted best to wear jeans, a pair of slip ons, comfortable top and the waterproof, hooded jacket onto the plane. Jacket can go in the over hear bin with your luggage. Forget the jewelry option suggested. Takes up space. Instead, buy cheap baubles where you are traveling. In your case pack (in 2 packing cubes via the roll up method) a pair of lightweight pants, pair of capris, 3 blouses, 1 tee, 1 sweater, 1 scarf, 3 pairs of underwear, 2 pairs of socks ( I swear by the SmartWool brand), a pair of leggings, whatever you sleep in, and another pair of shoes. I also pack a Thermcheck pullover, pair of gloves and beanie. All extremely lightweight. Gloves and beanie are in the jacket pockets. Most likely you wouldn't need those items. In another packing cube should be any medications you need, along with a toothbrush, hair brush, travel mirror and some easy to apply makeup. (Bare Essentials travel effortlessly because they aren't liquids). In another packing cube you should put together all the "electronic" needs. Spare camera battery, converter, phone battery charger, etc. Pack Purex 3 in 1 travel sheets. Eliminates having to buy detergent. Take a micro fiber towel. If you have a smart phone, camera, laptop or iPad, snacks. bottle of water, etc. those as well as the packing cube of "electronics" can all go into the purse, backpack or whatever you are using as the under the seat carryon. That's the main reason I bought the Kensington Overnight bag. You can do this. As noted lay everything out on the bed that you think you need and then start to cull. Have a wonderful trip.

Posted by Maggie
Moose Jaw, SK, Canada
110 posts

You can definitely do this, Jessica. The advice given so far is good - especially looking online to see others' capsule wardrobes. www.theproject333.com might give you some ideas too.

Everyone has a slightly different idea of what to pack because we know what works for us. Think not only about the weather, but about the activities you enjoy while travelling and your own personal style and comfort.

If it were me, this would be my packing list (includes what I would wear on the plane).
1 each of:
skirt or dress
leggings (could be worn under the above for warmth and also to lounge in during down time)
short-sleeve blouse
3/4 sleeve shirt
long-sleeve shirt
compact windproof/waterproof jacket with hood
walking shoes
sports sandals

Every top has to go with at least two bottoms, more if possible. That's enough variety for me to go from hiking in the moors to visiting museums to enjoying and evening out. I take two pairs of quick-dry undies, socks and bras and wash one each evening in the sink. These clothes would suit a variety of weather, but if it were unseasonably cold, I wouldn't hesitate to buy gloves, a hat, or a pair of fuzzy socks.

Of course, there's also toiletries, gadgets, guide books etc, but I had the impression you were mostly asking about clothes.

Posted by Jessica
Woodstock, GA
8 posts

Ok, I've realized that even though I've cut down from what I normally take, I am still way over what everyone else is packing. Thank you guys so much for the help and suggestions thus far. And have never heard of packing cubes so will look into that as well. I've got a lot to learn and research on the next couple of days, but you have given me so much help and places to start!


Posted by Laura B
San Francisco
1339 posts

Since you're short on time, if you don't have access to packing cubes you can just use zip-lock bags from the kitchen (gallon and quart size) to organize your clothes, underwear, electronics.

Great advice from others on this forum : take half as much clothes as you think you need, and twice as much money.

Posted by l.p.enersen
Ballerup, Denmark
153 posts

One thought on rain:

We always pack a baseball cap to wear under the hood of our jacket. It keeps the hood from covering the eyes, keep the rain away from (most of) the face, and generally improves the whole experience.

Note: we have done this in Scotland, Italy, and Thailand and it is always an improvement.

Of course we also use the cap to keep sun from our eyes and from my balding scalp.

Posted by Claire
Sacramento, CA - Calif, United States
278 posts

And as a non balding person, I usually take a visor for the same reason as the baseball hat. No hat hair.

Posted by Anne
Renton, WA
26 posts

A way to stretch your underwear usage is to wear a panty liner each day. Packing a dozen or so doesn't take up much room.

Posted by Kristen
620 posts

Since you are going to need to do laundry, look at your travel itinerary and see where/when you will be able to do laundry. Do any of your travel accommodations have a laundry facilities or advertise a laundromat close by? If you know you will have access to laundry every 7-10 days or so, you won't feel so stressed about only packing 7-10 days worth of clothes. I am able to easily get 10 days worth of outfits in a carry on suitcase and personal item without having to wash clothes/underwear in the sink. When I travel for a long period of a time, I would rather take a few hours out of an afternoon to do wash at a laundromat versus washing clothes daily. Just my preference.

As far as packing, pack on paper first (someone else said that) and limit shoes!!! I will usually bring one, max two, additional pairs of shoes to what I wear on the plane.

Posted by Sally
105 posts

I have now been traveling for 4 1/2 months and have another month to go. I am on a round the world trip and started in Spain (March/April) where I was for 2 months. I am now in Bali Indonesia (July/August) and see people checking into hotels and home stays dragging these HUGE suitcases and wonder if they are moving here?

I have one small backpack that I carry on the plane. It has pillows, travel blanket, computer, toothbrush and toothpaste and medication plus other small misc. stuff. I have one small suitcase that I check - it weighs around 25-30 pounds. I STILL have too much stuff! The hardest part is the shoes. I wore the heaviest pair - sturdy ones for walking, packed another pair for walking, good leather sandals, and flip flops.

You REALLY DON”T NEED MUCH!!! I can’t over emphasise this. If you are traveling all over, no one cares what you are wearing, or if you wear it two days in a row. I have learned how to wash clothes in the sink (thing I wish my mother taught me :) ) i think what I have over packed is tops. I wore the heaviest clothes on the plane for comfort. I brought one rain jacket which I did wear once or twice. The other thing that took up- space was cosmetics, etc. You can buy anything in Europe so bring small sizes of everything. I ended up not needing the OFF or the extra toothpaste, only used one tube. I have not worn makeup the entire trip and could have left it all home! I ended up shipping some clothes and all the makeup back to the US from Thailand.

You will need to bring ONE sweater to keep you warm come late Sept Oct. Those long pants that zip at the knees are wonderful. They are shorts in warm climates, and zip on the legs for cooler weather. Don’t bring multiples of much, except underwear. You can buy laundry soap in small packages in Europe so no need for that. The only thing I had a hard time finding was a new bra, although that happened in S. E. Asia, and they are not as big busted there. That might not be an issue in Europe.

Weigh your bag, and then take stuff out if it weighs over 22 pounds!!!! You can do it. How often do you find you didn’t wear or use half of what you brought? There are laundries in Europe, and you an always wash stuff in the sink and dry it in one day.

Good luck!

Posted by Jessica
Woodstock, GA
8 posts

Still doing laundry. Yes, I'm a procrastinator. But have done a trial pack with most everything in a 22inch suitcase and I'm looking good. And strapped it on my back and it's definitely doable when needed. There are still a few things I know I'm going to cut. But guys, I really can't believe I've done it. When I say my bag, even for 6 days, always had the heavy tag, you will know what a feat this was.

I can't think everyone enough for the all the packing and clothing suggestions! And other tips. You don't know how much you have helped me out! I really, really appreciate all the help!

Posted by Pam
Troy, Idaho, USA
2642 posts

As soon as you get back, before you forget, make notes to yourself on what worked and what didn't. It will help if you have time to write out now what you packed...down to the toiletries you take! Then next time you may be able to go lighter.

Good job with getting your load down!

Posted by Liz
30 posts

Having just come back from Europe and having over packed which resulted in leaving some clothing in Amsterdam, before the next leg of the journey, there are a couple of things that I did appreciate packing. First was two pairs of shoes including one comfortable pair for walking and the other kind of comfortable but dressy. Europeans dress well including nice looking shoes; I liked fitting in. Also, it was just nice to have a change of shoes (even to wear in the hostel) given how much we found ourselves walking, standing in lines, biking on cobblestones, hiking through subway stations and in airports etc. The second thing I appreciated packing was a solid dark colour dress (in my case navy blue) that had a very versatile design - i.e. could be worn with my sweater, with a scarf, with a t-shirt over top etc. Like the shoes the dress made me feel more like a local. I really noticed how well dressed everyone was wherever we travelled. Stylish clothes, not loose and baggy with little tailoring, like North Americans. I look around now and am a bit shocked by how people (at least where I live) seem to think its okay to walk around in what looks like pajamas for bottoms and sweatshirts for tops.

Posted by lindycater
4 posts

The webcast done from Edmonds yesterday..Nov. 1...had a good presentation by a woman tour guide on packing. Here are a couple of things I would add: She was telling us that we don't need curling irons...get a new haircut. Okay, and I don't use it everyday, but I found a compact, light weight butane curling iron that is TSA approved (really!) at Fred Myer and I love it. Also suggest a Baggalini purse in lieu of back pack or messenger bag. I put my small camera in the phone section. Another Baggalini product that is an essential for me is the bag that folds into its own small envelope. Well constructed, sturdy, and great for souvenirs or dirty laundry. She suggested using your face cream as sunscreen, which I do for my face. I use Roc (cheaper at Costco) because the tubes are only 1.8 oz each. One tube can last a month. For other sunscreen, Neutrogena has an spf 70 in a very small plastic container. The RS guide also recommended a lightweight vest that stuffs into its own sack, sold by Costco. I have one. I also have the jacket they sell, which is similar, and I think sold for $30. Also stuffs into a small bag. In really cold weather, in northern India in January, I have layered them. These bags can be tied to the outside of your carryon, used for warmth on planes, trains, and tour buses. Mesh underwear, sold by all the travel gear companies, is worth the investment, because it dries overnight when you wash it in the shower. I get so bored with the same clothes: scarves and jewelry can change the look and don't have to take up much room. Wear your heaviest clothes on the plane. Start packing early, so you have time to unpack what you don't absolutely need!

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
13875 posts

Just FYI, Jessica - the OP - has been back from her trip for a month now.

Posted by victoriasharpe
3 posts

Take very little! No one cares about your outfits! Blowdryers are in the hotels. Make it fit in one small suitcase. I learned this the hard way my first year in Europe. Now, even on a 3 week trip, I limit each family member to one small suitcase. There is ALWAYS somewhere to do laundry. My only exception is undergarments. I take enough for an entire week since they dont take up much space.