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Help! 9 Days, 3 Countries, 2 Climates, 1 Carry-On Bag (F/30's)

Hey all, longtime reader and first-time poster. On Friday I'm heading to London and Paris via Reykjavik, with a 3-day stopover in Iceland on the way back. I've been a light packer my entire life (including a road warrior consulting stint!), but am a little flummoxed by the duration of the trip, all the movement (4 planes, 2 Eurostar trains, 3 hotels and a friend's home), and the different styles, climates, and activities I'll be coming across. I'd love your advice...

  • What luggage? For the plane, I'll have my Fjallraven Totepack 2, which converts from a handbag to a tote to a backpack and dresses up/down well. I'm debating between my 20" Tumi rollaboard (I know, I know) or my Osprey Porter 46L travel backpack. Tucked inside I'll have a Bellroy sling as a small, museum-friendly daybag.

  • What shoes?! Comfortable, clean walking shoes are a non-negotiable. But what if I have a nice dinner in Paris? Cocktails in London? What about hiking and weather in Iceland? But I'm not a crazy outdoorswoman - should I really bring hiking boots? Are the day trips (e.g., Golden Circle) challenging enough walking to mess up my unstable ankle after a fracture last autumn? Do you need flip-flops for the thermal pools?

  • What clothes? London's pretty similar to the US city I live in... but what about Paris? Are Icelanders more fashionable or practical? I'll have limited access to laundry until I get to Reykjavik.

  • Electronics? Do I bother with a camera? I haven't brought one along for years - my iPhone 14 Pro's pretty solid! - but Iceland's landscapes look spectacular.

Anything else I missed? Ways to be more efficient in what I bring along? Things I should just purchase once I arrive? I always struggle with multi-destination / activity trips like this and welcome advice. Thanks all!

Posted by
422 posts

Iceland very casual. Frankly London and Paris too. But one option to consider is a small separate bag or box that you put in storage at Rekjavik on way and pick up on way back with maybe just your hiking boots, packable down jacket, a couple extra pairs of socks for the boots, gloves, whatever else you would need just in Iceland.

Link to airport storage here.

And rather than take camera maybe just study a few you tube videos as to how to take the best photos with phone.

Posted by
301 posts


Without more information about the activities you have planned, and how long you'll be in Paris and London, it's hard to be more specific, but I've visited all of those places more than once, including while I was in my 30s and tried valiantly to pack light, so I'll do my best, Feel free to also PM me, as this could get long fast ;)

Shoes. Always the hardest part! First things first, at least two pairs need to be comfortable for walking long distances and over cobblestones. Given where you're going and the time of year, bonus points if one pair will work for rainy weather. As for "nice" shoes, you say "what if I have a nice dinner in Paris? Cocktails in London?" How likely is this, really? If you have a good pair of comfortable, but nice-looking flats (black, navy, dark grey, something solid and versatile like that), you can kill two birds with one stone. You'll also have an alternate pair of shoes for days that might be less walking-intensive or when you just want to switch things up. And if you find yourself truly needing a pair of really nice shoes on the fly, you can always buy them.

You don't need hiking boots for Iceland and I think, regarding your ankle injury, you'll be fine with the Golden Circle; If you're not, you can always sit down and rest. How are you planning to do the Golden Circle? On your own, with a tour, with friends? Either way, how much you walk is up to you. The terrain isn't crazy. I also have ankle issues and, along with maybe having a quick chat with your doctor, would suggest bringing some kind of compression sleeve/brace and good, supportive shoes. The same comfortable, close-toed shoes you'll want for rainy, cool days in the city (i.e., slick pavements and cobblestones) will do fine at the Golden Circle.

Electronics Unless you're a dedicated amateur photographer and/or want a certain kind of shot, your iPhone will be fine. In fact, it'll be better than fine. I love taking pictures and in the past have overladen myself with gear, but during my last overseas trip (2022), I ditched the GoPro (which I valued for the wide-angle lens more than the adventure aspect) and kept it to my iPhone (12) and Nikon. Honestly, at this point, the iPhone cameras are so good that unless you have a particular shot/activity in mind, that requires specialized equipment or settings, there's no need for more. Actually, in 2015, during my Golden Circle tour, my Nikon's battery unexpectedly quit and I had to rely on my iPad mini (don't remember the exact model, but it was from 2013 and wasn't the topic of the line) for the rest of the afternoon, and the photos were marvelous. There are lots of good blogs and YouTube channels dedicated to iPhones and travel photography--you might check those out too. Just be sure to bring extra chargers and have a way of uploading to the cloud or moving your pictures to an external hard drive (or both).

Okay, this is already going on forever, so I'll stop for now. I hope this helps a little. Others will definitely chime in about clothes, laundry, etc. Just remember that it is your trip and take with a grain of salt anything anybody (including me ;)) says about what you do and don't need. Ponder the advice you get, for sure, but remember that civilization will not collapse if you bring [fill in the blank] or even (gasp) check a bag. ;)


Posted by
448 posts

I've always liked the look of that Porter 46--we have the 30L version and it's a handy bag for my son. I'd be inclined to take that.

How does the weather in Paris and London look? Personally, I am a fan of a comfortable walking sandal that can be dressed up enough for dinner. Which Golden Circle tour are you doing? If it's with Reykjavik Excursions, I did not find the terrain to be very challenging. I did not use flip flops for the thermal pools. I would have used them if I had them with me, but did not want to pack them just for that. The pools were very clean, though the walk between the locker room and my cold dip in the lake next to Fontana were very chilly.

We took a trip in the winter which involved two cities (Berlin and Wroclaw) and then spent 3 days in Iceland on the way home. Fashion felt very practical--then again it was the winter and everyone had warm coats on. I would recommend a down jacket, a hat, gloves, and thin base layers (I like the 32 degree brand found at Costco). A few pairs of hand warmers could be nice, and hardly take up space. There's a store in Reykjavik called Mjuk that has lovely soft hats and accessories. I also came home with an Icelandic sweater which I absolutely love.

I took my iPhone 12 and was happy with the pictures I took. Good luck with your trip and I hope you will report back on how it went!

Posted by
440 posts

Unless you are staying at the Ritz and are shipping your Louis Vuitton luggage ahead, and are 30 years old, I doubt you’ll be anywhere for drinks or cocktails where you aren’t able to get away with wearing whatever practical shoes you pack.

We were just in Paris, and everyone walks everywhere, and only one person stood out amongst the sea of locals and tourists in their comfort ware. I only saw one young lady in stilettos and she definitely didn’t look comfortable. Cute yes, comfy no!

Posted by
99 posts

Pre-Covid one August after a RS tour that included southern Spain (100+ f) I was woefully unprepared for how cold the wind can be in Iceland, regardless of the temperature. I had only a light raincoat and cashmere cardigan in the bottom of my carryon- and Keen sandals. That was it. Huge mistake!
I was ok, although cold on the Golden Circle tour- it was sunny and not windy- you won't need serious hiking boots, but closed toes are important (with the rocks of all sizes) but in downtown Reykyavik my teeth were chattering so much I barely finished the (awesome) Tour by Locals. When the wind died down it was ok, though and felt much warmer.
Last July I was only at the Reykyavik airport overnight for transit two times, and this time had a lightweight puffer and gloves. But walking around between the airport and the hotel it was definitely needed-it was overcast and windy.
So I focused on my experience for the Iceland part of your question- presumably you have a packable light puffer you can take, living in Chicago? And merino or other lightweight long underwear top/bottom won't take up much room, ditto for a pair of warmish socks/beanie/gloves.

Posted by
23 posts

Thanks for all of the help, everyone! Here's what I ended up doing:

What luggage? For the plane and Eurostar trains, I used my Fjallraven Totepack 2. My Bellroy Lite Sling was a perfect day bag around London and Paris. And I settled on the 20" Tumi rollaboard. When I left the US, it was fully compressed and still had some empty pockets. Upon return, I filled it up with Icelandic knits, chocolates and perfumes from my favorites - Rococco and Ormonde Jayne, respectively - in London, and French pharmacy skincare.

What shoes?! I opted for Danner Logger 917 ankle boots, which took me from cocktail bars in London to the cobbles of Paris to the hiking trails of Western Iceland and kept my wobbly ankle feeling good. I brought a pair of leather Adidas Sambas, too, and only wore them once.

What clothes? Black skinny jeans, "fancy" tees in solids and stripes, a cardigan, a track jacket, a merino base layer, and a rain jacket. Merino socks and bamboo underwear. One stretch cotton button-up in case I had a dressy outing. One bikini for the Sky Lagoon. Gloves and a beanie for Iceland. A necklace and two pairs of earrings. I ended up doing a load of laundry in Reykjavik, but it wasn't necessary. Mostly to save myself some work when I got home. (And I immediately got sick, so it was prescient.)

Electronics? No camera! The iPhone 14 Pro and a backup battery worked a charm. Iceland is so beautiful that you don't need a fancy camera to take a stellar shot.

Posted by
2 posts

I just got back from a trip to Ireland, Scotland, and England and cannot recommend enough a pair of OluKai booties. Had dry feet for the entire trip no matter what the weather and they look amazing. Wear them with a pair of Merino wool or cashmere socks and you cannot beat the comfort.

Posted by
9769 posts

The OP is already back from her trip (she even reported back!).

Glad you had such a great time, Amy!