Ladies- packing for springtime Europe

We are heading to France, Germany and Italy this spring. I'm planning on wearing mostly skirts and bring leggings to wear under my skirts if it's chilly. I'm bringing a fleece jacket, a few scarves, and a pair of born boots that are super comfy.

Yes? No?

Posted by Donna
Cleveland, OH
752 posts

Hi Charity, I've traveled to Europe several times in May and encountered a lot of rain and chilly (40s) weather. I think you need to include some type of rain jacket with a hood. Last year I took one fleece and ended up wearing it every day, so you might want to add another fleece or sweater. Hope you have a great time!

Posted by Mira
629 posts

Yup, rain is the main concern. A rain jacket and umbrella will be very handy. I personally hate fleece in rain or anything wet, so I'd switch it for a light-ish sweater and a rain jacket. But fleece is fine for non-rainy days, with a windbreaker or other raincoat over the top if it's both cold and rainy. Otherwise, sounds good

Posted by Sarah
United States
220 posts

If you are bringing one of those giant scarves among your few, well done!. You can easily wrap them around your shoulders under the fleece jacket, and have an extra layer of warmth, then loveliness with your skirts. I resorted to this when my cool short trench wasn't warm enough last spring.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
3553 posts

Sounds like the kind of clothes I bring and they always work well for me. I also bring a few of those large scarves and they can be worn under or over your jacket...or two at once:) Or over your head as a hood...or to warm up on the plane or even used as a picnic blanket:)))

Posted by Charity
Missoula, MT, USA
16 posts

Thanks for the info! I don't have a rain doesn't rain all that much here. In absence of a rain coat, I'll plan to bring a small travel umbrella. Are disposable ponchos relatively easy to find or should I pack one with me?

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
3553 posts

I would pack one... when it rains umbrellas are for sale everywhere but I can't recall seeing many ponchos...but I might have not been looking. A number of my favorite umbrellas are from trips so I never carry one...just buy if I need it.

Posted by Kristen
620 posts

I think it looks like a good list. Sounds like you have the option of layers which is key. I just have a couple of comments:

-Consider specifically when/where you are going and maybe post it on here for more insight Weather in Berlin in April is going to be a lot different from the weather in Rome at the end of May.

-Look at the weather forecast the week before you go just to check they aren't expecting unseasonably warm/cold weather.

-Have you walked long distances (a few miles) in your boots for several days on a row? I wasn't familiar with them so I looked them up and they don't look like the best walking shoes. Maybe they are and I am just unfamiliar with the brand. But being comfortable for day to day wear doesn't mean comfortable for walking long distances.

Have a great trip!

Posted by Charity
Missoula, MT, USA
16 posts

We'll be in France at the end of April, Germany in the first week of May and Italy in the 2nd week of a May. I've been watching the weather and it seems like it's been warmer this spring but I do worry about rain.

Born shoes and boots are really comfortable (the flats at least) and I'm confident I'll be good on my feet all day in them. I'm also packing a second pair of fiats ( wearing my boots in travel). I'm tempted to bring athletic shoes too if there is space in my bag.

Outside of a poncho... I think I'm good. Any other suggestions are appreciated!

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
7332 posts

I prefer a waterproof rain jacket or decent quality poncho to an umbrella so I can have my hands free while sightseeing. You can find a poncho for about $10, if you buy the flimsy disposable one you'll need several. Another benefit of a poncho is that you can wear your messenger or day bag under it and it will be dry and safe.

I was in Berlin last year the first week of May and it rained almost every day, and it was cold. Italy in May can be cool enough at night for a sweater or a wrap.

Posted by Pam
Troy, Idaho, USA
2640 posts

Charity, I too, would consider a waterproof jacket. Check at the REI there in Missoula and look at the Marmot Precip. You are probably colder over there than we are here in N. Idaho but I have worn the Precip and a fleece vest all winter here (except on the very coldest days). They are windproof as well which is a good selling factor for Montana/Idaho/Wyoming. They do have pit-zips so it was good for when I got hot shoveling snow. If you like them, you might check Sierra Trading Post online (or Boise or Cody would be the closest retail outlet, but not all that close) for a cheaper price. I think I saw that a Cabelas is opening in Missoula? They carry them in the Post Falls one, so likely in yours too but the timing of the opening may be off. I was able to roll the Precip and keep it in my purse. It has a pocket that makes a pouch but I could get it smaller by rolling it. Next time I travel i will also put a ziplock bag in my purse to contain the wet Marmot and umbrella! The only con to the Precip is that the fabric is a little noisy as much waterproof fabric is. It is less noisy than a Lands End jacket I got a couple of years ago, but still a little crunchy all the same.

editing to add: I bought this jacket after I went to Italy last May. The RS tour guide had one and it was perfect for the downpours we experienced in Florence and Cinque Terre. I am also one of those that has the rain jacket AND an umbrella, lol!

Posted by Meg
Edmonds, WA, United States
37 posts

I second what Pam said about the Marmot Precip jacket. I brought one with me a few years ago and it came in handy during a few cool, rainy days in the Swiss Alps and for some cooler weather in Germany. I got mine from REI on sale, and they also carry them on Amazon, Sierra Trading Post, etc. I still wear it frequently and have been very happy with it.

Posted by Charity
Missoula, MT, USA
16 posts

Thanks for the jacket suggestion - I'm heading to REI this weekend. I'll check it out!

Posted by Cary
Hayden, Idaho, USA
128 posts

Waterproof footwear is a MUST whether it's boots or shoes. Be sure to break in your boots before you go with the socks you will be wearing. A waterproof jacket w/ hood is also better, I think, than carrying an umbrella. In a heavy rain, a poncho directs the water down your legs and the wide sleeves do the same for your sleeves. Take your fleece with you when you go to try on a jacket. On our trip last April & May I was glad to have the super lightweight Patagonia down jacket underneath my waterproof jacket for sev days in Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris & London---also had warmer sunny days in all 4 cities when I only needed the jacket or sweater. Lightweight gloves (ski glove liners are good) also feel good on a damp chilly day and they leave your hands free rather than stuffed in your pockets for warmth. Being cold and/or wet detracts from whatever you're trying to do or see.

Posted by Ellen
Centennial, CO, USA
1617 posts

You didn't mention tops....I'm guessing t-shirts for your skirts? Add a couple that are long sleeve..that way you can layer with your fleece jacket. Bring a light sweater or two as well..... and you absolutely need a rain jacket...the Marmot one mentioned is good. I have a Marmot (just slightly better than the Precip jacket)

Posted by Kathi
143 posts

I am from Portland,OR. where it is drizzley a lot of the year, I NEVER use an umbrella, just a raincoat does the trick. Is the rain there the downpour type where you need an umbrella, or is a raincoat sufficient?

Posted by Jean
913 posts

Kathi, the rain in France isn't like our drizzly Pacific NW rain. I was in Paris a month ago, and one morning started with the crazy "turn your umbrella inside out" type of wind & downpour rain. But, by the time I exited the museum, it was a wonderful day. ...and Paris is beautiful in the rain, too. : )

Posted by Jean
913 posts

To answer your question, Charity, I bring a very minimal amount of clothing in my suitcase, but I do pack a lightweight black cardigan sweater - the type that's very lightweight, but looks professional and is warm. I wear it under my jacket if it's cold, and it's also good for evening dinners with a nice scarf.

Enjoy your trip!

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
11065 posts

"Waterproof footwear is a MUST whether it's boots or shoes" If you're walking through tall wet grass consistently, or you plan to traverse directly through every puddle you encounter, yes. Otherwise, it's overkill. I spend A LOT of my freetime walking outside over here, even in the rain and through pastureland and woods, and I can tell you that I've only had my footwear soaked through once, when I had to jump in a stream to get my dog out of it. Now, if it's a matter of protecting the leather, that's a different story. But except for the most extreme conditions, your feet are likely to stay dry.

"the rain in France isn't like our drizzly Pacific NW rain. I was in Paris a month ago, and one morning started with the crazy "turn your umbrella inside out" type of wind & downpour rain" What you experienced was not typical. Away from the coast in northern France, and most of Germany, rain usually falls rather gently. Heavy rain storms are the exception, not the rule. The only areas of Germany where I've regularly encountered heavy storms are in the Alps and the northern coast.

Posted by Georgiatraveler
Atlanta, GA
265 posts

I just returned from Germany last week and the weather was perfect! We spent two weeks in Frankfurt, Nuremberg and Munich and it only rained the morning before we left for home. The temps were perfect almost every day for just long sleeve shirts, even a few days of short sleeves. Our light jackets were perfect if needed. They have not had hardly any winter. One guy we talked to in Munich said he saw very little snow, which is unusual. Check's 10 day outlook. There is also another website I have seen several people recommend, weather underground that I found helpful.

Have a great time!

Posted by Claudia
Land of La
2786 posts

SmartWool socks. ALL different types on the website. Never any blisters, no odor as you will wear them more than one day. Don't care how comfortable your boots are once you start wearing them daily for hours upon hours of walking on cobblestone surfaces, etc you be shocked to find they may rub in spots they've never done so before. Definitely pack two pairs of shoes. Your feet will thank you. No need to bring an umbrella, you'll find cheap ones there that you can use then leave there. Personally I always take wear a pair of jeans with me. Usually wear on the plane. Once the bane of existence nearly EVERYONE wears them now, men, women and children, even in fashion conscientious Paris. Your choice of course. Scarfs are a fabulous accessory. So many practical uses. Have a great trip!!

Posted by Charity
Missoula, MT, USA
16 posts

Thanks everyone for the suggestions! I did end up buying a marmot precip jacket - it's crinkly, but what I would expect from a waterproof jacket, and I like that it's just a shell, not a coat. I have one pair of smart wool socks - I figured they'd be too warm. I am almost always to warm. I'm glad to hear they work well for travel. Thank you!! So excited!!

Posted by Diana
Michigan, United States
359 posts

You can buy lovely scarves all over Paris so no need to pack more than one (or wear on the plane).