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Pack cleaning stuff or buy it in Europe

I'm leaving for my first trip in 4 years next month to Italy & France for a month. I'm having real hard time to meet Air France 26 lbs carry-on 'bag + personal item' limit due to all the extra stuffs that I have to pack this time around: hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes, test kits, masks .... Should I just pack enough for the first few days and buy most of them in Europe? I worry that masks there might not fit me as well as those I bought here. Also I assume local pharmacies would be the best place to buy these items.
Your suggestions would be much appreciated!

Posted by
2844 posts

I struggle with suitcase weight. . I take 12 masks and wear them for a couple days each. I bought a couple in Venice last year but they hurt my ears and mine don’t. So yes, take masks if you like yours. They are not required in most places. I was usually the only one wearing a mask on transportation and crowded sightseeing. On the RS tour only three of us wore masks.
I didn’t take hand sanitizer. If you really want it you can buy it in Europe. I did take individual packets of Wet Wipes, enough for 2 or 3 per day. I took two Covid test kits because I had them. Easy to buy in Europe at a pharmacy. I also took a thermometer but didn’t use it, fortunately.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
15505 posts

If you like your masks, take them, but everything else you can find in pharmacy or supermarket.

Posted by
919 posts

I would never skimp on masks--ours are tried and true, so far. I pack only travel size items such as toothpaste, hand sanitizer, etc. Then, I buy larger tubes/bottles when we arrive at our destination the first full day. It's fun to shop in a foreign country. I'm taking a shampoo bar (3 ounces) which lasts a month and a travel container of conditioner. Gone are the days of packing 16 ounces of shampoo which add another pound. My carry on is 16 lbs and our check-in is under 25 lbs. We'll be gone just over two weeks in France. I've never had my carry ons weighed by United which is our carrier. We are renting flats with washing machines, so we pack light. I do take a few Tide Pods!
What an exciting time for you--first time traveling in four years, and you'll be gone for a month! I say to buy there and enjoy some different products from France and Italy. Enjoy!

Posted by
3188 posts

Lindy, instead of Tide Pods, which are liquids, try some laundry sheets.
They are very light and you can use a little bit of one for hand washing clothes too.
Tru-Earth and Nature Clean both make some, and there are other brands.
No more liquids!
I’ve used them in washing machines in Europe for a few years now.

Posted by
7377 posts

I brought several Covid tests last year, including two of the proctored box ones that took a lot of room. My suitcase had all of those items for both trips. For this year’s month long trip, I brought a couple of Covid test kits and six N95 masks, & two large handfuls of the Purell individual singles.

My suitcase + personal item for three weeks last year were around 17 pounds total. For this year’s they were 15-16 total. So, I’m wondering if we can help you drop several pounds off of your total. Could you remove at least one outfit? How many pairs of shoes? I switched my toiletry kit to a lighter weight one and dropped at least half a pound! It can be really helpful to weigh each item with a kitchen scale. That helped me choose which shirts & dresses I wanted to take because some were significantly lighter. Hope that helps!

Posted by
66 posts

@ horsewoofie, Frank II, Lindy, Jean:
I usually don't like to reuse mask but I might have to do just that, maybe keep used mask in a paper bag for 1-2 days to rest and dry. I tried a few brands in the past few years and finally found one that's comfortable and fits me well; so yes not going to take chance here.

I only had carry-on bag when traveling to Europe in the past. With all the delays and luggage problems flyers had to deal with in the past few years, it's the only way to go. I have to fly Air France for my domestic Schegen fights because those low-cost airlines have very stringent and stingy carry-on bag weight rule.

I've just done some editing on the stuffs in my backpack: removed packaging for the travel medicines, removed one of the t-shirts, removed umbrella (I'll have water resistant jacket with hood instead), two instead of three bottles of travel-size hand sanitizer, traded the second pair of shoes with something much lighter (Columbia Bahama vent).
Now I'm down to 25.8 lbs :) If I can shed a few more ounces maybe I will add back my Cocoon mummyliner; something I like to sleep in when traveling ... it gives me the sense of sleeping in the same bed ... haha.

"It can be really helpful to weigh each item with a kitchen scale"

Funny you mentioned this, that's exactly what I was doing. I weight individual items then picked the lighter options.

Thanks everyone for your great suggestions! Really appreciate it!

Posted by
4171 posts

Making weight for some airlines is a real challenge that's made harder if your empty bags are already on the heavy side. So be sure to factor in the empty weight of your carry-on bag and personal item. Get a luggage scale to check those if you don't already know. I've found that the stated weights may vary from what your scale says. I'm also suspicious of the term "lightweight" when the supposed weight isn't specified. I trust the scale more than what any printed listing says.

In general, I've found that empty weight is increased by having wheels, but I can't backpack anymore, so I have to spend some weight on them. It's also increased by the following: having 4 instead of 2 wheels, having multiple pockets with zippers, and having a U-shaped handle instead of a T-shaped (monopole) one. It may be increased by having a hard-sided bag instead of a fabric one.

More "organization" with pockets and zippers also makes an empty personal item heavier, as do the structure of the bag and some "safety" fabrics and features. So far the personal items I have, both day packs and cross-body bags, range from about .5 to 1.5 pounds empty depending on structure.

It's up to each of us to decide what our priorities are for weight. Personally, I prefer a lighter empty bag and personal item to start with, so I have 3 rolling carry-ons that weigh 4.5 pounds each to choose from. Five pounds is my absolute maximum for any "big" bag.

Good luck with reaching your Air France weight goals and have a great trip.

Posted by
302 posts

I just returned from my first overseas trip since before Covid, although only 10 days. I absolutely believe the N95 masks I brought and wore ALL the time kept me from getting sick during and once home again. Absolutely take ones you know work for you- way more important than wearing the same t shirt on repeat to save weight. I just scattered the masks around in my carry on, mostly on the bottom.
Seriously, with Covid in mind I took:
an oximeter (the heaviest of these items)
a blister pack of Tylenol Severe Cold and Flu Day and Night capsules,
a tiny thermometer
5 I Health test kits in a snack- size baggie (unpacked from the boxes)
3 tubes of a hydration powder
1 travel size hand sanitizer (I know you can get that while you are in Europe)
Lysol wipes in a pouch (but they always leak, so I kept that in a sealed baggie)
It gave me such peace of mind to know I had what I needed and brands with which I am familiar.
Heatlhy and safe travels!

Posted by
66 posts

@Lo I bought an Eagle Creek Backpack with detachable wheel/frame for my 2015 RS tour; and has been using it ever since.
To reduce luggage weight I don't use the wheel/frame; the empty backpack without wheel/frame is only 2.5 lbs. Too bad Eagle Creek has discontinued this particular model; I hope mine will stay in good shape for years to come.

@Karen I also have the list of items you mentioned with the exception of the hydration powder. I'm thinking of maybe cutting back on the hand sanitizer (just one 2-oz bottle) and disinfectant wipes (just one travel pack); as many have pointed out these can be bought over there.

Overall I'm meeting the 26 lbs target after some editing. Thanks again to everyone for helping me reaching that goal.

Posted by
6993 posts

The only things you really need to take are the masks that you like, and a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer for the flight. Maybe 2 test kits if you are going somewhere very rural. I am not sure disinfectant wipes are needed at all (in a pinch, use hand sanitizer on a tissue!) but if you do need some, then you'll find them in a supermarket - not a pharmacy. At least in France.
And hand sanitizer is available both in pharmacies and in supermarkets.
Also, be aware that mask usage is down to zero in France at the moment. Cannot speak for Italy.

Posted by
4010 posts

I have disk degeneration in my back. I MUST pack lightly. I never check a bag. Anyway all of those things can be purchased when YOU ARRIVE. I buy all of my toiletries overseas at a local supermarket or drug store as I don’t want their weight in my carryon.

Masks are lightweight; if you prefer to bring the ones you like, then do so. I do the same thing. 🙂

Posted by
66 posts

@balso, Continental:
Good to know that I can get both hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes in supermarket, save me a trip. Thanks!

The weather has been warm in both Italy and France lately; which makes it hard to predict if a jacket is needed when I get to Lake Como in late September. I probably will pack one of those super light jacket and then layer up if it returns to the historic low 70s.

Posted by
7377 posts

Hi again, I would definitely take a jacket. It gets cool in the evening when you’re at the lakes, especially if you want to eat outdoors.

Posted by
66 posts

@Jean: Thanks for your advice; I'll bring a jacket which I'll wear on my flight there so it won't add additional weight to my carry-on bag.