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Packing for Belgium and Amsterdam for late October

Hello, We will be traveling to Belgium from Oct 21-Oct 27 and will be in Amsterdam from Oct 27-29. We are both bringing only a carry on bag and I have a fairly good idea of what to pack. I figure on, including what I wear on the plane, 2 pants, 1 jeans, 2 long sleeve tops, 2 or 3 sweaters (warm) and of course undergarments. I will wear a rain/trench coat. Bringing ankle boots and leather walking shoes. As for toiletries, I will use hotels or buy but will bring small amounts of my face creams. Is this sufficient? We are planning on taking an afternoon canal boat tour and wondered about the trench coat. I will layer up underneath. I would like to take another North Face like jacket but doubt I will have room, but maybe... My husband will pack similarly but of course his stuff is bigger and heavier. Any suggestions? We will also bring small folding umbrellas. I am bringing 2 small nylon tote bags to take back any purchases.

Posted by
884 posts

By North face Jacket do you mean a down jacket? As long as your trench has a hood you should be fine with it and the layers under. My only experience of Amsterdam in Oct it was cold, windy and wet. The wind blowing thru the valleys created by canals and town houses was brutal. Bring a hat and gloves.

Posted by
3526 posts

We were there one July and it was cool. Wore a sweater everyday and carried a cotton scarf too. October should be cooler. About your tote bags, I always carry one around with me to hold my umbrella, scarf, etc and any little purchases I make. But I always carry one that has a zipper. Less chance of something falling out - had that happen to me in Venice. Just a small tip.

Posted by
180 posts

Thanks for the suggestions. I suspected we would be there at a cool rainy time but the brutal wind is something I hadn't realized. I will be sure to pack hat and gloves thanks to your response. Also umbrellas for both of us. I wonder if a light thermal underwear top under my sweater may be needed.
Totes with zippers, another good idea.
Thanks again, very helpful information.

Posted by
12154 posts

It will be chilly and likely gray and wet. Days are likely to seem really short, cloud cover makes short days seem even shorter. It's not winter in Minnesota by a long shot. It's not as cold, doesn't normally freeze but the wet makes it feel colder.

Great sweater weather, with a waterproof rain shell as an outer layer. I prefer non-bulky sweaters for travel, maybe a merino wool sweater and packable down vest?

I'd also pick walking shoes than can take some rain, quick drying pants and some nice wool hiking socks. A wool ski cap keeps your head warm (where you lose most of your heat).

I don't normally pack a scarf or gloves. If I'm cold, however, I'll buy some and take them home as a souvenir.

Posted by
13241 posts

For 9 days I think "2 or 3 sweaters" is overkill. Are they cardigans or pull-overs? I'd probably take one that goes with all your shirts and add another long sleeved shirt to the mix so you've got at least 3 shirts - assuming you will wear long sleeves on the plane? To me sweaters are bulky and take up space.

Is your trench coat waterproof? I'd take whichever - either trench or North Face that is waterproof with a hood. I would not take both. If you think you will need the warmth, I'd consider taking a puffy vest. If you are a Costco member they have a 32 Degree brand puffy vest for around $15 or $16. It squishes down pretty small and is warm.

I agree with at least lightweight gloves. I travel with Smartwool glove liners. They are actually the gloves I usually use for snowshoveling but are great and lightweight for traveling. Yes, I wore them in Belgium and Netherlands in April, lol!!

Posted by
3134 posts

I don't know where you are from so if you are from the south I could be way off as you might be colder, but unless it is extremely wet, it will be chilly, but not freezing cold. I live in Massachusetts so adjust your temperature accordingly. I agree with your 3 slacks/jeans, but why wouldn't you take more shirts? Two shirts means you are washing almost ever day...assuming they will dry overnight. I travel anytime between autumn and spring. I travel carryon size and keep my wheeled bag to around 20 lbs. For your trip, I would/usually bring, including what I am wearing 6 tops, one sweater/vest, and leather gloves. I would take underwear and socks for the entire trip, as well as pj's and or nightgown/tee shirt and lounge pants. I do my best not to have to do laundry in a sink. If your hotel has laundry services, you can pack less and have them launder your clothes, but for a 9 day trip, I don't see why that would be necessary. I think your trench coat will be fine. If for some reason you are cold, you can buy another warm garment. I take my toiletries, but if you are happy with hotel supplies, that saves room. If I don't check my carryon bag, which I often do, I have a small crossbody bag with financials and meds that will fit in my carryon if necessary. Also, I have a small foldable recycle bag in my crossbody when out and about incase I buy food supplies during the day. Have a great time packing!

Posted by
294 posts

Weather! Who can predict in advance? We arrived in Amsterdam, last October around the 13th for a week. We had the most beautiful weather, warm , sunny, little wind for almost the entire week. It was amazing weather. The day we left for Germany, it looked like cooler weather was setting in, however after 4 days visiting family, we left for a week in Belgium and again, had great weather, still sunny yet cooler. I think checking weather a few days in advance of your departure and readjusting your packing may be the only thing to insure the right clothing. Layers also are the key.

Posted by
23 posts

We are taking a river cruise from Antwerp to Basel for two weeks starting on Oct. 23. Since it is for two weeks we will be checking our carefully cross packed suitcases and personal bag. I will be checking the 10 day forecast. The coat is a waterproof three in one trench from Eddie Bauer so can wear just as a raincoat, the puffy lining alone or all three. Gloves and hat for sure. I will have long sleeve layering tee shirts, the Costco vest and for the plane I wear a light weight fleece that has zippered pockets. I really like that because I can put some of the essentials in the pockets such as tissue, cough drops, lip balm and small hand sanitizer, etc. As for the sweater it is usually a zippered cashmere because it is warm and lightweight. If you are concerned about being cold there are cuddle duds that could also double as pjs. I have purchased toiletries in Europe and really like Nivea.
My husband packs the packable down jacket from Eddie Bauer and a waterproof jacket that fits over it. He really likes vests for travel.
Have a great trip. Lets hope for nice weather.

Posted by
25602 posts

I am very cold-natured. I ran into wet, 40ish (F) weather on April 10 and 11 this year. It wasn't seriously windy. I was very glad I had a set of merino wool long johns. I could have gotten by without the top by layering other things, but the bottoms were key--in conjunction with relatively water-repellant and very highly recommended nylon pants--to keeping my lower body warm and dry. That combination offered reasonable wind protection as well.

On other trips not starting quite so early in the year, I've used polypropylene Cuddl Duds, but they don't seem to handle the cold+wet combination quite as well.

For this year's trip I tossed a highly-compressible puffer jacket in my bag. It turned out I was right to worry about the early-April weather (in northern Andalucia!), but I still didn't need the puffer jacket.

Above the waist I have never needed more than long johns, a cotton top, a light fleece jacket and a waterproof rain jacket/windbreaker. I wouldn't take more than one sweater unless I expected to layer them, which I believe would make the long john top unnecessary.

Hating cold, wet weather as I do, I'd pack conservatively for a fall trip to the Netherlands, but there's a limit to how many warm layers you will need.

Posted by
985 posts

Renee, I've been in the Netherlands during October twice in the last few years, and once during December and January. On all three trips we experienced both pleasant weather in the 60's/low 70's, and colder weather in the high 30's/low 40's. I go prepared for both. I'm not an expert by any means but I'm going to list some thoughts based on my experiences.

1] If you have to do any handwashing, wring out clothing over sink or shower, wrap in towel and twist, then hang to dry. If bathroom has heated towel rack use that to help dry clothes faster!

2] 3 pants total is plenty ( I was traveling for 4-6 weeks each time) You can wear pants for several days to a week before needing to wash unless you get hot and sweaty.

3] Take 5-6 shirts - maybe 2 short sleeve and 3-4 light long sleeve that can be rolled up 3/4 style. I myself don't even bother taking short sleeved shirts over there anymore as I never wear them, but you might. Out of 60 or so fall days in Europe I have only really wanted short sleeves for two days. I got by with my 3/4 sleeves and hubby bought two cheap t-shirts.

4] Check out Land's End for the Thermaskin Long Underwear Pants and Crewneck or scoopneck top. Right now they have some for $10 or else 40% off reg. priced ones. I always carry 1 shirt and 1 pant on our fall and winter trips and have wanted them at some point. You might or might not need them. They are lightweight and don't take up much room so it is worth it to me to carry and not need them than to need them and not have them. They don't make me hot if it gets a little warmer after dressing so that is a big plus, but if you were hot you could shed an upper layer and wear it as a shirt. I don't wear them unless it is going to be cool-cold most of day. They are silky feeling and your clothes easily slide right on over them.

5] 1 lightweight sweater and 1 lightweight fleece jacket OR a light packable jacket in place of the fleece. This just gives you some variation without taking up too much room.

6] Waterproof rain jacket or trench coat WITH HOOD. It can get quite windy over there so you want the hood as it can be impossible to use an umbrella. I tried to use an umbrella in Amsterdam. Once. Almost blown off into canal and the umbrella was ruined. I threw it away and had to buy a replacement for our landlady. Save your weight for something else and buy an umbrella there if you must have one.

7] Yes, yes, yes, on the ankle boots and one extra pr. shoes. Make sure they are well broken in. Throw in some lightweight cheap slippers that you can throw in the trash when you leave if you like having something on your feet at night. I saw someone mention Cuddleduds and I take those to sleep and lounge in at night. I only used them as thermals under clothes a few times in extreme cold in winter.

8] Merino wool socks to wear - 3 pr should be sufficient - wash every 2-3 days. I use wigwam brand (blend) but buy what you can find on sale. I prefer over the calf but not knee high and cushioned soles. See Sierra Trading Post for bargains. Type in merino in search box of women's socks and then choose lowest price and start looking. Some great prices but look at reviews too.

9] You can probably get by without a scarf but I would plan on taking an inexpensive cap that covers ears and gloves. Caps are great to buy as souvenirs at markets to use at home or as gifts and you can always scarf shop if you need one. The only two caps I now wear came from Europe.

Have an awesome trip!