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Report on packing - I failed miserably

This is being written a little over halfway through my trip. Boy, did I pack too much. I think because of Covid and being excited about finally traveling, I just got caught up in the moment and kept adding things. And I kept thinking that I will be gone a month so I will need more. And it's okay to pack more because I'm checking a bag (which I was). However, I forgot to account for all the train trips I was taking, and schlepping the bags up and down the stairs at the train station, and lugging them into a coach car. And so on...

My body was screaming at me and I was getting very stressed. So I went to Deutsche Post, bought a large box, packed it up with half my clothing, my sweater (it's been 80 degrees here), gifts I had bought, my poncho AND rain jacket (god knows why I brought both) but kept the umbrella, extra snacks (trail mix and nuts are HEAVY), my banana-shaped neck pillow (didn't help). 2 of the 3 pairs of reading glasses I brough (what was I thinking?), and my extra fold-up tote bag meant for gifts on the way back (there will be none because I'm mailing them). Oh, yeah, all my packing cubes - they just encouraged me to pack more, so they went into the box.

It cost me €50 and I don't regret a penny of it. Before anyone yells at me about the packing cubes, I will continue to use them but ONLY when I am stationary for awhile. Not when I'm relocating every 5th day.

For anyone packing now or in the near future, here is what I would suggest. Pack everything you want, including your purse, tote bag, anything like that, then pick up everything and walk about a half mile, then go inside and go up and down the stairs 2-3 times, then repeat. I guarantee you will stop and start removing things from your bag.

I have never done this before! Seriously, I prided myself on packing light. I don't know what came over me but I learned my lesson.

Posted by
3160 posts

I hear you Mardee. We are in Germany for a month now too. It was really hard thinking about this cooler and potentially wetter weather over here while we were packing in California a few weeks ago. So far it hasn’t gotten up to 80 yet where we are but next week is predicted to be rainy. So glad I didn’t bring my rain coat that I debated about but did bring my fantastic Austrian light weight umbrella. I’m starting to acquire some items that I came prepared to buy but as we use up things we brought I’m calculating the room I’ll have to get my purchases home. We’ve been very stationary for our first two weeks but next week we’ll start a series of train trips with our 24” suitcases which fortunately roll sideways down train aisles but I hear you loud and clear and love your advice for the faint at heart.

Posted by
2212 posts

I’m glad you learned your lesson Mardee! On our recent trip to France, our trip went not as planned and we moved around a lot! I had used a different suitcase because it was 5 pounds lighter than my Tumi carry on suitcase. I was so proud of my packing skills when I was able to carry my suitcase on top of my head as I transferred down the steps at the Trocadero as I moved to a different hotel. However, at one of my hotels, I paid $80 for laundry, so I was not too happy about that.

Posted by
1126 posts

Mardee, the good news is that you you won't make this mistake again! The first time I went to Europe I packed way too heavy and I have never forgotten lugging that heavy suitcase around. Never.

Posted by
941 posts

My wife and I did a quick trip to Phoenix a few weeks ago and did a carry on only just to get back in the swing of things before our RS Scandinavia tour in July. My wife's back pack was heavier than I remembered but she got through the plane ride and to the hotel but when she started to unpack she started laughing because she packed so many things that she would not have before. I guess we just tend to get out of practice due to the 2 year pause in travel due to Covid!

Posted by
2779 posts

Great timing for this post as I'm making my final packing cuts. My parents are chuckling as I weigh one item against another to decide what goes. Especially since this 2-tour trip involves a lot more hotel changes than I normally make.

Yesterday I changed one weighty piece for a much lighter one. Today's goal - take out at least 2 pieces of clothing.

Posted by
1666 posts

Mardee, thanks for the reminder! How are you handling covid masks/test kits, take all you will need or buy there? They add a lot of bulk.

Just reading your post, made me revamp my list even more. I am struggling to cut 5 lbs from my list between my carryon and personal item. I also have a problem with my suitcase ending up 10" deep instead of the airline's 9" requirement. All I could think about was how cold Italy was in May 2019. I have that packing list with reference notes. But what's another sweater or jacket? Another pair of leggings and two shirts to go with them? About 3 lbs, not cutting but adding.

So I did a couple mini test packs. And I made lots of notes on my packing list (I use a Word doc), lining out the "no's" in bright blue and pack lighter notes in bold bright blue. I do that as a reminder to myself that I already considered a shirt, etc. "Maybe's" have question bold blue marks beside them so I can decide during final packing. This way I can see my changes and don't try to add more and more things.

A word about packing cubes: my pre-trip shopping spree includes a set of compression cubes. They're staying home. They weight 2oz each more than my Sharper Image cubes and don't save any room. The SI cubes are 3" deep instead of 4" like many packing cubes which will force me to pack less. (I found them at TJ Maxx a couple years ago. Bought two sets so I can have two small and two medium. The large are too large to fit in carryon.)

Posted by
4590 posts

Mardee, what a great post as many of us are in the pre-packing stage! (I currently have all of my items laying on our guest bed, ready for the final pack.). I am taking a couple of proctored tests, and I’m not happy about how much room they take for the entire trip - at least they’re lightweight. I am staying in eleven locations, so every item is getting a thorough vetting before it’s going in my suitcase.

You were very smart to mail stuff home, so you don’t hurt your back. I hope the rest of your vacation goes very well!

Posted by
2145 posts

Mardee, where are you now that you have hot weather?
Thanks for keeping us updated on your adventures. One of our recent Germany train connections was three minutes, and it wasn't on adjoining platforms!
I brought four outfits, carry-on, and did manage to shop. It was nice having the extra room once the covid testing kits were disposed of, toiletry and meds were used up, and one of the two pairs of shoes I brought became uncomfortable, so were abandoned. And I tied my sweater to the outside of my backpack.
But we are all so happy to be traveling again, and you were probably just so excited to be back on the road again!
Safe travels!

Posted by
3329 posts

Packing for a week or any longer are the same for me, as I plan to do laundry (not in a sink!) once a week. That said, I depart ways with the pack light enthusiasts. Yes, you can buy anything you need that you didn’t bring BUT . . . Example: my husband left his reading glasses in the taxi from the train to our Brussels hotel. We spent half of the next day searching for cheap replacements. Unlike here, where there is a CVS or Walgreens ($10/$15) every couple of blocks, we could find only optometrist shops ($60/$90). We were finally successful, but it wasn’t the best way to start our trip.
Another time, I forgot to pack my ibuprofen, of which I was taking 4 daily for bad knees. Yes, I was able to get it in Italy, at $6 for 24 tabs and only at a pharmacy. Price at home was $15 for 500.
So, fellow travelers, it’s important to know that otc meds are likely to be very expensive in Europe and available only in pharmacies. Also, good luck with finding out-of season items like gloves if a sudden cold spell hits in April.
Back to Mardee’s post
It seems really goofy to pack supplies of snacks. That’s something you can get anywhere. 1 pair of extra glasses should do, but are especially important if you wear prescription lens. Same for rain gear. Cheap umbrellas can be obtained almost everywhere, so I make my 1 item a hooded, unlined water-repellent jacket.

Posted by
245 posts

For anyone packing now or in the near future, here is what I would
suggest. Pack everything you want, including your purse, tote bag,
anything like that, then pick up everything and walk about a half
mile, then go inside and go up and down the stairs 2-3 times, then
repeat. I guarantee you will stop and start removing things from your
bag.

LOL this surely helps make the right decision!!! I packed light and wished had packed lighter!!

Posted by
19 posts

Curious…how much do your carry-on bags weigh. My test packing has mine at 19.6 lbs

Posted by
1810 posts

I would have brought something for mosquitoe bites and my Binex proctored test boxes have gotten squished in the 3 weeks we’ve been here, so I don’t know if they’d be acceptable now.

It was wet and chilly for the first three weeks ( Sicily, Venice) but now it’s heating up. I’m going to rethink my layering because if I’m wearing a jacket, what I have on underneath doesn’t necessarily have to be fashionable. I’ve learned my polyester long sleeve top doesn’t breathe and my jeans suck up heat. In Varenna and Monterosso, I would have loved to be able to at least walk in the water.

Posted by
358 posts

Rick is full of quips and quotes, arguably, one of his best (not sure he originated it) is:

Nobody has ever returned from a vacation trip and said, 'I didn't pack enough'

Pack light, and if you need something, you can also purchase it in-country. At the very least, you'll have a 'unique' souvenir.

To the OP, good luck with the rest of your trip, hope you're able to enjoy it.

Posted by
4370 posts

We just returned from Sicily. I consider myself a good packer and we failed miserably, and we used mostly public transportation and I have a bad knee.

We always pack just a rolling carry on and personal item. For this trip, we were always on the move, stayed 3 nights a few places and 2 nights at most places. That's the way we roll but with a bad knee, it was more difficult and my husband had to help me get off and on the train. I don't feel too bad, he's a tall, athletic guy, but I do like to be self sufficient.

I only packed a few layering pieces for cooler weather. So of course, Sicily was cold and rained for at least 3 days. I was washing clothes nightly. I realized that this is actually ok. I really wouldn't have needed much more. It takes so little time to wash and the key is quick dry clothes. Half my clothes in the suitcase were never worn.

I was super organized with packing and had everything gathered at least a week before. However, I did not put things in the suitcase until the night before and morning. If I'd done that in advance, I surely would have packed less. I love your idea.

Posted by
1126 posts

Rick is full of quips and quotes, arguably, one of his best (not sure he originated it) is:

Nobody has ever returned from a vacation trip and said, 'I didn't pack enough'

I love the one where he says "No one brags every year we pack heavier and heavier!"

Posted by
2329 posts

My recent 8 day trip to London I ended up using less clothing than ever before, on usually 12-14 day trips. Of the 5 tops I brought I only wore 3, did my usual sink washing and wore my 3 sweaters, and didn't need the 3rd pair of jeans at all, didn't wear my yoga pants that I brought in case of covid and being stuck in my room. However, though I have gotten good at determining what I will actually need on a trip, I somehow had a suitcase that weighed 30 lbs (7 lbs empty). I only had to haul it up and down 10 steps at the Gloucester Rd tube station--daunting, but I am strong. I think I fell into the same pit you did and got excited about traveling again after so long, and had a lot of what-if thoughts.

Posted by
1093 posts

Good advice Mardee!

I am packing this weekend and flying on Wednesday.
I am planning on my Osprey porter to be under 20lb. I am also taking a Tom Bihn medium size messenger bag. I was even toying with idea of only taking 2 pairs of slacks (wear one pack one) but then I remembered Wray's story of a wardrobe emergency and then ending up with only one pair. Every trip I become a better packer.

Posted by
1780 posts

I have my suitcase partially packed for my trip to Greece next week so I read this with interest. My problem is maybe the opposite. I don't want to take warmer clothes but wonder if I should. I have three pairs capris--one of which is longer-more like quarter length and one skirt but no full length pants. I also don't have a jacket-just two very lightweight 3/4 length sleeve sweaters. And no raincoat or umbrella.

I keep reading the weather forecast and hoping it warms up! We went to Greece four years ago about the same time of year and no rain and lots of heat which I know is clouding my judgment.

Posted by
447 posts

Mardee: Did you post your comment with me in mind? You are my "role model." I was right with you ordering items for traveling! It's gotten to the point where I don't show my husband items that arrive. Good thing he is not nosy.
We leave on a weeklong trip stateside tomorrow, and my suitcase is just as full as when we travel in Europe for a month. I woke up this morning wondering what I can and should leave behind.

And I'm with you on snacks. I usually like to pack snacks, one of the reasons is for the "space" it occupies when I leave home. As the trip progresses, there's more room in my suitcase for items I might purchase along the way.
And what a great solution to mail your items home. Enjoy the rest of your trip!

Posted by
1243 posts

@Mona, where in Germany are you? So far I've only had one rainy chilly day and that was in Nuremberg (I started my trip on April 26). Today was a little cooler in Ostbevern, but it felt good.

@Tammy, $80! Yikes! I saw the laundry price list at the Hotel Bellevue in Boppard and they were charging around €3-4 PER PIECE to wash them! Uh uh - I washed my stuff in the sink and then used the heated towel rack to dry them. However, the Hotel Stadt Pfeffermühle in Gengenbach actually washed my clothes for free! They were so nice there!

@roubrat, well, I should have known better! It's not like I've never traveled before. Ugh!

@Donald, I think you are exactly right - we get out of practice.

@CWsocial, weight does matter! :)

@horsewoofie, I did not bring any Covid tests. I've only taken one and that was yesterday when I had some odd coughing/sneezing episodes. But it was negative - I think it may have been something in the air. And I did bring around 30 KN95 masks, but those are so lightweight and lay very flat, so I don't think they are a problem.

@Jean, thanks! I decided not to bring proctored tests; mainly because I can get the testing done so easily in Berlin, my final stay. Good luck with your packing!

@Pat, it was 80 degrees when I was in Cologne, and in the 70's when I was in Boppard. Today I'm in Ostbevern (family ancestry portion) and it's mid-60's but will be mid to high 70's by tomorrow. Are you home now? Planning your next trip? :)

@Rosalyn, I wasn't wearing the jacket, which is why it went home. I do agree that some things are difficult to get (or pricier). But most meds like Advil and so on don't take up much space. The readers didn't either, but I sent them back because I worried they would get banged up (they're my wonderful Izipizi readers) and I didn't need them since I had one good pair and a cheap backup.

@Shaun Kel, glad you think it's helpful! My pain is at this forum's command! 🤣

@psea, to the best of my recollection my spinner bag weighed about 21 or 22 lbs. Not any less, I know. Maybe a pound more?

@Patty, that's one thing I didn't have to worry about - mosquitos. The only bugs I saw were the swarms of gnats in St. Goar in the Rhine area. And those just flew around and didn't bite.

@zcorsair, yes, other than that, the trip has been wonderful!

@jules, I agree, I really don't mind washing out clothes at the end of the day. I've done it on past trips, but again, my memory must have evaporated.

@christa, I know right? It's so easy to get sucked up into that sitatuion.

@vandrabrud, have a great trip! Let us know how the packing goes!

@BethFL, I tend to stay warm without layers or jackets, but I live in northern Minnesota so anything over 10 degrees F is like a heat wave. Good luck!

@Carol, wow, 2 trips coming up! Good luck and have fun!!

Posted by
1243 posts

Oh, I forgot one more thing - I packed my MacBook 13" Pro (head hanging in shame).

In my defense, part of this trip is to research some family history, which is why I'm in the very small town of Ostbevern now (luxuriating in my 4-room Ferienwohnung that only costs €55 a night). :) But it gets heavier by the day. NEVER again! I might bring a lightweight iPad but I will never ever ever bring my laptop again. It's not worth it.

Posted by
1666 posts

"I tend to stay warm without layers or jackets, but I live in northern Minnesota so anything over 10 degrees F is like a heat wave"

Mardee, this is one of the problems with packing. I live in Phoenix where 105* is hot, 85* is comfortable, 70* is cool and 55* is cold. Rain usually lasts a couple hours; "northwest" rain (gray and drizzle) for a couple days is depressing. I pack layers and more layers. It's a weather guessing game.
Three pair of reading glasses make perfect sense. One in my purse, a spare in my suitcase and a stronger pair in my personal item for night when my eyes are too tired to focus.
Mailing home gifts/souvenirs makes a lot of sense too. Especially since most of mine will be glass Christmas ornaments.

Is there any part of your packing list you want to share that worked good?

Enjoy the rest of your trip! Thanks for sharing your packing tips.

Posted by
2779 posts

I will never ever ever bring my laptop again. It's not worth it.

@Mardee, I used to have to travel with my work laptop when I would take combined business/vacation trips. (Might as well let the company pay my airfare to London, right?) So glad I don't have to lug that thing around any more!!

Posted by
8833 posts

So how much did the box you mailed weigh?

And when you get back would you report how long it took?
There are the occasional questions of 'what/how do I ship stuff to the US?'

Posted by
2042 posts

I currently have to travel with my laptop and a portable monitor. Should I get Covid I would have to work remotely. Just the new reality for a lot of us.

Personally I am the exact opposite of Mardee on packing cubes. I want them MORE when I am relocating every few days.

My only question is why did you mail the snacks home? Wouldn't it have been cheaper to throw them away :)

Posted by
21846 posts

Mardee -- I have always made the point that "packing light" is a learned experience. On this site alone there are hundred of posts discussing how and why to pack light. It is a main topic with Rick Steves in many of his presentations. And, yet there are dozens who read these posts and say, "Not for me because ...." The amount of luggage we took on our first trip to Italy in 72 was embarrassing. We now go for weeks with one carry-on size bag but we learned and it took a couple of trips to learn it well.

The key, IMO, is to make a list. We have a set list and brag that you give us an airline ticket and we can be at the departure gate in two hours. We have a set list that we use and on the way home we evaluate and adjust that list for the next trip. Things do get added and subtracted but over the years it has become a refined list. I don't fully understand your problem with packing cubes. For us they are critical.

Good luck with your next trip --- but do make the list.

Posted by
5696 posts

Our laptop would be the last thing to go if we slimmed down our packing, as it gets more use than anything else. Paying bills, downloading photos, a better screen and keypad for emails and the internet and watching tv.

I have just packed for our trip to France starting on Sunday - let’s just say I haven’t packed light! I don’t like washing clothes whilst on holiday so I cram in as much as possible.

My usual travel duffel bag has wheels, so walking a mile or more and negotiating stairs isn’t an issue.

Posted by
1243 posts

@horsewoofie, sure there were many parts that worked. The clothes I kept were lightweight, easy to clean and relatively wrinkle-free. I did NOT bring a blow dryer and I'm glad I didn't (even though I bought a new travel one for the occasion). Every place I stayed had a blow dryer and they all worked fine. I wound up not bringing my pill container and tried to use ziplock bags, but it wasn't working so I bought a weekly pill container at an apotheke in Nuremberg. It works great and is much smaller than the one I had at home. :)

@Joe, the box weighed 5.7 kg (or 12+ lbs). The nice thing about DHL is they give you a receipt with a packing number and you can monitor it. For example, I sent the box on May 3rd (but late in the afternoon ) and on May 9th it was in the US clearing customs. So now it's up to the US. But overall, I thought it went very smoothly.

@Carol, yes, in hindsight, I should have done that. But at the time, I was just tossing stuff in there. :)

@Frank, good advice. I did have a list - a good one! The problem is that I kept adding to it and adding to it. :)

@Jennifer, mine has wheels, too, but it was more the problem of pulling it up those tiny little steps on the DB trains and concrete stairways at the train station and so on. Plus I'm an overweight 67 year old short woman, so my tolerance for heavy items is less than what it used to be.

Posted by
935 posts

Nothing like experience, previous or current.

Ultralight backpacking and bicycle touring prepared me perfectly for lightweight traveling. I had all the toys, clothes, knew the procedures, and had the habits. Just needed a passport. I'm also a carryon-only guy for various reasons. I can be warm, dry, and comfortable, even get dressed up, for one week or twelve weeks easily out of a 30 liter bag, but I take the 45L with lots of empty space. If necessary, I can add a layer or two in-country. I do laundry every other day. I do not need much in the way of electronics: iPhone, iPad, tiny camera.

When you get home, a good post-tour evaluation of your load will be instructive. Never again take anything you shipped home or did not use. Then eliminate those things you used but could have done without.

Hope you are enjoying your trip.

Posted by
2145 posts

Mardee,
yes, the next trip will be the covid-canceled Lake Como-Venice- Amalfi trip next spring. We live in Southern CA, so can't leave in the fall, due to fire season, but if I had my druthers, I'd be ready to go again by August. Or- do the xmas markets, version 2.0- or do anything in the Swiss Alps.
Thanks for the question, and pls keep up the commentary!
Safe travels!

Posted by
37 posts

Thanks for sharing Mardee. Love posts about packing. For me it has been process of trial and error. I am always evaluating what worked and what didn't. The biggest thing I learned was that many travel clothes actually weight more than my everyday clothes.

Posted by
11434 posts

I want to reiterate what Frank said......use a packing list to start.

Spend some time surfing the net and find multiple lists to use as reference. Put down anything you might take on any trip anywhere. This is your master packing list. (I keep mine as a file in the cloud.) I also put mine into categories--clothes, toiletries, electronics, misc, etc.

Then for each trip planned, make a copy and label it for that trip.

Next, go through each item and ask yourself:

1) Do I need this item on this trip? (A heavy sweater will probably not be needed in the tropics.)

2) Will I use the item enough to warrant carrying it? Not will I use it but will I use it enough? (Borrowed from Rick Steves.)

3) Is it easily replacable where I am going? This pertains to OTC meds and other "what if" items. (I ask myself..."It is midnight, and I need XXX. Do I need it right then and there or can it wait until morning. And if it can wait, is there somewhere nearby I can purchase it?") Be aware that in much of Europe some OTC meds are not available. Example....Pepto Bismol isn't available on the continent and Naproxen Sodium (Alleve) is by prescription only.

If an item isn't needed for that particular trip, cross it off the list.

I make changes to the master packing list only if I find an item that is better than something on that list. Then I add the new items and remove the old item.

I do this for each trip keeping in mind location, expected weather, activites planned, and the like. About 90% of what I take is the same for each trip. It gets easier and easier. My problem is that I'm always on the hunt for something smaller, lighter and more useful.

Posted by
7695 posts

I love this thread, and it has me roaring. Especially when someone mentioned that Mardee is the one who posted the thread about continuing to buy buy buy in the run up to a trip !!!

I can so identify, I am a chronic over packer. I always carry just a little bit more than i comfortably can. I mean, I can manage it, but it’s always just a little too much.

Posted by
1243 posts

I love this thread, and it has me roaring. Especially when someone mentioned that Mardee is the one who posted the thread about continuing to buy buy buy in the run up to a trip !!!

@Kim, exactly!!!! That SO came back to bite me in the butt! 🤣

Posted by
28 posts

Mardee,
Two weeks from tomorrow I am leaving for Naxos and then joining the 14 day Greece RS Tour. Your post has been so enlightening and so entertaining! Thank you everyone who contributed their thoughts and suggestions! What a smart bunch of people....
I have been on RS tour before and have over packed every time. Not this time!

Posted by
3713 posts

Mardee, thanks so much for starting this discussion. You and everyone else are bringing me back to reality. I was leaning toward taking about 50% more than I usually do, just because I could.

I'm in Rainier WA right now looking out the window at a damp and dreary day and a temp of 46°. It might make it up to 63°. In addition to the real reason I'm here, I think I'm rehearsing for Ireland and Wales in July-August.

Having lived in southern AZ for the last 17 years, I'm most concerned about being cold and wet on my trip and the urge to overpack is great. The fact that I've gone down a few sizes over the past 3 years exacerbates that because my clothes are smaller.

I have the historical data for the dates of my trip from Time and Date and have been keeping up with the weather, specifically in Dublin, Belfast and Cardiff. Those 3 cities are just about the same as where I am. The weather forecasts for them just before I leave will determine the final garments I'll take, but hopefully not the number of them. I'll be gone a total of 5 weeks. I typically pack for a week, no matter how long I'm gone and do laundry along the way, in the sink or at a laundromat.

Right now I'm planning to check my bag through from Seattle to Dublin, primarily because I'm taking walking poles. My bag will be carry-on size and as a person who only checks a bag when forced to do so, I'm a little anxious about that.

I already know whichever carry-on bag I check will weigh no more than 22 pounds, fully packed. If my luggage scale goes over that, something will be removed. l'll be flying British Airways and Aer Lingus via Heathrow. The return will be BA Heathrow nonstop to Seattle.

Your tale of sending things home in a box really hit home. In 2009 my husband and I went to Europe for 2 months. It was his first trip. We flew to Iceland, went all the way down to Sicily and back to Ireland before flying home from there.

By the time we got to Sicily, it was obvious that we had packed too much. Fortunately, we were visiting our daughter whose husband was stationed at the NATO base there. We also packed up stuff and mailed it back home, but it was a lot cheaper and easier because we could use the military version of the USPS. That was our "never again" moment.

Your story has reminded me of that and helped me to back away from the overpacking abyss.

Posted by
1243 posts

@Lo, it's so hard! We want to be comfortable and have our "stuff" with us, but no one wants to be stressed and tired because we're carting all our crap around. I think awareness is the key - be aware of the weight, of the size, and how much energy it will take to lug everything up a flight of concrete stairs! I will so be doing that next time!

Posted by
1666 posts

Thanks everyone for your experience and ideas. Now I'm debating every item on my packing list to cut the dreaded 5 lbs.

I'm thinking of leaving my camera home and only using my phone. Problem is in Italy pre-covid, I took almost 1000 pictures, 3/4 with my camera and the rest with my phone. I bought my Nikon (not DSL) because it had more features than just point & shoot. Love the higher powered telephoto lens, the aperture priority came in handy as did the night mode but I didn't use the video like I thought I would. What's your opinion -- take or leave camera home? It really boils down to weight (1 1/2# in case) vs versatility. I decided "no" to the selfie stick, don't want to carry that added weight, didn't buy it. I just decided the camera is worth taking. Bouncing ideas off y'all even if I make a decision before posting is very helpful. Like talking to myself without the crazy lady look. Feel free to add your opinions.

Mardee, besides snacks, did you take other food? Now I'm rethinking my mooshable silicone cup, oatmeal packs, breakfast bars and plastic "silver"ware. Other posts have mentioned taking picnic supplies is handy. Maybe just the cup and silverware (put them in a ziplock bag and stuff them in a shoe)? I'd rather buy croissants in Paris. Guess I just talked myself out of taking food. That'll save 1/2 lb. or more.

I did cut one sweater from my list so I'm making progress. I'm even thinking of leaving the guidebooks home. Take a few pages for the tour stops but the rest is on my phone. Saves several lbs. I didn't even look at the pages I took to Italy but I also didn't do as much research.

Enough rambling for now. Thanks for listening!

Posted by
1243 posts

@horsewoofie, no, I just took the snacks but they filled up 3 ziplock bags. I would suggest maybe bringing 1 or 2 smallish things for the plane and layovers, but after that, just buy what you need. I enjoy going to grocery stores in Europe. I needed a knife at one point, so I went to Rewe and they had a set of bamboo knives for €1. I used 1 or 2 and left the rest behind.

I also did not take guidebooks - I have everything on my Kindle, which I can access on my phone. I did bring one notebook that had copious notes I had taken from guidebooks, but wound up ripping them out and sending the notebook home. :)

Posted by
1126 posts

I just took the snacks but they filled up 3 ziplock bags. I would suggest maybe bringing 1 or 2 smallish things for the plane and layovers, but after that, just buy what you need. I enjoy going to grocery stores in Europe.

This 100%. I LOVE browsing grocery stores and buying random little things to try.

Posted by
9904 posts

Enjoying this thread!

I kept thinking because I'd packed so much covid related stuff (30+ masks, Airborne, blah, blah) that my suitcase would get lighter but somehow it did not. Really I did not buy that much so I'm not sure why it didn't lighten up. When puffing to carry it up a stalled escalator in the Brussels train station the nice young man in front of me reached back, said "let me" and sprinted up the stairs to the platform. I knew he couldn't really go anywhere with it and really would he want a suitcase of old lady clothes? lol! That was kind of him. I could have done it but it was very sweet.

I only had 3 train segments to manage but my 22" was heavy. It weighed 25# when I left home.

Why oh why did I take a cardigan? I only wore it a couple of times and no one in Paris cared what I had on. Not sure why this was stuck in my brain to take. I wore my LS dri-fit quarter zips a lot more and they dry overnight. I took 3 scarves and wore one and that was one too many.

Posted by
1885 posts

My last trip I took a long cardigan that I wore on the plane, and figured it could double up as a robe if I needed to get out of hotel or apartment in a hurry in the middle of the night.
It was so hot and humid in Italy that I never wore it at all after the flight there.
Not taking one next time.

Posted by
1787 posts

I use an old Eagle Creek backpack suitcase that weighs 3 lbs. I always shoot for a total weight of 15 pounds on my back and always end up at 17 pounds - plus a "personal item" that in the past has weighed up to 5 lbs.

Posted by
1243 posts

@Pam, I laughed at your comment. The same thing happened to me - twice - where a young man would feel sorry for me trudging up the steps and took the suitcase to help me. Very nice of them. :) That was something else I sent home - scarves. I brought 2 and didn't wear any. I think I had a vision of me dressing very Euro with the cool scarf and colorful jacket. But I hardly ever wear scarves at home, so I'm not sure what made me think I would wear them here.

And that's the big thing - no one cares what you wear. After I sent my stuff home, I was left with 4 tops and 4 pairs of pants, and now I sometimes wear the thing twice in a row.

Posted by
13711 posts

A1) My self discipline comes from doing carryon on an airline with a 8kg limit; well that and a Personal Item with no weight limit.
A2) But the regulation size personal item goes over the handle of the spinner, and because its a spinner it stands up and doesn't fall over and I just walk along side of it.
A3) If I do find stairs, the Personal Item is a small back pack, so I still only deal with one 8kg bag on the stairs.
A4) And, yes, I take a light weight laptop too.
A5) What i can not imagine is someone with 2 two-wheel draggers; can't imagine that sort of fun.

Posted by
130 posts

I hear you Mardee and thanks for the post. At the last minute I took out 2 items of clothing, (1 long sleeve hiking shirt and one white T-shirt) because I was over my weight limit of 8K for carryon.

@BethFL I am sitting in the Athens airport as I write this. It’s chilly and most of the women are wearing long pants, predominantly jeans. Some are wearing loose fitting long dresses, mostly in black.

Posted by
8860 posts

On my recent trip 6 week trip I made the mistake of overpacking. I had to use a larger suitcase than my normal carryon because I was delivering some things to someone in Frankfurt, so I had a little extra space. I did pretty well with clothes and footwear, although one shirt I only wore once. That won’t make the cut for the next trip. I brought a fleece jacket, packable down jacket and packable rain jacket, and sometimes I wore them all at once. I brought 2 scarves and wore them both. I even wished I had brought a warmer one. We were in Europe from 3/20-5/1. It was often cold and we even got snow in Colmar. Since our next trip of 10 weeks, from 8/20-10/29, takes us to Ireland, Scotland, England and western France I will bring the same things to layer, though I may take my packable down jacket with a hood. What I won’t bring is my Jean jacket. Cute, but heavy compared to the other jackets. Where I went overboard was with other things. Guidebooks, some of which I didn’t open, too many first aid and OTC medicines, just in case, and picnic items. Remember that thread? I envisioned picnicking our way through France and the Netherlands. What I didn’t envision was the frequent cold weather. I will still bring a variety of ziplock bags as I always do, and some plastic cutlery. What I didn’t use was my flexible cup, oilcloth squares to sit on the grass, my Opinel knives (one folding and one small serrated for cutting cheese, bread, etc,) and thin plastic cutting board.

On our way home I made notes for what we should leave behind on our next trip, just in case I go crazy again. I’ll be limited to a carryon suitcase and personal item backpack, so that will help with the urge to bring more things, just in case.

Posted by
5648 posts

Marcee, “failing miserably” would be getting stuck with all the extras for the whole trip. You were resourceful enough to make adjustments, recognize what wasn’t essential, and send it home, along with other things you’d picked up.

Maybe that’s a “traveling light” strategy - send some stuff home, partway through your trip.

Posted by
5648 posts

Re: camera strategy, we just got home from a multi-week African safari, and took tons of pictures and videos. Maybe none will grace the cover of National Geographic, but my iPhone 12, and my husband’s better iPhone 13Pro worked extremely well. Compact, lightweight, and a neck lanyard kept it handy. A waterproof (well, extremely water resistant) case allowed taking pictures while getting drenched at Victoria Falls.

Two in the group had fancy SLR cameras - one a Sony and one a Nikon, plus a large telephoto lens. Those couldn’t be used at The Falls. Overall, better images? Probably. Bulkier? Undoubtedly. Worth hauling, rather than just having a smartphone? Possible, but our phones are now cameras that happen to work as phones, too - rather than phones that happen to snap a picture.

Posted by
177 posts

Another reason to pack your bag and carry it around before your trip is to make sure the bag itself is comfortable to use. I purchased a nice, lightweight carryon and a backpack for our recent RS tour. Packed the bag weighed 13 pounds and the backpack weighted 7. However, to carry them I had to balance the weight by slinging them over opposite shoulders, the result of which was straining my back. It's back to wheeled bags for me. . . . and I plan to eliminate many extras that I just didn't use.

Posted by
935 posts

Andrea: our next trip of 10 weeks, from 8/20-10/29, takes us to
Ireland, Scotland, England and western France

You will be able to easily add a lovely wool sweater or insulated jacket and gloves to your wardrobe in-country. Refusing to overpack to visit cousins in The Olde Country was how my father ended up with 10 beautiful Pitlochry sweaters!

Posted by
935 posts

Butting in once more with my usual camera advice (retired professional industrial and theatrical photographer and video producer who carried three big ass Nikons for decades): The problem with relying on your phone's camera is that your whole world is in your phone. You wouldn't waive your wallet around every time you want a photo. Get an inexpensive, easy to use camera with a neck lanyard so you never need to fiddle with a pocket. Waterproof is a great option. Your photos and videos will upload via the hotel WiFi to your cloud account. Yes, it is one more thing to charge but, seriously, you can afford to lose a little camera. You'll be a hopeless wreck if you drop your phone overboard from a canal boat or off a castle rampart.

Posted by
1666 posts

Susan D, I’m curious what you didn’t use and will eliminate. It seems that 20# total wouldn’t give you room for anything extra.

Posted by
177 posts

Horsewoofie, I had packed a pair of slightly dressier slacks that I never wore; it was so cold in Greece that I wore jeans exclusively. Same thing with 2 short-sleeve shirts. I could have purchased t-shirts if the weather had been warmer. We had also packed excessive quantities of N95 masks; even wearing them daily we never exhausted our stash. They were light-weight but added bulk that contributed to the awkwardness of my baggage. If we had thought to renew our TSA pre-check I would have eliminated my extra pair of shoes; I had a pair that were easy to take off and put on for our travel days. Since returning I've also been investing in more travel-oriented clothing, like merino wool, for the possibility of cold weather. My problem may have been more due to bulk than weight because my posture and gait were altered by the baggage.

Posted by
443 posts

Blockquote You'll be a hopeless wreck if you drop your phone overboard from a canal boat or off a castle rampart.

I agree with Bogiesan - I've never really been content with any of my cell phone pics and I can do much more with my Canon Powershot G9 X Mark II. It's the size of a pack of cigarettes and I'd rather lose that than the precious cell phone. I've very nearly lost that camera several times but loss of the phone would have been much more disastrous.

Posted by
1243 posts

You'll be a hopeless wreck if you drop your phone overboard from a canal boat or off a castle rampart.

Everytime I take a photo with my phone in any kind of precarious position, I keep it in a death grip in my hand. I realize that's not infallible (death grips being what they are) but it makes me feel better. :)

Posted by
5648 posts

Having the phone on a neck lanyard on safari was easy and reassuring. But sitting and bouncing along in a Land Cruiser safari truck made that setup necessary. Having a phone dangling while walking around sights in Europe might be much more cumbersome.

Posted by
1445 posts

You'll be a hopeless wreck if you drop your phone overboard from a
canal boat or off a castle rampart.

This does not have to be an issue. Amazon sells some great lanyards for phones. I have one for my wrist.

Posted by
2042 posts

I didn't carry my Canon SLR with lenses around my neck I am not carrying a cheap camera around my neck

I have moved to cellphone only for photos, but my cellphone is fully backed up in the cloud. If I drop it into a lake I guess I buy a new one but I won't lose anything else.

(Oh and if you do want to carry a good camera. BlackRapid... great straps that don't do the 'neck strangle" act)

Posted by
8 posts

Re "silver" ware, I have one child-sized plastic spork (one spork end, one spoon end, light plastic (styrene?), about four inches long) that I carry in my toiletries bag. In the worst-case situation where we really do have no utensils to eat something wet or sticky, or to spread butter/jam/peanut butter/squishy cheese on something, we can share it and wash it.

On our latest road trip--where we, too, failed miserably to pack light but experienced only the minimal consequence of hauling too much from car to room--it came in handy to hack off bits of fudge.

We're still too Covid-shy for trips on public transportation. For car trips, after this last experience I'm creating a packing list for a "we'll never open it" bag. It's hard to resist the temptation to bring an emergency this and emergency that when there's room in the car and the car won't even notice the weight. So my plan is to put all those things in a separate bag, stuff it in the least valuable cargo space, and just leave it there from trip start to trip end. After enough trips of never ever opening it, maybe we'll have the confidence to leave it behind.

Posted by
11973 posts

My mom and I used to argue about packing light.

She was the classic heavy packer. Her toiletries were larger, and weighed more, than my only bag. She approached packing as how many days, three outfits a day, et Viola! this is how much I need to pack.

I extolled her on the virtues of being less burdened and much more flexible with only a small carry-on bag.

She lost the argument when she needed shoulder surgery, after a trip, due to damage from carrying so many heavy items. I've never believed packing heavy is more convenient.

Posted by
1243 posts

Poultry, that’s a very good idea. I may steal that from you.

Travel Boss, That sounds like my daughter-and-son-in-law. They are fit enough that all the crap they bring doesn’t wear them down as much but still…. They sent my eight-year-old granddaughter to camp for two days with a huge bag that I would not take on a two week trip.

Posted by
11973 posts

When I dragged my kids to Europe, they each carried a smallish backpack style carry-on. My youngest turned 8 on that trip. She carried only a daypack. It was a six-week trip so periodic visits to a laundromat were part of the fun.

I carry less and less. I used to carry something similar to Rick's backpack carry-on, then went down to something smaller. Today I carry a shoulder bag that fits all airlines requirements, even Ryanair, and limit myself to 12 lbs. (but am most likely to stick to 10 lbs.). I just bought a 20 L backpack to keep up with changing carry-on requirements. It's essentially the same size as my shoulder bag but shaped a little different.

Posted by
245 posts

@Mardee obviously you touched a nerve since this is still a hot topic two months later! :p enjoyed all the comments here

Posted by
1243 posts

Shaun Kel, ha! Yeah, packing is both glorious anticipation and an anxiety-inducing mess! I go through both with every trip. :)

Posted by
2212 posts

Each time I take a trip, I think, this is it. I won’t have to buy any clothes or items ( other than making sure I have enough toiletries) for this one. So far though, I always do. I have been working on a capsule wardrobe in colors blue, black, white and grey. Bought lots of warm weather clothes for my trip to Egypt last year.

Now, we are headed to Tanzania in one week. And I had to buy some clothes. Apparently, tsetse flies are attracted to the colors blue and black 😝 which was half my wardrobe!!! One of these days, I will take a trip and not have to buy anything beforehand!

Posted by
29 posts

Thanks so much for everyone's comments. Reading through these posts, I am curious about experiences with washing clothes while traveling (so that I can pack more lightly). At the beginning and end of our 31 day trip in September and October to Wales and Scotland, we have a washing machine in our AirBNB. But in between, we don't have easy access to do laundry. I am thinking of taking a clothesline with us and could bring our True Earth laundry sheets that won't take up much room. Would you vote for the laundry in the sink in the hotel approach or try finding a laundry nearby and build that into the schedule? For the most part, we will be in BnB's and small hotels with 2-day stays (except for Islay where we'll be chilling for 5 nights) so I am a bit concerned about getting things dry...but fighting the temptation to over pack.

Posted by
1243 posts

Tammy, yikes! At least you found out ahead of time! And I know what you mean - I always find something (or many things) that I need. :)

Liz, I think it depends - I personally prefer to just wash things out in the hotel unless I have easy access to a washer (which I usually don't). But I travel solo so it's easy for me to wash something out each night - and I usually stay in places for 3-4 nights. However, with you only having 2 days (and I'm assuming you are traveling with a partner), that might be tricky. Plus the UK in September and October is not known for balmy and sunny weather, so it will be tough getting things dry.

What I would probably do is wash as much as I could the first day in each hotel so that it can dry overnight and into the next day. Then do that with each stay, but maybe somewhere in the middle of your stay, grab everything and find a laundromat. I also wear things over and over - pants are usually good for 2-3 days, and tops definitely 2 (unless you spill something). :) I don't care if anyone sees me wearing the same thing twice. That means that usually you will only need to wash out some underwear on a regular basis.

Also keep in mind the fabric of your clothes. Pick items that are not heavy cotton or denim (like jeans), which will take forever to dry. I like clothes from the Travel Collection at Chicos - everything is made of acetate and spandex, is very comfortable, wrinkle free and dries quite easily. Cotton is not your friend when traveling without access to a washer.

Posted by
9904 posts

"And I had to buy some clothes. Apparently, tsetse flies are attracted to the colors blue and black 😝 which was half my wardrobe!!"

Tammy, for heaven's sake. This would only happen to you, lol!!

Liz - I am a dedicated sink washer. Well, I wash in a 2 gal ziplock in the sink. I do a trial run on my clothes to make sure they dry overnight or at least less than 24 hours. Underwear, no problem with my Fruit of the Looms, lol. My shirts are old standbys from Lands End that are Cotton/modal blend. I have one Lands End shirt that is their athletic fabric blend but I know not to bring that because it holds odor that doesn't get out with handwashing so it does not make the travel team. I did get a new shirt this week from Fred Meyer that is cotton/modal and I need to give it a go with handwashing to make sure it dries like I think it will.

I even wash jeans in the ziplock. I wear Gloria Vanderbilt Amanda style and most of them are a cotton/poly blend.

If you give things a drying trial - just getting them completely wet, rolling in a towel and hanging to dry this may help you eliminate some of your choices. I don't like the travel clotheslines. I travel with a plastic hanger that has a hook on one side. I also have a couple of clothes pins. I can get a shirt, jeans and hang my unders from the hook.

I was in England once when it was pretty rainy and I wound up having to use the fan from the room to blow on them for a few hours to help speed drying.

I just use shampoo or whatever body wash the hotel has in the shower. I figure if it's formulated for hair or body oil it will clean my clothes.

**Cross-posting with Mardee. I agree with her about washing on the first night you arrive at a location if you have a 2-night stay. Save your heavier things for the 1st night of your longer stay. Unders get washed every night.

Posted by
935 posts

Reading through these posts, I am curious about experiences with washing clothes while traveling (so that I can pack more lightly).

Liz, this is a trick I learned bicycle touring: I wear my skin layer into the shower. Suds up the nasty bits and wash hair,. By the time I’ve soaped and rinsed everything, I’m ready to peel off the wet items and wring them out. This simple chore quickly takes care of half my laundry.

The most important things about travel clothing are how easily it washes and how quickly it dries. Forget style.

Posted by
11434 posts

I am a dedicated sink washer unless I am staying somewhere with a laundry machine, I'm near a laundromat or at a hotel that offers laundry at a reasonable price.

Everything I take can easily be hand washed except for jeans which I always take to a laundromat or let the hotel do.

My laundry kit consists of:

An 8 liter dry bag. (I bought one three years ago and was able to stop buying and using a 2 gallon ziploc.) It weighs less than an ounce.

https://www.amazon.com/Sea-Summit-Ultra-Sil-Sack-Medium-8-Liter/dp/B001PR06ZG/ref=sr_1_7?crid=RZ6ZZG6PYVH1&keywords=sea+to+summit+dry+bag&qid=1657507416&s=sporting-goods&sprefix=sea+to+summit+dry+bag%2Csporting%2C836&sr=1-7

Laundry sheets. These little packs hold 50 sheets. I use 2-3 sheets per "load" in the dry sac. (There are numerous brands.)

https://www.amazon.com/Sea-Summit-Travel-Pocket-Laundry/dp/B002BO60JI/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=travelon%2Blaundry%2Bsheets&qid=1657506788&sr=8-3&th=1
(You can buy them for much less at most camping stores.)

Convert a Hanger...these allow you to use those hangers that aren't supposed to be used outside of the closet

https://www.amazon.com/Folding-Hanger-ConvertAHanger-Hotel-Adapter/dp/B00TE91CJQ/ref=sr_1_1?crid=302OOYJI3B8KA&keywords=%E2%80%8EB00TE91CJQ&qid=1657507039&sprefix=b00te91cjq%2Caps%2C239&sr=8-1

I don't bother with a clothesline.

Posted by
29 posts

Thanks everyone, as always, for your suggestions. Pam, I too wear GV Amanda jeans so I will give them a test run! And look into hangers. Thanks again!

Posted by
11973 posts

Tammy, I've heard of people dressing to fit in with the locals. This is the first I've heard of dressing to fit in with the local flies. ;-)