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Packing Tips

In looking at Steve's advice of taking a carry-on, does anyone have experience with how to pack for two weeks in winter with a jacket and warm clothes and having room to bring back a few gifts?

Posted by
8385 posts

Wear your bulkiest clothes and shoes for the plane. Pack flat-knit wool sweaters and socks, nothing acrylic or bulky. Roll all your clothes; don't fold them. Pack items inside items, such as underwear inside your shoes. Buy tiny gifts. Personally, I can travel with a carry-on for a in summer but not in winter. Good luck.

Posted by
50 posts

Thank you, Bets. I've been having a difficult time visualizing how we're going to do this with winter clothing. I appreciate your ideas.

Posted by
11450 posts

I think Bets summed it up well. Wear coat, and heaviest footwear. Roll everything, it really does work. And , don't over pack,, you can wear slacks more then twice, so pack dark hard wearing ones. I would avoid jeans just because they are so heavy, cords work as hard and are a bit lighter if not too thick. I can do carry on for two weeks, winter or summer,, but I don't bring home too much stuff, keychains, frig magnets and scarves. I have boughten a cheap small bag( like a duffle bag) to take home stuff in ,, they can be found for 15 -30 euros and since they are just going home I don't worry too much about them being super durable, I pack my old dirty clothes in that bag and take my gifts in my carry on,, that way worse case I lose only laundry.

Posted by
8385 posts

We have never shipped gifts, though we've gone back'n forth a lot and for many years. We do ship boxes of books every year. It's fifty dollars to send 16 pounds with the French post office. There's no more cheap shipping by boat. If the gifts are meaningful and for people you love, I'd carry them and ship home the dirty clothes. Or as the other poster said, buy/bring a cheap suitcase/duffle and check in the dirty clothes but carry on the gifts.

Posted by
8763 posts

We take a carry-on every trip - at least on the way there. We leave this Saturday for a 4 week trip. People at work can't believe I can go for that long with only a carry on and personal item. The difference between winter and other times of the year is the bulky clothes. It has already been suggested that you wear your bulkiest shoes, coat and clothes. I used compression bags to keep some of the bulk down with sweaters, etc. I always pack a folding tote bag or two (you can find them on this site under the travel store tab) and if necessary use them for dirty clothes. I check those on the way home... The most common advice given by people on this site is to take layers. I did that on my winter trip. If I do a trip like that again, instead of taking multiple items to layer I would take a down coat (at least hip, if not closer to knee length), and then regular clothes to put under it. I found that when going indoors with a bunch of layers I was either too hot with the layers, or I had to take off so many clothes that it just felt weird. Part of what clothes you will need to take will depend on where you are going.

Posted by
977 posts

At least you know you are going to need warm clothing. I'm stressing out about what to pack for Germany and France. We are leaving next Saturday. Checked out the weather in Provence - it's 32o in Avignon!! 19o - 26o in other parts of Grermany and France. Guess layers will be the way to go.

Posted by
11450 posts

Judy,,too funny ,, we consider 19 degrees a nice summer day,, so its going to be nice(19),, or very nice(26),or too darn hot (30) , how lucky for you!

Posted by
190 posts

Hi Sharon, We haven't traveled yet to Europe(our first time) we will be in 2 weeks. We have our carry on's packed what we did was went to our local Good Will store and bought clothes while there we plan to throw them out towards the end and use our bags to bring back souviners. Well see if this works. The worse case we will ship stuff home. Wendy

Posted by
11805 posts

I'll give a different perspective. Even in winter I don't pack heavy clothes I still layer based on one packable (unlined) waterproof/windproof shell, two warm items that can be layered when warmth is really needed, and regular clothes that can also be layered when necessary.......If I'm expecting really cold, the two warm items are usually a lighter weight wool sweather and a 100 or 200 weight fleece with a full zip (rather than a pull over). I don't pack a heavy sweater or 300 weight fleece because they are too bulky......Additions that I normally wouldn't pack are silk long underwear (very lightweight and comfortable but very warm), a ski cap, wool/acrylic gloves and a lightweight wool/acrylic scarf (not knitted because too bulky)........ If you layer silk underwear a top, wool sweater, fleece and a waterproof/windproof shell, you can be comforatble in the most frigid temperatures. By layering you can adjust easily to a comfortable level of warmth......Here is an example of how I pack for Spring/Fall travel: http://www.polyvore.com/mens_travel_pack_list/set?id=1440268

Posted by
283 posts

Last year we discovered that La Poste in France will sell you a pre-paid shipping box. We bought a medium one for about 12 Euros. You pack it up and it ships at that price. we just gave it to a postman on the street, and it was at home when we arrived. If you take stuff to the post office in your own box, it is outragously expensive. The pre paid boxes come in a variety of sizes.

Posted by
50 posts

This is my first European trip, and I neglected to state in my question that we visiting four cities in Germany. It's difficult trying to imagine packing for two weeks, winter clothing in a carry-on so I sincerely appreciate all of your great ideas. I don't want to look too much like a lost, vulnerable American tourist, but I guess there's no way to avoid some of that. :)

Posted by
4371 posts

Sharon, for 2 weeks during winter, something like this for me: long underwear (silk, CuddleDuds, whatever); 2 pr pants; 4-5 shirts - s/s and l/s; 2-3 of socks, panties, and bras; 2 pr shoes (that can handle rain/snow); 'sweater layer' - button-front cardigan, fleece vest or pull-over/cardigan, or just a vest or 2; windbreaker-type jacket - anything with a tight weave or lamination to stop the wind from going through; and gloves and muffler/scarf. Do I want to (a) have a different outfit everyday and LUG them around, or (b) wear a 'travel uniform' and somewhat effortlessly move around with my luggage? Just guess;-).........As far as souvenirs/gifts - bring a flat/collapsable duffle bag, backpack, whatever you can find that's big enough and LIGHT enough to fit in the bottom of your main carry-on and either check this bag, or your main bag, on the way home. This way, you can also not have to worry about buying 'forbidden' things (liquids, pointy things, etc.) that would need to be checked......Remember that you don't need to pack '2 weeks worth of clothes'...

Posted by
11450 posts

Sharon,, to minimize the tourist look( you know we are generally easy to pick out) wear a good quality coat and boots. A scarf,, and basic well cut pants and sweaters. Europeon women would rather own quality/classic items and wear them more frequently then change everyday into flashy looks. No glittery things like sequins on anything,, and jeans are fine for a look( although I think they are heavy) ,, many Europeons wear them daily,, but well cut ones,, not the slouchy ripped type( not that I think you would wear those type). If you are under 30 completely disregard this and wear whatever,, the young can and do get away with everything. LOL

Posted by
18296 posts

Last August when I went to Germany/Austria, I wore a light summer jacket on the plane, but I also packed a lightweight sweater. Good thing because several of those days were cold and rainy, the summer jacket would not have been enough. However, I packed about the same things for a 2-week trip where we arrived in Germany the day after Christmas. The only difference was that time I wore a down ski parka on the plane. I don't remember having gloves with me, but I did have a knit hat. As I found out in 30+ years of skiing, it's more important to wear multiple light layers than one heavy coat.

Posted by
15 posts

We have traveled to Germany in December with just carry on. I recommend Susan Fostor's book "Smart Packing for Today's Traveler. I use the bundle method and am amazed by the amount I can get in a carry on size. Also remember you will be wearing your coat or jacket most of the time so if you wear the same shirt or sweater no one knows but you. I also take a collapsable duffle that I put my dirty clothes in to come home. I check that and carry on my souviners.

Posted by
252 posts

I usually travel with a pair of knit pants and a pair of stretch jeans. Not as heavy as regular denim but they hold up well. I think it's best to wear layers, no matter when you travel. We normally travel to Germany/Austria in May or September so the weather is changeable. Can be hot or cold. This year we are going in late October. Only thing I'm doing differently is packing my fleece vest. I always take silk long underwear and a camisole, then layer from there.

Posted by
273 posts

Silk long underwear (I get the heavy weight from winter silks) you can wear 2 pair if it's really cold, a merino wool cardigan, a raincoat from travelsmith with the button in liner. 2 pairs of pants, 4 or 5 tops. I usually take short sleeve in case it's warm and I can wear the winter silk under if it's cold. 2 pair of shoes, socks, I usually wear tights. You can do it but as others have mentioned you have to be willing to wear things over & over.

Posted by
11 posts

Sharon: I've never done European travel in winter, but as someone who has lived pretty far north, I'd highly recommend silk long underwear. They're so light I can hardly tell I'm wearing them, weigh nothing when I want to pack them, and don't make me "overheat" like other types of long underwear can. Also, they're very very easy (and quick!) to wash in a sink; you can wear them everyday. Hope that helps!

Posted by
638 posts

I have a grey wool sweater that zips, I wear that most days with a turtleneck/blouse under. It's lightweight, not too hot, but warm enough with a coat, and sometimes without. It gets boring after awhile, but with different tops and scarves, it's definitely a way to pack light. Then take maybe one other for a change of pace.