Please sign in to post.

21 Day BOE - May 7-27 Packing/Weather/Yikes

So excited to be leaving in 2+ weeks. I have been enjoying all the pre-tour anticipation the past several months and now as the tour is getting NEAR I have been keeping an eye on the weather for all our destinations. I added all the cities on my IPhone's weather app and have been trying to really relook at my clothing selections and think Layer Layer Layer. If anyone has any experience with May weather I sure would appreciate any advice on how to get all these layers in a carry-on. I am hoping there is just a major cold system going thru that area now and when we get there it will be warmer? Smile.
Thanks in advance for any advice or positive thoughts !!!!!! Diane from Dallas

Posted by
4 posts

Hi Diane, we did this trip last year -April 19-May 7 (I think) so close to your dates. Amsterdam was freezing (literally a polar blast came through). The only time we broke out our shorts was in Rome. I used a woollen scarf a lot. The Cinque Terre was definitely not beach weather. I enjoyed the temperatures but am from New Zealand and am used to cooler climates. Layers are the right idea. You definitely want two pairs of shoes. I know everyone harps on about packing lightly but don't pack too lightly as there are really only 2 washing opportunities (Austria and Cinque Terre), a lot of us bought a few extra clothes along the way. You really are not in any one place to get washing dry in your room - I tried! The Cinque Terre washing service uses water temperature not far off nuclear fission so expect shrinkage!!!! How important is it that you only have carry on? We had rolling cases the were the next size up from carry on which was perfect as 21 days is a long time and you want to be able to buy a few bits and pieces along the way (or if you are like us, an amazing piece of Venetian glassware or one of our tour buddies who bought a massive German stein)We also had a small overnight bag for the couple of times you leave your cases on the bus overnight...Venice for example. Have a great time...a year on and we are still totally excited about the trip and in regular contact with our tour buddies.

Posted by
6563 posts

We're in Europe right now for 26 days, and traveling with 21" rolling bags. I've also got a backpack and my wife's got a small duffel/purse. I actually carried too many pants and not enough shirts. My workhorse clothes are my jeans which I get starched as they actually look fine after a week (or two) of daily wear.
Yes, Rick Steve's packing list does work. I see travelers all over lugging oversized bags that are not physically capable of handling them. Ladies just do best to mix and match tops/skirts/pants in the same color family--and don't carry a bunch of shoes.
Remember you're the luggage handler on that tour.
We're experiencing cold, rainy weather today, but I suspect it's going to be the last cold wave. Your weather will likely be much improved so you won't need to carry heavy clothing.

Posted by
750 posts

Most important items are:
1) Lightweight waterproof rain shell, Marmot & Patigonia & Scottevest are all good.
2) lightweight fleece jacket, I like the Patagonia Micro D but there are many available.
3) I have been able to take 2 pairs of pants & 5 shirts & 5 pairs of underwear/socks and I wash every 3td night. The key is to take quick dry clothing (nylon/polyester) and use "Charlie's soap" to wash with. Do your laundry before you go to supper then it will be dry by next morning.
4) Take long sleeve shirts that have the straps so you can roll the sleeves up and button them up.
5) Consider using a pair of "convertible" pants with zip off legs, these work well when climate keeps changing.
6) Buy the Rick Steves super size microfiber towel, this is great for rolling wet clothes to make drying faster, works well as a blanket on cool bus/plane, used it for a picnic also.

Most importantly have fun, this is a trip of a lifetime that you'll always treasure!

Posted by
909 posts

Diane,
We did the 14 day BOE a couple years ago, and I would not pack any differently for 21 days than I did for that trip. I took a pair of jeans, a couple of pairs of Lands End starfish pants (a knit pant that doesn't stretch out of shape or cling like yoga pants/leggings - I wear one of these on the plane), a couple pairs of capris, and a pair or two of shorts, depending on the extended forecast for the southern part of the trip. I am a huge fan of Lands End tshirts and fleece. I take long and short sleeved tshirts and two or three fleeces and rotate through them. If it's cooler weather and I'm not sweating, I will hang them up at the end of the day to air out and get a two or three wearings out of them before I feel like they need washing. Luckily, we've had cooler weather at the beginning of our trips so only really needed to wash laundry once. I have done socks or underthings in the sink but not shirts or pants. I'm grateful not to be a fashionista, and I realized a long time ago that hardly anyone even notices what others wear, and I'll never impress those who do.

After you decide what you are taking, remove a third of the clothes and pack what is left. :)

Posted by
333 posts

I did the 21 BOE with similar dates 2 years ago and the weather was chilly and wet! Later I wished I had packed 1 more pair of jeans and a couple more long sleeved shirts. I packed 1 pair jeans, 1 pair black leggings, 3 pair of capris, 1 pair shorts, 4 short sleeved shirts, 2 long sleeved tees, a fleece vest, 2 button up sweaters (1white/1black to go with everything) and a knee length lightweight windbreaker/rain jacket. I also brought mittens and a hat. The only place that warranted shorts was the Cinque Terre. The rest of Italy I was good with capris and shirtsleeves, adding the sweater in the evenings. Everywhere else I was grateful for my sweaters. The leggings I wore for comfort on my flights, as jammie's a couple of times, and as long John's hiking in the alps and going to the top of the snowy Shilthorn. I was grateful for my gloves and hat too! The raincoat/windbreaker also got a lot of use (plenty of rain on my tour!)! I also had hiking tennis shoes, my sketchers go walks and a pair of sandals. I used them all! So in retrospect I would have brought a 2nd pair of jeans and left out a pair of capris. I packed a carry on with a removable daypack (which I actually checked on the plane) and had a full sized backpack which I carried on. I wanted to be comfortable and not worry about laundry on my trip. We had 3/4 laundry opportunities and I took advantage of them all. I also had another week and a half of travel before and after my 21 day, so I packed for my personal comfort. Layering clothes is the key and knowing who YOU are. I am not a minimalist determined to get by with 3 hand-washable outfits in a mini backpack. If you are, more power to you- go for it! ;-) But if you like your "stuff" and want to have more than 3 outfits to wear for nearly a month, pack away. Just be prepared to lug it!

Posted by
8203 posts

Lisa/Rankster mentions gloves and that is one thing I would add. I love the Smartwool glove liners. Definitely, definitely, definitely a waterproof outer layer - both for rain and wind.

I am a minimalist packer and did manage the 21BOE using Rick's convertible backpack, plus additional travel for an 8 week period. BUT each person is different in what makes them comfortable. In general I take the same things for 3 weeks as for 8 weeks but I don't mind doing sink wash. I believe some folks on my 21BOE did go to a laundramat in Florence on our free morning...and had a wonderful local experience talking with a gentleman named Corleone, lol!!

This was my favorite tour out of the 8 of Rick's I have done! Have a terrific time!

Posted by
6517 posts

We travel independently but also bring the same amount for ten days or six weeks. I never forget to pack my indepensible Marmot Precip rain jacket which take up little room. If there will be a wide range of temperatures, we pack Icebreaker liners to keep up us warm.

Posted by
116 posts

We did this last year, May 1-22. The few days before we're cold in Amsterdam--everyone said not usual weather. We were lucky to have minimal rain and overall cool but not cold weather. I did bring sandals, Skechers and tennis shoes--if it rains it helps to have a dry pair. I go with short sleeves and light cardigans mostly, though I did bring 2 long sleeve shirts on .that trip. A rain jacket, scarf and for me a down vest. I brought a baseball hat ,for sun and a pair of knit gloves--only needed them pretrip and briefly in Switzerland. Never needed shorts, though wore crop pants in Italy. The week after we finished in Paris they had record rain and flooding--we had minimal during the tour but we stayed extra and it rained off and on in Paris. We then went to Scotland and they had a heat wave! (70-80's)
I checked a small bag (carry-on size) and carried a small backpack which I used in Venice and Cinque Terre and for bringing home souvenirs.
You can always get a souvenir scarf or fun T-shirt if you guess wrong. Have fun!

Posted by
378 posts

So by the oddest co-incidence, my wife and I will be in Europe on exactly the same dates you will: 9 days in Paris and then our much-anticipated Rick Steves' tour of Holland and Belgium.

I'm packing an Exofficio rain jacket (rolls up into its own hood) and an el-cheapo fleece jacket. I know I'll need these when we visit the low country. I'm considering bringing my North Face down jacket, but it feels like a bit of over-kill.

I'll bet you'll have -perfect- weather!

-- Mike Beebe

Posted by
8 posts

Thanks to everyone for all the excellent thoughts, advice and suggestions. I made some changes to my list and the "staging bedroom" has been better organized. I cannot express how much I appreciate all the replies. I have been looking at the pictures posted with the journals and that has helped also. I tend to get a bit lost in the details and try to make everything "perfect" and so it was so helpful to read all the replies and know that it will all be good. Loved the suggestions of a knit hat and gloves.

Again thank everyone for responding. I appreciate each of you !!! Diane

Posted by
4574 posts

I'm grateful not to be a fashionista, and I realized a long time ago that hardly anyone even notices what others wear, and I'll never impress those who do.

Celeste: Right on!

Posted by
815 posts

Mike - We were in Holland/Belgium last year 2016 at the end of April/May. It was cold when we arrived and ended up beautiful weather by the end of our trip leaving on May 9. The only outerwear clothing that I took and used was my lightweight knit type running jacket and a waterproof jacket with tucked hood in my collar and of course a scarf. It was perfect. But you never know what the weather will be like.

Posted by
38 posts

Everyone has great suggestions. A couple of years ago, I was in the same places on Rick Steves tours and they said the weather was abnormally wet and cool. The happiest people had a hat and gloves, a knee length raincoat, and a wool sweater. I have a raincoat with no lining, so I wore a fleece under it. We all had a great time!

Posted by
8 posts

So let me tell you it is not easy to find gloves in April in Texas - but I did !! Yes it is true - I did not own gloves. A perk of Dallas' winters I guess.

It still looks like most of our destinations are averaging 60 degrees as a high. So hard to pack for with our A/C running. What a fun thing to do though !!!

We are so looking forward to getting out of our "cow path". This is going to be such an adventure !!!! Wahoo. !!!

Posted by
4574 posts

Diane, it's a great tour! We did it years ago, and plan to redo it next year.

Posted by
3 posts

Looks like your trip is almost over and I hope it was fantastic!

We are leaving on our in < two weeks. Would love any info you have to share!

Thanks! Terri

Posted by
8 posts

Terri. We are now in Paris on our final day. Wow !! What a fantastic 21 day adventure. Any advice ? I have lots. Packing cubes kept us organized in our carry ons. Worth the money. We had weather challenges with cold that you should not have. But if you have a lightweight rain jacket that would be probably necessary. In Paris now it is WARM. Wish I would have packed one more Capri pants. On the web too much is said about dressing like the locals. Trust me you look different talk different walk different. Dress for comfort and to feel good. Most (even stylish locals) wear Nikes or solid white sneakers. The local Italian and French women have on high waisted very tight skinny jeans. And they rock them. Anyway.....look at your clothes and wear them around before you go and make sure they fit well and you feel comfortable. Don't feel bad about just taking your iPhone for pics. Our hotels had no conditioner (so bring if you use at home) but they all had bars of soap and shampoo that was ok but you might want to bring some of your fav to supplement. Let me know any specific questions. Bottom line is that you will see and do so much. You will have a blast. It is a very active tour and you will make lifelong friends. We were blessed with our guide, Stephanie, and bus driver, Richard. What a fantastic team!!!! Diane .......who is very happy!!!

Posted by
4574 posts

Diane: so great that you've had such a wonderful experience. We did this trip about 6 years ago, and DH wants to to it again next year to celebrate a milestone anniversary!

I agree that folks fret too much about blending in. When we lived in Europe (Poland) some years ago, we could spot Americans - especially women - just by the way they walked.

Be sure to post a trip report; we're looking forward to hearing about your experiences.

Posted by
815 posts

How fun Diane - I leave tomorrow morning for paris/france & spain. I already have a tour buddy there and posted on FB that it was hot!!. Now I think my clothes maybe too warm. I DO pack for comfort and don't care about fitting in. You have to be comfortable. No even sure if my rain jacket is needed.

Posted by
8203 posts

Kim, always take a rain jacket! But, yes, it looks like it has been hot! Have been following the meteo-Paris page on FB.

https://www.facebook.com/meteoparis/

Diane - I'm so glad you enjoyed the tour! I had Richard last year for GAS - isn't he FUN!! What a great addition to the group.

Posted by
697 posts

Pay heed to everyone's advise here! We were on the 21 day tour in 2015 from 16 April to 7 May. I never once wished I had packed capris and shorts were not needed either. I suppose it depends on your comfort level and whether you tend to get hot/cold. I definitely run hot but was quite comfortable in long pants most days with the exception of Rome for one day. You are farther in to May I see (and I'm assuming this post is all for naught as you are probably in Europe having a ball right now)! I think I would have probably worn capris during your travel time.

Regarding laundry.....we did several "sink" washes throughout the tour (as long as the hotel didn't forbid it). Having quick-dry clothing is a must in these cases. We'd wash our first day in the city which gave us 2 full nights of drying time. I purchased and brought some folding hangers which proved quite the lifesaver! As mentioned, we used the laundry facilities in the hotel in Ruette and had the laundry service in the Cinque Terre. It sure was nice to come back to our room there to nicely folded and packaged clothes! We each had a carry-on and I had a Vera Bradley Weekender bag which slid over the telescoping handle of my RS rolling backpack/carry on. This Vera bag was actually squishable enough to be my "personal item" on the plane and also served as our luggage for Venice (we left our regular carry ons on the bus for convenience purposes). This was recommended by our guide and was a great idea.

This tour was our first introduction to Europe and exceeded our expectations a million-fold. I'm sure you will/already had the same experiences!

Posted by
3 posts

Diane,

Did the Tour go to Anne Frank's house. It doesn't look like it according to the itinerary, but reading some blogs of people who've been on the Tour, it sounds like they did?

I'm thinking we're going to get wet and hot from the looks of things. Yikes! May need less pants, more shorts for the boys.

ALso, did your tour have any teens?