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First Timer looking for tips

This is our first time taking a Rick Steves tour. We are doing the Village Italy tour in early July. I'm looking for any tips from experienced RS travelers especially in regards to packing. Really struggling with the clothes issue in particular. Jeans? Dockers? Should I buy lightweight/nylon type pants? Do they always have a laundry stop that is convienent or do some use hotel laundry?Any other packing tips would be appreciated re: what have others found indispensable vs what is an optional item?
Thanks in advance for your help.

Posted by
7050 posts

Right off the bat, the key should be light, breatheable clothing because it will be quite warm (if not really hot) in July in Italy. I personally don't have any special "travel" clothes - I wear what I would wear at home given the season. Obviously with luggage, I would focus on clothes that don't wrinkle too much and/or dry fast in case I need to wash them.

There are a lot of tips right on this website, including Rick's packing list and this video:

Packing is just one of those things that one gets better and better at with more and more travel, so just do your best. There will be opportunities for improvement. Also, scroll through the collective wisdom of the forum...there are lots and lots of discussions about packing..."Packing" is actually a topic all in itself, just like the country forums. Lastly, you can always call the nice folks at RS for any specific questions or advice about your particular tour.

Posted by
2531 posts

Use the search function at the top of the page for suggestions as to easily and quickly managing laundry (sink washing, soaps, inflatable hangers, etc.).

Posted by
16894 posts

Village Italy is a 14-day tour and I can go that long without doing any laundry (yes, with a carry-on sized bag and wearing clothes more than once). On the second half of your trip, Lucca or Levanto each have two self-service Laundromats listed in Rick's Italy book, and your guide or hotel staff may also know about a full-service option.

Posted by
23 posts

I'm sure you are going to have lots of fun going on your 1st RS tour. I went for the 1st time last year for 9 day italy tour. Went very well. I went with 1 carry on and did not even do laundry. For packing, i suggest, don't stress about it too much. Just take a carry on, with just enough clothes. Don't start buying "travel" clothes or anything nylon. Take whatever you feel comfortable in and what you use now. Maybe some cotton/linen pants, 1 jeans to wear on flight, 1 jeans in the bag, 6-7 t-shirts/tops, I used packing cubes and was really surprised how much you can squeeze into that. In case, you forget something, there are plenty of nice (not so expensive) shops everywhere in Italy.

Posted by
14250 posts

I did Village Italy in 2014 and it is such a fun tour! I agree with the others that it is likely to be pretty warm and you may not be able to get as many wearings out of your clothes as you might in cooler temps.

I would either take a sun hat or if you are spending a couple of days in Venice ahead of time, pick up a cheap one from the vendors around the St Marks Square area. I am sensitive to many sunscreens so if you are, I would use part of your 3-1-1 bag for a correctly sized container of sunscreen for your face. That is assuming you are doing carry on...if you are checking a bag I would bring a larger size sunscreen.

Also, depending on where you are from and how sun tolerant you are, you might consider a sun shirt to keep the sun off of you. My brother just got a nice sunshirt that is actually a fishing shirt from a company called Huk. He does report that he will have to wash it frequently as it gets smelly. (TMI, lol??)

I always bring jeans but I don't travel when it is as hot as it is in July. The time I was in Italy the first week of September I wore crop pants the whole time. They were the very lightest cotton I had. I would not bring jeans this time of year.

**If you are a guy I would probably bring lightweight dockers or hiking pants that are breathable. Some nylon ones are not breathable.

I pack light and do sink wash so I don't really remember when others did laundry. I am sure Laura is correct about Lucca and Levanto, though. We had more free time there altho the afternoon in Lucca was taken up by doing a really neat visit to an olive oil mill for lunch. Wow, that was fun.

This is such a great trip!

Posted by
3941 posts

I haven't done any RS tours, but for my packing, I tend to wear capri pants in warmer weather.

I don't recommend buying something specifically for the trip unless you think you will wear it at home. I picked up some North Face wind type pants (oh, they'll be great for wearing on the plane!)...and...I never wore them - at all. My husband only wears jeans at home and work, and our first trip, he bought a pair of Dockers khakis, packed em and never wore em...because it wasn't what he was used to, and hot weather be damned (he's used to wearing jeans year round, so he didn't overheat). So he lugged that extra pair of pants (and weight) around for three weeks. I bought a skirt once for a trip, wore it twice on the trip and never wore it again. We've done trips from 18-23 days and always go with carry on size only. It's hard, but we really appreciate not hauling around giant bags.

Make sure if you pick up new footwear that it is adequately broken in beforehand. Give them at least 3-4 weeks of wear to make sure they aren't going to give you blisters.

Posted by
2497 posts

We were in the south of France last July and it was sweltering so I am assuming similar heat and humidity in Italy at that time. I would have died wearing jeans last summer in the south of France. Wear capris, sundresses, lightweight clothing. Whatever you would wear on a hot, humid day at home. The key is to try and stay cool. Make sure things are quick dry. I washed things out in the bathroom sink every night as they were soaked through and unwearable a second time without a wash.

Posted by
7453 posts

I would plan 5 outfits total for 15 days, washing each outfit twice. Add a couple of tops to change out at night since the weather will be very warm. Personally, I pack Keen sandals for Italy and a pair of ballet flats for night and skip socks.

Posted by
5697 posts

As the other good advice says, don't feel you need to buy new clothes just for travel. My one big purchase for this trip was three pair of sink-washable ExOfficio underpants, but everything else was out of my regular closet. (Full disclosure -- I only buy things that will travel well.)
IF you wear skirts at home, consider taking one along (cooler than pants in hot weather.)

Posted by
15678 posts

Footwear is the most important. You'll be doing a lot of walking, at least some of it on cobblestones, so you want sandals that are comfortable and have thick soles. I haven't taken the tour, so I don't know if you'll need closed shoes (hikers, sneakers) for some days. Happy feet make all the difference - I always carry moleskin with me and put it on as soon as I feel any rubbing. If you wait until a blister develops, then you need more than moleskin, but it's easy to carry a few gel blister dressings. Some people like to switch between 2 pairs of shoes. Whatever you shoes you bring, they should be comfortable . . . . and not brand-new.

Light-weight sun hats and lots of sunscreen. Loose clothing that covers you is really more comfortable that clingy clothes and bare skin. Let the air flow around you. Skirts to the knee or just below are good, though so many women are sadly no longer comfortable in them.

Dress for comfort.

Posted by
301 posts

I would focus on light, breathable, versatile clothing and only really count on doing small things (underwear, tank tops, socks, etc.) in the hotel. During my RS tour last summer, it turned out that the laundromat commonly recommended had only just closed. Our guide, who was awesome, talked to the hotel staff and found another, but it was small and had limited hours. We were only going to be in Copenhagen for a day-and-a-half, and half the tour rushed over to do laundry in the same three-hour window. I decided to do sink laundry instead....and the sink was about the size of mid-sized mixing bowl.

Obviously this will vary by tour, but my advice (I've only down two RS tours, but I've done lots of backpacking and otherwise schlepping around in hot climates) is to plan on washing small stuff yourself and pack "big" stuff that can be worn multiple times without getting gross.

Also, before a seven-week trip, I made a point of seeing which hotels in which, comparatively, inexpensive cities, offered laundry service, in case the situation got desperate! I ended up doing this twice, in Rouen and then in St. Petersburg. Both were pretty reasonable, I thought (within the universe of hotel laundry, that is), and I only send out three or four items. Depending on where you are, this might be an option worth the money and time saved.


Posted by
8239 posts

We're travelers that refuse to ever let an airline lose our bags--only 21" roll on suitcases are used.
I'll most often wear jeans on the airplane, and will continue to wear those jeans the first 5 days of my trip.

I'm also carrying a second pair of jeans and a pair of khaki pants that were heavily starched at the dry cleaners.
With heavy starch, pants will shed dirt and they'll look good for at least a week.
I carry about 5 golf shirts, and I'll change shirts every day. After I rotate through them, I'll start the rotation again.
Be sure to carry a Tide cleaning stick with you, as it removes most stains from clothes.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks for all your replies and great advice. BTW I should have mentioned I'm a guy. I know the assumption that it's only women that stress about the packing/clothes issue but it's me, my wife is less inclined to stress about these things. I will pass your advice along to her as well. I welcome any other comments.

Posted by
34 posts

We were in Italy in November, for me jeans were too hot for the activity level but I live at altitude. When my wife and I go back this November for 19 days, I'm taking three pairs of lightweight hiking pants and mostly lightweight golf shirts and cotton t-shirts (probably 6- 8). I wont get more than one wear out of my shirts so I have to do laundry. I bring two 2-gallon zip lop bags and use one for washing and one for rinsing. Just put your clothes in, a little concentrated soap, add water and soak/shake for a while and rinse. The hardest part is getting enough water out to dry overnight (spin cycle is really underrated). The best way to remove excess water after twisting is to roll up in a towel and press. The problem with that is the hotels we stayed at didn't have extra towels in the room like they do in American hotels. Our upcoming trip I'm going to try my dad's suggestion which is to bring small balloons, blow them up and stick them inside the clothes while drying. We did use one Laundromat in Volterra and just hung our clothes in our room to dry overnight. After the attendant got done yelling at us in Italian (it really wasn't yelling, more like loud animated talking with lots of hand movements) we learned that those particular washing machines put soap in automatically and we didn't need to use our soap. Something to keep in mind if you use a laundromat. Things I won't be bringing again, heavier type rain coat, small pillow and blanket, jeans.

Posted by
53 posts

We just got back from the Village Italy tour yesterday. The villa in Regello has a single washer and dryer. In Levanto, there are 2 self-service laundromat's within walking distance of the hotel. That should be plenty of chances to do laundry in 14 days. It's a great itinerary and great tour.

Posted by
486 posts

Wow Cheyfrost great ideas on washing. Going on our 5th tour but first with long bus rides and 14 days. Also summer with two teens. Is it just me but teen boys need clean clothes to keep down that lovely boy smell in summer.
We will travel light but we will be checking our bags so hopefully can fit in some of the things listed.
Thanks for the info!

Posted by
734 posts

My husband highly recommends these pants
We did buy them special for the trip but they breath well and he loves to wear them everywhere. He also loves the Jockey undergarments that breath well and are quick drying for those "sink washes".

Posted by
2455 posts

For lightweight men's slacks, I love Haggar Cool 18 slacks. I get mine at Kohl's where they are almost always on sale for somewhere around $35. I see they are also listed on Amazon, etc. They come in about 8 different colors, with or without pleats, in a wide variety of sizes and lengths, and I have traveled with a color called something like brown heather, not too light or too dark. I generally wear one pair to travel and for everyday use during a trip. I pack a second identical pair to use when I want to dress/freshen up a little, and when my first pair gets dirty or is being washed or drying. If necessary, you can wash these out yourself, and they will dry quickly, even overnight if conditions are right.

Posted by
2147 posts

Hi dg, my (male) friend loves Eddie Bauer Travex pants. He takes 2-3 pair and washes them out in the sink (they dry in a few hours). He also likes Under Armour shirts - also quick drying. Take a couple of plastic hangers and you're good to go.