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Packing light for a multiweek tour

I am going on the 11 day tour to Belgium and Holland in early April. The temperature can be 40s and 50s. I will need to take some warmer clothes. I can wash underwear and light summer stuff in the sink. What have people done with heavier pants and shirts. Thanks for any tips.

First time Rick Steves traveler

Posted by
21164 posts

We don't take heavier pants and shirts. Everything is about the same weight. It is all in layers. Might be a long sleeve t-shirt or perhaps a turtleneck but still easily washed in the sink. That is under a light weight (or medium) sweater with a vest over that or a rain jacket. Use light weight or silk long underwear under my normal summer pants for example. Just build up or down with light weight layers to match the weather requirement.

Posted by
1609 posts

Hi wpg, I did this tour (in May) and have been to Amsterdam a few other times. Be prepared for some rain and cool temps. Pack a good waterproof jacket. I’d also take a fleece or sweater to layer if needed (40 feels colder when you’re wet). To pack light, wear jeans and take an extra pair of jeans and a pair of travel pants. I wash my jeans in the sink, roll them in a towel and step on them to get the water out. They dry in a day/day in a half. Bonus if you can drape them over a heated towel warmer. Travel pants are great, dry overnight and look dressier than jeans. Same for travel shirts, check Eddie Bauer. Very nice tour, have fun!

Posted by
5636 posts

There's an entire section of posts on Packing. (24 pages at last count) You can check with your tour guide for laundry facilities on the trip -- do-it-yourself laundromat, drop-off services who wash and fold your clothes while you sightsee. Heavier outerwear can be worn several/many days between cleanings (excluding major spills) and your tourmates will be in the same situation.

Posted by
16849 posts

I pack in a carry-on sized bag and can normally travel two weeks without doing laundry, but regular laundromats are available if needed. Yes, I will shock you by saying that I may indeed wear my jeans for 6 or 7 days, as long as I don't fall in the mud. A light-but-warm scarf is easy to adjust during the day as there are sun breaks or you go in-and-out of doors. As well, the experts say that a hat does a lot to keep your heat in and doesn't weigh much. Plus a wind-and-rain-proof jacket.

Posted by
4572 posts

Layer, layer, layer. We did the London tour in February with just normal clothes, no coats. On the coldest day I wore silk long underwear, corduroy pants, a long sleeved T, a cardigan, and a nylon windbreaker. I don't remember what kind of hat I had. We sprayed the windbreakers with waterproofing, and they held up in the rain.

The same combo worked for me in Switzerland in late April this year. I did take a pair of gloves, but never wore them. My hat this time was a fedora.

Posted by
2768 posts

I took a pair of Rohan(British company) cotton lined jeans to Scotland. When washed in a sink, they will dry in approximately 24 hours.

Posted by
137 posts

Welcome to RST, wp! Great tips provided for you, I add make considering how the tour's pacing of 4 stops of 2- or 3-nights calls for efficient packing. So, not just the what to bring and wear but the how to keep it organized and accessible. Heading into each new accommodation, while the players change (hotels, B&Bs, etc.) the game remains the same: how can you make it easier on yourself to tote your belongings, get to your belongings and repack your belongings while on the road. Packing cubes are super helpful and dedicating space to only your proven wardrobe winners in the comfortable, lightweight, versatile categories is smart. It is not a waste of time to pack whatever you consider your essentials (down to the last cotton swab) for this trip, then lug it around; the house, the yard, downtown, your choice. Should it feel too bulky, too heavy, too something, adjust as needed. Happy travels!

Posted by
21164 posts

I would never take pants that require 24 hours to dry. Even if you are not washing them, you get wet from a rain, that is a long time to dry. For me that would not work very well.

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks for all the info. I think I'll go shopping at REI. All the clothes that work for camping should be good for the trip.

Posted by
1178 posts

Don’t take heavy tops or pants. Take light tops and pants and layer them.
Use an ultralight silk top under your tops
Use a silk longjohns or leggings under your pants
Add in a cardigan
Add in a puff jacket
Top with a packable waterproof coat
Use a scarf for neck warmth.

Stay away from cotton when it rains. It takes forever to dry

REI stores have camping style pants. I’d suggest using the internet for stylish travel pants. Check out Columbia, Royal Robbins, Eddie Bauer.

Posted by
4572 posts

I love my silk longies - long underwear. I got them at Lands End (0nline) The turtle neck tops are pretty enough to wear as outerwear.

Posted by
8203 posts

I've just trialed 2 pieces in 32 degree temps and am very happy with them. I agree with others - layering is the key.

1 - A LS Dri-fit 1/4 zip Ideology brand top from Macy's. I purchased this last Jan. as I was on the way to the airport. I was headed for FL, realized I had not changed out of an old waffle weave thermal layer into a newer, nicer one. I think it was on sale for about $20. I wore it every day in the Florida "winter" over a SS Tee on a birding trip, then wore it nearly every day for the rest of the winter over a LS shirt in Idaho. In May and June I did 2 RS tours - Southern England and Scotland and also wore this nearly every day, at least to start with. It's light, folds up small enough to go in my purse, washed well and dries in a couple of hours. It is an excellent layer over a short or long sleeved Tee.

2 - Costco 32degree puffy vest, about $20, I think. I had been reluctant to try a puffy vest because let's face it, I don't need ANYTHING adding any bulk to my frame, lol! I saw this, ordered my size online and just took it to Yellowstone for a week.

As mentioned I just got back from a Yellowstone trip. Every morning I started out with a SS Lands End cotton/modal tee, the LS Dri-fit and the puffy vest. I was able to be out and about in 32 degree temps watching geysers and wildlife. I'm not sure where you're from but I can tolerate a bit of cold so this was comfortable for me. Topped with a waterproof layer, a neck gaiter, gloves and a warm hat or earband and I could easily go down to near zero.

Now, this last week I was just wearing capri length pants as I knew it would be warm by afternoon but I would have been slightly more comfortable if I'd put on my jeans instead. If it were really cold, I would have put on a base layer (new name for long underwear, lol) under the jeans. My base layers are the Hot Totties brand but there are many.

I take jeans on every RS trip I go on. I get jeans that are a poly/cotton mix so they dry overnight. I take the same SS Tee shirts and 1 LS Lands End Heat Crew (sold as a base layer but I size up and wear them for my regular shirts all winter).

I'm also planning to do the Belgium and Holland trip next April! I'll be taking the Dri-fit/puffy vest combo along with my waterproof layer. I'll take my regular jeans plus a pr of Costco travel pants in case it is warmer than I think. I'll take the Hot totties base layer bottoms and a Heat crew top. I'll also take a Land's End cardigan (will fit over the Dri-fit/under the puffy vest and waterproof layer) and 4 SS tee shirts. Really, most of this is what I would normally take on a trip. The only additions are the puffy vest and the HotTotties base layer, both of which squish up pretty small!

I also always wash my jeans in the sink in a 2 gal ziplock. I also wear them 4-5 days (or longer if it's cold) at a time. I generally wash my travel outfit (dark jeans and top plus either the cardie or the 1/4 zip shirt) on the first night - something about wearing jeans for close to 24 hours that makes me not want to re-wear them, lol and then I'll go with 4-5 days between washes for the jeans. Tops I can get 3 days out of unless it is very hot.

I'm looking forward to this tour!

Posted by
6514 posts

I pack the same amount of clothes for one week as I do for six weeks.

Posted by
4572 posts

Pam and wpgefg, this is a wonderful tour. It was one of our (many) favorites. It's changed quite a bit since we went in 2012, but I've heard good things about it since from other people.