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3 weeks in summer: what I packed vs. what I wore

We’re just wrapping up 3 weeks in Germany, Italy, Switzerland and France. I am an over packer. I admit it. So I promised myself I would keep track of what I packed and what I actually wore. I will do a separate post about the misc stuff I packed vs. what we actually used.

The weather ranged from the 40’s in the Swiss alps to the high 80’s and very humid in Venice. We traveled by car between locations. These were our stops:

Munich airport hotel - overnight after flight
Dolomites - 3 nights
Venice - 3 nights
Stresa - 2 nights
Wengen - 5 nights
Colmar - 4 nights
Bacharach - 3 nights

We had laundry (washers only) at our rentals in Dolomites, Venice, Wengen, and Colmar. My husband did laundry anytime we were in the apartment for any length of time. He considers it his contribution to keep us (family of 4) in clean clothes, since I do all the planning.

All of these clothes fit into a large packing cube. A medium packing cube, and a narrow packing cube. Easily into a carryon size bag. All tops coordinate with all bottoms. Here is my packing list, with an “x” to indicate the # of times I wore an item.

Black linen blend pants xxx (including plane days)
Black linen capris xx
Olive linen capris xx
Black linen shorts x
Navy linen shorts xx
Olive linen shorts xx
Floral print skirt x
Royal blue linen dress xxx
Navy linen dress x
Navy active knit pants x
Black lightweight knit pants x
Black lightweight crinkle pants xx

Black t xx
Navy t xx
Black/blue/olive floral t xxx
Black floral blouse xx
Lightweight white/olive floral top xx
Lightweight pink top xxx
Light blue henley t xx
Black linen long sleeve xx (travel days only)

Black sweatshirt xx (plus carried on the plane but didn’t use)
Packable puffy jacket xx (at Jungfraujoch and on balcony in early mornings in Wengen only)
Lightweight knit gloves and hat x (Jungfraujoch only)
Rain jacket xx
Blue lightweight sweater xx
Royal blue lightweight long sleeve (never)

6 undies, bras and socks (could have packed 3 each)
Cotton shorts for under skirts to prevent chaffing (critical, ladies) xxx
PJ shorts and t shirt, regularly. Would bring bamboo instead of cotton next time because it dries faster.

Merrell hiking boots (Switzerland and Dolomites every day)
Skechers boat shoes (daily most other locations)
Skechers sandals (evenings and traveling between locations (by car))
Hotel slippers from the Munich airport Hilton (every night)

What I forgot to pack: lightweight nightshirt. Used a linen slip intended to go under my dresses instead. Never wore the slip under dresses (too hot for that!)

What I packed and never wore:
Scarfs. Too hot and didn’t see ANYONE wearing scarfs.

Jewelry- just didn’t think to put it on.

Critical items:
Lightweight shorts under dresses to prevent chafing wirarpa Women's Cotton Boy Shorts...

Sun hat. I loved this one because it didn’t make my head hot, I could roll it up, or clip it to my bag Joywant Womens Amia Summer Straw...

Sling bag. This one has zippered pockets (critical), lots of organization, pockets that actually hold water bottles, material wasn’t loud/crinkly nylon and I could clip my hat to it: G4Free Sling Bag RFID Blocking...

What I learned:
Even well broken in shoes are uncomfortable when my feet swell after miles of walking in the heat. My sandals were a lifesaver in the evenings.

Hiking boots were not necessary for the walking we did in the Dolomites and Switzerland. Grippy tennis shoes or trail shoes would have worked fine.

The average washing machine can hold 4 summer outfits and takes anywhere from 40 minutes (express wash) to 2.5 hours to wash. Linen, rayon and synthetic quick dry fibers are best for drying overnight on racks.

Posted by
268 posts

Thanks for posting, travel4fun! It looks like you did amazingly well with wearing almost everything you packed. I always end up with two or three items that never left my suitcase, and am so disappointed! I too always bring changes of jewelry, and then never wear it! My old standby earrings, black lava pearl posts from Iceland and silver hoops seem to go with absolutely everything I wear!

Bookmarked for future reference 😉

Posted by
9562 posts

Travel4fun, I too am an overpacker and can admit it, and I appreciate your courage in posting your list here. TWELVE BOTTOMS ???!!! (Including dresses ) Wowwwwww

Posted by
406 posts

Travel4fun, ok I am surprised you felt the need to pack 9 bottoms, 1 skirt, 2 dresses, 9 tops and 1 sweater. BUT!! To then read you got all of that into 3 packing cubes and 1 carryon!?!? I do salute you😁. Amazing.

Also interesting to hear your thoughts on what worked with your shoes. Very good point about good sneakers covering most vacation ‘hiking’. Love the sun hat too. Sounds like you had a great time.

Posted by
6293 posts

Good record keeping! So what about next time - do you think you'll remember this and pack lighter? 😊

Posted by
5581 posts

That's about twice the clothes I bring for a 3.5 to 4 week trip. I can't figure out how that all fit into a carry on. What luggage did you use?

Usually people say 2 pairs of shoes. I do break that rule, as well, and agree that even broken in fave shoes, can become uncomfortable. I always bring at least 3 pairs of shoes, especially if one is flat sandals. Sometimes just rotating thru shoes helps. I've never brought hiking boots to Europe, but I just purchased Merrill hiking shoes that I intend to bring to New Zealand. They are so much smaller for packing.

Posted by
9562 posts

Well you did pack them all in AND wore them all ! So my hat is off to you !!

Posted by
763 posts

That is an awful lot of clothes for 3 packing cubes and one carry on! You must be a size -6... How big was the carry on? I love linen, but not the wrinkles. How did you keep the linen items looking fresh and uncrumpled?

Posted by
1364 posts

I too am impressed with what you were able to pack into your carry on. Your clothes must be very lightweight. What brands were your clothes? I'm starting to plan for a 2.5 week northern Italy trip which includes a wedding, hiking and cycling and would like to pack that into a 8kg carry on.

Posted by
2311 posts

I’m certainly not a size 6, more like an 18, so my clothes are far from tiny. But they are certainly lightweight. We had irons everywhere except Stresa and Bacharach, so I could iron what I needed. Most of my travel clothes are from the Gap (I adore their crinkle knit fabric) or Old Navy. I’m guessing the shirts weigh about 4 oz, but I’d have to weigh them when I get home.

Here are some of the items:'-wide-leg-pant.product.4000067520.html?sh=true&nf=true&qaTestID=ios7.3

This one in navy:

These in black and olive:

Lucky Brand Women's Short Sleeve Pintuck Top

Between my husband and I, we packed a 20” bag and a 26” bag, plus two backpacks. We checked both the 20” and 26” due to Condor Air’s ridiculous carry on size limits, so we split our clothes between our bags in case one was lost. My 3 packing cubes fit perfectly in my carryon, with room for my sandals, and a few misc items (umbrella, etc). Big cube for my bottoms, medium cube for my tops, narrow cube for my socks & undies.

Some of the misc stuff was added to the bigger checked bag: liquids, jackets, extra shoes, hiking poles (which we never used).

In my backpack on the plane, I had my liquids, my electronics, my in flight essentials, a plastic envelope with all our itineraries, and some snacks. I wore linen pants, a t shirts, a long sleeve linen shirt, a sweatshirt and hiking boots on the plane.

Posted by
7276 posts

Oh, you went to some of our favorite locations - Venice, Dolomites, Stresa & Wengen! I hope your weather was clear & perfect for the mountain views!

Good job in keeping track of what you brought and how many times you wore it! While it’s fresh in your mind, go through your list and mentally remove 4-5 clothing items. And then re-tally how many times you would have worn each of the remaining items on your list, considering what you were doing each day. (Repeat, if desired.) It’s one way that’s helpful for me to reduce what I’m taking on the next trip (if that’s a goal).

Sometimes I wear something on the trip “just because it’s in my suitcase”. That was the case for the four scarves I brought. Otherwise, 1-2 would have been plenty for the month. You might have some of those situations, too.

Posted by
2311 posts

Jean, yes, the weather has been glorious. Only two afternoons of brief rain (in the alps) in 3 weeks. Other than that, just gorgeous!

My goal is always to pack lighter. Then I just start adding more and more. This is why I wanted to actually keep track and really force myself to whittle it down next time. I like the idea of imagining what I would have worn had I left a few things behind. There are definitely items that I only wore once, that could be cut in the future.

Posted by
75 posts

Thanks for sharing! It's always interesting to see what other women pack! That's great you kept track of how many times you wore something, so you know if you want to take it again. Special mention for only 3 pairs of shoes and realizing you could have used better alternatives to hiking boots (which take up a lot of space); great job! One of my "secrets" to footwear is taking an older pair of running shoes which I can use for running OR walking OR hiking/sightseeing (great for traipsing through castles!) and then I throw them out before I go home, after they've served their purpose. I personally would not take any item that I wore only once in 3 weeks unless it was something special (or I dumped it after wearing, haha). An added benefit to taking fewer clothing items that no one has mentioned is that you don't have to spend much time thinking about what to wear every day. Just put on whatever you have and GO. There is actually a lot of freedom in that. I do realize there can be a learning curve to wearing the same things over and over; it takes some time for it to really sink in that no one notices or cares what you're wearing (unless it's inappropriate) and no one in Germany is going to know that you wore that same skirt in Paris. This is not directed at the OP but for the forum in general!

Posted by
7276 posts

“ it takes some time for it to really sink in that no one notices or cares what you're wearing”

About the only time people notice that you’re repeating an outfit several times is during a tour where we see each other for a few weeks; otherwise, locals only see you for a few days. I was rotating the same three dresses during my entire time of the Croatia hot weather part of the RS Adriatic tour, so I had purposely chosen three very cute washable dresses. Some of the ladies commented during the trip that they loved the look of the dresses (two asked for the brand name), and I only cared that my clothes washed easily overnight in the sink of my hotel room. A couple of scarves & a pair of statement earrings gave me a little variety, but really, it didn’t matter.

Posted by
5581 posts

@Jean, you are so right, people don't care. For our first trip to Europe, I was worried that my "always hot" husband would stick out as American in his shorts. A friend said, people we know we are American, anyway, and it will not matter. (Of course, he dresses appropriately for churches)

So often, even when people are warned, they persist in wearing inappropriate footwear. I've seen so many flip flops on steep hiking trails, and heels when sightseeing, etc. I was a little surprised when I noticed how sensible people in Portugal were, locals and travelers alike. I rarely saw someone in heels and most often folks were wearing athletic shoes and sandals.