I think I received the biggest travel compliment ever while on our trip to London and Italy. We landed and met our driver who said, “Is this all your luggage? I have never seen Americans pack so light.” My mom would be proud!
While planning our trip, a friend who had recently returned from Italy mentioned that the cars are small, so we need to be sure our luggage will fit. Uh oh…I have never had that thought before!
I mentioned to my travel companions that we needed to keep our luggage to a carry-on sized suitcase (I took a 21” suitcase, which I checked) and a backpack (and a purse for the ladies).
This took a bit of culling, but we all three made it work. On the return trip, we discussed how we had more than we needed and could have packed even lighter.
Now I must admit that I think there are two kinds of trips. One kind is where you are going to see and be seen. On these trips, you may need multiple outfits in one day, and you would never repeat an outfit. This might be a wedding, reunion, gathering of friends, or a trip to a trendy location. My sorority convention comes to mind!
The other kind of vacation is one where you are a tourist. You need appropriate clothing but not clothes that make a fashion statement. This was our London/Italy trip. Actually, in London, I did dress a bit nicer as we were going to some fancier dinner spots. By the time we got to Italy, I was just thrilled to have clean clothes (and underwear!).
Of course, it is easier to pack light for a summer trip or a trip to a warm location. Clothes are thinner and layers aren’t required. Winter trips or trips to cold locations require thicker clothes and more of them. Just think of all that is needed for a ski trip!
What did I pack for an 11-day trip? Probably too much, but some things, like a small translation dictionary, were better to have and not need than need and not have.
Here is the breakdown…
My purse contained my most important items and items I might need during the flight, such as:
All travel documents that I could not live without, which included my passport, international driver’s permit, Global Entry card, and itinerary.
Clip sunshades (they take less space).
Credit cards and debit card.
Currency (US, British, and Italian).
A list of medicines (brand and dosage) and vitamins that I take as well as any surgeries I have had.
A sleep mask for the plane. This one came from the Container Store and it won’t mess up your eye make-up.
A sweater for the plane.
Pen and paper.
Medicines that I might need in a little bag, which included Excedrin, Dramamine, Advil, Pepto, Band-Aids, Imodium, a sinus medicine.
My zip lock baggie full of things I normally carry in my purse plus a few travel additions (a small tube of hand lotion, lip gloss, lip color, small vial of perfume, a couple of individual face wipes, a small tube of toothpaste, eyeglass cleaning cloth, small flashlight, comb, hand sanitizer, powder compact, and a lip primer.)
My backpack contained important items that I might need after I landed, but not during the flight, which included:
A rainproof jacket. The forecast had indicated I might need it when we landed.
A small travel umbrella.
A travel toothbrush.
Charging cords in a small pouch.
Tissues. I always carry plenty because they can be used for so much!
Confirmations and/or emails for all reservations.
Compression socks. I am not sure why I put these in, but I am so glad I had them. I had to wear them several days!
Another small stash of cash (located with the tickets).
In my suitcase was everything else I might need, which was:
Zip ties. Great for all sorts of things including securing luggage.
Small magnifying make-up mirror.
Converter and plug adaptor.
Shoes (2 pair in bag – 1 pair on my feet)
Case for my clip on shades.
Small bag for cotton balls, nail file, sewing kit, dental floss, Band-Aids, safety pins, moleskin, shower cap, more zip ties, Q-tips, etc.
Larger purse that could be used on day trips (I did not use).
Make-up case (lip balm, eye primer, concealer, eyeglass cleaning wipes, wet wipes, tweezers, mirror, hair clip, nail clippers, make-up brushes, make-up and SPF in one, face cream, powder, blush, eye palette, eye cream, highlighter, eyelash curler, and mascara).
Rick Steves’ book on Italy as well as a small translation guide. (I did not use the latter.)
Ad-da-lock. This can be used as an added lock on the door handle of your hotel room. I wanted to be prepared for anything! (I did not use.)
Leak-proof bag of toiletries (readers, razor, stick hand cream, sunblock, wrinkle releaser, dry shampoo, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, shower wash, deodorant, hand lotion, lint roller, toothpaste, individual face cloths, hand sanitizer, and room spray).
2 luggage straps. I never go on a flight without these. They are not in the photo because my nephew needed them on the return flight when his zipper broke.
My wardrobe consisted of:
A knit dress and leggings for the flight over and back.
Swimsuit (did not need).
A scarf (did not need).
One pair of jeans.
One pair of nice pants.
One nice dress.
One casual maxi dress.
Two cotton knit casual dresses – these were most useful and packed well.
One knit, casual top.
One rayon blouse.
Shorts were something I debated, but the cotton knit dresses are just as comfortable so I opted not to take any. In hindsight, I would not have taken the maxi dress or black dress, but added in one more cotton knit dress.
I really think I could have condensed more and not taken the backpack. I did not use it for day trips as I had thought I would. It was not packed full of stuff, so it seemed a bit useless.
In Rick Steves’ travel guides he includes a packing list which mentions that no matter how long a trip a person is going on, they rarely need more than five outfits. I do think that is true in many ways.