Here we are friends, just weeks away from sweet summertime! Last week I had a sweet friend reach out and ask for some tips on summer packing for travel. As you may know, I’ve spent the last two summers abroad and plan to go back to Europe for a few weeks this summer! Suffice it to say, I’ve had some experience jamming a month+ worth of your life into a suitcase, so I’m happy to share my tips!
These tips are going to be best suited for European travels, but hopefully can provide some insight into whatever travel plans you make!
I’m throwing in some pics from my last summer in France, hopefully the photos will help get you inspired!
Before my first summer abroad I invested in a giant Samsonite hard-sided 4-wheeled suitcase. (Here’s a similar one, mine was bought on clearance so it’s no longer being manufactured) I picked this one because it was the lightest I could find (hello, light weight means you can shove more inside!). Buying a hard cover means you’re usually going to sacrifice some pockets, but for me it was well worth the sacrifice!
* Roll your clothes and stuff your scarves in your hats and your undies in your shoes to save space! If you need to pack bulky things (sweaters, jackets) invest in some space bags!
Always, always, ALWAYS pack some kind of carry-on when you’re traveling long distances. This way, if your checked bag gets lost (which is common when you have connecting flights) you have some stuff with you to survive on until the airline returns your bag. In your carry on always pack: 1 change of clothes, tooth brush, tooth paste, makeup, + medications (to survive any lost luggage mishaps) as well as snacks, a book/ magazine, travel pillow, headphones, and a jacket/ cozy socks to survive the plane ride.
(Pro tip, wear your heaviest shoes on the plane- usually sneakers- and wear a scarf or something you can cozy up in if the plane is freezing)
Carry-ons are also super important if you plan on traveling once you’re overseas, this way you have a small, easy to manage bag to take on weekend trips and you don’t have to worry about lugging a giant suitcase! Your shoulders will thank me later!
Each time I’ve been to France has been in late May/ early June. Also each time I’ve been, I have been greeted with cold, dreary weather. Spring in countries like the UK, France, Germany and others have wet and chilly springs that last into June. Be sure to bring both a stylish jacket and rain attire for these early months. However, once June hits, the clouds clear away and it gets very warm, very quickly. Also note, these charming old European towns are ripe with history, every building you see dates back hundreds of years. This is amazing for sight seeing, but it also means that a lot of buildings do not have air conditioning. This is where Americans panic, it’s okay. You’ll be okay.
It’s all about light layers and easy basic pieces that you can wear in a variety of ways. (Especially if you’re in for drastic weather changes like I was). Europeans know how to rock the basics: jeans, tees, and sneakers.
(Note, shorts just aren’t a thing for Europeans, if you want to be culturally sensitive and try to blend in, leave the shorts at home, I know it’s hot, but you can do it).
WHAT TO PACK: Black/ White tees, a couple pairs of jeans, one pair of white or black jeans, a couple nice tanks in neutral colors, skirts, dresses, comfortable walking shoes (I love Keds), a nice sandal, + jewelry, hats and scarves to style your outfits, sunglasses, rain jacket, trench coat + leather jacket (if it’s going to be cold), jean jacket, a nice chambray button up, light weight jammies, swim wear if you need it, a crossbody purse, and a carry-all tote.
Before putting anything in your suitcase think: Can I wear this piece at least 3 different ways? (i.e. A black tank can be worn with black jeans and a scarf, tucked into a skirt, or with blue jeans and a statement necklace) If not, throw it back in your closet. Think: is it easy? Is it wearable? Is it washable? Zara, Old Navy, and TopShop are your new best friends for pre-travel shopping. BASICS, BASICS, BASICS.
***Scarves are a great thing to invest in. Not only are they super European, but they’re light, easy to pack, and can transform an outfit. Also, they’re great to have if you’re sightseeing churches and need to cover your shoulders.
When it comes to things like shampoo and conditioner I say, save your space (and your clothes from the possibility of bath product explosions) and buy them in country. Unless you’re traveling to a third-world country, you should be able to find products that suffice. Also, it’s a great way to feel like a native. Once you get settled, find a neighborhood market and stock up on your essentials (hair products, shower gel, shaving creme etc).
Things you’re going to need to make sure you bring with you? Anything you can’t live without and can’t buy in country. AKA medications, vitamins, umbrella (always a good thing to have), camera, chargers, laptop or tablet (always nice to have something to back up your phone to, just in case), passport (DUH. Make three copies and put one in your suitcase, your carry-on, and your purse and keep your actually passport in a safe place, this is VITAL), products that you can’t get overseas (I have sensitive skin and wasn’t willing to take the gamble with my face wash), converters for electronics (super important! Don’t want to be blowing fuses to curl your hair!), curling iron/ straightener (bypass the hair dryer, if you plan to stay in hotels, most hotels will provide them but if not, then the whole air-dried hair thing is very European- my mom has blown out at least two hair dryers because of the electric currents), refillable water bottle (Europeans aren’t big water drinkers like we are in the states, if you’re going to be walking all day in the heat, you’ll need to hydrate!), and money (don’t worry about changing your money before hand. Make sure to call your credit card company and notify them of your overseas travel and hit an ATM upon arrival! Much easier and more efficient).
Have questions? Did I leave anything out? Let me know in the comments tab! Would love to hear from you! Xoxo, Amy