So, with just under 3 days left till take off, I am packed up. I have gotten a lot of questions about how I am packing for a month long trip, so I will attempt to address that here.
I debated luggage quite a bit. Did I want to go the traditional backpacker route? I knew I didn’t want to use my hard sided luggage (They work great in the US, but in Europe, through train stations and up and down stairs – not so much). I researched and decided I wanted to go with a convertible bag that could be wheeled as a suitcase (great in airports and on streets) but could also be worn as a backpack (for stairs and places where I needed free hands). I decided on the REI 26′ Stratocruiser Wheeled Backpack with Detachable Day Bag – My decision was made easy when I was checking it out at the Kennesaw REI and it was on sale. I bought it and have been able to test it for several trips to Kentucky to visit the Stenners, Special Olympics and more – and it has been great. The added bonus of this bag was the integrated daypack – which would give me a small bag to use as a carryon, and that I could use as I explored Europe. With my daypack and my luggage situated, I moved on to looking at a purse. I knew my current purse wouldn’t work, because it was already starting to show wear, and I had some concerns about how easy it would be to slash or snatch. This lead me to discover the PacSafe brand. I decided on the CitySafe 200 Cross Body Bag – (I actually bought it on Amazon for 1/2 the price you see here). It has some great features (RFID blocking passport slot, zipper locks, exomesh lining and wire straps to deter thieves). And with that, I had my luggage arsenal situated. The Packing: I have embarrassingly detailed packing lists, but the end result is a organized suitcase and set of bags that I feel will travel very well. My packing list was divided into 4 areas: Electronics (which I addressed in My Tech “Travelosophy”), Paperwork, Clothing and Toiletries. Paperwork This was an easy category – but very important! This list really just gave me a way to double check myself. Did I pack my passport, credit cards, currency, rail pass, reservations, tickets, etc? All of these items either went in my purse, or in the folder in my carryon. I also have a notebook to use as my travel journal that I included in this category. I did get some starter currency so that I would have local currency for each location I might visit, just in case my credit or debit card decide to malfunction.
I knew I needed to maximize space with this category – which meant making sure that every item served multiple purposes. There was no sense in packing anything that I would only use or wear once. I also knew that I needed to make sure everything could be worn in different combinations together, so that I could take less clothing. I also wanted clothing that would not wrinkle, would be comfortable, and would wash (AND DRY) quickly. For clothing, what I ended up packing was 4 pairs of Capris (all black to make things simpler), 5 shirts, 5 pair of bamboo (quick-dry) socks, 2 pair of Yoga Pants and 2 T-shirts to sleep in (One is my CCEF shirt for the contest for those that have asked), a swimsuit, 2 simple, comfortable dresses (for high tea and days when I need to be more dressy) and of course, relevant undergarments. I also added a black hat and raincoat, both from Columbia for sun and rain protection. Shoes were a tricky thing – I have strange feet, and knew that I would need shoes that could withstand a lot of walking. I decided to go with my SKECHERS Skech-Flex – Ultimate Reality shoe – (They are like foot pillows), My Keen Newports– Amphibious Walking Shoes, and My NewBalance Black Flats , which would work as a dress shoe, but would hold up to walking all day through the city. I also threw a pair of shower shoes in my bag, since I would be using some hostel bathrooms and sharing shower areas with folks.
In this category, less was more. I purchased some Dr. Bronners soap to serve multiple purposes (body wash, shampoo, dish soap, laundry detergent and more), but found it made my hair WAY too dry, so I added a small container of conditioner – I will run out of both, and have decided that will be an opportunity to try something new. In addition to the typical toiletries needed, I also needed some items to assist with washing clothes on the road. I got a universal sink plug and clothesline to simply that task when I do not have access to a washing machine. I bought a small first aid kit, moleskin in case of blisters and even some travel toilet paper after hearing some friends’ horror stories about bathrooms in Europe. I put all of these items in my hanging Vera Bradley Toiletry Bag so that I could clip it up in bathrooms with no counter space. Because I was staying in a few hostels, and trains, and even the one night on a bus, I also packed a sleep-liner and inflatable pillow, just in case the accommodations are not what I anticipated, or I need additional comfort.
- Ziplock bags were my friend – I packed everything that might remotely spill in ziplock bags, and threw extras in the bag for when I buy food for my longer train journeys and picnics.
- I packed extra carabiner clips for securing items to my bag as I go through Europe.
- I included some Cable Ties for securing zippers and my bag to fixed objects on trains and in travel, and made sure to pack a pair of clippers (in my checked bag) to open them.
- I did pack a padlock in case I stay somewhere that the lockers don’t have one attached.
- I also threw my travel corkscrew in the bag – better than having to buy one when I have a picnic, or just want some fabulous wine.
- I used Eagle Creek Packing Cubes to organize my bag, so that if I have to open my suitcase at the airport everything has a place and goes back together nicely.
- I bought a spare pair of glasses and a pair of prescription sunglasses from Eye Buy Direct – I highly recommend them if you need eyewear – they were a great deal, and I really like them.
So there we go, everything packed, and in a suitcase that weighs less than 30 pounds, and my carryon and purse weigh less than 10 pounds. Is it Tuesday yet?