I just got back from a 10-day trip to Europe, which included Paris and Vienna. Whenever I travel, I try to keep my bags to a minimum because I hate carrying luggage! I will avoid a carry-on at all costs because I don’t like lugging it through the airport or raising it above my head to put into the overhead compartment. My goal is always to pack as efficiently and effectively as possible!
I have three objectives when I prepare for a trip in terms of my wardrobe:
- Abide by the “dress code.” Generally, I kind of want to blend in with everyone else. For instance, when I used to intern in D.C., everyone wore suits to work. My suits were always fun with a print, but I still wore a suit. Going business casual was not an option. If I travel to NYC in the winter, I will probably pack lots of black and dark colors. Whenever I go to Boston in the fall, I packs tons of fall colors, like mustard yellow, burnt orange, and rose.
- Dress appropriately for the weather. I absolutely hate it when I am stuck in another city and I brought all the wrong gear! Last May, I checked the weather before a trip to Napa. Despite the warning signs of 40-60 degree weather…I convinced myself it would be warm because it was springtime in California! BIG BIG mistake and I was irritated with myself the whole time!! Seriously…wearing a t-shirt and jeans was miserable when we drove down the coast to Point Reyes where wind chill was at its peak!
- Don’t stick out like a tourist. I don’t want to be culturally insensitive, offend anyone, or illicit any side comments like, “Stupid American!”
What to Pack
Paris is a walking city, so you need good walking shoes. Before going, I was anticipating Parisians to be much more formal in their dress and footwear. Yes, it’s true that you generally don’t see people walking around in jeans and a t-shirt, or a basketball jersey… but they do wear sneakers! Personally, I was shocked. It is totally okay to wear sneakers with a blazer, dress, or slacks! Because Paris is a walking city, it’s all about function AND fashion! There is no need to torment yourself with heels to match your dress, just throw on those sneakers and go! Plus, it’s probably not the best idea to wear heels because the city is old, so there are some cobblestone streets! If you want fancier footwear, go for wedges.
Evenings in Paris are a little chilly with temperatures in the 60’s with wind, and highs in the 80’s (in May, though it can be colder so check the temps. It was very cold just the week before). It is a good idea to pack layers! Carry a scarf and light jacket with you during the evening in case it gets unexpectedly cold. The day can be pretty hot , so you can peel off layers as needed. Many Parisians wear light layers, dresses, and even shorts. Everyone was working on their tan while sitting at cafes and parks. Unlike some parts of the U.S., there isn’t a strict color scheme corresponding with the season. Everyone wears the full range of colors, from pastels, to bright colors, to black, so feel free to wear whatever colors you want.
I tried to pack really light for my 10 day trip to Europe in May. I managed to fit all my clothes, shoes, and toiletries in half of a medium sized suitcase! (My husband took the other half!) I think it was my most efficient packing ever! I stuck to a color scheme of blush, white, blue, and olive (with the exception of 1 red dress and 1 red scarf), so that everything could be worn interchangeably.
- 10 shirts
- 2 jeans
- 1 pair of leggings for the return flight
- 2 spring dresses
- 1 sweater blazer (more about this blazer here)
- 1 raincoat
- 1 pair of Keds
- 1 scarf
- 10 socks
- 15 undies
- 1 set of pajamas
On the flight going to Europe, I wore: linen pants, a camisole, easy button-down shirt, a blush scarf, and olive jacket. I wore my Adidas Ultraboost, so I had a total of 2 shoes on the trip.Honestly, the linen pants were not the most comfortable simply because they don’t have stretch in them. So they were just a bit constricting while I was squirming on the plane trying to get comfortable due to the limited leg room! However, they were great in terms of breathability and walking through terminals.
All-in-all, I packed more than enough! I wasn’t missing anything, and honestly, if I was, I could have bought it there because who doesn’t want to go shopping in Paris?!
If you don’t want to stick out as a tourist, do not wear a backpack, baseball cap, or fanny pack! I asked my French cousin, and she said these were sure signs of a tourist. Technically, I could have been even more efficient by wearing my leggings on the flight there too…but I didn’t because I was going to arrive in Europe during the day, and I didn’t know how they felt about leggings! In the end, it probably wouldn’t have mattered since we got to the hotel later than I thought we would, so we basically took a quick walk around the area and then headed back for the night…BUT, it is true that Europeans don’t walk around in activewear!
Thanks so much for visiting! Leave a comment with how you like to pack for a trip!