Lessons Learned Packing for Europe in Summer

Just a quick post this time. It’s almost time to pack for our next trip and that got me thinking about the mistakes we’ve made packing for past trips.

1. Pick The Right Bag

Backpacks are most convenient for walking and there is plenty of walking when visiting Europe. My husband started travelling with his trusty L.L. Bean backpack. It did the job but it was bulky. He kept hitting people around him. Last year our girls gave him the Osprey Farpoint 40 for Father’s Day which was a much appreciated upgrade. It works well and even has extra room for bringing things home. I have arthritis in my neck so I opt for a roller bag. I’m still looking for a good light one if anyone has any suggestions.

2. Pick The Right Shoes

I learned this one the hard way choosing footwear for our first trip to Italy. I had a pair of Rieker sandals that I loved. The straps adjust three ways which is perfect for late in the day when my feet are swelling. That was an easy choice. They are good for walking and dressy enough for dinner. I went back to the store where I purchased them and bought a cute pair of leather sneakers for walking. I was talked into buying special insoles and assured that, with them, I could wear the sneakers without socks. I don’t like wearing socks so it sounded perfect. I broke them in before I went. Within an hour of walking around Rome in the summer heat it became apparent that the nice ladies at the store were wrong. I developed horrible blisters. Thank heavens for the adjustable sandals. I loosened the straps and wore them until the blisters healed.

Last summer I wore Keds Vollie II for sneakers. They have removable memory foam insoles so I could take them out to air at night. They worked well and were great for walking but I still had the sock problem. I have small feet and sock liners end up bunching up on me. I’m hopeful that I found the perfect sneakers for this summer’s trip. I ordered Allbirds Tree Skippers. They are made of breathable bamboo and wool fibers, are washable, and you can wear them without socks! They feel like slippers. I’m hoping that they give me enough support. I have high arches and that can be a problem for me. My sandals this year are a new brand for me too. They’re Mephisto. They can be adjusted two ways. They were easy to break in and quite comfortable. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Allbirds Tree Skippers

3. Don’t Pack Too Much

As I said at the beginning, we travel with carry on only so we don’t know what it is like to have clothes for every occasion. It hasn’t been a problem so far. I recently read somewhere that you should never bring things that you think you may need, very good advice. In my experience, I have never actually needed anything I packed “just in case”. If you do need something it’s a good excuse for a little shopping. Every year I pack a little less and yet, at the end of the trip, there is always something in my suitcase that I didn’t wear.

4. Pack The Right Clothes For You

Before we left for Italy the first time I read all the travel blogs I could find about what to pack. My Pinterest feed was full of them. I took the advice to heart and bought a new travel wardrobe. I made sure that I had shirts with sleeves and long skirts for visiting churches, a special shirt for protection from the sun, sweaters and pants in case it was cold, those ill-fated sneakers, and only one pair of shorts for hiking. I didn’t wear my new clothes much on that trip and never wore most of them again. I didn’t need the warm clothes. I’m not sure where the Pinterest posters visit but it’s never been anything but hot for us so far. I regretted not having more shorter skirts and sleeveless tops. A scarf over your shoulders is all you need for visiting churches and you can’t go to Italy without buying a scarf in a market. As long as your skirt comes to the top of your knees, they usually let you in.

Now I only buy clothes that are comfortable, versatile and, most importantly, that I know I will wear again. The blogs were right about the shorts though. Older women in Europe don’t usually wear walking shorts. I’ve always preferred skirts so that’s fine with me. I bring several skirts for daywear. My go to skirt is from L.L. Bean. I have it in two colours. It’s the washed chinos skirt and, unfortunately, it’s no longer available. I’ve had good luck with skirts at Talbots too. When I find a dress that won’t wrinkle and isn’t too bulky, I buy it. I wear a dress to dinner most nights so I bring a few.

So that’s it, the lessons we’ve learned so far. We usual stay three or four nights in one place and travel mostly by train. Travelling with less is what works for us but, as #4 says, do what works for you!

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