One of the things I love about being in London is that it provides easy access to other European cities. For even just a weekend, you can jet off to another city and be back before your Monday call time for work. It’s a situation I take great advantage of and in fact, it is something I will take advantage of this weekend when I head off to Lisbon, Portugal (stay tuned for pics!)
Due to the frequency of my escapades and having consistently taken low cost airlines like Easyjet and Ryannair, which limit you to a single carry-on, I have slowly mastered the art of packing light and practical, while adhering to the Chanel code of staying classy and fabulous. Here is the run down on what I’ve learned, particularly while traveling within Europe:
1. Reuse and Reduce.
Reuse – Wear the same pair of jeans and change your tops. Heck, wear the same outfit two days in a row. This fashion rule is absolutely allowed when traveling. As long as your clothes do not reek, this is a great way to pack efficiently. I do highly recommend not doing this with your underwear though. That is a no no.
You can also always consider washing your clothes depending on how many days you’re staying. You can either do the old fashioned hand wash or find access to a laundry machine.
Reduce – As a female with a love for fashion, I get it. You want options and you want to be prepared for spontaneous events from hiking to going out for a night on the town but don’t bring your entire wardrobe! Choose pieces that can crossover for these occasions. For example, maybe a dark pair of jeans for walking around during the day that can still be used for going out at night? Just change your top, or better yet, bring accessories and a nice lipstick to fancy up what you’re already wearing!
2. Prepare for slighter colder conditions than you expected.
I am a naturally cold person, from my heart to my feet – if humans were encouraged to hibernate during the cold season, you would certainly not see me for several months. So this rule is especially important for me.
I remember when I was living in the South of France, in Toulouse, and making a trip north to Paris. The weather forecast showed me that in Paris, it would only be a few degrees below what it was in Toulouse, which I found to be fairly warm. In addition, my friend living in Paris told me to dress for springtime and so, I approached my packing by taking those two things into account. When I got off the train in Paris, I found myself SHIVERING.
This taught me a very important lesson. Firstly, taking advice from someone who does not get as easily cold as you is a big mistake. My friend was not wrong to tell me to dress for springtime because it was an accurate description for themselves but for me, not so much. Secondly, I was reminded that you can always take off layers but you can’t add on layers you don’t have. When I got off the train in Paris to discover it was chillier than I expected, there wouldn’t have been a problem if I thought of having a thicker layer on hand.
Thus I say, always pack as if it’s going to be colder, and do this in layers (cardigans, scarf, double socks, etc.) so you can easily remove layers if it does get warm and re-add them if it gets cold. It’s also advisable to wear more of your layers on the plane (where it’s a bit colder anyways) so you have more room in your luggage.
3. Don’t forget your feet.
When traveling, I find that one tends to do a LOT of walking. Wear comfortable shoes that you know you can walk around in for the whole day. Outside of summer, I recommend boots or sneakers, and packing nice flats for when it’s warmer as well as for going out at night (Note: I’m also a tall person so I can forgo heels but you may rethink this depending on your own situation and the outing.)
4. Liquids in a Ziplock Bag
Ever since the first time I went through airport security in London, I started to pack my liquids directly into a “Quart Size” Ziplock bag (as that’s the size allowed on a carry-on) and I always keep it at the top of my bag so I can quickly take it out at security.
What you choose to include in this ziplock bag can depend on a few things. Are you staying at a place where you will be provided with soap, shampoo, toothpaste etc? Find that out beforehand and make a quick trip to the drug store to buy travel size of whatever you may need. If you’re staying in a place for a relatively long time, you may consider just picking up something once you arrive. It’s even better if you’re traveling with a friend or friends who you’re comfortable sharing with because you can coordinate who brings a certain item for everyone to share.
If you are quite particular about certain things, it’s best you bring those items and buy the others. For example, my hair demands hairspray/dry shampoo (my hair is no joke) and I find the ones that work for me is harder to find when I travel so I bring my own – just trying to stay fabulous!
5. Embrace Pockets
When I travel, I usually bring a coat that has pockets, especially inside pockets, which are my absolute favourite because I can keep more important items in there and I can also skip having a bag with me, especially at the airport. (It’s also even better to have something with a hood because referring to the cold conditions above, you also want to be prepared for unexpected rain!)
When I’m out and about, I tend to bring a cross-body bag that is small enough to carry around all day, yet big enough to keep all the things I’ll need. I feel it’s secure and I can easily keep an eye on it, especially in a crowd.
There you have it – some of the key tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the course of my travels and I hope it helps you the next time you’re packing!