We just got back from our 2 week vacation to Europe. While there we took EVERY type of transportation; plane, train, ferry, bus, taxi etc. I was concerned about moving around a giant suitcase so I decided to pack everything into a carry-on sized suitcase. My previous post goes into detail about how I did this, but after our travels, I have a breakdown of what was worth buying/taking and what I would leave behind next time. Keep in mind when we traveled it was UNSEASONABLY warm. Dublin was 64-68 each day, hardly any rain. London was 70’s most days.
I did handwash some clothes, and re-wear a few shirts, I’ll go into more detail below.
Was it worth packing everything into a carry-on suitcase?
YES! Get this, even with looking at dimensions, my suitcase was too big to be considered a carry-on. At first I freaked out because I had spent all this time packing, but checking my bag was free for international. If you are flying international a carry on is TINY (see image below.) Most people had tiny tiny suitcases like the one below. It wasn’t a big deal, I wasn’t carrying on so I wouldn’t lose my stuff, I packed in a smaller suitcase so all the modes of transportation would be easier…and they were. Trains in Europe do not have giant luggage racks like the states. My husband’s full size suitcase barely fit anywhere. It made getting on/off trains, storing on trains etc a little bit interesting.
Definitely consider packing in a smaller suitcase if you plan on taking public transportation.
Was it worth hand-washing your clothes?
In all honesty, it was a huge pain, but a necessary evil if you want to pack clothes for 2 weeks in smaller carry on. I bought a hand washing kit on amazon. The smell of the detergent was not my favorite but it did the job. After about 4-5 days I washed all the shirts I had worn in the sink and used an amazing towel I got to dry them. The towel I would purchase again in a heartbeat. It pulled out most of the water and I just hung up the clothes on hangers to dry. Some were clean, some really needed to be actually washed. All in all, I’d do it again..but I’d buy a better smelling detergent next time.
Top 10 Purchases for trip abroad?
I wish I had seen this somewhere before going abroad. Here are my top ten things, but keep in mind…everyone is different. These are what ended up being life-savers for me.
- Brita Water Bottle– this saved us so much money. We filled up at sinks/restaurants etc. and always had water with us.
- London Fog Rain coat– I got this is black and detached the liner because it was warmer weather. It was perfect for chilly nights, rain, anything in England/Ireland/Paris. Highly recommend.
- Dr. Scholl’s Sneakers- At first I thought these were dorky. I picked them up at a TJ MAXX on a whim, but dear GOD I’m so glad I did. My feet swelled on the plane in my leather boots and gave me horrible blisters ALL OVER my feet. If I didn’t have these to pair with leggings and skinny jeans I would have been out of luck. Loved them! Super comfortable for all day walking and looked cute with different outfits.
- Nordstrom Go to Leggings: look in the photo above. I love these leggings. They are thicker than most I’ve tried on, amazingly comfortable and I wore them a couple of different days. Highly recommend them.
- USB Charger- Yubi Power Universal Quad-port USB Travel. The only reason I’m adding a photo is because this is out of stock on amazon. The link takes you somewhere else. The image below is the one we used. It was amazing. We charged 2 iphones and my kindle on there as well as my fitbit. It was amazing for abroad. Worth every penny. All you need are the usb cords.
- Fitbit Bracelet. I had this before I went on the trip but I’m so glad I did. This tracks how far you’ve gone and it was fantastic to know that we were walking between 8-10 miles a day. I actually lost 3 lbs on this trip (unheard of.) Highly recommend some type of measurement of how far you’ve gone. It’s nice to know and definitely helps keep anyone who watches their weight on track.
- Oscar Blandi Dry Shampoo 1 oz.– this stuff was life saving. I had my hair done the night before we went on vacation (my hair is super super thick) and didn’t have to wash/style it for 5 days. (I showered obviously, but didn’t have to do my hair.) It’s super easy to use, just put hair in a pony, sprinkle this stuff, rub it in, good to go. Smells great too.
- Ebags– I rave about these in previous posts. They make packing easy, organized and save so much space. I used 2 and the Eagle Creek shirt carrier. Brought an empty middle-sized one for dirties. Worked perfectly. Highly recommend.
- Lotions: Your face will dry out on planes/travel. For me my usual Oil of Olay face and eye cream were life savers. I also packed a really nice/small hand cream. They were a must have. Get a great makeup primer, I found a travel sized Hourglass primer that was amazing. The link is to buy one but I got mine through Sephora points for free!
- Good camera lens- Tamron. I did a ton of research for a good all-purpose lens for non-professionals. I loved LOVED this lens on our trip. Took amazing photos. See a few below
Any other recommendations for items to bring?
Of course! This post is already going to be the length of a book so here are a few other items that were great to have, just didn’t make my top 10.
- bring as many tank tops as possible. I brought all black and 1 teal. It was perfect for layering and for cutting down on wash.
- ONE COLOR PALETTE of clothes. I did all black shirts for the most part and it was perfect.
- Smaller clutch purse to put inside larger purse. This way you can just pull out the clutch for nighttime and use the bigger purse during the days for storage. Keep your cards and essentials in the small clutch so you can grab and go.
- Senacot…embarrassing but I wish someone had shared with me. On vacations we have trouble “regulating our bodies,” shall I say? I found Senacot abroad and it was incredible. Highly recommend for anyone with these issues.
- Sock bun made from a sock. After my 5-days of dry shampooing I switched to wearing my hair up and a sock bun was a nice way to make it look good with little effort.
- Fun Scarf. You can see my leopard one above. Bring just one, you can buy one as a souvenir. Great for England/Ireland Weather
- Travel bottles to put your must-haves in; shampoo, face lotion etc. Loved the ones I got at target, the blue and pink containers:
What would you have left behind?
I definitely wouldn’t bring some things again.
- Perfume holder– this did not hold enough perfume for 2 full weeks for me. That being said, I would ABSOLUTELY take this on a 1 week trip.
- Nine West boots– bought in dark brown. Here’s the deal. Had it been colder, I would bring these again, but they were not as comfortable as I thought and I only wore them 2 days out of the whole trip because most days it was too hot.
- Leather Jacket: I only wore it once. Would definitely leave at home next time. The london fog trench was perfect for day/night.
- Sephora Color Box- out of stock on the website. I barely used the colors, and just stuck to my bareminerals 4 color eye shadow kit.
- Nylon Bags– barely used them. I kept one in my purse that was convenient on plane travel but I would leave at home next time.
Again, to each their own. These are the items I used the most and would recommend and what I would leave at home. I think it was helpful for me in packing to read other blogs and see what people loved/hated in their suitcase.
Any questions, just reach out!
I’ll do another post soon about my recommendations for places to stay/bus trips/things to see etc. from our trip. Here’s to more new adventures abroad!