As I prepared for my first trip abroad to Paris and Rome, many thoughts filled my mind. What will the weather be like? What should I wear? How many outfits should I bring? How many pairs of shoes? When am I ever going to start learning some French and Italian phrases? Should I start dieting to make up for all the food I plan to eat? (slightly kidding)
We decided to take only carry-on bags and did not check anything for our trip. We weren't interesting in fussing over extra fees, and extra worries if anything was lost. So the dilemma remained; how do I pack for 8 days in a carry-on bag?
I did tons of relentless internet searches, and scoured the web near and far to find some answers. Seeing as how helpful others' posts were to me, I'm creating my own in hopes to help someone else who's trying to pack!
First things first: your bag.
You need a bag that fits the regulations, but pushes them at the same time. We were traveling with Air France, and their luggage size and weight restrictions are much stricter than what we're used to in the U.S. The two carry-on bags you were allowed could not exceed 26 pounds TOGETHER.
And, quoting from their website, "To be accepted in the cabin, your hand baggage must not exceed the following dimensions: 55 x 35 x 25 cm / 21 x 13 x 9 in (including pockets, wheels and handles). " That's a small bag, my friends.
I did read that people were able to get away with much larger baggage items, no problem. And to be honest, I witnessed it as well. Keep in mind it's not the same in every situation, but our bags were not weighed, measured, or even given second looks. And we saw so many people with obviously bigger bags than allowed-given no hassle.
That's a risk you can choose to take if you wan't-but I decided to go the safe route and follow the rules, and have nothing to worry about. (goody two-shoes, much?)
Surprisingly though, I was able to fit everything I wanted to bring! AND I was just at the weight limit. I found a great backpack at REI that was just the size I was looking for.
Next planning step: the weather.
I checked the weather a month in advance, a few weeks in advance, and days in advance. It went from very rainy, to no rain at all, to rain one day. In the end it did rain about 2 days. So we were prepared.
Paris was set to have temperatures in the high 30's to low 40's. And rain one day.
Rome was going to be nicer: temperatures in the high 40's. No rain.
Weather was a big deal for me because where I'm from, winter means 60 degrees F. I'm not used to cold weather, and wanted to be sure I was prepared with my outfits.
A few key items I knew I should add to my list: umbrella, rain/water-resistant coat, water-resistant boots.
Most important: shoes.
Maybe not most important for everyone, but when you have plantar fasciitis, comfortable shoes is your main concern. And when comfort and style are both key factors, like they were for me, it's an impossible task.
I started looking for the right boots a few months in advance. Good thing, because I didn't find the right ones until 2 weeks before our trip.
I really just wanted some nice black leather boots, that were comfortable to me. My feet kind of hate me, and want to make my life miserable, so it was a difficult thing to find.
I was able to wear them most of the trip with no issues, no blisters, and no tears!
Since a few people have asked about the exact shoes I got, here are the shoes:
So, once I knew the weather forecast, and had my big items purchased (backpack and boots), it was time to pack.
Next up: PACKING!
I stuffed all my clothes in my backpack, and with the "personal item" I was allowed I filled with all the things I wanted to have handy in our flight, along with my toiletry bag.
Here are some of my carry-on essentials, for long flights in particular:
- blow-up neck pillow
- ear plugs
- hair bands
- bobby pins
- reusable water bottle (it should be empty until you're past airport security)
- small cross-body purse
- noise-canceling headphones
- chap stick
- green tea face spray (DIY, cooled steeped green tea) (works wonders on a tired face)
- hand cream
- eye drops
- travel toothbrush
- make-up remover wipes
- anti-bacterial wipes
- travel journal
- kleenex (not shown)
What I packed for 8 days:
(not all items are pictured)
- 2 tank tops
- 2 long sleeved undershirts
- 2 long sleeve shirts
- 3 v-neck sweaters
- 1 cardigan
- 1 rain coat
- 1 coat
- 2 pairs of jeans
- 1 dress
- 1 skirt
- 1 pair of leggings
- 1 pair of tights
- 1 pair of ankle boot heels
- 1 pair of knee-high boots
- 2 scarves
All in all, I had about 5 outfits, with a few revolving pieces to reuse and make new outfits with. I had a dress and a skirt for fancy nights out, as well as booties to dress things up.
I tried to keep things neutral so I could mix and match. For Paris I planned a lot of black and mostly neutral colors. For Rome I added in some color, but still left things open to mixing and matching.
I probably would have been fine with a sweater or two less, but I fit it all and had no problem!
I brought 2 scarves to wear also. The number one thing that everyone says about Paris style is to wear scarves. I wear a scarf practically every day in the winter anyway, so it was a given that I'd pack some. They not only made my outfits look better but they kept me so warm! On a day I decided not to wear a scarf in Paris, I felt it immediately and ended up buying one while we were out. They helped A LOT with the chilly Paris winds.
I even bought Paul a nice cashmere scarf for Christmas so he could wear it on our trip and he LOVED it!
So I definitely recommend not only a warm coat, but a warm scarf as well.
In the end, I think I packed perfectly. I didn't forget anything, and I was set outfit wise for the entire trip. I probably could have squeezed a few more outfits out of my clothes if we had to stay longer. ;)
I hope this helps for anyone planning a trip and trying to pack! I'll be posting about our trip soon, so keep an eye out!