The first time I led a multi-country tour, I cringed at the suggestion to pack for twelve days in a single carryon. Is that even possible?!
But the rationale was solid. What if your luggage is lost? By the time the airline locates the luggage, the tour has moved to a different city, and the chances of you reuniting with your suitcase is low.
Since I believe in leading by example… I vowed to give it a try.
The first thing to do is dismiss the idea of stylish dressing. By the third day, no one remembers what she wore the day before, much less what you were wearing. Keep it simple by wearing similar outfits each day.
Next, always remember that comfort is more important than style, especially when it comes to shoes. Make sure you bring comfortable footwear as you will most likely walk in excess of 10,000 steps/day. I always pack two pair in case one gets wet.
I quickly learned that a TSA approved plastic container for liquid products is well worth the money. While the common guideline is a quart sized bag… those purchased at the grocery store are severely lacking width. The TSA bags are truly 3-dimensional and provide ample space for a typical toiletry routine.
However, if you use a lot of hair care product – consider packing enough for one or two days. Once you arrive at your first destination, plan a visit to the local pharmacy or beauty supply store to purchase full-sized product for the rest of the trip. At the end of the vacation, leave behind the half-empty bottles before heading home.
When thinking about clothing, layers are key. My daily wear always consists of an undershirt, a top, and a jacket. I also carry an outer coat. Depending on when and where you are traveling, weather can span freezing temperatures in the morning to mid-60s by the afternoon. Since you will be away from the hotel until late at night, one outfit must accommodate all temperate zones.
Since space is at a premium, a well-choreagraphed wardrobe is mandatory. I’ve been a proponent of the “capsule” wardrobe long before it was popular, meaning… every article of clothing matches. A few well-chosen pieces will allow you to create more than enough different outfit combinations for the two week tour.
I personally gravitate toward neutral colors (black, brown, navy) and then accentuate with a pop of color (usually red). I am a big fan of scarves to quickly change the look of an outfit without taking up too much room or weight in the suitcase.
When it comes to underwear, there are two schools of thought. One is to wash in the sink while on the go. If you choose this method, you need to think about laundry in advance. This will only work if you are in a city for longer than 24 hours, as you will need to allow for drying time. Be sure to rinse clothes the night you arrive, and they will be dry in time to pack before leaving town.
Another method is to pack old underclothes, such as t-shirts and underwear, and then leave behind (throw away) when worn. Obviously this does not require additional work or planning on your part, but more importantly, it does create additional space in the carryon for the inevitable souvenirs you want to bring back home.
Here is my list of clothing for 12 days in Europe:
- 2 pairs of jeans: one skinny pair dark stained to wear with boots; the other boot cut and light color to wear with flat shoes
- 1 pair black pants for dressier occasions
- 1 pair tall brown boots – 1 pair black ankle boots
- 2 leather jackets: one black – one brown
- 1 puffy coat – that folds into its own bag to use as a pillow on plane
- 1 sturdy umbrella (yes, you can buy umbrellas on the street, but they rarely hold up in the wind)
- 8 pairs of underwear – 2 bras – 4 socks
- 3 cami tops: one black – one white – one cranberry
- 3 sleeveless turtlenecks: one black – one cranberry – one gold
- 3 ribbed turtlenecks: one black – one cranberry – one camel
- 4 lightweight tops: black striped – black/yellow floral – cranberry floral – black/cranberry/camel abstract print
- 3 scarves: turquoise with black and camel accents – brown/black/offwhite abstract – gray/cranberry floral
While the bag is full, it is by no means stuffed. This means I have room to buy a few souvenirs. YAY!
This is the fourth article in my Leading a Student Group Tour to Europe series.
Next week, I will briefly describe how I pack my “personal” item… and what I take with me on daily tours.