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What I Packed for Europe


The summer is officially winding down now that it’s Labor Day Weekend and we’re officially reminiscing about our summer travels. After all the trips big and small we got to make this year, we are enjoying a no plans long weekend. I wrote about our summer trip to Europe recently and for those of you who enjoy packing and planning as much as I do, this post is for you. All the nitty gritty on what worked, what didn’t, kids gear and mom’s shoes. Read on!


We tried hard to pack light — we bought diapers and toiletries over there, planned on doing plenty of laundry, and borrowed car seats from our friends (which was a mixed bag — there were a few times when we took taxis without seats at all or were stuck putting H in a booster seat which I wasn’t super comfortable with though it was wonderful not to be lugging seats everywhere). Again, being with friends who had a baby made it all so much easier — there’s so many little things you need that we never thought about — they had kiddo snacks in their kitchen already, extra bibs by the sink, baby shampoo.


I bought some Eagle Creek organizers prior to the trip and it was great to have the bulk of our clothes individually bundled. It made sharing suitcases (we took two) so much less messy. We could pull out clothes for the kids without digging and divide up the suitcase without losing half the pile on the way down the hall to the kids room. I especially liked using one of the small compression organizers for the extra clothes that went in the carryon. Since we don’t always need that emergency change of clothes, it’s so much more sensible to have them tightly packed up in the bottom of the backpack for every outing. Before you rush out and buy a full set of these, I’ll say that I didn’t love them. I had one zipper break on me before we’d even taken a flight as you can’t really stuff them full. And, when you use a lot of packing organizers, then there’s so much wasted space in your suitcase — something I can’t deal with! The organizers don’t sit flat and flush to each other so there’s lots of room between where I stuffed extra shirts, socks, etc. For future trips, I think we’ll use the folders (mom and dad’s clothes) and a few compression bags (boys clothes) to keep the main things corralled and organized but not have every little thing in an organizer. While I loved the look and feel of the Eagle Creek stuff (minus some zipper issues), it would be so easy to DIY with things you already have at home — ziplocks (not very eco-friendly of course), cloth shoe bags, even pillowcases.

So what did I pack? Separates… lots of separates… While this wasn’t as complicated as say packing for both a ski trip and a beach vacation in the same suitcase, we had several different climates and occasions I was trying to prepare for. London is (to my memory!) always a little cooler than you want it to be so I knew I shouldn’t rely on sundresses there, our countryside adventures in southern France would be relaxed (the only place I expected to wear shorts) and rather hot, and Paris… Paris is obviously so chic. I had several people tell me ahead of time how fashionable everyone is in Paris. One French girlfriend said, bring a nice bag — not necessarily for running after the kids during the day but certainly for mama at night. I wanted everything to be washable and work for kiddo time but still look polished and chic (certainly more so than I do at the playground in San Francisco!). In the end, I brought several pairs of pants, mostly sleeveless tops, a few sweaters/cardigans, a skirt, and two dresses.



And I was so happy to have a nice leather bag! Another easy way to make a casual simple outfit feel more sophisticated. Mine packs flat (though I didn’t put it in the suitcase this trip as I have in ones past) or slips easily into a larger tote for the airplane and it has a long messenger strap which was nice for hands free time at the playground. I brought a backpack too (this favorite that we’ve had forever) but since we always had a stroller with us, it usually ended up on there holding all the kids’ essentials.

I’m glad no one mentioned that my hood was tucked in my jacket all morning. So much for chic!

I did not regret packing  two jackets for London — one rain, one khaki (a chic water resistant one could have done both though I love how lightweight and packable the K-way jackets are for summer thunderstorms). Nor did I regret the dresses and shorts and skirts because France was so hot. 90s for many days in Bordeaux and 100 degrees in Paris. And it was definitely the right call to have comfortable sneakers and sandals. We did so much walking which of course also means carrying. Speaking of comfortable, no regrets that I wore a sports bra on the plane. My sleeveless tops were perfect — great for hot days but layered easily for cooler ones. Big, bold necklaces were the only jewelry that felt right — they made simple outfits feel pulled together.

While I didn’t have any regrets per say, I brought too many nice shoes — a nice leather loafer and a leather sandal each of which I wore just once out to dinner in Paris. Even in super chic Paris, wearing my nicer flats wouldn’t have made sense. Between playground sand and that fine white gravel that lines so many of the garden paths my shoes (and feet) were filthy at the end of the day. I suspect all those women parading through the Tuilleries at fashion week are trashing their fancy shoes. Plus we walked so much! 30,000 steps one day in Paris. Thank goodness I wasn’t dealing with blisters and sore soles.


Don’t tell anyone but I also could have brought an outfit or two less. I often do that — pack a touch more than I needed. I wore everything but I could have “roughed it” a little more with less. I bought two pairs of my favorite stretchy high waist jeans for instance and I should have left one at home. Once out on the road, wearing jeans with a few stains on them or shirts with some wrinkles is simply the reality of traveling light and not such a big deal.

What do you think? Do you always overpack? How did you pack for summer travels?

I’m going to save myself the trouble of referencing each item however if you’re wondering where something came from, please leave a comment and I’ll look it up or try to find something similar if it’s not available.


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