Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pack like a European | A general guide to sanity

Since I first met Lauren Dixon in college, she has become a globe trotting fashionista. Born in the States, she now lives in Rome with her British husband. Lauren writes a lovely blog about the simple, beautiful, and inspiring things in life, simplysemplicita.com.

In this post, Lauren shares some tips on traveling with style and effectiveness! The girl has got it down. (This is definitely a post I will be referencing again...you know for all my future Euro-travels!)

Lauren thanks so much for sharing your wisdom! Be sure to check out more from Lauren on her blog (Note, she has a giveaway going on right now!)


Everyone has a packing personality. But there still is a universal and collective exhale after hauling that clunky large suitcase and flopping it on the bed to start the packing process. For some, this is a long and meticulous process which revolves around phone stalking a family member or close friend to get advice on every. single. thing. Others wait until the last minute, throw everything in, and say a quick prayer that they have enough nickers for the entire 2 week vacation abroad. (These people always make me chuckle going through security when they open up their bags for investigation.)

If you're planning a trip abroad or just want to sharpen your packing skills, my hope is that these quick tips will make the packing process easier to navigate. (Or maybe you're one of those poor souls on the receiving end of said "packing panic-ers". In that case, I'm sorry.)

A side note: This guide really is for Western Europe. Each culture (or set of cultures) has its own set of best practices, so I'm focussing on where I travel the most.

First, to get you in the mood, watch this clip on how to dress like a Parisian. (Oh how I love this clip. Particularly how annoyed my British husband gets when I repeat the words "uhh.. men's blay-zur" in a thick french accent over. and over. and over.)

Just as Inès de la Fressange says in this clip, "brilliant basics are key to a great look" and great packing. What the "basics" are depend on the season you'll be travelling to Europe, but here are a few guidelines:
  • No matter how long your trip is, only pack clothing for 7 days. This is a huge miss for a lot of Americans travelling in Europe. Europeans wear the same thing over and over, just reinventing the basics. They know what looks good on them and just keep rockin' it out. This is great because you can pick your best or favorite things to take along and won't break your back carrying your suitcase in the process.
  • Great accessorizing is the weapon against wardrobe boredom. If you're planning on wearing the same two blazers the week you're there, bring several different chunky necklaces, hats, or scarves to change things up. Going heavy on accessories and light on clothes makes everything lighter anyway.
  • Pack a small bottle of detergent. I've just started doing this and haven't regretted it. This means I can give a quick hand wash to a basic and have it ready for the next day. You can buy refillable bottles and bring it along.
  • Leave your jogging shoes at home. Nothing says "American" like a good pair of white tennies. If you'd like a more casual and comfortable feel, bring some Converse sneakers or other street shoes.
  • Bring a handbag that zips. Unfortunately pick pocketing does happen. And not matter how hard you try, you will most likely still be a target. Be smart but leave any sort of "clip around your waist or hang around your neck apparatus at home." After all, this is just Europe, people.
  • Bring something to go out on the town. I always travel on a tight budget, but still am a firm believer that food is essential to toursim.  If you're also in this camp, skimp on lunch by buying food from a supermarket or farmers market and save up for a nice meal out. No matter if you're a splurge-one-night or out-every-night-type of traveller, make meals part of your experiences. Return to your room and freshen up before your 8pm (or later) meal. Get chic! Bring something fabulous to wander the streets in at night. You won't be overdressed, trust me.
As you can tell, my mantra really is pack light and simple. You'll be glad you did and you'll be more like a European anyway!

I hope you've enjoyed this quick set of suggestions. Read more travel guides and general celebrations of all things simple on my blog, www.simplysemplicita.com!


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