First lesson was only to use carry-on bags. I don't even know the number of times the airline has lost our bags. One trip was when we were in Colorado with 2 extra children to go skiing and no coats because the bags were lost! Also, when traveling by train, it just doesn't make sense to bring big, heavy bags. I know, I've been there. You are personally responsible for finding a spot for your bag and getting them on and off the train with no assistance (in a matter of minutes).
I've learned how to condense what I take and make pieces work together. I should have said earlier, I'm no fashionista...not at all! I just want to blend in and look relatively pulled together. I've also learned that when going to other countries to not wear bright colors or prints. When in doubt, wear black. Always. I've never gone wrong with that from Europe to South America to Canada.
I thought I'd give you a look at what I packed for this last trip to Europe with my girls. I should preface this by saying that we were doing a lot of outdoor activities. Nothing fancy at all.
Here are my 2 favorite bags. I've had my Brookstone rolling bag for years! It has been the best thing. I've purchased other bags and they've always had issues. Not this one. Plus, so much fits inside! What do you think about the Duluth shoulder bag? I love this bag! It is so functional. Maybe not fashionable, but very useful. First of all, it has a pocket that slides over your rolling bag handle. This is so nice when your running through the airport because your bag doesn't slide off. Secondly, it has a ton of pockets! Seriously a place for everything including an iPad or a small laptop. I use this bag to hold my iPad (with the Kindle app so I don't have to bring books), my travel Bible and journal (not pictured), headphones, a travel size umbrella (I have needed it on several trips, plus mine has a strap to hook onto your purse), a note book and pen, sunglasses, ear plugs and eye mask and a reusable bag (lots of countries charge you for shopping bags. I always bring my own.) Most importantly are my snacks. lol! Tied on the outside of my bag with a Coach scarf is my pillow-a necessity for a long flight.
Another thing in my Duluth bag is my water bottle. I drink a lot of water and I especially get thirsty on long flights. On this trip, we were renting a car and then going to be doing lots of walking. I didn't want to have to buy water every day. Instead we purchased these collapsible Platypus bottles. They're BPA free and hold up to 1.0 liters! Perfect for traveling.
Of course, all of my liquids needed to be easily accessible so I put them in my Duluth bag. I packed all the liquids inside a plastic bag.
Besides the typical toiletries, I also packed essential oils. The ones I always take on trips are Di-Gize-for stomach issues, Lavendar-to sleep and for skin irritations, Thieves-congestion and colds, Pan-away and Deep Relief for muscle aches and headaches and Stress Away for obvious reasons and because it's my favorite.
Now onto my Brookstone bag. Here's what's inside:
We were in Europe (Switzerland and France) in May. We experienced a wide range of temperatures, mostly chilly though for us southern girls.
I packed all casual clothes. 3 long sleeved shirts and 2 short sleeved. These were all thin fabric that was easy to rinse out in the hotel room and then hang to dry.
I had 3 pairs of jeans-skinny, black and straight legged.
2 dresses that were only worn in Bordeaux because it was too cold in Switzerland. I paired the first with my denim jacket and the striped one with the white button down, tied at the waist.
The black North Face was worn almost daily! It was the most practical item that I brought. As I said earlier, the denim jacket was worn with the dress and the scarf was only worn on the plane.
Now for the shoes. I go for comfort with shoes, all the way! The 2 pairs of flats are Lucky Brand. They are the most comfortable flat I've ever worn. Very cushy inside. We did lots of walking and my feet never hurt in these. The leopard pair are almost worn out, but I just love them and they really liven up my black, blah outfits. The platinum pair were new for this trip and go with absolutely everything. Plus these shoes take up hardly any room in my luggage. Now onto the LL Bean boots. I almost didn't bring them. Then I found some space in my bag. I am SO glad I included them! The day we visited Rhinefall it was cold and raining. My feet would have been wet and frozen in anything else.
These little compression bags were a life saver! The large bag fit my jeans, spaghetti strap shirts and PJ's. The smaller one held all of my tops and underthings. This was my first time to use these. I'll definitely buy more!
I always bring along this little cross body Coach bag. It matches almost anything I wear, looks cute and is oh so practical. The red Duluth wallet is a must! It clips to the inside of your purse and has slots for your credit cards (with a leather strap that snaps over and secures them in place), a spot for your license and a zipper pocket for your cash.
The rest of my make-up and accessories fit in these bags. I also have this handy flat iron bag that a friend made for me.
So, there you have it! Three weeks in a carry-on for the practical traveler who doesn't have any "fancy" destinations. What do you think? I would welcome any ideas for my future trips.