What to pack for a month in Europe

Written by on May 10, 2014 in Travel Tips - 6 Comments

Confessions of a packer

I am a horrible packer. Like, the worst ever. I claim I am good, nay, great, at packing, but that is because I can manage to squeeze the most amount of crap possible into a backpack, each garment carefully and strategically rolled tight, sit on it, forcefully zip it, and then bitch and moan during my trip about how ridiculously heavy said backpack is.

Oh, and not only am I a horrible packer, I am a horrible packer with zero sense of style.

Living in Vegas, I liked to look good. I had a closet filled with gorgeous heels, about 100 necklaces and bracelets, jackets, sweaters, scarves … you name it. Then, Thailand happened, and Thailand style basically means no style for me. My wardrobe here, which in large part is due to the fact that only until recently could I fit into clothing for sale in the country, consists of ugly shorts from Tesco that are kept up with a belt, shirts that hang off my shoulder (because those are the only kind which fit me at Tesco), and capri pants. Shoes? Crocs. Sneakers. Flips.

Yup. Zero. Style.

Fashion Street photo by David Jones

Photo courtesy Flickr Creative Commons: David Jones

Style in Europe

When I decided to take this Europe trip, I was elated. Europe. My favorite continent. Filled with quaint little pedestrian-only, cobblestoned paths, amazing architecture … and people who dress with style. People who dress the complete opposite of me.

Now, having been out of the Style Game (as I am going to call it today) for roughly two years (I do not count brief jaunts to America a brush with style since I’m wearing the same crap and shopping for function versus cute), I had not the first idea whether this season is all about stripes or plaid or polka dots. A brief look through Tesco shows me that the clothing here is bows, bows and more bows, then some tops with the shoulders cut out. So not me, but what’s a girl supposed to do when that’s what she’s got?

Staring at my closet a few week ago, I knew there was no way in hell I was going to go to Europe wearing my Thailand laid-back clothing. This is the first time in my life I truly feel good about me, how I look, how I feel, and I don’t want to be clad in Baggy Ugly while galavanting. The last time I went to Europe, I packed junk. Stuff I knew could last me for a long time. It was about function versus looking nice or being backpacker chic. What I could cram into a 65 CL pack versus what I should cram into a 65 CL pack. Outfits? Style? Forget it. I was a backpacker, dammit, and I was going to flaunt my backpacker style of harem pants, worn out T-shirts and beach coverups.

Well, not again.

What to pack for a month in Europe: the carry-on edition

So, I recruited Travel Fashion Girl to help me pack my bag for my month abroad.

Bless the brains behind TFG, Alex,  because without her, there is zero way I would have known what to wear since, like I said, my style has been MIA for some time now.

To set up my packing list, she asked me what stores I like in the States. Since I’m a budget clothing shopper, I rattle off the three stores I get all giddy for when I am home: H & M, Old Navy and Gap.

Europe Capsule Wardrobe for Summer

Based on that info, and a look-through of my Facebook photos to get a sense of my (ahem) style, Alex came up with this gorgeous compilation of what to pack for Europe without spending a bajillion dollars for a new wardrobe, and not having to bring a super large suitcase. For a month of travel, I told her I only wanted to bring a carry on.

Which was true. Until I saw her capsule wardrobe for me. And I went to the best mall in Chiang Mai, Central Festival, to scout out the shops. With a decent amount of weight shed since I began The Comfort Zone Project, I was able to fit into clothing I had not been able to fit into for a long time. Suddenly, there were so! many! options! My eyes literally bulged when I walked into my first-ever Thailand H&M and was reminded what it looks like to look put together.

My Europe capsule Alex provided was a fantastic launch pad for my shopping spree of awesome. A few of the items on the list I already owned versions of, but the rest? It was Shopping Time!

While I strayed a tiny bit (I couldn’t find matches for some of the items so I improvised) and added a few more, I did manage to get most of the items on the list. My problem is this: I am going for a month, through a temperature difference of more than 30-degrees Farenheit. Plus, I get super sick of clothing and when I started to pack, I had a very hard time separating myself from my new purchases, largely because if I don’t wear them in Europe, I won’t be wearing them in Thailand.

For the first time, I actually want to look cute, and I’d much rather overpack and bitch and moan than under pack and lament about the cuteness I could have had but opted not to bring it. See, I guess I’m still not a good packer.

The actual packing list:

Note: items from capsule are in bold

3 pairs of pants (jeans for regular wear, skinny jeans for dressier nights, capris for daytime/nighttime)

1 pair of knee-length leggings

2 pairs of shorts (day/night shorts and sleep shorts)

1 skirt

2 maxi dresses (one was on capsule list, but the one I got is dressy, so needed a casual, too)

1 bathing suit

4 short-sleeve shirts (dressy white, gray shirt, V-neck white, sleep shirt)

2 long-sleeved shirts (button-down denim, quarter-length shirt

1 thin sweater

1 blazer

1 jean vest

1 bathing suit cover-up

2 bras

2 sports bras

2 workout tank tops

2 workout pants

4 pairs of sock

10 pairs of undies

5 pairs of shoes (flips, sneakers, Crocs for walking and casual wear, gladiator sandals, platforms)

1 belt

3 necklaces

2 bracelets

3 pairs of earrings

2 scarves (one was on the list, but I wanted an option)

I know, I know.

That’s a lot of stuff, D.

It indeed is, but let me say this: it isn’t that heavy. And, honestly, a little weight to carry is good for the toning.

The luggage

Kelty Ascender 22

For packing, I used Eagle Creek packing cubes. I’ve read their praises from heaps of people and was totally influenced by that. I got the three-piece Starter Kit. However, I opted not to use the largest piece of the cube. When I was originally going to use a backpack, it made sense to have the cubes. However, I decided to skip the backpack and go with the expandable Kelty Ascender instead. Once I had completed a dry packing run, I realized the largest cube was actually not a space-saver for me, so I left it at home and decided to roll the items which were originally in the cube. As a result, I was able to cram far more into the carry-on than originally.

My “personal item” is my Pacsafe Messenger bag, which is filled with my electronics (MacBook Pro, Kindle, Canon Rebel), journal and glasses.

My checked item is a generic backpack with my toiletries. And, confession, also another foldable bag in case I want to bring even more stuff back to Chiang Mai with me.

What are your must-haves for a month in Europe?

 

About the Author

Diana Edelman is a travel writer and expat currently residing in Chiang Mai, Thailand. In 2010 she quit her job in PR to go on a solo backpacking adventure and tackle her 30-Life-Crisis. After seven months abroad, journeying throughout Europe and Africa, she returned to America and relocated to Las Vegas. Following a year-long stint back in PR, she once again quit her job to follow her dreams; this time her journey took her to the elephants and Elephant Nature Park where she is involved with raising awareness about responsible elephant tourism. Recently, Diana was named a finalist in the Destinology Travel Bloggy Awards for travel writing. She has been a regular contributor to Viator and recently served as the Las Vegas contributor for OneTravel.com and CheapOair.com. Her work has appeared in print and online, including The Huffington Post, Matador Network, Travel + Escape, Vegas Seven, World Nomads and more.

6 Comments on "What to pack for a month in Europe"

  1. Jim_Luc May 10, 2014 at 10:15 pm · Reply

    Welcome. Umbrella might be necessary but not always. So, welcome!

    • Diana May 13, 2014 at 12:42 am · Reply

      Packed!! :)

  2. Candice Gleeson May 11, 2014 at 3:08 pm · Reply

    Great post! I am a notorious over-packer as well…I never know if I might need that third scarf, or will want the earrings I leave behind! Plus I can’t just pack for hot/cold. I need to have clothes for hot / warm and mild / warm with a chance of cooling down / warm with a cold wind / cold with a chance of rain / cold and windy / sunny and windy…you just never know what the weather might do!

    And I always end up annoyed at myself because I end up having to drag 15kg of stuff around with me. But I would be annoyed if I didn’t bring as much as I thought I needed. It’s a lose/lose!

    • Diana May 13, 2014 at 12:40 am · Reply

      Candice, New Style Diana would be such good packing soul mates with you!! :) My carry-on is pretty heavy, but isn’t too bad, so long as I’m only hauling it up a few flights of stairs and not a bajillion. I like having choices. In fact, I wish I brought more clothes!! Although, am sure I wouldn’t be saying that if I had to carry it all of the time!

  3. Camels & Chocolate May 17, 2014 at 5:56 pm · Reply

    I’m about to pack for the same: 3.5 weeks in Europe in summer. I’ll be doing all sundresses and sandals to save room for my massive amount of electronics!

    • Diana May 21, 2014 at 7:48 am · Reply

      haha! I forgot to mention I actually brought a power chord with me so I could use all of my electronics!!

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