The time has come to put my money where my mouth is, and pack for an over 2 week long vacation to Europe (specifically Italy) using just carry on luggage. The concept seemed so challenging at first - until I stopped to think of my other trips, and how I had a huge piece of checked luggage filled with clothes, and still managed to only wear a few things over and over again.
Packing light and using only a carry on luggage when travelling to Europe has many advantages:
- You don't run the risk of your luggage being lost on the flight over - especially if you have any connections along the way
- You are more mobile with a small piece of carry-on luggage. I still have nightmares of schlepping a huge suitcase through the Paris metro - with it's never-ending staircases, and no elevators.
- It's cheaper - most airlines make you pay for your checked luggage, adding as much as $50 to the price of your plane ticket.
Without further ado, here is what I will be taking on my 2 week long vacation to Italy, packed only in my carry on.
I will be bringing 4 dresses with me. All of the dresses are fairly casual, except for a fancier silk dress (to the right of the photo) that will serve for a fancier evening, but can still be dressed down for casual sightseeing. I love bringing dresses because they are an outfit within themselves, and can be transformed by layering a shirt over top and acting as a skirt. They are also easily transitioned into the cooler weather by layering over top of tights.
Skirts are by far my favourite pieces of clothing, especially when travelling to Italy where the weather can get pretty warm and wearing shorts typically labels you as a tourist. Each of these skirts can be paired with a variety of different tops to achieve different outfits, as well as be layered over tights to accommodate cool weather.
1 Pair of Black Pants
I packed my favourite pair of black jeggins, which can easily be worn with each of the tops and are great for travel days.
5 Lightweight Shirts
I chose to bring 5 very neutral shirts that are lightweight - great for layering - and can easily match with each of the bottoms that I've packed. You may notice that I packed more bottoms than tops. It's all a personal preference, but I firmly believe that changing up your bottoms help to give a feeling of a whole different outfit, rather than changing your tops. It's also important to mention that each of these shirts are easily washed, and are all made of materials that dry quickly and easily.
1 Chambray Shirt, 1 Cardigan
A Chambray shirt is so versatile; it acts as a shirt to pair with pants, a skirt or tied over a dress, and can also be used as a lightweight jacket. I also packed a neutral lightweight cardigan that can be layered over every item that I'm packing.
1 Leather Jacket
I know that the weather in Italy will be warmer once we arrive, but it will no doubt cool down at night, and get cooler as we move our way North (Rome to Venice). I like a leather jacket when I'm travelling because it keeps me warm, is wind and rain resistant, and can be dressed up for formal evenings.
1 Pair of Black Tights
A pair of tights are always in my luggage - they easily convert even the lightest outfit into something more appropriate for cooler weather.
1 Pair of Flats, 1 Pair of Sandals and 1 Pair of Boots
I'll admit it, the footwear is what really challenged me during my packing for 2 weeks in a carry on. I finally decided on my most comfortable pair of leopard moccasins - after all, leopard is a neutral in my books and can easily match with each and every item of clothing in my bag. I packed a pair of gladiator sandals (no flip flops!) for our time spent on the coast of Italy and finally a pair of black boots for everything in between. I packed boots because I wanted an option if we hit any rain, and I like the support that boots give to your feet.
I love my small Longchamp Le Pliage bag as an everyday purse - it's lightweight, water resistant and can house all of my essentials and then some! The zipper is essential when traveling through Europe, where pick pockets are rampant, and the leather flap offers extra protection. I also packed my favourite Marc Jacobs cross body bag because it's a great option for going hands-free and can be used as a clutch at night by removing the strap.
Here is where I kind of went to town. I packed two scarfs, a hat, 2 belts and a few pieces of jewellery. I love scarves because they can totally transform an article of clothing - for example, a black dress can look like two different outfits with two different scarves. Belts, jewellery and hats can also transform an outfit, and take very little space in your carry on - plus, I'll wear the hat to the airport.
Here's a few other things to note -
- Commit to the fact that you will be doing laundry once during your trip. Not shown here is enough underwear for a week, which will most definitely need to be washed halfway through the trip, along with each of the tops.
- Bring insoles for your shoes - I have huge, cushy insoles for my flats and my boots that offer lots of support and comfort to my feet. Trust me - these will save you after a long day of sightseeing.
- Be cautious of which valuables you bring. I will not be taking my engagement ring, or my laptop just for added peace of mind.
- Leave enough space for souvenirs along the way - I tried not to over pack to compensate for any thing that I pick up during my travels.
**UPDATE: Check out how I styled all of these items during my trip here.**