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How to pack for a European getaway: Clothes

CHIC SAVVY TRAVELS

Heading to Europe for the first time and don’t know what to pack? Or perhaps you’re a veteran traveler, but find yourself hauling around more than you need (or missing a few essential items). Rough Guides has you covered with these packing tips, excerpted from The Rough Guide to First-Time Europe.

Enjoying the view from the Torre dei Guinigi in Lucca, Italy. Photo Credit: iStock

If you’ve gone on a short vacation to a resort with white beaches or ski slopes, you’re familiar with the luggage situation: Bring as much as you feel like. Two suitcases the size of Japanese import cars aren’t an issue. They only have to be dragged into and out of the airport — and there are people around to help with even this.

The problem, you’re thinking, is that it was difficult enough to figure out how to get a week’s worth of stuff into just two enormous suitcases. How on earth are you going to get several weeks’ or months’ worth into a single tiny backpack?

To customize your packing list, there’s one important question you need to ask: What clothes do I need to survive a day (not just any day, though — a day in which you go from swimming in the ocean to tanning on the beach to a cool evening walk in the rain to a moderately nice dinner at a place where there’s casual dancing), and be able to wash it all in the sink afterward, and let it dry without ironing?

Once you’ve got the clothes for such a day, consider if there is anything you could replace with a similar item that would better serve multiple functions.

Just one outfit?

When you travel, you just have to accept that your general standard of cleanliness is going to be lower than you’re used to. Also, you’re going to have to wash your clothes daily or tri-weekly. Once you get the hang of this, you’ll see you don’t need more than one set of clothes. If you wash the clothes before you go to bed, hanging them on a clothesline outside, they’ll be dry by morning. If you wash the clothes before taking a siesta in the afternoon and hang them in the sun, they’ll be dry in about 40 minutes.

What to pack (summer)

Start with a swimsuit (it doesn’t matter if it’s a bikini or a one-piece). You’ll also want a beach towel. It should be fairly thin, but long enough to stretch out on comfortably and wrap yourself in modestly (there are special travel towels that work a treat). Later in the day, you’ll want a hat and T-shirt to help ward off additional sunburn after your stint on the beach, and to cover yourself when you run over to a café for a snack.

For a cool evening walk, you can get by with sandals. You’ve got long, comfortable walking trousers. They should have deep front pockets that will deter thieves and not spill your valuables (front pockets, like the type found on jeans, tend to work the best). On top you’ve got a long-sleeved polypropylene shirt that wicks away sweat, a micro-fleece pullover (not cotton) and a nylon rain jacket and a cap or bandanna. You’re carrying your plastic poncho in your small daypack in case it really starts to pour.

For dinner, you can still get by in sandals, especially if they’re black or solid earthy colours. You’ve got a smart, short-sleeved or long-sleeved lightweight, wrinkle-free shirt/blouse. If it’s a little chilly inside, the micro-fleece should be stylish enough to wear. Women might also elect to go with a long wrinkle-free mid-calf-length skirt. For day two, wash and repeat.

What to pack (winter)

If you’re heading to Europe in the winter, you’ll want, of course, warm shoes, wool socks (or “smart wool”), a good jacket, hat and gloves. If you find you need long underwear, you can pick that up once you arrive.

Packing list

1 T-shirt — if it’s a little longer, double it as a nightshirt.
• 1 long-sleeve polypro shirt.
• 1 micro-fleece — keep it smart and it can be worn as a pullover in a nice restaurant.
• 1 rain jacket — even expensive Gore-Tex and similar high-tech rainwear won’t help much when it pours for hours, and cheaper versions are less likely to get stolen.
• 1 plastic poncho — this covers your pack as well.
• 1 thin beach towel or sarong — an XL special travel towel is ideal.
• 1 swimsuit.
• 1 pair of trousers — not black (because dirt shows), but a good, dark, dirt-hiding colour is ideal. Make sure they’re lightweight, wrinkle-free, comfortable, fairly stylish and easily washable, with good deep pockets.
• 1 wrinkle-free travel shirt — short- or long-sleeve is fine.
• 1 pair of socks — for cool overnight bus rides and cold hostel floors.
• 2-4 sets of underwear — special travel underwear dries quicker and lasts longer.
• 1 pair of sports sandals — you don’t want to skimp on these. They should be reasonably stylish (smart enough for a decent restaurant), have good support on off-road terrain, stay on during a swim, not rot when they get out of the water and allow you to run for a train. You can even use them in the hostel shower.
• 1 collapsible hat.
• 1 bandanna — soak it with water to keep you cool on warm nights. Cover your mouth with it to protect your lungs from dust. Use it to dry off in the shower when you don’t have time to let your towel dry.
• 1 wrinkle-free travel skirt, mid-calf in length.
• 1 pair of shorts.

Click here to read more: How to pack for a European getaway: Backpacks

Copyright @ 2012 Rough Guides


Date Added: January 3, 2012 | Comments (0)

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