Even though this was my fourth time packing for a trip to Europe, I am still learning how to not over pack and what to bring that is stylish but functional.
In the past, I was the girl that forked over the extra fines for overweight baggage, but this trip I was absolutely determined to keep it under the fifty-pound limit, especially because my shopping habits will surely require a bit of extra room on the flight home.
One trick that was completely new to me until recently is to use packing cubes. These will change your life! You can purchase them on Amazon (just Google around to find the cheapest), but I got mine from Marshalls for $22. Worth every penny!
The weather in Europe varies dramatically from country and season, but here is what I packed for three months in Madrid, Spain from April – June:
- 1 pair skinny, stretchy jeans
- 1 pair of flared jeans
- 1 pair of colored jeans
- 1 pair of white jeans
- 1 pair of blue jean shorts (not too short)
- 1 pair of running shorts (double as pajamas)
- 2 pairs of workout pants (double as leggings)
- 1 pair of chic black ballet flats (these ones are amazing!)
- 1 pair of flat, brown sandals
- 1 pair of cute, brown wedges
- 2 pairs of sneakers (running and Converse)
- 1 pair of black combat boots (wear on plane)
- 1 pair of brown booties
- 14 days worth of socks, underwear, bras (my host mom doesn’t do laundry frequently)
- 1 rain jacket
- 1 black puffer coat (wear on plane)
- 1 sweatshirt
- 2 t-shirts for working out and sleeping
- 2 short sleeved shirts (multi-use)
- 1 white tank top
- 5 tops (easily layered)
- 5 dresses (of different lengths, weights, and colors)
- 1 leather jacket
- 2 sets of pajamas
- 2 sweaters
- 1 bathing suit and cover-up
- 1 brown leather backpack
- 1 black cross body for going out
- 1 scarf (wear on the plane)
- 1 structured zip purse for airports/trains (I’ve been pick pocketed three times, choose bags that close properly)
Makeup: whatever you normally use, but remember that you can always buy things there. However, if you are pale like me you might want to bring enough foundation to last you whole trip because I had a hard time finding shades light enough for me.
Toiletries: try to stick with only travel size items, even if it means buying the little plastic bottles to fill with your favorite higher-end products. You can buy the rest when you get there.
Gifts for your host family
Bathrobe and slippers: I’m kind of high maintenance, so these are optional! However, make sure to have some kind of house shoes or socks to wear inside as it is considered gross and rude to go barefoot. Easily purchased once you are there.
This is obviously for warmer weather in southern Europe. Substitute light jackets for 1 heavy coat and wear that plus boots and a scarf on the place if you are going to a colder climate. Tights and leggings are great because they keep you warm and are easy to wash and dry, so throw in some of those with some warm sweater dresses. Just remember that girls in Europe tend to look a bit more presentable in their everyday clothes even if its freezing out, so try to resist the workout clothes unless you are actually going to the gym!
About the author: MaryAnn Robinson is a Carolina girl who has just moved back to the States after a year of living in Spain. She likes churros con chocolate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and is forever trying to find excuses to return to Europe. When she’s not taking a siesta, you can find her on a rooftop terrace sipping tinto de verano or wandering through Zara, contemplating if she has enough room in her suitcase for another pair of shoes.