This one’s for the girls… about twenty-five, in a little apartment, just trying to get by, living on dreams and spaghetti-o’s, wondering where your life is gonna go.. THIS ONE’S FOR THE GIRLS! Man, what a great karaoke song (; But seriously, this post is geared towards the ladies. And I do hope you ladies find this post on how to pack for a year in Europe to be helpful should you ever want to pack just a carry-on (!!) for a year of traveling. Check out detailed descriptions beneath the photo map.
As you saw in part one of this post, our take on how to pack for a year in Europe was mostly organization, simplicity, and more organization. I don’t have my pack pictured above– or various little things like toiletries and electronics– but besides that you’re getting the full picture. If you’re curious how I didn’t go crazy… the answer is packing cubes!! Links to those at the end of this post. But without further ado:
I started out packing a cream and a black colored cami, but I decided one would really do. I picked black because, obviously, that’s more highly represented in my clothing. I then chose one plain stretch tank that I really love, in my favorite color, dark grey. This may sound funny, but I really waffled on bringing my fave shirts/jeans/etc because I knew a solid year of wear would probably mean retiring the article after this year. However, in the end, packing what you feel most confident in will bring you the most satisfaction when you’re getting dressed in the same handful of outfits week after week.
Packing what you feel most confident in will bring you the most satisfaction when you’re getting dressed in the same handful of outfits week after week.
I purchased the second tank at my favorite second-hand store in Anchorage just before I left. It’s an embroidered hi-lo tank, but it’s a solid color, so it toes the line between bohemian and versatile quite well. This is one that I have stored at my family’s house right now, but I can’t wait to get it out with the rest of my warm weather things this summer! However, if I didn’t have the ability to store things, this would still be a good choice as it’s quite thin and packs small and light. As for the t-shirts, I brought one striped short sleeve— a must for Parisian style (lol)– and one solid black short sleeve with a slight hi-lo shape. I’m a big fan of the longer backs on shirts because I find them to be more versatile for wearing with tights or tube skirts. A flowy grey long sleeve rounds out the group, another favorite of mine. This is easy to layer over a tank or short sleeve, or under a chunky sweater, but I also love it all on its own.
I have one lighter weight black sweater that I just purchased before leaving as well. It was a gamble since I don’t like counting on an article of clothing that hasn’t been tested before, but this has turned out to be a packing win. Black is my favorite everyday color for travel as it hides everything from city grime to puppy paw marks. And this one is so light and lays so well that I can layer it up or wear it alone. The second sweater is an old favorite of mine. Again, the stripes– which I don’t even care for normally but are a classic step up from solids– and a chunky knit which provides a little more warmth. A cardigan which is actually stored with my summer things as I personally wear this more with tights and/or my tube skirt in warmer weather. A faux fur vest that I actually MADE MYSELF last winter and have worn literally every other day here in England. You’ll notice a coat is missing from the above packing list, so this vest is a crucial part of my layering regime. It keeps me toasty warm! Finally, a sweatshirt that is truly tried and tested as I have photos of me sitting in the Alps wearing this in the fourth grade. Cuuute..
I’m convinced this trio of pants are all anyone could need at home or abroad. A pair of dark wash jeans and a pair of black jeans can cover any situation or outfit. The skinny fit is my go-to, although I did I think about bringing a flared dark wash instead of the skinny. In the end, the versatility of skinny won out as I feel they go under more tops and match with more shoes. It’s really up to your style though! Even I sometimes deviate from my plain ways, which is why the distressed boyfriend jeans came along. And honestly, they have been my most comfortable pair. In my summer stash, I also have a pair of high waisted, flowy black shorts. I wanted something a little classier than my regular favorite corduroy or jean [short] shorts, so I also bought these right before leaving. They have elastic at the back so they are even more versatile as they can be worn high-waisted as intended, but also pulled down on the hips to lengthen if more appropriate for the social context or outfit. The tube skirt is an old closet staple of mine; I wear it under long tops that aren’t quite long enough to stand alone, with or without tights underneath. I originally planned to bring an additional color with me, but again decided simplicity rules and black is enough.
Simplicity rules and black is enough.
The dress is (yet again) another new item!! I really didn’t mean to go on a shopping spree right before traveling for a year, but I found that there were some very basic basics that were just missing from my closet. I had a lot of cute dresses, and even a couple LBDs that I loved, but none of them fit my vision for what I needed to pack. Namely: easy-care fabric, solid dark color, suitable for fancy or casual events. This simple shift fits the bill, and I’ve worn it in PA in 90+ degree weather as an easy Sunday church and picnic outfit, as well as in CH with a cardigan over it for a nice dinner out with family.
Here is my collection of athletic wear. For someone who thinks and talks (and pins!) a lot more about working out than actually doing the working out, one might think this was a waste of pack space. However, like I explained in my first post on how to pack for a year in Europe, these clothes have a three-fold purpose: exercise, sleep, travel. The short sleeve isn’t as plain a color as I’d like, but I love the loose fit and it’s soo lightweight that I brought it instead of searching– and paying– for a replacement. My actual long sleeve varies from the one pictured as it doesn’t zip but pulls over the head, and it is one that I actually would replace with a solid color if I came across the right alternative. For now, I have only worn it as a sleep layer when we’ve stayed in some chilly houses, but I do think it will come in handy if we ever do any hiking. A pair of running shorts for running (obviously) or hiking. A pair of spandex shorts for wearing under the tube skirt or flowy shorts, or my favorite occassion.. to bed. A pair of running tights for lounging around the house or running errands. Even in super classy Europe, you’ll see women out in sneakers and tights. But a proper sweater or coat over them so they don’t look too shabby. Then a sports bra, sports socks, and a swimsuit. I debated on one-piece versus bikini for awhile, but decided that if I’m in a setting that is more conservative, I can always wear my cami as a swim cover, but if I’m in a setting where I feel comfortable getting my tan on, only a two-piece will do.
These are the unmentionables… but I can’t not mention them! These are some of the most important to think of when packing. You want to be sure to have a comfortable and clean base for all your travel adventures. So, starting with the underclothes. A black bra and a nude bra, a bralette with regular straps (no buckle) to layer under tanks in summer, a colored bra because with all these plain black and grey clothes, you need a little party on you somewhere. Likewise, I have three pairs of fun socks along with my three pairs of plain black socks. And for the cold weather, I can’t do without my three pairs of wool socks. Ten pairs of underwear work for me; I can imagine some people would do with more, some with less. I have found this to be a good amount to get me between wash cycles, and someday I plan to get a few tips up on the blog about how to stretch those days between washing– hygienically of course (;
Shoes! Even girls– like me!– who don’t fit the stereotype of shoe hoard have plenty of pairs at home and there seems to be a high threshold of “necessary” shoes for every possible occasion. I’ll admit it… it was hard to pack the footwear. In the end, I chose a comfortable wedge sandal that can be dressed up or down, and most importantly, I can walk in all. day. long. A pair of flats with an equally cushy sole– my tip: buy the old lady brands– in a black and cream woven design will match most things, and the small bit of pattern and natural fibers can once again liven up a standard black or grey outfit. Two pairs of boots, one flat leather and one heeled suede, are fairly comfortable for walking in and can be quite warm if needed. The sneakers have yet to come in handy for running, but they are suuuper comfortable for travel days or running errands. Even with my practically orthotic flats and sandals, a supportive midsole in a running shoe can still be like taking a break to walk on clouds.
At last, the final row. Here you find the accessories. A raincoat which I haven’t used and I honestly don’t think I will that often here in Europe. Mine is not plain and grey (like the one pictured), which makes it stand out terribly and really a last resort thing. I would recommend choosing one that is like the coat pictured, and make sure it can be packed nice and small to minimize space. Another option is bringing a water repellent regular coat. I cart my stuff around in two bags, a huge leather tote and a small leather satchel. Both have magic powers where they seem to hold an endless amount of things, expanding further each time you add an item. (Although, we did find my tote’s max capacity on our latest grocery haul.) I am really happy about the leather tote and not so sure about the satchel. While I love the latter, I think a chic backpack is a much better choice for walking miles around European cities. Not to mention they’re in style now. I’m actually so convinced of this, I ordered one and I’ll update you all once it’s arrived and I’ve taken it out! And then, the warm weather gear. A hat, a pair of gloves, and a wide scarf. No explanation needed really, except that I’d recommend bringing a colorful, fun scarf if your clothing is on the plain side. It’s likely to be around your neck every other day– layering is key when traveling!– and you’ll want something that makes you feel cheery on those cold, cloudy, dreary days in the dead of European winter.
So. If you’ve gotten all the way through this post… bravo!! Thanks for taking all that in. But really, I hope you got something from the exchange too. My purpose in sharing all those
fascinating details is to give you a better packing guide based on how to pack for a year in Europe. I dug through tons of pins telling you how to fit clothing for “a week in Europe” in a carry-on, but not many for how they packed for a year in Europe. Also in a carry-on. So on that note.. if you did find this helpful, please consider sharing it! Gleaning info from those who’d gone ahead was instrumental in our planning and I hope we can provide the same for others.
P.S. I’ve gotten lots of questions on gear so here is my absolute biggest recommendation: PACKING CUBES! They are a must!
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