In part 1 of our backpacking series I shared why we like to use backpacks and how what we packed for our kids. In Part 2 I am sharing what I packed for 8 weeks in Europe.
When deciding what to bring I needed to remember that everything I packed needed to fit in a carry on sized backpack. I use an Osprey Farpoint 40. I love that it opens like a regular piece of luggage with a big interior space and and large inner zipper pouch. It also has a space for my laptop and any other things I need in another layer on top.
What I am Wearing
Before I left Texas I scoured Pinterest and other sites to figure out what to wear in the Spring for Europe. I didn’t want stick out like a tourist, but I also knew that I wasn’t going to be dressed like a local. I had no idea what locals wore or if it was even available for purchase in Texas. My best hope was to blend in and not be too touristy.
The most helpful information I found was a post by Anne Stark Ditmeyer on how to dress for Paris. In the post she mentions striped shirts and scarves. I don’t love scarves and I didn’t own any. Then I came to Paris and found a scarf I loved. I passed it up once, but I bought it the second time I saw it. It’s red with with little white and black hearts. I feel very Parisian where I wear it.
As Anne suggests in her post I picked a basic color scheme. My outfits largely consist of black, white, and gray. Everything I packed needed to mix and match so I could have a lot of options. I also wanted to love everything I packed, because I knew I would be wearing it over and over again.
Here is what I packed:
So far everything I have packed has worked wonderfully. I have only worn my dress once. I wear it with black tights and my black boots. The blue jean shirt isn’t black, white, or gray, but it works with my black pants or under my gray sweater.
Skinny jeans are everywhere. It seems only tourists wear boot cut jeans.
I love my black Chuck Taylor’s. I added some insoles to make them more comfortable. So far they have fit in every city, especially in Berlin.
We were planning to go to a beach in France, but we decided not to go. I haven’t needed my swimsuit or cover up. I haven’t worn my shorts or flip flops either.
The Other Stuff
I carry my son’s hearing aid stuff, medicine, and a first aid kit. In my first aid kit I added packets of a probiotics for the kids. I’ve only had to use it once, but I am glad I have something that I can add to their drinks to make their tummy better. I packed Children’s Tylenol liquid and chewables. Gatwick Airport took my liquid Children’s Tylenol, because it was a few ounces over the limit. Thankfully, I had some chewables as back up. In Paris we were able to buy more liquid Tylenol and Ibuprofen when our youngest got a fever.
Our homeschool work fit into 4 folders and a pencil case. I tore out 6 weeks worth of school work from their books and then put them into folders with brads. I did buy a little pencil sharpener along the way to sharpen pencils.
I love my Kindle Paperwhite with all my heart, because I can carry all my books with me. I can buy any book I wish to read while I am on the road. It only needs to be charged once a month.
I packed a small bag that folds up really small and I am glad I did. I use my extra bag for groceries, trips to the laundromat, and to carry extra things while we are out. A large bag that folds up really small is worth it!
What I would do differently next time
I love everything I packed, so I wouldn’t change my clothes. The only thing I would do differently next time is double my toiletries. I knew they were going to run out, but toiletries are expensive and they aren’t the same brands in Europe. I would also start with a brand new stick of deodorant. I can only find roll-on and spray deodorant in Berlin and Paris.
I may pack a french press carafe as well. We ended up buying one Paris, but I need coffee in my PJs in the morning. It doesn’t have to be good coffee, just something to get me going. I have heard of others packing a french press and now I understand why.
The best purchase
One item not shown above in my things is my North Face jacket. Before we left Texas we headed over to the North Face outlet in San Marcos and bought 4 new jackets for Daniel, myself, and our two oldest kids. They didn’t have one in the right size for my youngest child. We bought him a Gap jacket from a resale shop. North Face doesn’t carry the Hyvent series anymore, but they carry others like it. These jackets are two in one. They have an inner jacket that keeps you warm and an outer jacket that acts more like a rain coat. You can wear the inner and outer together or you can wear them separately.
We are from Texas and not used to wearing coats. We didn’t expect that we would still be experiencing rainy weather in the 50s in May. These jackets have been well worth what we spent on them.
Making time to research, shop, and think about what I packed was worth the effort!
Have you ever packed in a carry-on for a long period of time? What would your color scheme be if you had to only pack three colors?