Prior to our honeymoon, I read blog after horrible guide book on what I should pack for our 2 1/2 week european backpacking adventure. My version of backpacking had always been camping oriented, so trying to plan for this particular trip had been confusing.
I read several tips on how not to look “American” across three different climates and a number of different countries. But here’s the funny thing, currently in Europe the fashion is Americana. So whileIharped on my husband about packing his nice slacks and I packed cute little dress after cute little dress, denim was in. Tshirts with dumb English slogans and Lady Gaga paraphernalia were everywhere.
All the same, there are ridiculous amounts of literature on how not to look like a tourist while in Europe. The basics:
1. No “American” tshirts. (I interpreted this as College wear. Anything that has some stupid slogan, any random branding, any ‘I heart’ whatever tshirts or sports memorabilia etc.)
2. No white tennis shoes or baseball hats.
3. Wear lots of black. Europeans like black. (This is true.)
4. No fanny packs. (But seriously…fanny packs are never okay.)
5. Fitted clothes over slouchy. (This goes for the guys too.)
For further info check out Conde Nast’s Etiquette 101: Dress Codes.
For all the research I did though I could not find one sample of a packing list for such a trip. For that reason I’m posting several lists. The first is what I actually packed. The second list is what I bought and then had to pack or ship home. The starred items were indispensable.
What I Packed:
*1 Pair of black skinny jeans (Cannot emphasize enough how perfect these were for the trip. Easy to dress up or dress down. Fashionable but classic. Always looked good.)
*1 Pair of dark denim skinny jeans (Again, perfect.)
*1 Pair of black Coach tennis shoes (Comfortable but not too casual for exploring museums/ruins etc.)
1 Pair of black ballet slippers (Wore these twice in Scotland and quickly realized they were not indestructible.)
*1 Pair of brown knee-high Born boots (Saved my freaking life!)
1 short, black ballet dress
*1 short, green dress (Super cute. Wore it several times.)
1 long, black sleeveless dress (Never wore it.)
*1 black long sleeved cardigan with little pockets (Lived in it.)
*1 Black short sleeve shirt
*1 White short sleeve shirt (This was perfect for photo ops in colorful places.)
1 Blue/White striped short sleeve shirt
*1 Black tank top (Went with everything. Easy and comfortable when traveling.)
1 Green tank top
*1 Long sleeve white shirt
*1 black Northface jacket (Always travel with it. ESPECIALLY if exploring some place like Scotland or climbing a mountain in Germany.)
1 brown skinny leather belt
*Ridiculous amounts of socks
*Appropriate amounts of underwear
*1 Floral infinity scarf (Made it easy to change up my outfits when I was feeling monotonous.)
*2 Pairs of sunglasses (Could have done with one but I love me some sunglasses)
*1 Black Marc Jacobs sling bag (Large enough to slip my large camera in but small enough that it didn’t draw attention to us as backpacking tourists)
My badass camera
*1 small, cheap folding backpack (Best to pick this up at a travel store for a few $’s. You won’t feel bad trashing it and it folds up to the size of a wallet. We used it to pack sandwiches for day hikes etc)
*1 Pair of pretty but cheap earrings you’re not concerned about losing.
*My work/man ring in place of my engagement ring/wedding band
1 Pair of khaki Bermuda pants (I wore these once because my husband insisted they looked comfortable. I hated it. I felt slouchy and uncomfortable among the fashionable European women.)
1 Pair of jean shorts (I rarely wore these except in southern Italy.)
Things I bought THEN had to pack:
3 (Yes, 3) dresses
2 (adorable) sweaters
3 tshirts (I’m obsessive about tourist tshirts. Totally lame but love them.)
*1 stocking cap
*1 pair of gloves
1 super short skirt for the beach
*1 sun hat (This was so Italy! Loved it.)
*1 black blazer (Wish I had purchased this earlier because it was so perfect for travel!)
Looking back I would have packed less tops and less dresses. The great thing about our planning was that we were able to stay on a DOD (Department of Defense) military resort in Germany and washed all our clothes about half way through our trip. So in theory I could have packed half of what I did. The issue ended up being that we were travelling over three very different climates and had to pack for each. In fact, in Germany not only did I do laundry but I sent back a small box of thicker clothing that I knew I wouldn’t wear in Italy.
The bottomline is layer, layer, layer. Plan in layers and if your planning allows, slowly ship back clothing and souvenirs as you change climates. A couple of tank tops, a couple of shirts, two dresses, one sweater and a multi-purpose cardigan would have done it.
But hey, you live, you travel and you learn.