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Pack Light: What I’m Wearing for 6 Weeks in Europe

Traveling is a phenomenal privilege and incredibly exciting experience. Now that so many more people have the opportunity to travel (and to share about it on social media), there is definitely more pressure to do it in a certain way. The luxury travel we see on Instagram and “pack light” are a bit incongruous.

For me, travel is first and foremost about the experience. I’m spending a lot of my own money so that I can see beautiful sights and history. I want to experience the culture, not just post pictures on Instagram. I made the decision to forego certain luxuries because my focus is on the experience and not on pleasing an audience. One of these luxuries is a suitcase filled with tons of beautiful clothes so I can look like I’m #livingmybestlife on Instagram.

Our trip traverses several different cities and countries, so having checked luggage seemed like a hassle. I didn’t want to check my suitcase six different times. I also really didn’t want it to get lost. So, we opted to try to do all of our packing in carry-on suitcases and a backpack only. A few years ago, I would have thought this was impossible. News flash: It’s not.

Should I pack light?

If you’re going to try to pack light, one of the first things you need to consider is laundry. If your trip spans more than two weeks, you’re going to need to do laundry. We are mostly staying in Air BnB’s, although some are only a bedroom in a shared apartment. When we booked, we made sure to check that there was a washer (and dryer, if we were lucky) in all of the apartments. Some hostels also have washers/dryers if you’re traveling alone. If you’ve already decided to stay at a hotel or don’t have access to a washer, most European cities have laundromats where someone will do your laundry for a few euro. All you have to do is find one, drop off your laundry and then come back to pick it up.

Packing light is obviously much easier in the summer than the winter but is always a possibility if you plan accordingly. You might picture the perfect photo of yourself on the streets of Paris in this fantastic top you have, but if it only goes with one other item in your wardrobe, leave it at home. Trust me, I care about looking good too. However, the price tag for traveling is too steep to only care about the Instagram content you’ll get. You must be okay with repeating outfits if you want to travel light.

Before choosing to pack light, consider if you’ll have access to laundry – and the drive to actually do it. Think about the kind of travel you’re doing. Will a big suitcase be too cumbersome? How many times will you have to check it? Also, make sure that you are okay with repeating outfits. If it’s important for you to have more, varied outfits, you probably won’t be happy packing light.

How do I pack light?

  1. Go for neutrals and colors that compliment each other well. I wear a lot of warm, earthy tones with white, beige, black and denim. I have the occasional piece that doesn’t match my color palette, but I make sure it’s still something I will wear multiple times and won’t just be taking up space in my suitcase.
  2. Pack a few items that are easy to layer in case of weather changes. Even if it’s summer, don’t pack only shorts and tank tops. For one, this isn’t acceptable in every city (Rome, for example), and you’ll also be left very uncomfortable if the weather takes a turn for the worse.
  3. To maximize space in your suitcase, wear your heaviest pieces on the plane. This works well since airplanes are usually kept quite cold anyways. You’re going to want your layers! This goes with my last point, but you should always have one pair of long pants with you. Even in summer!

What did I pack?

I chose to wear my one pair of jeans on the plane with a fitted tank top layered underneath a more flowy one. My other heaviest item, my sweater, is also part of my outfit for travel. My only other “outerwear” type piece is my boyfriend-fit button up that I use as a beach cover-up. It’s also great as a light layer over a shirt, worn open.

The only other bottoms I have are a pair of denim shorts, beige linen shorts that go with everything, and my one midi skirt. This skirt is in earthy tones and goes with just about all of my tops.

I also packed two jumpsuits, one plain and one printed. For longer pieces, I packed 4 different dresses, some of which can be dressed up for an evening outfit. I also packed two short dresses. One of these dresses is really only for clubbing, which is not our main activity. Instead of packing a more complicated outfit, I picked one, small, packable piece that could work for the few times we go clubbing. It’s important to gear your outfits towards the activities you will be doing the most.

To go with my bottoms, I packed nine different tops. Most of these are tank tops in neutral, earthy tones that can go with all of my bottoms. I could also wear these over a dress or jumpsuit, knotted at the waist as an extra layer.

To finish off my wardrobe, I packed three pairs of shoes. One pair of comfortable, white sneakers that go with everything, one pair of neutral, comfortable sandals, and one pair of heels. If you’re in a historic city, opt for block heels over stilettos! Stilettos don’t mix well with cobblestones!

Pack the perfect wardrobe for travel in ONLY a carry on | Lots of Lora
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Feel free to reach out on Instagram (@lotsoflora). I would love to hear your opinions, questions, or tips of your own! 

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