Packing for 12 days and 4 cites in Italy in February was no small task. I am by no means a minimalist, and packing light is not something I am capable of. However, for this trip, I knew I had to do my very best since we would be on multiple trains and busses. Yikes!
The Apple Notes app is my best friend for a packing list. I started by listing out exactly where we would be each day any major activities (such as train ride, change of location, etc.) The next important factor is the weather. I had looked up averages for this time of year in northern Italy a while ago, but I kept an eye on it as it got closer and the forecast got more specific. I actually wrote out the forecast for each day in my Italy packing note. As you will see later, all of my planning was not incredibly helpful since an unexpected massive winter storm hit Europe while we were there. Excellent.
I also do the majority of my packing a week in advance. Don’t wait until the night before and scramble to do laundry for the 8 things you really want to bring but you accidentally wore that week. This also helps lower stress and anxiety the night before traveling. You then have all week to tweak your packing choices and add anything you may have forgotten.
Take a look at my infographic for what I packed for Italy below. Toiletries are the bane of my existence since I am allergic to sulfates and have to bring most of my own stuff (the worst).
Let me break a few of my favorite things down for you:
The following contains affiliate links. All links are my personal, honest recommendations based on experience!
I am going to be totally honestly with you guys. I had an absolute shoe catstrophe on this trip. The day we left, there was no snow in the forecast and the weather was supposed to be pretty nice. I packed these adorable sneakers which are cute and comfortable. I got to wear them on the plane and one day in Florence. I also brought these boots because they’re incredibly comfortable and have a very low heel—ideal for cobblestones. I recommend any of Tom’s booties. I own many pairs and you can’t make a bad choice. They would have been great, if it hadn’t snowed 43 inches. We were in Turin when we started to realize that snow might be headed for us while in Urbino, so I was able to find these Hunter boots at a local department store. They kept my feet dry at least, but they were still freezing when it was 10 degrees and I was walking on ice. They also needed to be broken in, so they were quite painful around the ankles. All in all, I learned that it is better to be comfortable than to pack light. I should have brought my trusty L.L. Bean Boots, which have never led me wrong. I guess we will consider this one a lesson learned. (Note: Toms put the Ella Booties I mentioned above on sale, and many sizes are gone. You may have more luck on Amazon if you are looking for them.)
- I love to pack in packing cubes. It helps compress your stuff, and it also becomes like a portable drawer if you are moving locations during your trip. Since we will be in 4 cities in Italy, packing cubes help keep me organized.
- Athleta. That’s right, I just linked Athleta. All of it. Everything. Basically all of what I wear when traveling is Athleta because it’s that good. Their clothes are comfortable, stylish, sustainable, and the company as a whole is committed to fair trade. Win.
- I know people will say not to buy mini toiletries because they are a waste of money, but I don’t listen. I buy all the small products, and then I don’t feel bad leaving them on my last stop of the trip to lighten my load.
- Take it from a girl who has blown up a number of hair straighteners overseas: you need a dual voltage straightener/curling iron. You will not find a converter that will be able to adjust for the heating mechanism. Fear not, I found this small, relatively inexpensive one that works well. If you have super long thick hair and want to straighten all of it, look for a larger one.
- If you have a bunch of USB charging cords to plug in, this little device is great. Plug it into whatever adapter you need, and it will convert automatically. It also has 3 spaces for a normal plugs as well. Please remember that there is a difference between converters and adapters—make sure you know what you need! I also have this adapter if you are sure that all of your devices can accept 220 voltage.
- If you’re going to be gone longer than a week, I strongly suggest these Tide packs to wash essentials in the sink. Febreze and Wrinkle Release will also keep your stuff looking and smelling fresh.
- I make my own small first aid kit, and fill it with things like: Band-Aids, Neosporin, Pepto-Bismol, cold medicine, and Advil. You never know what may be difficult to find in another country.
- I always suggest traveling with a reusable water bottle. First of all, it’s better for the ocean. Let’s save the ocean, guys. Second, it keeps you hydrated since no one wants to spend insane amounts of money on bottled water. Many cities have public filtered water fountains.
See my Surviving an International Flight post to learn all about my favorite carry-on essentials!
- I typically travel with this Eddie Bauer rolling duffle. I like to have wheels because I’m not strong enough to lift a 50lb bag for long periods of time. I have found Eddie Bauer to be the most reliable and sturdy of all the duffels I have owned. This bag can feel a little on the small side, but it is nice to know that I can’t get more than 45 pounds in here no matter how hard I try (because I’m a notorious over packer). It’s also small enough to take on any kind of transportation.
- If you can be more of a minimalist, or you’re just headed out for the weekend, you have to try the Away Carry-On (pictured above because it’s prettier than my Eddie Bauer). Coolest bag ever. My husband managed to pack for 12 days in Italy in this bag. I don’t understand.
I see packing as a puzzle. If you’re careful and strategic, the whole trip will be smoother because you won’t be wishing you had something, or spend valuable time searching for things you forgot. The most important thing is to plan ahead, but be prepared for weather variances!
What are your packing tips and secrets? Have you ever had a packing disaster like I did?