So in May, Wes and I went on a two week trip through Europe. This wasn’t a vacation, but a work trip. We are working on a project that explores how people maintain hope in the midst of great adversity. The focus of this trip in particular was to meet with Holocaust survivors, and to visit several former concentration camps. The meetings with survivors fell through, unfortunately, but we had the honor of visiting 7 different concentration camps. It was a heavy, yet beautiful trip.
One of my goals for this trip was to pack light. As much as I’ve traveled throughout my life, you’d think I was a very light packer. Yeah…not true. I’m not horrible when it comes to packing, but I could definitely stand to lighten the load. So in my quest for making a minimalist packing list, and also having a practical packing list, I reached out to some different companies to see if they’d be interested in sharing some of their products with me, so I, in turn, could share my experience with those products with you.
I called this a semi-minimalist packing list because in all honesty, I could have gone with less clothing. I have read the articles about people who travel with one or two outfits, and I applaud them. I have been tempted a time or two to attempt this, but if I’m going to be completely real, I am one of the messiest people I know. I mean, when it comes to eating, inevitably I will leave the table with one or two stains on my shirt, and definitely a pile of crumbs on my chest that I’ll need to brush off. So that makes just going with one outfit much more challenging for me…unless I don’t mind looking like a slob when I visit the Champs-Élysées. I don’t mind too much, but I feel like someone else might.
So with all that said, I’ve given you a graphic above, with all the items I took with me. Wes took only his Lowepro pack that Lowepro generously gave us for this trip. He fit everything, along with a full Contax 645 kit, a jacket, and chacos in it. We both carried a small shoulder bag that had a couple of books and a journal in it for our personal items. We had to pack with a Europe-in-May mentality, which meant we had to consider both hot and cold weather clothing and shoes. We had more cold weather (many rainy days in the mid 50’s) than warm weather, so I’m glad I packed my Sperry’s because those kept my big feet warm! We used compression bags to pack our clothes in. I found mine at Marshall’s in the travel section, but you can also find them on Amazon. You want the ones you can actually compress and take the air out of, so the clothes shrink up as much as possible, making more room for the rest of your things.
If you go to the end of this post, you can see an incredibly exciting (note sarcasm) video of me packing up my things!
NINA’S TRAVEL LIST (packed in an Osprey Kyte 46…It fits within the Carry-on guidelines):
-Deodorant (please don’t use the deodorant I did! I’ve used that for about 20 years, and it’s AWFUL for you. Homemade deodorant for the win!
-makeup/bandaids (in a small sandwich-sized bag)
-soap (I’ve also given up the Dove soap…especially scented…products with fragrance are often quite toxic to our bodies)
-3 pairs of pants (1 pair of jeans, and 2 pair of Anatomie pants)
-1 sleeveless shirt and 3 camisoles
-3 lightweight short-sleeve shirts
-2 lightweight long-sleeve shirts
-1 buttondown long-sleeve shirt
-1 PJ bottoms and 1 PJ shirt
-7 pair of underwear (I rolled and packed them in a quart-size ziplock bag)
-6 pairs of socks
-2 bras (one black, one nude…I wore one and packed one)
-1 pair of tennis shoes (I packed a loofa and some other small knick-knacks inside the shoes)
-1 pair of Tieks (I grew to love these shoes while in Europe! Comfiest flats ever!)
-1 belt (i never used this, so I won’t be bringing one next time)
-1 45mm Lens
-40 rolls of medium format film in a Domke bag (to protect high speed film from x-ray machines)
-1 Secret Stash from Brazabra
*I carried a small Sari Bari bag to carry my essentials in: 2 books, a journal, pens and a few snacks for the trip over.
*I wore my jeans, my lined Eddie Bauer raincoat, and my Sperry’s on the plane, because these items are heavier, and I can double the raincoat as a pillow when I need to sleep on the plane.
WES’S TRAVEL LIST (packed in a Photo Sport BP 300 AW II, it’s smaller than the Osprey I carried):
-1 Contax 645 w/a 80mm lens
-1 light meter
-1 extra Contax insert
-8 pairs of underwear
-8 pairs of socks
-1 pair PJ bottoms
-1 quart-sized bag of toiletries
-braces and bandages (for wes’s old-man elbows and knees)
-1 rain jacket
-1 pair of chacos
-1 pair of Eddie Bauer convertible pants (he wore the other pair on the plane…he’s currently obsessed with this pair)
About some of the items we traveled with:
Anatomie Pants: Women…these pants…they are amazing. Anatomie was kind enough to let me try these babies out. They sent me the Skyler Skinny Pant and the Paola Bootcut Pant. And while both are fantastic, my heart belongs to the Skyler Skinny Pant. I wore these pants throughout most of our trip. They are SO lightweight, which is key to packing light. Jeans are the enemy of lightweight packing, so the Anatomie pants were a gift from God! If you wash them by hand at night, they’ll be dry by morning. I thought the Skyler pant would be too skinny for me, but it wasn’t! I am not a twig. I am NOT a skinny gal. I’ve got curves and I’m tall. I weigh about 165 lbs., I am 5’10”, and I got these pants in a size L, and they fit me perfectly! They come with a hefty price tag at $225, but they are amazing, and versatile. You can wear them out on a night on the town, or you can wear them hiking. They look so good with “fancier” tops, and they also look great with a comfy t-shirt. They are probably the best pants I have ever owned!
And notice my awesome Tieks. Tieks did not send me these. I ordered them, and paid the scary, $175 for them. I wore them around the house like I had read so many others had done. I even ordered three different colors to see what I liked best. I kept the burgundy (they go with almost everything I wear!), and sent the other two pairs back with free shipping. Tieks has amazing customer service, and they want you to be 100% satisfied. I was really impressed with their shipping and shopping options. I will say that for the first couple of days that I wore them out, they rubbed a little on the base of my big toe on my right foot. But after those couple of days, that went away, and I wore them all over Prague and Brugges. Aren’t they the cutest shoes you’ve ever seen?! I seriously wear them all the time…especially with my Skyler pants!
The Secret Stash Bra Pocket by Braza. Braza sent me several of these little guys. I didn’t end up using this a ton on our trip, but I did wear it for a full day at one point, and it was nice to be able to have money on hand, just in case (Wes usually carries the money…because he’s the man of the house and that’s the way it should be…just kidding…I just don’t feel like carrying stuff, and he’s got big pockets…basically, I’m lazy). Surprisingly, it doesn’t show through your shirt when you wear it. It’s not super easy to open and get money out of when you are out in public (you feel a bit exposed when you are reaching in between your bosoms to get out some cash), but it’s very convenient if you are going out for a couple of hours and need a place to stash your cash and credit cards.
Guys…this company is awesome! Not only do they sell some of the coolest walking sticks around, but they have the most snazzy compression socks! Compression socks are great for the plane-ride over. Have you ever noticed how your ankles tend to swell while in the air? The most likely culprit is inactivity during a flight. Sitting with your feet on the floor for a long period causes blood to pool in your leg veins. The position of your legs when you are seated also increases pressure in your leg veins. Well, these socks keep that swelling to a minimum. They help increase circulation and reduce the risk of swelling or worse, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and clotting on a long flight. Get yourselves some of these socks from Top & Derby! They have several styles and colors, and plus, they’re just really nice people!
And thanks to the crew over at Buff for sending us several of their famous headwear products! You can literally wear these in about 12 or more ways. They can act as scarves, or ear warmers, or a cute beanie! Mine stayed around my neck most days, as we fought the chilly Polish Springtime. Wes did the same. Our necks were very thankful for the bit of warmth we got from these guys!
This bag was AWESOME! In all honesty, we carried this most days (over my big Osprey). It’s pretty compact and you can fit a lot of stuff in it for a rather small pack. Thank you to Lowepro for giving us such a great travel pack! This is me looking over a little creek running through the farm we stayed at near Amsterdam.
A couple of extra travel tips:
-bring extra zip lock bags and walmart bags…you will be surprised at how many uses you will find for these (dirty clothes, sea shells, a wet bathing suit etc etc) and they weigh nothing!
-keep your passports on your person at all times, or at least in your small “personal item” bag. Sometimes your brain does funny things when you travel, and you can forget things like entire pieces of carry-on luggage. You can get around without that luggage. You can’t get around without that passport!
-bring a few (not too many) snacks for the trip. You never know what an airlines is going to offer you, and sometimes you just get hungry when no food is to be found!
-bring some cash. We have found that even the least developed country often has ATM’s you can use to get cash out. But every once in awhile, that debit card of yours just won’t work in that foreign ATM. Having some extra cash with you for the trip (we usually take a couple hundred dollars) is not a bad idea. You can almost always find a place to exchange that money for you.
-get cash in the local currency. Unless you love stopping at all the most touristy destinations and restaurants, you will most likely encounter establishments that either don’t take your type of credit card, or they don’t take a card at all. And if you’re renting a car, you may encounter a toll booth every once in a blue moon. Be prepared with some local currency!
-Don’t bring too many clothes! Remember, if you are just on vacation, no one knows you in most of the places you are traveling around in. So if you are worried about what people will think if you wear one outfit more than once (although, who thinks that anymore?!), get over it! Do yourself a favor and just bring the basics. Your back and body will thank you later when you aren’t in pain from the heavy load you’ve been carrying around.
-Take pictures of your passport and keep them on your iphone, just in case! It never hurts to have photocopies of your passport, as well. Be prepared for the worst, and ready for the best!
-I find it’s always nice to type out all the places we have booked a room at, and all the places we are planning on visiting. I print this out and keep it with me. No matter how much you prepare, sometimes your phone dies, you have no access to electrical outlets, and you just need to figure out where you are going. Having this stuff printed out can be a big help in an emergency.