I did a pretty decent job of packing for my ten days in Europe, give or take a few lessons learned along the way. If I were going again (can I please!!!!) here is what I'd bring again, what I'd leave behind, and what all I'd bring instead.

BLACK DENIM // Bringing a pair of black denim was the smartest idea of aaaaall the times. Having a second pair of jeans, though, would have been really, really nice, too. Soooo I bought myself a pair while I was out. Luckily, this is the type of purchase I don't mind having to make while abroad what-so-everrrrr, but if you don't like to make time to shop while traveling, I advise bringing a second pair of jeans. (I picked up a pair of these while in the Marais and I love them.)

MULTIPLE SHOE OPTIONS // Shoes are heavy, but for me, ultimately worth the backache. One thing I've learned from life in NYC about foot fatigue is that usually simply changing your shoes from day to day is enough to keep your tootsies happy pounding sidewalks for hours at a time. I did leave my penny loafers behind, I did regret it, and I did buy a second pair of sneakers to make up for it, but, see above. I wasn't too mad about it. :)

TEES + TOPS // Four shirts and a sweater were the perfect amount of shirts and sweaters. They were all I needed. Maybe a less bulky sweater the next time?

SCARF // Hooray for bringing a scarf! In a pinch it'll cover a sloppy pomme frites episode. Thumbs up.

DRESS + SKIRT // I looove wearing skirts and dresses in the summer, but in the colder months it's just too much work for me. I overestimated the weather forecasts and my willingness to dress up for stuff, and oh well. It was a nice idea anyway :).

BLACK BRA // Diiiiiid I wear that bra once? Nnnnnoope. I guess this is the lesson learned: If you don't wear it at home, you ain't gonna wear it abroad.

LIPSTICK // I just didn't wear it! Lipstick would have felt so over the top for some reason, but your mileage may vary. Now that I think about it, a tube of lipstick is small enough there's no harm in bringing some along just in case. If I had been with Brandon, I may have worn some to dinner? Who knows. Eh, I'd probably bring it along again. Whatever.

UMBRELLA // I hadn't planned to pack an umbrella, but I did pack an umbrella, and then it just sat in my bag taking up space. The one time it did rain I decided to duck into a café to ride it out, so next time I think I'd leave it at home. There were plenty of umbrellas for sale on the sidewalks everywhere I went, and if I needed one I think I'd have been able to find one just fine.

NOTEBOOK + PEN // I packed my iPhone and iPad thinking that would be plenty for any note taking or plan-making needs, but I found myself craving an old school pen and paper for writing down schedules + itineraries, listing out plans, doodling on maps, scribbling down thoughts, etc.

SUNGLASSES // I ended up picking up a pair of super cheap sunglasses, the kind you'd get at a gas station for $5, and that was a real good call. They got beat up and I didn't mind so much. But if I wanted to be purposeful about it, that could have been smart, too. :)

WOOL COCOON COAT // On my way out to grab a taxi to the airport I happened to grab my black wool coat at the last minute, and I'm so glad I did. Something oversized and menswear-y was much smarter than my trusty leather jacket, even if I do wear it all the time at home and as much fun as it may be to be a bad-ass and junk. :) The wool coat was much more versatile. It makes a better blanket or pillow on the plane than a leather jacket (no scratchy zippers), it's layerable like crazy in case the weather turns out colder than expected, and because it was longer it was easy to drape over the top of my tote bag and under my arm when I didn't need to wear it, which actually wasn't that often at first. Here it was April and I was most of the time freezing. Plus, I mean, the wool cocoon coat is trés trendy right now in Paris, so . . . well, you know how I be. :) (This one is amaaaazing.)

BAGGU REUSABLE SHOPPING BAG // I always have a Baggu with me in my tote in NYC, so I lucked out on this one and had one abroad as well, but to all those who don't walk around packing Baggu heat, you should definitely bring a reusable shopping bag of some kind. You pick up so many miscellaneous things while traveling--water bottles, maps, brochures, receipts, souvenirs--and having a big bag to shove it all in that I could wear on my shoulder was a life saver. 
BASEBALL CAP // Bad hair days happen, people.

PLANNING FOR SHOPPING // For those of us Natalie-types (whatever that means), I think purposefully under-packing for a trip like this is kiiiiind of a genius idea. "Oops! Didn't bring enough shoes!" Right? Verrrry clever. I've brought empty duffels before for this type of thing (one bag to, two bags home), but this time around I planned to stop in at the post office to mail myself some things. These days with checked luggage costing extra, it's almost even-steven either way. If your primary luggage has wheels. About three countries in I did fantasize about attaching roller skates to the bottom of my bag :).

CAMERA SITUATION // Whyyyyy are DSLRs so heavvvyyyyyy? I am so glad I brought my nice camera, don't get me wrong. Wandering around and taking photos was such a relaxing, enjoyable way to spend my time exploring, but I'm about ready to figure something out about this whole situation, because there's just no reason a person needs to lug around an enormous bulky camera anymore. What century is this! I've been researching cameras since I got home--I want something small and pretty, with switchable lenses, that doesn't weigh forty pounds. Maybe a Fuji? Any suggestions?

And ps--thank you to everyone who left notes in the comments on my original packing post. I read them all and they made such a difference in my planning! Thank you!


  1. Posting this was such a great idea! Thank you for this! I am a known over-packer and always end up chastising myself for bringing so much crap I will not need or wear. If only we could always look back on other people's packing realities and know what to really bring!

    I totally feel you on the heavy DSLR situation! Just knowing how heavy mine is has caused me to leave it in the car or hotel on many occasions, and that's just not ok when you're somewhere really cool and want photos! (I didn't take any photos of my trip to Vancouver with a real camera AT ALL! Unacceptable!) I've been looking at the Fuji x100 series and plan on buying one of those ASAP! Also, mirrorless cameras rock!

  2. definitely invest in a fuji! i shoot with an x-e2 and love it.

    check out the writings of zack arias on the topic. here's a good one to start with -


    ps - i am so living vicariously through this trip <3

  3. of course you needed the Adidas. r u kidding me? and yes on the black mensweary (when will spellcheck ever just believe me, btw?) wool coat. also, my ancient black Gap wool peacock will forever have my heart (and back).
    welcome back, N!

  4. I like the minimalist approach you took. I'm planning for a two week trip to Italy in May and thinking I'll have a few outfits on repeat. But mostly dresses and skirts for comfort and it should be in the high 70s I think.

    1. Just don't forget a lightweight cardigan or wrap/scarf if you're planning to go into any churches! And most places don't mind women wearing pants these days, but my grandmother tells a story about having to fashion a skirt out of a scarf she bought from a street vendor so that she could go into the Vatican. (This was in 1970, but I still tend to choose a long skirt on days I might be in a cathedral, just to be safe.) Buon viaggio!

  5. ooooh! Do you have a source for those wing tips?!

  6. i'm with you on the camera situation but haven't found a solution. hope you do

  7. I HIGHLY recommend keeping your DSLR, but putting a tiny lens on it! I use a 40mm pancake lens with a very thin camera strap. No zoom, but the pics always look great and I don't feel overwhelmed with equipment. :) (most of my "Going Places" posts - like our trips to the midwest, pnw, and austin - were taken with this configuration if you want to see samples!)

  8. ^^^ oh, our savannah trip too!! ^^^

  9. I'm glad you ended up taking a real coat because when I saw your packing list I was thinking you were going to freeze. We're having one of those cold springs and a leather jacket is probably just not warm enough.

  10. Underpacking is genius! I do that everytime I travel to Berlin :D
    And the camera thing... I'm thinking of replacing my (heavyyyyy!!!!) Nikon with a Olympus Pen, not sure which one though, I'll figure that out while I'm saving money for it ;)

  11. The fuji is awesome, get it. I love that you have done a post-trip analysis of what you packed. It is probably more helpful than a 'what I'm packing' post. Cheers

  12. Hope you take a minute to watch this!:

  13. I studied abroad for a summer and the best decision I made was not bringing a carry-on from the US, because then I was able to buy a super cool silver duffle bag (Primark, and only like ₤12, seriously, Primark is my Mecca) that I could fill with souvenirs and all the new clothes that I inevitably bought (Seriously, who forgets to bring a rain coat to London? Shame on me) without having to pay for an overweight bag or extra luggage on my flight home. All the other girls ended up having to leave some of their belongings behind for the next group of students to enjoy. 10/10 would recommend this strategy.

  14. I have a Panasonic Lumix and an Olympus Pen - both are lightweight, good looking, take interchangeable lenses and photos that look just as good as a DSLR imo. Great post xx

  15. I'm always on the lookout for a lighter weight camera (for travel/backpacking). I've heard great things about the Fujifilm camera, but you could also check out the Olympus OM-D E-M5 (I know, it's like a science equation). It's a solid camera, pretty comparable to the Fujifilm, but it handles video a bit better, if you're wanting that as well. And although it wouldn't truly match the power of a DSLR, I think it's worth the switch to lighten the load a bit. These little cameras can really pack a punch.


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