One of the most asked about topics has been packing for an overseas trip! After two large European getaways last summer to Italy and Greece (and two upcoming trips this year), I thought I’d share my packing tips with you — and what I think you’ll need for a summer getaway abroad! I definitely don’t have the proper creds to come at you like some sort of professional here — this was all through trial and error. Raj can tell you that our first trip to Italy last June was a packing disaster. The airline website said you could have luggage up to 70lbs and I used every single bit of that weight. IN ALL FAIRNESS… I had no clue what to expect with the weather, we traveled to 6 different cities in three weeks with completely different temperatures (and dress codes), and I really didn’t reach out for any advice before just shoving everything in my suitcase. 21 arguments (1 for each day we were away), 6 cities, 4 trains, 2 boats, 17 taxis, and a torn rotator cuff later… I learned my lesson, and made sure to pack SUPER light for my trip to Greece last July. Although, admittedly, I was traveling without Raj to Greece and knew I would be the one carrying all my luggage. I can honestly say, it feels BETTER to pack light. It feels very freeing knowing you have what you need, and I’ve made sure to pack light ever since. I packed light for our Mexico trip in March — rewore a bunch of dresses, brought 4 pairs of shoes, and had A LOT of extra room in my large suitcase. For every other trip under 5 days, I’ve fit everything into a carry-on. Raj has been impressed with my packing skills (still nursing that rotator cuff, though).
HERE IS WHAT YOU NEED FOR AN OVERSEAS SUMMER TRIP.
DRESSES. I lived in dresses during both my Italy and Greece trips last summer. Bring dresses that can be worn both day and night. Bring neutral colors if possible — or at least a print you won’t get sick of in the event that you need to wear it 3x. I wore a lot of dresses sightseeing during the day with sneakers or sandals (more on that below) and then dressed the same piece up again later in the week at night with a low block heel. Also, bring a casual dress or two that could double as a swim coverup (no need to pack coverups that can’t double as anything else).
TOPS. This is where it can get a bit tricky. What I found in Italy (and I’m sure most European countries where you do a lot of touristy things), is that you need to have your shoulders covered to go into most museums/churches, etc. It doesn’t help that you can barely find a shirt these days that isn’t off-the-shoulder, or one-shoulder. Limit those styles to a few and don’t let them bog down your suitcase. Instead, go with lightweight striped tees, tanks that can easily be covered with a jacket (off-the-shoulder styles are so uncomfortable when you put a layer over them), or three-quarter length styles. I also brought a striped linen top and wore it while traveling (unbuttoned over a tee since it usually got a little cold on the trains), unbuttoned over a swimsuit (so it could double as a coverup), and for cooler nights with a pair of white jeans.
BOTTOMS. Another place I made a major mistake in Italy. Apparently, ripped denim really isn’t a thing over there (or they’ve moved on), because most denim was very sleek and fitted on Italians (if they wore them at all). I would travel in a pair of skinny jeans (white or black preferably as they go with so much more), and bring one denim skirt/pair of shorts. I ended up wearing my white denim skinny jeans a lot in Italy — wishing they didn’t have the rip in the knees!
SNEAKERS. I brought along my adidas sneakers to Italy last summer and ended up wearing them a lot more than I thought I would. While I normally love the look of dresses and sneakers, I definitely wished my sneakers looked a little more dressy, so I invested in this pair immediately upon return and brought them to Greece (and have been wearing them ever since). If you need to bring two of any shoe, I would suggest doubling up on sneakers. There were some days in Italy where we walked 10+ miles around the cities, and the last thing you want is to be uncomfortable. I noticed a lot of European girls wearing espadrille and platform sneakers with just about everything, so you can definitely stay comfortable while still remaining in style.
SANDALS. Here’s where things got a bit rough for me during what we will call “The Italian Packing Disaster.” When we arrived to our last stop in Sorrento, Raj saw me unpacking for about the 6th time and made me lay out all the shoes I brought. No joke, I had packed 14 (yes, FOURTEEN) pairs of shoes, with 10 of them being sandals. Sandals are so lightweight to pack, so I just kept adding in different styles and finding different leftover areas of the suitcase that could fit them. In ALL HONESTY, I probably wore this pair of gladiator sandals 90% of the time, so the other 9 were a complete waste. What I loved about this pair that clearly made me keep grabbing them everyday, was that my foot was really strapped in — it made walking a breeze. While I love the slide trend, they get a bit tiring to walk in all day and it will probably lead to foot cramps (since your toes are usually working to keep your foot in the slide). After the disaster, I limited myself to just 4 pair of shoes in Greece and it worked out perfectly.
LOW HEEL. The only piece of packing advice anyone gave me was “you will not wear heels during your trip.” I did not listen. I love to dress up and figured there would be some nights that we would stay at our hotel for dinner, and those would be the nights where I could throw on a pair of fab heels with a dress and have a romantical night. I should have listened to those people. Even the nights that we DID stay at the hotel for dinner, my feet and legs were usually so sore from walking 10+ miles that I just wanted to be in something lower anyways. I would definitely recommend a low block heel — something that you could walk the cobblestone European streets with. I ended up wearing my Valentino Rockstud caged heels a few times at night (and my Schutz strappy shoes never made it out of the suitcase except for ONE Instagram picture because I felt bad and wanted to prove Raja wrong). I linked a couple of similar styles below — but if you love the look of the Valentino Rockstuds, you can find a DUPE here for under $80.
SWIM. For Italy, our stops were a mix of city and beach, so my need for swim was actually lower than when I went to Greece. If you’re traveling place to place, you can definitely get away with re-wearing swimsuits without anyone knowing, so I would pack light here. In both places, I loved wearing a one-piece more. It was easy to use as a bodysuit, and I would throw an unbuttoned shirt over the top with a pair of denim shorts and be able to get away with wearing that to breakfast or a casual lunch at the beach places.
LIGHTWEIGHT JACKET. I’m usually freezing so this was important for me. I packed a few lightweight jackets and wore them everyday. I would try to wear one traveling and then bring another if you’re usually cold like me. My denim jacket came in handy and always looked great paired over a dress during the day (the museums and some restaurants during the day would be blasting the AC). For nighttime, a neutral faux leather jacket will do the trick. I wore this exact style in Italy!
CROSSBODY BAG. You’ll want to be hands-free as much as possible and I loved that you can keep a crossbody bag in front of you for safety reasons. We were warned a ton about the theft in Europe (especially in the train stations), and although we didn’t experience anything scary, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Definitely bring a neutral one that can go with everything — and look for one that has inside pockets for valuables like cash/passports. A lot of you had asked last year about what my husband used and he actually grabbed one of these waist holders that goes under your pants and kept our passports/credit cards/cash in there while traveling location to location. In a sea of people, you do not want anything in your pockets that can be easily accessible.
BACKPACK. I was told not to bring a backpack for theft reasons, but I actually found it extremely useful for both trips. While you’re in a crowd, swing it around one shoulder in front of your body (so no one can get into it from behind). We always had the camera, water bottles, sunscreen, and backup phone chargers with us at all times, so I needed a little extra room that my crossbody didn’t have. I actually brought along this exact Rebecca Minkoff backpack to both trips and will definitely be taking it along on my upcoming trips!
ACCESSORIES. My straw hat came in handy every single day of both trips. I’m CRAZY about having my face and shoulders covered from the sun (especially when you’re outside almost all day), so bringing around a hat is worth it for me. I usually travel with mine on (and hold it on the plane or tuck it under my seat), and it never bothers me. If you have room in your suitcase or carry on, try to stuff the inside with a few tees and lay it upside down to pack it. If it’s a straw hat and ends up getting misshaped during travel, take a towel soaked in water and blot the brim and top of the hat so the straw becomes flexible and reshape it. Then lay it flat to dry and it should be like new! I also make sure to travel with a lightweight scarf almost everywhere I go — I love it for the plane, and it can be worn as a swim coverup or pashmina style over an outfit at night. I also talk about my love for this straw tote daily. I’ve had this exact style for years and love that you can fold it up and pack it at the bottom of your suitcase. I’m not sure you would need this if you have a backpack, but I always like to have a tote with me, so this one comes everywhere when I travel!
I’m working on our Italy trip post (including our itinerary and details on where we stayed/what we did) and will be sharing next week — nothing like a year later, but better late than never, right?! If you missed any of my Greece trip, you can find all of those posts HERE. I’ll also be sharing my favorite travel accessories in a separate post (things like outlet adapters, camera accessories, and other electronics that we always travel with). That will be live on the blog later this month!
SHOP MY LUGGAGE