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31 Days of Traveling to Europe: Day 4 - What to Pack and What to Pack It In

When planning to travel for three weeks, one of the first things to panic about is - how do I pack enough clothes for that amount of time? My sister and I didn't really want to spend time in a laundromat so we packed enough clothes for a week and wore things three times. We may not have smelled the best by the time we landed back in our hometown but we didn't notice.

Even with just packing for one week, the size of the suitcase was a concern. We knew we wanted one with wheels that did 360s to ease our moving through airports, train stations, and city streets with them. We both bought a 28-inch expandable suitcase. Everything fit in it and we had room to back souvenirs in it as well. One drawback to a suitcase that big - I still get tired thinking about dragging it up the stairs of the Notting Hill Tube station and up the stairs to our hotel room in Notting Hill. Also, when we traveled by train, we had to stow our bags at the front of the car and rode in fear that someone would grab our bags as they got off the train and we'd never see our stuff again. A smaller bag would have stowed away in the overhead compartment. We used backpacks for our carry ons and packed light weight bags to carry things on our sightseeing excursions.

For weeks before I left for my trip, whenever I would think of something I needed to take, I would grab it and put it in a pile on my guest room bed. I also had a list of clothes and essentials to pack. Once I could get weather forecasts, I had a better idea of what kind of clothes to pack. London was cold and wet so we took jackets, hats, and umbrellas. (The weather was so wet for most of our trip that my sister's umbrella broke in Paris.) For London and Paris, we wore short sleeve shirts with long sleeves under them but luckily by the time we got to Italy we could ditch the long sleeves. We wore our comfortable walking shoes on the plane and packed flip flops for the hotel rooms and for the end of days when the thought of wearing the comfortable shoes for another minute was too much. The flip flops were also good in the rain and meant we didn't have to wear wet walking shoes the next day.

 If you plan on taking electronics with you, you'll want to pack adapters. If your electronics don't come equipped with internal converters, you'll want to pack one of those too. If you simply use an adapter, you could risk damage to your items. We needed three different kinds of adapters, or so we thought. Once we got to Italy, we realized we didn't have the right adapter for Rome so we had to ration our use of our Kindles so that we had enough battery power for the plane ride home. Note that many hotels restrict use of electronic devices in their rooms and sometimes there are no outlets to make sure you don't break the rules. Other hotels will loan you an adapter but I know someone that used a borrowed adapter and ruined her computer so beware!

So that we didn't miss capturing a single memory, we had extra camera memory cards and enough batteries to last us several trips. For down time, we packed books that we bought at a book fair for $1 and we'd leave them in our hotel rooms when we were done reading them, leaving more room in our suitcase for souvenirs.

Two very important things that we packed - foreign currency and a money belt to keep it in. We got pounds and euros from our local bank so that we could hit the ground running without having to search for an exchange booth. We took American dollars but guessed pretty well and only had to exchange them for euros the last few days we were in Rome. We kept our money and our passports in our money belts and wore them everyday, to the point that I was afraid it was going to become a part of me. But once again, peace of mind was worth it.

The system of wearing things 3+ times worked really well but I will say - just the past week, I wore the pajamas I took on the trip. It took me three months to want to even look at them again. The same goes for the shoes I wore. But it was the best feeling to put those shoes on and think about all the places they took me to and the things I saw while wearing them.

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