Recently, Anne Lene over at Minimalist Sometimes did a post about her one bag only packing for a 3 week trip to Houston. It got me thinking about doing a similar post about our 3 week honeymoon.
For our honeymoon, my husband and I wanted to use trains and public transit (with quite a bit of walking in between) for most of our travel, so we decided to try to pack as minimalist as possible. We each brought only a carry-on roll-y suitcase and a small backpack.
Packing for 3 weeks of travel in a small suitcase was a little tough, mostly because of the time of year we were traveling. March and April are transition months for weather in the north-western area of Europe where we were traveling. Some mornings at the beginning of the trip we would get up and there would be remnants of frost on the ground… And by the end of our trip, my husband was in shorts and a t-shirt and was plenty warm. (As you’ll see a bit later, I didn’t bring shorts, so this wasn’t an option for me…)
When I was packing, I also wanted to make sure that I packed for all the possible activities that we might be doing. We didn’t go to Europe with a set itinerary planned out, so we had no idea what we might end up doing. As such, I ended up with a lot of things that I packed “just in case we spend a day or two doing this…” or “we might go to something fancy and need to dress up…” And I didn’t want to look totally out of place in fashionable Paris… not that I ever claim to be fashionable, but thought it best to try and look a little nicer than if I was backpacking through the woods in rural BC.
Oh, and the last thing I wanted to avoid was having to do laundry all the time. It was vacation time, and so I wanted enough clothing that I could get away with only one or two required laundry stops. We ended up only doing one major laundry wash (while staying with family in Belgium) and then did a couple “hand wash in the sink and hang in the bathroom overnight to dry” type cleanings for a few key items.
So, with all that in mind, how did I do? Did I pack too much? Did I use everything I took? Would I do something different “next time”? (I don’t anticipate another honeymoon, but you get the idea…) Let’s go over everything in detail…
I packed 13 tops, 5 bottoms, 2 scarves, 1 toque, 1 pair of mitts, 3 pairs of shoes and 2 jackets. That’s a total of 27 items of clothing, excluding my pajamas, my undergarments and my socks.
I generally tried to go for a common colour theme. Black, grey, purple and turquoise. But there are a few outliers… and my photos do not really show the proper colours…
Of my 13 tops, I had 1 long sleeve, 4 t-shirts, 1 hoody, 3 tank tops, 1 blouse and 3 sweaters.
I was happy with most of my choices, but it turns out my navy blue hoody wasn’t exactly my favourite item to wear. I’m not saying I didn’t wear it, because I did… I had to… but in hindsight, not my favourite item to wear. And why? I’m not sure, but I think because I felt it was too casual for most of the cities we were visiting (probably all in my head). We are super casual out here on the west coast of Canada, so sometimes I think I feel I need to dress up more when I am somewhere else. Or maybe it was because it was navy blue, and not one of the main colours of my theme…
I did wear my purple sweater a lot. And my turquoise sweater… I probably could have done with less t-shirts and another sweater instead because it was so chilly out at the beginning of the trip to just wear a t-shirt on its own. And my tank tops were worn mostly as undershirts for under the sweaters. It didn’t get quite warm enough for just a tank top.
Later in my trip, my black cardigan did some heavy work because I could wear it easily over a t-shirt and then when it warmed up it was small enough to pack in my bag.
I brought my striped long sleeve shirt because it was something totally different colourwise from the rest of my selections, but it turns out that I didn’t wear it as much as I thought I would, and I didn’t favor it as much as I thought I would… Maybe it has stopped “sparking joy”… Or maybe it was just too outside of the colour scheme I had going…
So, if I were to do this all over again, I would skip the striped shirt and the hoody, take one less t-shirt, and opt for another sweater and tank top instead.
My 5 bottoms were 2 pairs of jeans, 1 pair nylon pants, and 1 black skirt with leggings.
I mainly wore my jeans… like almost completely. I did wear my nylon pants for some walking and for some biking… and I wore my leggings underneath them one day that it was especially chilly out… but not as much as I would have thought. Turns out in my head I think of them as too casual or athletic for normal walking around a city (again probably totally all in my head…), and we didn’t do much in the way of traditional outdoorsy hiking. My little black skirt I used a few days, especially a few dinners out. I was happy that I brought my leggings to wear underneath because it really would have been too cold otherwise.
Nearing the end of the trip, I was wishing I had brought a pair of shorts… my little skirt did okay, but it’s not exactly something I want to bike with, so if I had brought a pair of black shorts (I have a pair that would have been perfect) and skipped on the nylon pants, that would have been good.
My 2 scarves, my toque and my mitts were all good things to bring. The only thing I would change is which scarves I decide to bring. One I wore a lot (grey with black stars), and one I didn’t (multicoloured purple/black stripes). I forced myself to wear the striped one a couple times because I packed it (because it matched the colour scheme I had going), but it turns out that the reason I don’t wear it that often normally at home is because it is scratchy. I am going to put it in the donate pile after I give it a wash (hand wash only I think). My other scarf was pretty much on me every day for the first 2 weeks. Then only in the evenings in the last week or so… I could have used another one like it, so that I could alternate or have a slightly different look with less clothes. I think I might need to revisit my scarf collection and see if I can get rid of some more and get another like the grey one that is obviously my favourite.
My toque and mitts were only used a few times, but those times were very needed. Sitting outside watching a soccer match (Holland vs. France!) on a windy and cold night… Toque, mitts and scarf were all required just to keep the shivering from reaching extreme levels.
I brought two jackets, 1 purple rain jacket and 1 grey wool jacket. (Sorry, forgot to take pictures.)
I used my wool jacket the most. Given the weather, it was the obvious choice. My rain jacket was a very light shell, so it definitely needed a few insulating layers underneath. But was useful when doing active things outside when the weather might have turned on us and rained. It was also good because it could squish up pretty small if it was warm enough to not need a jacket (more a thing later in our journey). At the end of the trip I was cursing how thick and heavy the wool jacket was, but at the beginning I lived in it. I don’t think I would have done anything different. I needed the warmth at the beginning of the trip, and it was nice to have a jacket that actually looked nice, not so “outdoorsy” as my rain jacket. I guess that is the risk of traveling at the transitional time of year.
I brought three pairs of shoes with me. Okay, I technically “brought” two pairs and wore one, but whatever… I brought one pair of tan boots, one pair of blue flats and one pair of runners. I can say that the shoes I wore the most were definitely my boots, mostly because of the weather. And also because, on traveling days, I didn’t want to have to pack them in my suitcase, so I wore them whenever we were traveling between cities.
By the end of the trip, I was very happy to have my flats because the warmer weather made my boots too warm. But I probably could have done with a simple pair of sandals instead… And my runners? I did wear them… and they were a practical shoe to have. And if we had done more hiking instead of city walking, they would have been even more useful… But again, there was this whole thing about me feeling like I was too casual…
All in all though, I think I did pretty good with shoes, but if I had a nice pair of sandals instead of flats it would have worked with the shorts that I “would have” also brought. (I’m thinking a nice pair of Birkenstocks… you know the kind that sort of look like flip-flops, but are nicer and can work with a skirt… I want a pair of those…in black…)
Obviously there were other things that I packed, so I’ll quickly go over some of the items I brought and shouldn’t have, or I brought and am really happy I did…
Toiletries and medicine… I packed too much stuff “just-in-case” but it would have really sucked to be feeling ill on a 4 hour train ride and not have something to help with it. Yes, I could have bought something at a train station, but if you aren’t feeling well, you don’t want to have to try and run around during a quick stop to get supplies. I am happy we didn’t need much of it, but I am very happy that I had it. I don’t think I would have changed a thing.
I brought a travel towel… that I never used. In the past I had used it as a combination towel, picnic blanket, or travel blanket… but this trip I never used it… but I also didn’t use my swimsuit… Which I guess could have been listed in my clothing… Anyway, I didn’t use it, but I think I would still pack it if we went again because we could have easily changed an activity, or stayed somewhere with a pool or hot tub, or visited a lake (later in the trip once it was warmer).
I also brought a face cloth that I completely forgot that I packed (it was in the pocket under my umbrella – see next paragraph). If I had remembered that I had it, I may have used it, but obviously it was not a requirement, so I can probably just skip it next time.
I should not have brought the umbrella. The one day that we could have used it while standing in line for an attraction, we didn’t bring it. And another day we tried to use it and it was too windy… We had jackets and those pretty much did the job. If it was really gross outside, we stayed inside… So, that was something I didn’t need to lug around for 3 weeks.
Books… Why did I bring books? I only read one on a train once… and only because by that point I was wondering why I brought them and felt the need to at least read something… I could have done without lugging two books around… Most of the time I just liked looking out the window at the countryside, and I had my iPad with some games and a couple electronic books, so I should have just stuck with that.
My journal. I totally am SOOO happy I brought this. I ended up making a bunch of sort of doodle journal entries for each day. I didn’t get to draw on the train as much as I thought I would… trains are a little bumpier than I thought they’d be… but I was very happy to have it to record things we did and places we went to.
So, there you have it… My packing list for our three week honeymoon. Do you think I packed too much? Is there anything that you would have brought that I didn’t? Or is there something that you think I could do without? Let me know!