Last year, as I was preparing to leave for Europe, what to bring and getting it all packed bordered on obsession. I had been longing to visit Europe as an adult for years and I wanted to get it all right. I debated over what shoes to wear and tried on many different brands and styles. I knew I wanted to wear dresses and leggings, but I didn’t want to be too hot or too cold or not ready for rain or underdressed for a specific occasion. I also compulsively reviewed my supplies. Did I have everything I needed for work, for art, for photography? I’m pretty sure my suitcase was sitting open on the floor of our bedroom for at least two weeks leading up to the trip.
This year, I have experience on my side. I know what worked and what didn’t. I’m excited about the trip and I’m preparing and packing carefully. I’ve made lists, so I don’t forget anything, but I’m not consumed by it.
Easy linen dresses and tunics were a winner last year, so I’m bringing more of those. Most of my clothes are from J Jill or Linen Bee. I was hot a lot last year, though, so I am bringing some bike shorts to wear under my dresses on days that are too hot for leggings (although it looks like the temps will be much cooler this year.) As a bonus, a couple pairs of the bike shorts have a pocket on the leg, so I can use it as a place to hide cash if needed.
I have a mix of clothes that give me a lot of options depending on the weather. I can layer if it’s cooler or rainy and I can wear a simple dress and bike shorts if it’s hot.
I’m also not bringing as many clothes as I did last year. Instead, I’ll do a load of laundry before we leave Paris (we’re in an apartment with a washer & dryer) and I’ll hand-wash as needed in Italy. I ended up having to wash everything after just one wearing last year because I was sweating so much! I was not expecting that, so I did a lot more laundry than I planned for.
I’m definitely bringing my Keen Maryjanes again. They were just so easy and comfortable to wear. I could walk around in them all day long without any rubbing or blisters. I know they aren’t the sleekest shoes, but they are comfortable and they work with dresses. I can also wear no-show nylon socks underneath that can be washed at night and dry by morning. That allows me to bring only four pairs of socks (2 nude, 2 black.)
Along with my mid-sized suitcase, I’m bringing my computer/camera bag as a carryon and my Able backpack as my personal bag.
In these bags, I’ll pack my computer, camera, art supplies, our trip folder, a few comfort items for travel days, a water bottle, etc. I’m going to try to have all three of my bags as empty as possible, so I have plenty of room to bring back anything I buy. Shopping was a big part of my trip last year, but my list is much smaller this year. Last year, I had years of pent up desire to shop in Europe. That was satisfied and now I just want to buy a few special things. (Of course, I’m sure I’ll find something amazing that will take up every bit of spare space in my suitcase!)
I brought way too many art supplies last year! This year, I’m bringing some sketch supplies (pencils and ink pens), watercolor supplies (1 tin, travel brushes, 1 plastic container for water, paper towels), one watercolor sketchbook, one small lined journal, and my everyday 3-part journal. I can whittle this collection down to the bare bones if I need to make my pack lighter.
As I shared in The Creative Exponent podcast episode Don’t Wait for Perfect, I really struggled with sketching and painting on my trip last year. I avoided it like it was a dentist appointment. I was so convinced my drawings would fall short of my expectations that I only forced myself to do one in the airport and one towards the end of our stay in Barga.
I’ve committed to taking the time to sketch and paint on my trip this year and I even started practicing by sketching and painting some pictures taken on my last trip.
I want to fill that entire watercolor notebook with sketches and paintings of my trip and the entire journal with observations, thoughts, and things I want to remember. I want to turn those into my best souvenirs.
We leave late afternoon on Thursday! You can follow my trip on my Instagram stories. I have posts ready to go up on my blog, so if it looks like I’m working on the boys’ bathroom while I’m in Paris…well, I’m not. I won’t even be thinking about the boys’ bathroom!