If you’ve been following our travels on Instagram, Facebook and over here over the past few months, you’ll see we’ve planned to explore a few European cities this summer–we are done with Vienna in Austria and we’ve planned to do 3 more countries (Belgium, Poland and Luxembourg) within this month! And why not! London is the ultimate city from which to explore Europe, in all its glory. We are pretty much always within a short flight from every European city! Figuring out how to pack for this mini city breaks is a fun challenge (every single look was thought out in advance, because we could only take one cabin luggage as we usually travel in budget airlines within Europe- it’s convenient and economic). In this post, I’m passing on my packing secrets for mini city breaks to you.
I’m a lover of being organised with most aspects of my life and packing is definitely one of them. Since it’s summer in Europe, so depending on where you’re visiting, it can be quite hot during the day, but still chilly at night. Then there’s the mix of activities, from sight-seeing to romantic dates to a friend’s meet-up – I needed outfits for a wide range of occasions. So, I created a capsule wardrobe consisting of classic pieces that mix and match in several different ways, to keep the packing as light as possible.
I’ve written longer posts about what I pack for trips (read our Packing Picks series) where I take luggage in the hold with me but for mini city breaks (upto 4 days), I decided on carry on hand luggage only to avoid those pesky budget airlines’ fees for hold baggage and needed to stick rigorously to the 10kg limit. Luckily I’ve become quite the expert at packing light for carry on trips after recent escapes to Vienna and Ascot and more with just my little red suitcase. If you are a newbie in travelling in this route, you may note that the cabin luggage dimensions and weight allowances on major European airlines for short-haul flights to Europe with major airlines including BA, Ryanair, Easyjet and Lufthansa cabin bag: 55cm x 40cm x 20cm 1 small bag: 35cm x 20cm x 20cm. So, I had to ensure that both of our clothes, accessories, travel essentials, electronics including a heavy camera kit and my macbook pro fits into it.
Top tips: Separate your clothes and shoes and put them in packing sacks or cubes or ziplock bags. This way, they are kept tidy inside the suitcase, as a result you save time to look for them when you need them.
Anyone who’s not been living under a rock will know by now that you can only take liquids under 100ml onto a flight in hand luggage and they all have to fit within a little clear plastic bag. I do have sensitive skin so there’s a few products that I just can’t travel without, plus I have to pack my makeup kit and brushes (which isn’t always light weight).
Manage with miniatures
For mini city breaks or staycations, I decant the things I’ll only need a little of (facial moisturiser, cleanser, conditioner etc) into mini bottles. I distinguish which is which by labelling them with a sticker and then I don’t need to worry about the beautographer trying to use conditioner instead of moisturiser. Not kidding (he can do that!)!
Carry a scarf
I always take a light scarf in my bag and carry with me everywhere I go. They occupy the least amount of room and can be used as a layer on the plane, a shoulder/head cover when visiting religious sites, for keeping you warm on chilly evenings, dress up your bag and even just for brightening up an otherwise dull outfit. Make sure you take a colour/tone/pattern that’ll work with everything else you’ve packed.
Pack a pair of sunglasses
It’s summer in the Europe, so these are a must. Plus they’re gorgeous and everyone looks instantly more put-together after donning a smart pair of sunnies.
Don’t forget your gadgets
As a blogger and internet’s favourite child, I can’t go far without my macbook pro, iPhone, smartsticks and Canon camera. We also carry our trusty world travel adaptor wherever we go to keep them charged up because different countries have different electric settings in the rooms or hotel rooms although you may find the one you need at most hotel receptions if you ask them, but I like to carry my own to be on the safe side.
Save space, carry clutch bag
Messenger bags with long straps are very useful when doing sight-seeing but many European cities now have a reputation for pick pockets (I’ve never witnessed it happening. Touchwood!) that I knew I wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing one of my usual style bags. Instead, I opt for a mid-sized clutch bag that I knew I could wrap around my wrist and carry in my hand or wear cross-body. No chance of anyone getting into it without me noticing. Although it’s important to be alert and keep your wits about you all the time, you’ll likely be absolutely fine. Belgium would be my 40th country to travel to and I’ve never had anything untoward happen to me.
Pick neutral colours
This is probably the most important packing secret– pick a base tone or colour and structure the rest of your outfits around colour so that everything can be easily mixed and matched to create lots of different outfits. Create monochrome looks – black and white or go simply crazy with colors, if you do, pack a neutral handbag or a pair of nude shoes because it’s easy to jazz it up with a pop of colour or a sparkly accessory.
I pack these essentials and then add in all the must-haves like socks, underwear, shoes and clothes. I’d be a little lost without them!