To Pack or Not to Pack



Believe it or not packing for two weeks is no different than packing for two months. At least that is my initial thought until I wondered, “I might just want ….” My unconscious kicked in and said, “You have a washing machine and a dryer, how many black T-shirts do you need?” “But what if I sweat and want to change twice a day?” I said to myself. “ and so the story went on.

Doing a bit of research on how to pack well but light, I first realized that buying 3 new T-shirts did not mean I had to bring the new ones and 6 older ones. Wondering if I was going to need long, medium, and knee length jeans provided variety, but really did I need all three?

My daughter, was worse, she wanted every summer dress she had in her closet. Her reasoning was, “In San Francisco, it is too cold to wear any and why do I have them if I can’t wear them?” Being they were a squishable, smaller size I gave in—a dress for every day.

So whittling it down, reviewing a variety of Packing lists I found on Google, I have developed my own method for summer packing in the south of France.

  1. Decide your colors. Mine are black, white, beige, and green. Everything matches and goes with something else. 
  2. Get an EBook Reader – save tons of space where books and guidebooks used to be
  3. Load your Iphone with apps, such as Skype for iphone, a flashlight, maps of the cities you are going to, and websites of tourists offices

Packing List:

T-Shirts (4 Sleeveless, 2 short sleeve, and one medium sleeve, one long-sleeve that could also be a pseudo sweater) Colors are black, white, and green

Sweater or Lightweight Fleece. Warm and dark is best — for layering and dressing up. Dark colors don't show wrinkles or stains. I’m ending up with a light-weight black zipper sweatshirt like sweater.

Pants. The recommendations are to bring one lightweight cotton and another super-lightweight for hot and muggy big cities and churches with modest dress codes. Jeans can be too hot for summer travel. I have opted for one pair that is calf length and one pair that is longer.

Shorts. Being in the south of France, I have opted for 3 pair. A dressy knee length white, a grey knee length hiking short, and a beige knee length short. All can be worn at the beach, in the country and even in the city because of their length. I put jean shorts in and took them out as they are too heavy.

Dresses/Skirts: Two summer dresses – one long and one knee length to wear after the beach or to dinner. A scarf and shawl dress it up as needed. Color – Black. One skirt in a fun flower print to wear with any of my Tshirts.

Swimsuit. A one piece or tankini that fits. I mean fits really well! Wrap a longer scarf around your waist and you are set to go to the pool or beach. 

Underwear and socks.  Bring enough to wear for 7 days until you are going to wash. Five pair of socks light weight are more than enough for summertime.

Pajamas/nightgown. A light weight pair of cotton shorts to hang around in with a tank top that I can also wear in the day.

One pair of shoes. The dilemma is always in the shoes. Because we have an apartment and aren’t moving around I can indulge a bit.  I bring a pair of walking sandals that are also pretty good looking (no Keenes for me), a pair of running shoes, flip-ons with a yoga bottom (so comfortable), and maybe a pair of flatter black tennis shoes for walking long distances.

Jacket. Bring a light and water-resistant windbreaker with a hood. An option is a small squishy poncho that can also be used for a picnic blanket.

Scarf. For instant respectability, bring anything lightweight that can break the monotony and make you look snazzy.

Purse/ Backpack. I personally hate money belts and find that their usefulness is if you are always traveling by train and staying in hostels. Otherwise I go for a small purse with a zipper. Afterall I don’t want to look like a tourist but blend in with the French. My husband carries a black men’s canvas purse that is secure and works for money and all his glasses.

Money. Bring your preferred mix of a credit card, a debit card, and a small emergency stash of hard cash. I rely on a debit card for ATM withdrawals, and a credit card with a PIN number as a backup. 

Documents and photocopies. Bring your passport, plane ticket (or e-ticket printout), railpass or car-rental voucher, driver's license, student ID, hostel card, and so on. Photocopies and a couple of passport-type photos can help you get replacements more quickly if the originals are lost or stolen. Carry photocopies separately in your luggage and keep the originals on you. In your luggage, you'll also want to pack a careful record of all reservations (print out your hotels' confirmation emails), along with a trip calendar page to keep things up-to-date as your trip evolves.

Small daypack. A lightweight pack is essential for carrying books, sweaters, picnics, cameras and more. Be careful of putting valueables in the backpack and wearing it on  your back however.

Electronics. In today’s world, electronics are both a gift on a trip and a hassle. Decide how and how much you want to stay connected. If you bring your iphone, make sure you talk to your carrier about charges. Iphones or ipads are also great for storing emails, addresses, and more. If you are going for two weeks or less, leave the computer at home and find an internet café if you have to reach out. Don’t forget to load great apps such as the flashlight you might need, Skype for iphone, and others. Take the vacation you deserve. Remember to bring adapters! 

Toiletries kit. – Bring small containers of what you need, including a bit of soap in case a hotel doesn’t have any. Remember to bring sunscreen and insect repellant. However, you can always buy it all in the stores in Europe.

Medicine and vitamins. Keep medicine in original containers, if possible, with legible prescriptions. Surprisingly, pharmacies in Europe will often refill a prescription in an emergency.

Eyeglasses, contact lenses, and prescriptions. Make it easy on yourself and decide if you are just going to wear glasses or contact lenses as well. Pack what you need and bring an extra prescription in emergency.

Sunscreen and sunglasses. You can bring or buy in Europe

Extras to consider:

  • Sealable plastic baggies
  • Kindle/ Nook –
  • Keep a list of emails on your iphone or print out address labels to mail postcards home
  • Hats: Bring a good sun hat with a brim
  • Swiss army knife with corkscrew
  • Inflatable pillow
  • Hairdryer with adapter or Not. Go natural and pull your hair back in a pony tail