Over-stuffed SuitcaseDoes your suitcase look like this when you pack? Oh the horror of not being able to zip your suitcase. (Usually the night before you leave or even the moment before you are supposed to leave.) Does the thought of packing make you want to skip traveling altogether? I hear you! Packing can be THE least fun part about travel. But…I’ve got it all figured out for you. Stick with me and I’ll show you how you can do it easily, do it well and you won’t be skimping on anything! I swear.

 

 

Luggage

In this installment of my packing series, let’s start with what we’re putting everything in – luggage.  Yep, I’m going to say it, the word you may dread hearing, “carry on.”  Unplug your ears.  It’s okay.  It’s the best decision you will ever make.  We have easily traveled for 6 weeks in only a carry on.   You only have 8 days when you travel with us, so you’ve got this!  We get the 21″ size and actually still check it, so I don’t have to deal with the liquids situation.  I’m very particular about the characteristics of my carry on and why it’s important – more on that later.  Let’s just say, for starters, the smaller your luggage, the less you have to lug around on all modes of transportation or try to stow away in your hotel room.  Don’t worry, there’s still room for souvenirs!  Our favorite carry-on is the Travelpro Maxlite (in whatever the latest edition is).  It’s expandable, doesn’t tip over and all the wheels spin!

 

clothes for Europe packing listClothes 

What to bring, what to bring.  Ugh, decisions.

My general rule of thumb is neutrals, with a pop of color here and there so you don’t completely bore yourself.  I know it looks boring, but you won’t look boring!  Scarves and jewelry can always up the visual interest on your outfit and they don’t take up much space.  (You can use those scarves to stay warm on the plane too.  Usually I have one around my neck and use a warmer one as a blanket as those dang plane blankets aren’t exactly cozy.)  Mixing & matching is key!  My personal hack is that if I had to get dressed in the dark, 85% of the time, my pants, shirt and sweater would match.  My go to fabric is merino wool because it keeps you very warm even if the sweater is thin, so you don’t need to compromise room for souvenirs or Belgian and Swiss chocolate because you brought too many bulky sweaters!  For a more comprehensive list of what we pack when we travel, check out our packing lists for women and men.  Note, these links are our personal lists for approximately 6 weeks of travel, but you get the general idea.  Layering is key here as it gives your more options and combos.

 

Here’s a list for your 8 day tour with us:

  • 2-3 bottoms – pants/skirts/dresses
  • 3-5 sweaters/long shirts (I always do a button down or cardigan for nearly all of them as it makes for easier layering.)

  • 1-2 tank tops

  • 3 tee shirts

  • pajama pants

  • pajama tank (can use a tank from above after you’ve already worn it)

  • 3 pairs of shoes (This includes my running shoes and an optional dressier pair like foldable flats, booties, loafers, lace up

  • 1 coat
  • 2 scarves

 

Running gear:

  • 2 workout bottoms
  • 2 workout tops – maybe an extra if you want a long sleeve
  • 1 sports bra
  • Socks can make or break it.  They don’t take up much space, so bring what you need – especially for your race!  *Tech gear dries quickly, so you can wash your running gear in the sink with shampoo or suck it up and run in some stinky gear for a day to give you a break on laundry duty.

 

So, I hope this has been a helpful start to tackling the packing situation!  There is so much more to come on this topic.  I’ll get into the nitty gritty on all categories of packing in deeper detail, so stay tuned!

Okay, here we go – packing!  I’m guessing for most of you that this is THE most hated part of the travel process.  I get it.  I don’t like to pack either.  But…I’ve developed some guidelines, strategies and downright hacks that make it easier to make decisions, keep it efficient and allow you to have everything that you truly need.  There’s a lot to cover about packing.  I’ll be constantly sharing on this topic, so you can get every nugget of useful information.  Consider this a broad overview kicking things off  – packing can be something you conquer and master instead of dread!

 

Luggagecarry on suitcase luggage

Let’s start with what we’re putting everything in – luggage.  Yep, I’m going to say it, the word you may dread hearing, “carry on.”  Unplug your ears.  It’s okay.  It’s the best decision you will every make.  We have easily traveled for 6 weeks in only a carry on.  We get the 21″ size and actually still check it, so I don’t have to deal with the liquids situation.  I’m very particular about the characteristics of my carry on and why it’s important – more on that later.  Let’s just say, for starters, the smaller your luggage, the less you have to lug around on all modes of transportation or try to stow away in your hotel room.

Backpack – I do prefer a backpack.  I carry this on the plane and it holds all of my in-cabin necessities – book, compression socks, eye mask, neck pillow, computer, etc.  I am partial to a backpack because it is one less thing I have to carry.  It just seems easier to deal with because it’s already strapped to me.

Purse – cross body, for sure!  I like it big enough for a water bottle and umbrella if necessary, but small enough that it’s not weighing me down.  Guys, Dan carries a “man bag,” “man purse,” whatever you want to call it.  Seriously, it is a life saver.  And so many men carry these in Europe.

 

clothes for Europe packing listClothes 

What to bring, what to bring.  Well, we’re there to run, so let’s start there.  Your shoes!  The most important thing, don’t forget those darn running shoes.

  • 2 workout bottoms
  • 2 workout tops – maybe an extra if you want a long sleeve
  • 1 sports bra
  • Socks can make or break it.  They don’t take up much space, so bring what you need – especially for your race!  *Tech gear dries quickly, so you can wash your running gear in the sink with shampoo or suck it up and run in some stinky gear for a day to give you a break on laundry duty.

 

For the rest of the trip, my general rule of thumb is neutrals, with a pop of color here and there.  Scarves and jewelry can always up the visual interest on your outfit and they don’t take up much space.  (You can use those scarves to stay warm on the plane too.  Usually I have one around my neck and use a warmer one as a blanket as those dang plane blankets aren’t exactly cozy.)  Mix & match is key!  My personal hack is that if I had to get dressed in the dark, 85% of the time, my pants, shirt and sweater would match.  My go to fabric is merino wool because it keeps you very warm even if the sweater is thin, so you don’t need to compromise room for souvenirs or Belgian and Swiss chocolate because you brought too many bulky sweaters!  For a more comprehensive list of what we pack when we travel, check out our packing lists for women and men.

Shoes…yikes, this is a beast of a subject that can really stump people.  3 pairs – max!  That’s it.

  • Running shoes
  • Sneakers/Comfortable walking shoes – go with everything and you can last in them all day
  • Dressier shoe (definitely optional here) – flat, bootie, loafer, leather lace up

 

So, I hope this has been a helpful start to tackling the packing situation!  There is so much more to come on this topic.  I’ll get into the nitty gritty on all categories of packing in deeper detail, so stay tuned!

Yes, everyone is always talking about how you need to pare down and just use a carry-on sized piece of luggage for your next trip, whether it’s 3 days or 6 weeks.  We’ve done it for 4 weeks and we’re about to do it for 6.  Here’s the why and how.  And not only why you need to use a carry-on, but why you want to use one.

Carry-On Rules

First things first, when we say carry-on, we don’t mean a backpack.  We mean an actual suitcase with these dimensions – up to 22” by 14” by 9,” for a total of 45” linear inches – that we will inevitably check anyway.  Keep in mind that European carry-on dimensions are smaller, so be prepared to check your carry-on if flying within the EU.

Our Favorite Carry-On

TravelPro MaxLite 4We love the TravelPro MaxLite 4.  We love it because it is lightweight, durable and has good balance when fully loaded.  We like having the 4 wheel spinner version because in tight quarters you can easily push it in front of you or roll it next to you, so you don’t wear our your back dragging it behind you.

Here’s a good article with user reviews of a handful of carry-on rollers.

Why a Carry-On?

We use a carry-on because there are trains, planes and automobiles involved in travel.  You do not want to be hauling a lot when trying to hail a taxi or make your way through a train station and onto a train.  Train stations don’t always have escalators – and the ones that do always seem to be out of service.  We’re talking stairs people.  You don’t want to be panicking to get the very few spots in the train car reserved for large luggage.  And, if you have smaller luggage, then you can easily lift it up into the overhead bin.  Now, with Finish Line Travel, we will be taking private cars to most locations, so train travel won’t be an issue, but if you intend to start your trip early before hooking up with us or plan to extend it, you may still run into these issues.

Some hotels don’t have elevators…even the really nice ones where you’ll be staying with us.  Europe is old and the stairs in many hotels are steep and narrow.  And while we’re talking about hotels, again Europe is different than the U.S.  Their hotel rooms are often smaller and there’s no need to break an ankle because you had to perform a Ninja Warrior move just to get around your suitcase because it was taking up valuable real estate on the floor.

Packing in a carry-on for any period of time may sound daunting.  It is not.  It is liberating.  In the next few weeks, we will be showing you how to pack for an extended period of time while not being bored of your clothes or having to wash them every night down by the river.

So, trusting that you’ll jump on board with our packing lists, consider all these reasons to go with the carry-on!

Oh, while you’re checking out luggage options, no we didn’t forget about souvenirs!  Parisian scarves…check, Belgian chocolate…check, Berliner beer stein…check.  We use this Eagle Creek tote to bring back our souvenirs.  It doesn’t take up much space in your carry-on as it folds into a little square until you need to fill it up!