By Jacqueline Weiss
The style of European women has captured the minds of American women since practically the dawn of time, or at least since fashion magazines emerged. With the French’s chic stripes and scarves, the Italian’s all black ensembles, and the Brit’s ability to make every rainy sidewalk a catwalk, on every trip I’ve taken to Europe I’ve done my best to dress the part and fit in. While I wouldn’t consider myself someone who over packs for my trips, I’ve definitely overestimated how much I’d actually wear certain items on trips. I’ve learned quite a bit, especially after spending five weeks in France last year with little to no laundry access, about how to pack light when traveling overseas.
First, bring comfortable, sensible walking shoes. If you’re spending a majority of your day hitting the sights, you likely won’t want to be wearing uncomfortable shoes while you’re walking ten miles daily. I lived in my Adidas Superstars throughout my recent Italy trip, and a pair of Sperries while in France, occasionally swapping them out for a pair of sandals or a wedge (beware of heels in cobblestones!) at night. Bring one or two comfortable shoes, and one or two fun extras, and thank me later.
Layering is your key to traveling in comfort and style. Although it can be hot as we inch toward summer, cool breezes come through at night and it’s best to be prepared with a multi-functional shawl or wrap that can also work as a train or plane blanket, like the Heron. For winter, there’s nothing quite as luxe as cashmere, but go for a linen or breathable cotton for spring and summer travel.
It took me a while to get on the boyfriend jean trend, but now that I’m on board, I’m never getting off. They look just as great with your favorite basic top, like the Sparrow crop and sneakers for comfortable sight-seeing as they do with your Bird of Paradise top and ankle-highlighting wedges for nighttime. Plus, you’ll be glad you’re in a comfortable pair of pants as you indulge in the local drinks and cuisine. A pair of great joggers, like the Mocking J Joggers, is also a great option to look chic and feel comfortable.
I’m a massive skincare junkie, and have a hard time not justifying bringing multiple serums, elixirs, and more with me everywhere I go. Pick up re-useable travel size containers instead of re-purchasing pre-packaged travel size products. Save the environment by purchasing less plastic over time, and bring the products you want: a total win-win. Cut down on your makeup too, because especially in the summer heat, you won’t want your face in full on glam. Opt for multi-functional products instead, like a BB cream with SPF and a dewy lip and cheek tint.
Let’s not forget to leave room in our suitcases for a little trip shopping, or at least enough room in your personal or carry-on for a few souvenirs. After being in France for five weeks, I amassed over 50 new items (not all for me!) to bring home, including a new piece of luggage to carry them home in. Learn from my mistakes and don’t wear three jackets in June to the airport because you can’t fit everything in your bags. Traveling lighter is not only easier, it’s the European way.