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My Packing List for Winter in Europe

Sunday, January 13, 2013 7:22 PM

Why, hello there! J and I have just returned from a trip to Italy and Switzerland with his family. I'm not organized enough to have prepared posts to go up while I was gone, so I want to make up for my blog silence by diving right back in. Our bags are sitting on the living room floor, still full of clothes and chocolate, but I'd like to tell you about what I packed.

J and I like to travel light, with only carry-on luggage. That way, we don't have to worry about the airline losing our luggage (as happened to J's parents on this trip), we can take all our stuff with us to attractions in a pinch, and it just makes traveling easier at every step. Here's what I took:

• Three pairs of shoes (Ecco flats, Target booties and Bare Traps winter boots)
• Four tops (camel sweater, black turtleneck T, white button-front and plaid flannel tunic)
• Two pairs pants (dark straight-leg jeans and black wool Minnie pants)
• Houndstooth miniskirt and Banana Republic sheath dress
• A midweight black jacket that's intended for everyday wear but is waterproof and windproof, so it's suitable for winter sports
• Other snow gear (pants, gloves, beanie, tall wool socks) and dress gloves
• Silk long underwear, three pairs of black tights (regular, openwork and fleece-lined) and other relevant undergarments and socks
• Patterned pashmina scarf
• Various belts and necklaces, mostly not pictured here

All of this, plus a mailing tube (for the posters we collect as souvenirs) and a toiletries bag, fit into a carry-on bag of the largest size available. J has an identical bag, but his was more full than mine because he had to take a separate ski jacket, and his sweaters and such are bulkier than mine. So we couldn't fit things like books, a laptop and our liquids and gels into our regular suitcases and had to take a smaller backpack for those.

Some of the outfits I wore:

At the Boston airport, wearing my bulkiest pants and shoes to save room in my suitcase
At Pisa's Square of Miracles
Dressed up for dinner with the whole family in Montreux, Switzerland
With a new (taxidermied) friend at the Matterhorn Museum in Zermatt, Switzerland
Waiting for a connection in Amsterdam on the way home (the big red backpack is my suitcase)
Other outfits worn but not photographed:
• Camel sweater, jeans, booties
• Plaid tunic tucked into houndstooth skirt, stretchy belt at waistband, fleece-lined tights, flats
• Black turtleneck, houndstooth skirt, openwork tights layered over regular tights, booties

I learn a little more about packing with each trip. Some observations from this time:
• Our trip was cut short by two days because of a passport problem. We stayed in Boston to spend time with friends, but even if I'd had the chance to take something out of my suitcase, it probably would have been only one item. With such a short packing list, there wasn't much wiggle room.
• Even so, I probably overpacked a little. I didn't account for the way people wear their ski clothes pretty much everywhere in a town like Zermatt. There's less of a need for civilian clothes.
• I wore everything at least twice, except for the dress. I probably would have worn it to another nice dinner with the family that J and I missed because of the passport problem.
• The least useful items were the Minnie pants, which can't be worn with the booties, and the camel sweater, which doesn't go with the houndstooth skirt and can't layer under the dress.
• My only purchase made specially for the trip was a black crossbody bag from Kipling, a brand that's new to me. I couldn't have made a better decision. It holds plenty but isn't bulky. There are lots of pockets, including an inner one where I kept my cash. The nylon isn't chic, but it's washable and sloughed off the snow that fell so heavily one night in Zermatt.
• A "pashmina" scarf made of actual pashmina wool, plus 30 percent silk in this particular one, is totally worth it, compared to the synthetic ones of the same style that are sold cheaply on the street. I was lucky to get this one for free in a swap. The real thing doesn't wrinkle and was perfect for a blanket on planes, where I fluctuate between hot and cold.
• I didn't make much use of my belts and necklaces, but they take up so little room that it wasn't a problem.

OK, enough bullet points and rambling. I have to try to get to bed early to see if I can cut short my jetlag. Actual vacation photos to come later in the week.

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