On my most recent trip to France, I knew packing light would be a bit of a challenge. I would be in Paris, which can be finicky in terms of the weather – especially with wind, rain and temperature fluctuations. And then I’d be off to the South of France, which would be much warmer and sunny.
The Languedoc boasts 350 days of sunshine a year, but I would be on a barge on the canal, so it might be very hot during the day and then cool down at night. And there was a dress code on the barge – you were expected to dress up a bit for dinner. No ball gowns, but no track suits either.
The secret? Layers, people. Layers. Layers are your friend.
I can happily and wholeheartedly shout from those Paris rooftops that I was able to successfully travel with just my carry-on wheelie, one personal item and feel like I had everything I needed for the trip. I made it work.
My goal is to travel lighter each time I take a trip, so I am consistently editing and finding ways to downsize what I feel is essential.
For example, my smartphone replaces many travel items I used to take with me, which saves space in my luggage.
What I did not take:
sunscreen (I bought my favorite French brand there)
my laptop or camera (I used my iPhone for everything from maps to email and taking photos)
Other than basic unmentionables and my toiletries, here is a glimpse of what I packed for the two weeks:
- pair of dark wash denim
- black capri pants
- dark denim capri pants
- black knit skirt
- 5 lightweight solid basic knit tops (black, white, grey, royal blue, kelly green)
- 2 lightweight print dressy sleeveless tops
- 1 lightweight print dressy short sleeve shirt
- lightweight grey cardigan
- waterproof black jacket with a hood
- black knit dress
- flat gold strappy sandals
- comfortable black and white sneakers
- lightweight,casual brown shoes
- 3 print scarves
- 2 necklaces – one gold, one silver
- 2 bracelets – one gold, one silver
- floppy hat for sun protection
- travel umbrella
- my trusted travel neck pillow (mine’s a Bucky)
- 2 pairs of Smartwool no show socks
- 2 pairs of compression knee highs – one nude, one black
- small grey crossbody bag
- navy and cream striped tote (which served as my bag when visiting the French markets, and also as my personal item on the plane)
Mixing and matching all of these pieces, I was able to create many different outfits. That’s the key.
No matter what the weather threw at me I was ready. Sunny and hot – no problem – skirt, short sleeve shirt and hat. Cold and rainy – denim jeans, knit top, scarf and my waterproof jacket. Dinner on the barge – swap the short sleeve knit top for a dressy one, throw on some jewelry and done!
Looking back, I would have ditched the black dress, which I hardly wore and replaced it with a long sleeve knit black knit top. It got downright chilly in Paris even though it was May, and I could have used it.
The takeaway is this – you can still be stylish, comfortable and not feel bored with your options, while travel lightly.
I hope it inspires you to travel with less.
If I can do it. You can do it, too.
If you struggle with packing lighter, here’s how I can help.