Get Packing!

Finally! We’re done with talking about packing, and we’re down to the nitty-gritty, actual packing list!

There are many excellent packing lists available as starting points. My favorite is Rick Steves:  Whichever list you choose to work from, you will need to do some tinkering to meet your own personal needs and space a requirements. 

Aside from the underwear, socks, compression socks, shoes, shirt, slacks, scarf, jacket, and whatever else I’m wearing on the plane (everything coordinating with what’s in my bag), here is my packing list, adapted from Rick Steves:

4 blouses/shirts, assorted styles and sleeve length depending on season

1 or 2 sleeveless shells or tank tops. Must be the kind that can be worn alone, under an open blouse or jacket, or as a base layer in cooler weather. Making items do double or triple duty extends my options.

1 lightweight dressy jacket or sweater

3 pairs of slacks, one of which can be dressed up. In summer, I pack one pair of capris and two pairs of (long) shorts. In cooler weather I take either all long pants, or two long and one capri

1 skirt that can be dressed up if needed.  No dress.

4 pairs of underwear -Exofficio ( ) or other quick dry type, assorted styles. Wash in sink.

1 bra (I’m wearing another one on the plane!)

4 pairs of socks, plus an extra pair of compression socks

1 packable rain jacket with hood

1 pair of nice looking flat shoes (sandals in summer)

1 lightweight nightie (use the jacket or sweater for a robe – another double duty trick)

1 swimsuit, packaged in a gallon size ziplock bag. I’ll need that when the suit is wet

1 scrunchy scrubby thing, packaged in a quart size ziplock – Europe does not do wash cloths

Scarves – as many as I want and can fit in the nooks and crannies of the case.

Small purse. Carrying backpacks and wearing fanny or belly packs identifies one as a tourist.

My Sponsor’s list is pretty much the same, minus the “ladies” items.

Next comes how to pack. I know many people like packing cubes and other organizers, but I don’t. They take up valuable space that could be used for actual clothing and supplies. I roll my clothes, and place them in a row in one half of the suitcase. WP_20150911_001 (1)In the other half go my shoes, in a plastic bag, my underwear bag, my toiletry bag, the rain coat in its pack, the swim suit in its bag, a heavy duty clear plastic bag with my travel size liquids (shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, antiperspirant, lotion, moisturizer),and a bag with spare medications, along with their labels (cut out and taped to a card to save space). Also, a small jewelry bag – mostly earrings, some all-in-one laundry sheets, extra plastic bags to use for laundry and whatever, and a copy of the packing list.  WP_20150911_004

Zipped into the lining are copies of our passports, IDs, driver’s licenses, and insurance cards – auto and health.

If there is space and weight left o
ver, I might fudge a little and take an extra pair of shoes or an extra sweater, but most of the time there’s not, so I don’t. So, that’s the suitcase.

Into the backpack go:


  • Tablet (mobile device)
  • Bluetooth keyboard
  • Cell phone
  • Camera
  • Cords (recharging)
  • Plug adapter
  • Ear buds/ear plugs
  • Flash drive containing any files we may need

Medications, packed in a small cosmetics bag

Small cosmetics bag with toothbrushes, paste, and other sundries that may be needed in transit.

Documents: Passports, NEXUS Card, case with ID and credit/debit cards

Miscellaneous: Sunglasses, car keys, antibacterial wipes, face masks (I get respiratory infections easily!)

Journal and pens

My Sponsor carries his tablet, cell phone, ear plugs, sundries, two tiny umbrellas, and snacks for the flight in the duffel.

And, there you have it: the Official Lady Cat 6 Packing List. And now, it’s time to stop writing about packing, and actually GET STARTED PACKING for our next trip! It’s just about time to take off!

Packing Strategy

Packing light is one of the biggest challenges facing Cat 6 space a travelers. While larger aircraft allow two 70lb bags per passenger for checked luggage, there are also many that limit bags to 50, or even 30lbs total! The heavier your bags, the more limited your flight opportunities, so it’s important to learn to pack light. No matter where we travel, we stay below the 30lb threshold!

Aside from the checked baggage issue, there is also the reality that throughout Europe and most other countries, schlepping heavy suitcases up and down steps for trains or buses, through hotels with many floors but no elevators, and into, out of, and around numerous terminals and stations is no picnic. The less you have to cart around, the happier you’ll be.

I’ve developed a set of rules for myself to help me stay within weight limits and still have sufficient clothing and supplies for my journey:

Rule #1: Never pack for more than a week, no matter how long the trip.

Rule #2: Every single item of clothing must work with every other item.

Rule #3: If I’m not SURE I’m going to wear and item at least three times, it doesn’t go.

Rule #4: Take the skirt; leave the dress

Rule #5: Two pairs of shoes – total! No more! 

Rule #6: Don’t pack any supplies I can find on the local economy (see below).

Rule #7: Layer! Layer! Layer!

One thing to consider before starting on the suitcase is what to wear on the plane. The decision can either expand your options beyond what’s in your luggage, or cause you to spend your trip lugging around clothing that is destined to languish in the suitcase, taking up space and weighing it down. I cannot advise strongly enough against traveling in schlumpy sweats or other similar items! They may seem comfy, and they may be all right for a quick trip to Wal Mart or if you’re traveling domestically and being picked up directly from the terminal. But, really, outside our borders, they’re a “NO”. Do you see yourself strolling down the grand boulevards of Europe in this type of clothing? You shouldn’t!  Consider your travel wear part of your packing. Make sure it conforms to rules 2 and 3, above.

Speaking of what not to wear and in keeping with Rule #6, here is a list of things that are, for me, things not to pack:

Shampoo – I buy it as needed on the road

Hair dryer – most hotels have them or I do without (I do take a travel-size curling iron)

Contact lenses and supplies – just wear glasses!

Health and beauty products and toiletries (tooth paste, mouth wash, hand lotion, hair spray, etc.)

Separate navigation device – I download maps onto my smart phone and use that

Books and travel guides. Yes, I know you like a “real” book, but accommodation must be made. I download books from my local library onto my mobile device instead. I also download digital travel guides, podcasts, audio tours (again, Rick Steves is a good source: ), maps, and other pertinent information.  The Triposo App ( ) is a FABulous resource!

The type of luggage you use can make a difference for the weight allowance, before anything is even packed into it. My suitcase is an extremely lightweight Traveler’s Choice Freedom series (available at several web sites) hard-side 21” rolling case. In addition, I carry an Eagle Creek mini day pack I got at REI ( ) as my carry on. My Sponsor checks a small, soft-sided suit case – which is really more like a multi-compartment, glorified heavy duty packing cube – and uses a small duffel bag (our “C 17 Bag”) which contains our cargo plane supplies: self-inflating camping pad, fleece throw, fleece vests, small camping pillow, and his long underwear shirt and lightweight windbreaker, as his carry on.  His supplies all fit in the leftover interior room and outer pockets (one on each end, a larger one in front). Everything we need for our adventures fits into these four bags. The total weight for each of us ranges between 24 and 29lbs.  We can get on any plane that comes our way, and have no trouble wrangling luggage while on the ground.

Next (Later today! I promise!): the Packing List!