Europe Trip Packing List

Is it a tad too eccentric to be packed over a month before a trip because you’re just so excited? I was ok when I was still planning things, researching hotels, figuring out what we want to do, and ordering clothing/bags/guidebooks, etc. But once everything was “taken care of” I got a little restless. I’m excited about our trip and want to be doing something to prepare for it, to make it seem like it will be here sooner. I know that it is only 15 days long and will be over in less time than I still have to wait, but I don’t want to think about that. In my obsessive desire to hasten departure day I packed my bags last night. I put everything in a huge pile and then packed it. This is our first trip “one bagging” it. I’m tired of lugging along huge bags which weigh more than I do, especially on mass transportation. And, given the fact that we have a connection through Heathrow and our checked baggage has a much higher chance of getting lost than usual, we will be going carry-on only. One bag and one personal item each.

Being a huge black Samsonite girl prior to this or a wheelie bag toting carry-on girl for weekend trips, this presented a challenge. My rolly-bag totally unpacked weighs close to 7 pounds. I love it to death. With 4 wheels I can push it down the aisle in front of me, run through the airport without hitting anyone and easily stuff it into most overhead bins. However, it isn’t particularly easy to walk with long distances, roll on cobblestones, or carry up and down stairs getting onto metro. It is perfectly suited for getting on a plane, getting in a taxi, checking into a hotel and returning. This left me with my backpack from college, but that really isn’t luggage and is far too small. So I went to google.

I’ve been on board with the carry-on only idea for awhile. I travel 12-20 times a year and more than 150k miles, with at least 2 weeks internationally. I just never was on board with the carry your carry-on idea until now. Wheels were the way to go. Being on expenses tends to make you this way. Apparently there is a whole group of people that take immense pride in being one-bag carry-on people. There are whole blogs about it. (One Bag One World). These people debate the differences between brands like Red Oxx and Tom Bihn, MEI, REI, and Rick Steves. Hardly the Tumi vs. Samsonite vs. Swiss Army luggage wars I was used to, but they have many valid points. And the same things that attracted them to each of those brands caused me to consider each of them. These bags are lightweight, well made, well organized and designed to be carried by a real person with today’s luggage limitations.

After tons of research I settled on the Tom Bihn Aeronaut bag. It was less expensive than the Red Oxx Air Boss bag and it had backpack straps which can be hidden away. Red Oxx also makes a backpack bag, but it had bad reviews for being uncomfortable with more than 15 lbs in it. I also considered the Tom Bihn Western Flier bag, but it is smaller than maximum carry-on size and only has a cross-body strap. I know that I am not the only woman that finds the cleavage generated by messenger bag type straps to be both uncomfortable (as it pulls on our chest) and unflattering and I know that I’ll need the extra room for either my stuff going there or definitely my stuff coming back. I also ordered two packing cubes to keep everything organized in what is essentially a duffel style bag. I didn’t like the openness of the bag at first, preferring a three compartment bag, but then I realized that this is actually more flexible. With some packing cubes it has the separation of a multi-zip bag, but I can also put items vertically along the entire depth of the bag, rather than being forced to pack horizontally only and being restricted by compartments.

I was stunned to discover that even with 2 pairs of shoes, 2 skirts, 2 dresses, 2 pairs of pants, 4 shirts, 10 pairs of underwear, 4 pairs of socks, pajamas, my toiletries (not insubstantial), an iGo charger, 3 guidebooks, and all of my other stuff placed in it, I had room to spare. Before succumbing to temptation and packing some of the items I had taken out of my pile as unnecessary (bathing suit, etc.), I decided to weigh the bag. First I stepped on the scale (that’s another post by itself), then I put on the bag as a backpack. I was amazed that it weighed 20 lbs and still felt comfortable enough to walk around the airport for a few hours, race to catch a metro or wander the streets before check-in time at our hotel. First reaction was “Wow, I thought I didn’t pack that much.” Second was, “How do I eliminate 5 pounds?” I wanted to keep it under 15. And then my final reaction was, “Who cares?” It still feels light enough to carry. I’ll still probably ditch a few things (flip flops) and give hubby a few things to put in his cavernously empty bag (iGo, digital camera, a guidebook or two). For a visual idea of what all I had in the bag, here is my visual packing list. This is only round one with the packing and I still have a month to over analyze it, but here goes. I still want to order a Tom Bihn Absolute Shoulder Strap like hubby has. It feels so comfy, it literally shaves 5 pounds off the feel of the bag.