If you have come over from TheNester's site - a sweet Southern welcome to you! Today begins #31Days of posting about all things London & Paris. When we were preparing for our trip I read Rick Steve's travel books front to back. They were awesome & we followed lots of tips & used a few of his walking guides and self-guided tours. But they didn't answer some of my most important questions. Like where are the best macaroons? The best shoes to keep me from hating my feet after two days? After searching the internet high & low, we boarded a plane with lots of unanswered questions hoping for the best. So if you are in the same spot & are here looking for answers to your off-the-wall questions, I hope you find what you are looking for and more!
First things first. What better place to start than packing? I've been known to fill a full size suitcase for a weekend trip. The problem with trying to be prepared for every temperature, every situation, every possible shoe need is a plethora of excessive items. I knew space would be a premium on this trip, mostly because I wanted to leave plenty of room for souvenirs on the way home. So I decided I would pack for 9 days in Europe in a carry-on alone. ALONE. Then toss that in my full-size suitcase, leaving plenty of room for new additions. To Andy's sheer surprise, I did it. And more so that I did it without my characteristic packing meltdown related to too many decisions. The three keys to my packing reformation were:
- Limiting my shoes: I took my Merrell's, a pair of red flats (cause they scream Paris right??), and flip-flops for flying/airport traveling.
- Try on each outfit at home: I knew I had to like the combinations or I would end up throwing in spare shirts, jeans, etc. It worked. I wore what I intended, and even had a few shirts and a shirtdress extra that I never touched.
- Know what you don't need: We planned a low key trip - no fancy dinners or night outs. This helped limit my need for heels, a dress, and all that goes with it. Just have a general idea of your itinerary and you can add or remove as you need.
I ended up fitting most everything except our rainjackets, scarves, and toiletries into the carryon.
As you can see the carry on was a whopping 20 pounds. Toss that and the extras into the full size case, and I started the trip far below my 50 pound max. Success. No less than a personal victory (probably never again to be repeated).
So let's wrap up all this prep work with up with a few pearls of wisdom:
Break in your shoes. For real. I bought a pair of Merrell's a few months before the trip & tried to wear them in a bit. They were neutral enough that I thought I could wear them with most anything, and were comfortable as I was breaking them in. But.....I have one foot that is smaller than the other. And after 3 days of non-stop walking, the spot below my ankle & above my heel was bleeding. (What is that called anyways? The back of your foot??) Needless to say I dealt with pain despite the constant annoyance of adjusting my socks and bandaid application. Hey - I got to see First Aid at Disneyland Paris - not everyone can say that right? Let's just say, the ultimate solution came on the last day of the trip. It may or may not have involved ripping up one of Andy's undershirts to get some extra fabric to shove behind my heel. I'll let you decide. If that's not an OM moment - I don't know what is. So long story short. Wear whatever walking shoes you choose to wear more than just to Target a few times. Your feet will love you for it.
To Rain Jacket or Not to Rain Jacket. Every packing list you will find on the internet, for London especially, will include a rain jacket. We brought ours that we picked up for a trip to Seattle earlier in the year. But we didn't wear them once. We had a fluke sunny week of weather while we were there, but if I were you - I'd bring one too. I carried along a small umbrella around the strap of my purse one morning before our trip to Versailles and that ended up being our saving grace for some unanticipated rain while we were jacket-less.
Avoid backpacks. Andy brought his to use as a carry-on, but we made a point of not taking it sightseeing. We didn't have any run-ins with pickpockets, but hopefully that's because I worse a cross-body purse with a zipper & Andy kept his wallet in his front pocket, or zipped in my purse in the super crowded areas. Especially in Paris, there were enough other sketchy people and crowds that I would have constantly been walking behind him watching his bag - and where's the fun in that? Plus, it kept us from buying things we would later regret since we would have to carry them around all day.
Bring Ziploc bags. I brought two small & two large bags. I keep brochures and ticket stubs for everything. As if one day I will suddenly have time to scrapbook decades of my life. Regardless, this was just the ticket for oranization. I used one large bag to hold all of our receipts and the other to hold maps, tickets, etc that I wanted to get home in one piece. I used the small bags to hold the coins in each country. It was easier than trying to keep nickels, two-pence, and euro coins separated in my wallett. They each just needed a separate place to live. I could easliy grab the bag at the register and attempt to count out the change quickly. Nothing makes you feel like a 5 year old like counting change in front of a grown adult. But really - why do these countries have 8 different coin currencies? To make foreigners feel foolish? Cause it works!
Bring Bandaids (see above shoe complaints). And an extra memory card. Cause you'll need more bandaids and take more photos than you'd imagine.
Now that you're packed, we can get into the good stuff. Remember, I'm posting every day this month - so if you have questions - I'll answer them! Post them here & I'll give you my take (or tell you I have no clue). Hope you enjoy a glimpse of Europe this month as I reminisce!