This summer I had the amazing opportunity to travel to France for ten days. During the first half of the week, two friends and I drove around Normandy to see historic, quaint towns, and to cross Mont St. Michel off their bucket list. The second half of the week, I spent the rest of the week in Paris on my own to see the sights.
While the trip was wonderful, it also coincided with a record-breaking European heatwave. Although I lived in the Dominican Republic for a year, where it’s often in the 90s, I was not prepared for these extreme temperatures nor lack of air conditioning or fan in the apartment where I stayed. Apparently I was there on the hottest recorded day in Parisian history where it got close to 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
The heat posed a bit of a challenge, so I wanted to share what I brought on the trip, as well as share my packing process to help anyone traveling to Europe during what will likely be future hot summers! Everyone has different needs, so my list will vary from yours, but perhaps this is a starting point or to give some ideas of what might be good to bring (or not!)
Before I left for the trip, I knew temperatures were going to rise but I didn’t realize there would be a literal heatwave! That being said, packing was a bit of a challenge. I had decided in advance only to bring carry-on luggage, in part to save some money, but also because during the 10 days, I would be staying in six different apartments! Carrying a lot of luggage up and down that many sets of stairs (the number of which was somewhat of an unknown) was not on my to-do list. Fortunately, the apartments I stayed in that were more than 2 flights were in buildings with elevators.
The carry on situation limited me to 10 kilograms, as per my airline’s regulations, about 22 pounds, for my personal item and carry on combined. I started out by packing what seemed like reasonable amount before weighing. I then realized with horror, that I was about 5 pounds over! So, I had to be strategic and cut back. I first swapped out the original hard case wheeled suitcase for a canvas duffel bag which weighed much less. I then eliminated a number of items, including books (both for leisure and guidebooks). Instead, I downloaded a number of books from the NYPL on my phone to read on the plane and whenever I had downtime. My husband also reminded me that I was saving money on luggage so if I needed to buy something there, I should feel free. Always good to have the reminder!!
All told, I was able to get my final weight down to about 17 pounds, giving me some room to bring back souvenirs. My bag also included some gifts from the states that I had for my friends, so that gave me some confidence that I could get through the trip and pick up some fun stuff while I was there.
Without further ado, here’s what I brought, and some notes.
Clothing and footwear:
- Grey cardigan – even though it was summer, I figured I might be cold on the plane or in a museum.
- Green v-neck t-shirt
- Blue t-shirt
- Black tank top
- Striped tank top
- 3 pairs ‘paper-bag’-style loose pants – to travel in comfort and stay cool while still being modest for visiting churches and other places of significance
- Grey shorts
- 2 dresses
- 2 pairs pajamas
- Jockey shorts
- Socks and underwear – even though I brought what I thought would be enough, I ran out of clean socks, but I made do.
- Scarf – for additional warmth in transit
- Bathing suit – you never know!
- Flip flops – for walking around the 6 different apartments…
- Sandals – comfortable for walking
- Dansko walking shoes – following some foot problems this summer I wanted to make sure I’d be able to walk as much as I could.
- Foot compression sleeve – for longer walking days in case my foot started hurting.
- Toothbrush / floss / toothpaste
- Shampoo / conditioner / bar soap
- Face wash / moisturizer
- SPF 30 sunblock / SPF 30 CC cream
- Body lotion
- Perfume sample – always nice to have for going out or just to feel fresher
- Face mask – figured I would have a spa night once I was in Paris on my own.
- Hand sanitizer – a travel must, anywhere in the world
- Eyeliner / brow pencil
- Lip balm
- Deodorant – I brought this little sample of Native deodorant, and I am a fan! The Lavender Rose scent was really lovely and I would purchase the full size.
- Hair brush
- Medications including allergy pills – you never know! Would rather have some basics rather than have to find a pharmacy in an emergency.
- Band-aids – in case of blisters or other small injuries
- Wash cloth (not all AirBnBs supply them)
- One canvas bag – carry on bag
- One faux-leather backpack – personal item
- External battery and phone charger
- Headphones (2 pairs – one regular for plane, one for iPhone)
- Folding zip tote bag – in case I needed to carry extra items such as groceries
- 3 pairs earrings, 1 necklace
- Plastic bags for laundry or trash while in transit
- Small travel purse (with Euros I took out in the States)
- The smallest guidebooks I had
- A pen
- Airplane snacks and gum
- Water bottle
- Pack of tissues
- Gifts for friends
I wish I had brought:
- Sleep shorts – I only brought PJ pants and that was a complete mistake with the heat!
- Additional socks
- Folding fan
What I bought:
- Two scarves
- Bar soaps & mini body wash
- Caudalie mini travel set
- Shampoo bar from a Zero Waste Shop
- Chocolate bars to share with my husband
- Two nail polishes
- Floss – I had run out!
- A stuffed unicorn on a keychain, which ended up being the trip mascot
- Notebooks for recording my trip
- Very small and lightweight gifts for friends and family back home
Overall, I was quite proud of myself being able to fit everything into the two bags and making it through the 10 days without missing much. Although I did wear everything I brought, besides the bathing suit, I think I could have made it with two of the three pairs of pants. I don’t think there’s anything I brought that I wish I had left at home. I worried that I had bought too many goodies, but fortunately I made it through the airport check-in/weighing without a hitch.
Would you be able to pack with a weight limit of 10kg? What would you bring?