KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
One of the most important factors in your travel experience is what you carry around. A well packed luggage is like a best friend, always there for you when you need it, contains everything important to get you through anything, and knows when to just shut its zipper and go for the ride. In this article I share some of my best packing tips and tricks, and things I learned over the years from other travelers. Below are sections that go over luggage recommendations, travel safety, gear, and clothes/wardrobe advice. Use all the links by clicking on the images to shop for the products, and check out the extremely helpful packing video I have below, to get the most out of your packing experience.
- Make sure your passport does not expire less than 6 months after your trip conclusion date, as you not only need your passport to board the plane but also every time you check into a new hotel.
- Pack carry-on, and only the absolute essentials. Anything you want/need can easily be purchased once you land in your destination. Don’t forget power adaptors, and check all your electronics for dual voltage 110v – 240v compatibility.
- All clothes/outfits packed should be layer-able, compatible, and able to be washed together. Snappy-casual is more than adequate everywhere we go. No need for a full tuxedo this trip.
- On most DeSerio Tours, expect only needing to carry your luggage from the train stations to the hotels (15-20 minute walk). No sightseeing, gondola riding, or eating pasta will be done with your luggage.
- On most DeSerio Tours, you will only need to pack enough clothes for about a week… we usually have a laundromat stop (experience) in the middle of the tour as part of the itinerary, so you can smell just as nice and clean the second half of the tour as you did on the first half. Bring small amount of powder detergent in a zip-lock bag to use. Consult DeSerio Tours about your specific tour to know more about the laundry schedule/options.
- All info contained here is ultimately a suggestion, not a rule… except do keep in mind that most DeSerio Tours have limited space on Vans/Taxis/Cars, and the luggage space must be shared with the rest of the group to fit it all in.
- Many groups have shared their preference of wheeled/roller backpacks, over just a backpack without wheels. Might be a good idea to consider a wheeled/roller backpack for your next trip, and save your back where/when you can.
Now enjoy the informative and humorous article below, and please leave a helpful comment/additional travel tip if you have one. Easiest and best to view this on a computer or tablet, opposed to a phone, because there is just so much dang good content here to look at! All the links below are commission earned links that help me to continue helping you; and as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you!
Video on “How to Pack for Men & Women”
View in full screen this very informative video with luggage, packing tips, clothes recommendations and more!
Keep Calm and Carry on! That’s right, carry-on… only. This way you don’t need to worry about lost luggage from airlines, heavy and eccentric bag flailing while boarding the disembarking trains and buses, or overall unnecessary weight and size getting in your way of a great trip. I always say, if you can’t fit what you need for a two week trip in a carry-on size bag, then you’re bringing too much stuff. Check with your airline for the exact size, but most have a limit of around 9″ x 14″ x 22″ and airlines are increasingly strict about following their size rules. I prefer a travel backpack that allows you to easily and comfortably carry it longer distances, keeping your hands free for ticket retrieval, walking balance, and snacks… because who doesn’t like snacks? Wheel suitcases are heavy, loud, and can get out of their lane on the cobble stone streets in Europe, even knocking over small children in the process. Some travel backpacks have wheels, which is nice if you really need to use the wheels, but does compromise on space and weight a bit. A great tip from a previous traveler was, “Before your trip, pack your bag with everything you think you want to bring. Now go walk around the neighborhood. If you are no longer smiling after 10 minutes, go home and repack lighter or find a smaller piece of luggage.” Also, keep in mind these bags I am talking about are your “main carry-on bag”… meaning your 2nd “personal item” addition that most airlines let you bring need to be a small purse, little duffel bag, camera bag, or something else that is quite petite and permissible (Usually about 17″ x 11″ x 9″). Check your specific airline restrictions for more information and exact sizes. The final tip I have is Packing Cubes for you clothes. They are individual zippered bags you can use to separate your clothes, and makes packing/unpacking literally take seconds. No, I’m serious!
• Simple design & dark color luggage may seem boring and more generic, but is usually best. I don’t like to stand out when I travel with my bright pink butterfly suitcase filled to the point of imminent zipper-bursting… so I usually leave that one at home and opt for my subtle black or grey bag instead and leave space inside for the inevitable souvenirs I end up buying along my journey.
• There is no such thing as too little or to light when it comes to luggage. I once traveled 45 days to 5 countries with a single bag slightly larger than a regulation size rugby ball, and it was the best decision I ever made. I have also traveled with a 47 pound rolling luggage around Italy, and nearly lost my spaghetti in frustration over pulling that baby whale on wheels throughout the cities, over bridges, and up flights of stairs in a little Pensione. Don’t be that guy, or gal… Save the whales; bring a carry-on.
• Put your name and phone number inside the bag somewhere. Because in the event an envious traveler from a some other large tour group steals your smart luggage solution out of jealousy they will at least know who to call and thank later. And there are probably some other good reasons too (if you leave it at a hotel, lose it, etc.)
• Bring little TSA locks and/or small carabiners for all the zippers. I like to lock my bag as I travel, especially as I walk the streets. This way I never have to worry about someone getting into my bag, or a zipper opening by accident and something jumping out. Just remember not to lock the key inside the bag… seriously!
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TRAVEL SAFETY TIPS/GEAR
Although, for the most part travel is quite safe and trouble free, its not a bad idea to take extra steps to protect yourself and your things from and potential pickpocketing or credit fraud with these amazing tools below. Even just to create peace of mind, knowing you don’t have to worry about your things, is more than worth the price of admission. Travelon is a company devoted to this, making bags with slash-proof material and straps, RFID protection, and zippers that clip shut to prevent them from easily opening. They make purses, backpacks, and even waist packs. Additionally, you can make any bag safer with some small carabiners or TSA travel locks for the zippers, RFID sleeves for your passports and credit cards, and even consider a special wallet that provides additional protection and security.
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This is my favorite section. Good gear sets you apart from the average, everyday traveler and elevates you to James Bond status instantly. Basically everything below is a must in my book, and I think you will quickly agree. Instead of a zip-lock quart bag for your liquids, upgrade to a carry-on approved clear zip up liquid bag (advertised size should not exceed about 2.5″ x 7.5″ x 5.5″ otherwise it’s “Fake News” and not really a quart size bag). All liquids, gels, and pastes must be 100ml (3.4 oz) or less. You can purchase these sizes in travel sections of your local walmart/target, or make your own with some TSA approved silicone bottle sets. Bring another toiletry bag for all the non-liquid items; toothbrush, make-up, lightsaber, etc. Neck and back pillows, especially inflatable ones to adjust the perfect size and stow away easily for the rest of your travels, will be your saving grace in row 237 seat K17 of the 9 hour flight, and every bus and train ride as well. Keep your cables, chargers, and power adaptors all together in a small bright color bag, easy to find in the dark. Speaking of power adaptors… you’ll need the correct power adaptor(s) for the country(s) you’ll be visiting. For: Generic Europe Adaptor (Type C) – Italy Adapter (Type L) – Greece/Spain/Germany/France Adapter (Type E/F) – England UK/Hong Kong Adapter (Type G) – Australia/China Adapter (Type I). Or, better yet, consider an international multi-country power adapter that will work in probably 80% of the world. For most hotel rooms in Europe outlets are an endangered species and only 1 – 2 outlets will be found in the whole room, so consider how many items you need to charge, and plan accordingly. Next recommendation is a portable battery pack to charge your phone on the go. If you want a battery that can charge your phone a few times, look for a battery pack with about 10,000 mAh, otherwise if you want the king of batteries and be able to last all week in the Sahara desert with no shelter for 100 miles, look for a battery pack with 24,000 mAh. This is important, so please listen up, open your eyes, and read carefully… Everything you bring MUST be Dual Voltage, or Variable Voltage, meaning the label on it must say Input: 110V – 240V AC. Most of the world uses different voltage than the US, so if your devices are not compatible, they will fry, burn, explode, combust, “insert more scary words here.” Nearly all hotels have hair dryers, but if you need a curling iron or flat iron, you will need to get a specific one with dual voltage! Finally, the recommendation makes a second appearance… packing cubes for your clothes. They’re great – you’re catching on.
- All electronics must be Variable or Dual Voltage! Most electronic devices have this, however most heat devices (hair dryer, curling iron, etc.) do NOT. Thus, please check the labels on everything you bring is variable or dual voltage (110V – 240V) before bringing them/plugging them in. Don’t start fires in the hotel room. Thanks!
- Nearly all hotel rooms on the trip have a hair dryer included in the bathroom, or even attached to the wall. So don’t bring a hair dryer with you. Another solution is stick your wet-hair head out of the train once it reaches 200 miles per hour. Hair drys instantly at this speed, even trims it shorter in some cases. 2 for 1.
- Shampoo is provided in most hotels, but conditioner is not. If you love that silky-smooth, luscious-locks, glowing in the Mediterranean suns look in all your selfies, you might want to bring some conditioner.
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Pack for about a week to a week and a half. I usually bring enough clothes to get me through about 7 – 10 days. A few shirts, a few long sleeves, a light jacket, pack a pair of pants and wear a pair, wear your one pair of shoes and you’ll be good… of course depending on the weather you’re expecting, this list might need a little modification. But the bottom line is keep it simple, very simple. Sure, you can probably get away with wearing a 4 days worth of clothes for two weeks without offending too many locals; but I usually try to find a laundromat about once a week and clean all the pasta sauce stains off my collar. Check the details of your tour, to know about optional laundry days. Bring clothes that can be all washed together, and that still provide enough variety to keep you looking like you didn’t wear the same shirt in every photo. For the most part, Europeans see you with your knee-high white socks and know immediately, “American!” Want to fit in, and be less obvious, bring only black or grey socks. One pair of comfortable walking shoes is essential. Break them in adequately before traveling. Don’t just buy them the day before the trip and expect your feet to respect your decisions. They will scream at you, call you names, and the relationship will just go south from there. If you really want to show off your skills, try to pack travel clothes that don’t wrinkle much using materials like marino wool and nylon blends which are lighter, softer, faster drying, and wrinkle less than cotton. Finally, put all these pieces of advise together and you’ll end up a happy traveler… don’t believe me, just look at the smiling faces of the wise people below that have come on my trips and heeded my words. And my final note… please no safari outfits or pants that unzip into shorts, unless you’re actually going on a safari… like in Africa.
- Many churches and museums require you to not be showing off your assets too much. That’s right you should have those knees and shoulders covered up. The general rule is at least short sleeve (no tank tops), and at least be able to cover the knees (capri pants work). Otherwise you may not be allowed into the church or museum until you can find a way to cover up enough (scarf could suffice as a covering).
- A thin windbreaker or waterproof jacket of sorts is good to bring in case it does rain or is windy. Last thing you want to happen is to get sick on your trip. All your clothes should be layer-able, so that you can stay warm by putting on several layers rather than one large parka from the Arctic.
- Pants with a little flex will go a long way. If you’re like me, you are going to want to eat everything within a 5 kilometer radius, and those pants need room too. In addition, with an adequate amount of walking each day, your legs will be very tired if your stiff pants are ridged and don’t flex. Women’s pants are often made with more flex than men’s, so guys should look for pants that have a little stretch to them. Often called travel pants. I have a pair of jeans that are 2% spandex material; look like jeans, stretch like bubble gum, everybody wins.
- Compression socks are a super helpful thing to wear, especially on the plane, as they combine some science and some magic and ultimately just makes your feet not swell up and get sore on the plane if you are prone to that.
- Europe loves scarves, and you can too! There are hundreds of awesome scarf options around every corner in Europe. So if you don’t end up bringing one, you will surely find several that you’ll want to buy, will probably cost you less than 10 Euros, and look more stylish than anything we find in the U.S.
One pair is really all you need, so make sure it is a great pair! Black, grey or brown pretty much goes with everything. I usually wear and recommend supportive athletic shoes. They tend to be the most comfortable to walk around in all day, but also strong enough to tolerate the cobblestone. Make sure the bottom sole is grippy rubber, and not smooth foam, as cobblestone and marble can be very slippery, especially when wet. Another option is a branded “walking shoe” which looks a little nicer than an athletic shoe, but can be a bit heaver too. Another great option, the shoes I am most recently excited about, are dress sneakers or leather lace-up sneakers. Essentially they are a nice looking shoe but designed with an athletic shoe sole. They feel like running shoes, but look a bit dressier. Somewhat hard to figure out what to google to look for, but try to use the photos below as examples to shoot for. Heels and sandals are usually not recommended & no Flippy-Floppy.
Video on “How to Pack for Men & Women”
In case you missed it, or loved it so much you want to watch again!
Well done (both the blog & the video)! I think I will order some of those packing cubes.
Thanks to the two of you for putting the video together!