Hot! 10 Weeks in France: An Early Packing List

Despite spending 8-10 weeks in Europe this summer (mostly France, but maybe a couple days in Switzerland and Austria), I will be going carry-on only for this trip. The last time I went to Europe I checked a bag and most of my frustrations during that trip stemmed directly or indirectly from trying to lug it around everywhere. So, this time I will be taking a daypack-style backpack and my camera bag, and nothing else. I have one advantage in that Marc will be meeting up with me mid-way, and he will be able to bring over some stuff that I won’t need for the first half of my trip but will need for his family reunion, but it’s only a few items (a skirt, a dress, a pair of sandals), and they would easily fit into my bag, regardless (I’m having him bring them so I have less weight to deal with). I’m considering adding in one extra tank top, but for now, I think I’ve got a good list.

Without further ado, here is my preliminary packing list, including what I will wear on the plane:

I know that on paper, that looks like a lot, but it’s really not. I did a test-pack of my clothes in the backpack, and they took up less than half of the main compartment of the bag, leaving plenty of room for my small bag of toiletries. In the photo below, you can see how little space they take up. The front pocket of the backpack will hold my laptop and assorted electronics, and my camera bag will hold my camera, lenses, business cards, and any electronics that don’t fit into the front pocket of the backpack. My tripod will be strapped onto the outside of the backpack. My camera bag is currently a Crumpler 5 Million Dollar Home, but before I leave I will be upgrading to a Crumpler 6 Million Dollar Home. There’s a big size jump between the two bags, and even though my camera equipment does all fit into my current bag, there’s no longer room for anything else (the 7D is larger than my previous 30D), and I don’t like not having extra space.

This is my bag, as packed with my clothing, excepting what I will be wearing on the plane:

And here’s what it looks like closed:

So what do you folks think of my packing list? Is there anything I’m missing? Anything that I can probably leave out? As I get closer to the actual trip, I’ll do a lay out of everything, so that you can see exactly what I’m bringing and how it all fits together.

I’d love to hear opinions on what I have together so far!

[Header Photo by Dave]


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  1. Great list! I learned the hard way that you really don’t need that much to get by. It also helps, I think, that you’re traveling during the summer so you don’t have to contend with bulky sweaters and such.

    P.S. Love your rug and quilt! Great color combo! : )

    • @Marsha – Yes, I would have a bit more difficulty if I were traveling in the winter, or to somewhere colder. As it stands, I’m considering adding in a jacket if I decide to go to Austria for my final week.

      The quilt is from Target, believe it or not. The rug, however, is from Iran. Marc’s father was one of the Iranian hostages during the crisis, and afterward American-Iranians gave his family many gifts as an apology. The rug is one of those gifts.

  2. This is a great list! Two things I always bring with me are a titanium spork (almost always makes it through airport security and is a great way to maximize my food-eating potential without schlepping plastic around the place) and a couple pocket packs of tissues (tissues, mess picker-uppers, toilet paper, makeup remover, whatever.) Just, as I recently found out, you should not – I repeat, not – get the kind with virus-killing citric acid layer and use that as TP. It’s just no good.

  3. Wow! You’re a packing star! More than the list, what impresses me is the photo of the backpack. What can I say? If I may suggest a few additional ‘cuts’… Socks: 3 pairs. Underwear: 4 pairs (I usually wash them at night and reduce them to a minimum…). I’m also not taking medication, apart when I travel in tropical countries or the Middle East…
    Any chance you pass through Italy? If so, let me know!

    • The only reason I am packing more socks is because I am going to be working on a horse farm for most of my time, and at the end of the day, I don’t want to be wearing socks covered in dust made of aerosolized horse crap. 6 pairs will last me 3 days. I may reduce the underwear to 6 pair, but I tend to change those pretty frequently as well, so 6 pair may only last me 4 days. I’ll have access to a washing machine, but I don’t want to be using it all the time, and the farm has asked that members not hang up laundry outside. Medication (pain relievers, etc) is not something I usually take either, but both places I will be living in France are a long way from anywhere (one is a farm that is 25 minutes by car to the nearest village, the other is a village that only has 54 people and is 25 minutes from the nearest pharmacy), so it will not be easy to obtain those things while there.

      Sadly, I won’t be going into Italy. I’m spending all 10 weeks in France, most likely, though I may run over to Austria for Travel Bloggers Unite in Innsbruck at the end of my trip. I’m trying not to move around much, as it keeps my cost down. I’m trying to do this entire trip on less than $1000, and it’s looking pretty good so far.

    • As for the backpack, I looked at it this way: either I had to add $150 to the cost of my trip by purchasing a new, more travel-friendly backpack, or I could save the money and pare down my packing list and put up with the smaller and not-quite-as-comfortable backpack I already have. I am the biggest penny-pincher you’re likely to ever meet, so I opted for discomfort and less stuff over spending an extra $150. 😉

  4. I’m impressed! I wish I could travel so light. I think you’ve got it pretty much perfect – though personally I’d leave out the hairbrush. But then, I pretty much never brush my hair these days. I use my fingers to de-tangle. Gross, huh? 😀

    • I may leave out the hairbrush if I get my hair cut again before I leave. My hair is usually short enough that I don’t need anything (3in at the longest), but right now it’s just long enough (about 7in) that if I don’t brush it in the morning, my bed head never goes away.

  5. Awesome packing list! I’m always juggling packing lists and looking for new ideas.

  6. Bon voyage!

    I have family members who traveled all over Europe for an entire summer with nothing more than a backpack and a carryon. This was in a simpler time, when you could have things like toothpaste on a plane, but it can still be done!

    And is sounds like you have your bases covered, garment-wise. So heck yes, traveling light.

    And have fun!

    • They sell toothpaste in Europe :)

      • Indeed. I never take more than a small bottle of soap/toothpaste/shampoo/etc when I travel. I always laugh when I see people with full-size bottles in their luggage. Do they think that America is the only place in the world where people brush their teeth or wash their hair?!

  7. Great list. Was wondering will you take an umbrella and do you ever buy souvenirs?

    • I have been back from the trip for some months now, but here’s my answer:

      I never use umbrellas at home, and definitely don’t use them while traveling. I prefer to simply use a rain coat, as they are much more effective at keeping me and my camera bag dry, and they are flexible and thus easier to pack. Even if I needed an umbrella for some reason, I would never actually pack one, because they are always available from street sellers for ultra-cheap, should I need one.

      I do buy souvenirs, quite many on most trips. As I acquire stuff during my travels, I put them in the cloth shopping bag I always pack (it’s in the list) and put the whole bag in my backpack. When it starts to become too big to pack, I simply carry it separately.