On Sunday, I shared my Top Five Reasons For Packing Light. Each one of my points were perfectly reasonable and fairly difficult to argue with, even if I do say so myself.
But having a stack of motives for travelling light doesn’t make the art of refined packing any easier. These days, I can head off for a month in France with only carry-on sized luggage but it has taken me years to downsize my packing. So today, I thought I’d extend this discussion by sharing some tips on how you actually pack light for France – or anywhere else for that matter.
- Think hard about where you are going and what you are likely to be doing, and pack accordingly. Planning to dine regularly at fancy restaurants, or maybe you are anticipating a Michelin starred experience or two? Then you’ll definitely be packing your black pants and a dressy top. Expecting to wander through Provencal markets in summer. Then light clothes and flat shoes will be required. Visiting France during winter? The first things in your luggage will be your smartest coat and your favourite boots.
- Don’t have a ‘maybe’ mentality while you are packing. Even the best packers have made the mistake of throwing something in ‘just in case’. Pack for what you will actually be doing in France and for the season you’ll be doing it and leave the rest behind. If you end up participating in something completely unexpected or experience some unforeseen weather, you can easily pick up new items in France – and they will evoke special memories when you wear them in your everyday life.
- Take the advice of Janice from The Vivienne Files and use your travelling wardrobe as an opportunity to define your signature style. Even if you are not looking to develop your personal style, Janice’s advice on combining the least possible garments into the greatest number of outfits will be invaluable.
- Beware of packing anything you don’t love or wouldn’t wear at home. If it’s not an item you adore wearing every day, then you are unlikely to want to wear it in France. There’s actually a greater chance of you buying something new. Pack only the clothing that sings to you – they will be the garments that you wear day after day.
- Choose your shoes first and build your packing list and colour scheme around them. Let’s face it. Shoes are heavy and they take up a ton of luggage space. I always try to travel with only one pair of shoes – two at the absolute most. I know that I generally treat myself to a new pair of shoes while I’m in France, so leaving from Melbourne with too many pairs is just silly. And think twice before packing heels. Once you are in holiday mode, the thought of staggering across cobblestones in high heels – even for a special night out – seems ridiculous. Your ‘go with everything’ flats will be your shoe of choice every time.
- Invest in light fabrics. Cashmere is super warm but light. Certain types of jersey are also lightweight and dry quickly. Same goes for some cottons. Swap out a pair of denim jeans for a pair of lighter weight pants. I promise that every little saving adds up.
- Stick to a strict colour palette. Everything you pack must coordinate with everything else – this is vital if you want to pack light. If every top you pack can’t be worn with every bottom, then don’t pack it. Same with shoes – you must be able to wear your shoes with every outfit. Neutrals are easiest – think black, grey, navy and a white that suits you. If you are someone who cannot live without colour throw in a bright scarf or two.
- Downsize your toiletries. Buy travel sizes of your favourite hair care and make-up brands or travel with samples to try something new. Decant your perfume and liquid medications. If you take vitamins, don’t take the whole bottle, transfer only as many as you need for the trip to a smaller container.
- Reconsider your hairdryer. Like shoes, they are heavy and many hotels and apartments will supply a hairdryer. If you are particularly attached to a certain brand, invest in a travel size – just make sure it has universal voltage (France uses 230 V 50 Hz power).
- Book accommodation with a washing machine or laundry service. Or be prepared to hand wash both the small and the large! This is the best way to ensure you pack light. I like to calculate the number of days between washing facilities and pack accordingly. For all the readers who queried laundrettes and laundromats in Paris, you might like to check out this article.
Do you have a favourite packing tip? I promise it will only take a minute to share it in the comments section below.
Until next time – au revoir.