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Six Tips for Packing Light on Your Next Trip to Italy

New York Times writer Susan Heller famously said, “When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.” I love this quote! You may have seen it (often, lol!) in my social media posts.

Even when we have great intentions, it’s easy to overload our suitcases. We wind up dragging a lot of stuff around – think up and down stairs, on and off trains and planes. There’s more to keep track of; it winds up being a lot of physical and mental clutter. And, of course, we sometimes wind up paying a ton of extra fees for the additional weight and luggage. If you plan on flying to other European destinations before or after Italy, most European airlines have tighter restrictions on baggage weight - even for carry-ons.

Man with Luggage Inside Mercato Centrale in Florence
Inside Mercato Centrale in Florence

So, rather than viewing efficient packing as a practice in minimalism, I like to think of it as a challenge that helps you make the most of every vacation: you have what you need, you’re freed up to not have to lug around a bunch of extra weight, and you can put that saved money towards a special souvenir, a nice dinner out, or another cool experience.

So what are the secrets that seasoned travelers use to guarantee expert packing? Here are the top 6:

1. Remember the 80/20 Principle — that is, 20% of what you pack will be 80% of what you actually wear. If you’re like most people, you’ve already noticed this. You pack four pairs of shoes, but you really only wear one pair every day. You pack three sweaters and a shawl that you never use, because you wind up just wearing your favorite light jacket that goes with everything you own.

2. Don’t pack for every possible situation. Pack for an average day. There’s no way you can cover every contingency. Look at the forecast, the average temps, and the weather for that time of year, and go with that. If there’s a freak week of rain in what’s normally a sunny season — unless you’re headed to an extremely remote area that sees few travelers, it’s very unlikely that you won’t be able to purchase a raincoat or an umbrella where you are. If there’s a cold snap, there’s probably also a store nearby with just the thing you need.

3. It’s okay to wash. If you’re going to be gone for three weeks, pack enough clothes for one. If you’re a hardcore DIYer, almost every resort or town in the world has a Laundromat or laundry service. If you’re feeling like you want a break from daily tasks and routines and you’re really looking forward to the luxury of having other people pamper you, have your clothes laundered and folded for you. It’s still often cheaper than luggage fees!

4. For warmth, go with layers over bulk. Pick several thin layers with insulating, wicking fabrics — merino wool is a great one. Heavier items like jackets and sweaters don’t offer flexibility. They’re just hot, and when the sun comes out, then you have to cart around a huge coat. But a compact zip-up fleece can roll up easily into a bag or backpack in the afternoon and then come back out again for that sunset walk on the beach.

5. Think mix and match, neutral color scheme, and multi-function items. If three tops match three bottoms, you’ve got nine possible outfits. Add in a cardigan or blazer and now you have 12 outfits. Italy is the one place where locals love to wear black every day all day and every season.

6. If you’ve got to have something bulky and heavy — wear it, don’t pack it. Hiking boots, lightweight down jacket, that awesome cable knit wool cardigan — these might very well have a great place on your trip, but they shouldn’t be in your suitcase. Wear them on the plane. You can easily pack several versatile layers for the space that one sweater would take up.

Not the greatest photo I have taken but want to keep it real as to what I take to Italy for a 3-week trip.

If you’re ready to pack for an adventure, I’d love to talk to you about it. I know we can find a place in Italy that’s just right for you — and I’ll even give you insider tips and packing suggestions for that location! You can reach me today by clicking here.

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