To pack or not to pack…

The Eiffel Tower, from our last trip to Paris

As I prepare for a short trip to Paris and London, I am obsessing about packing–that omnipresent, nagging activity that hovers over us all as we get ready to go away. The questions I keep asking myself include (but are nowhere near limited to): What is the weather going to be? Where will we be going? How many pairs of shoes? Pants? Dresses? Hairdryer or not?

See? There’s a lot to think about.

The last time we went to Europe was about a year ago, for our honeymoon. We walked everywhere thanks to my husband’s jam-packed itinerary. He rarely asks me to do things I don’t want to do, but when he asked me to wear sneakers, I balked. I mean, we were going to be in Rome! Florence! Paris! Sneakers?? I barely even wear sneakers in the US–I did NOT want to look like a typical American tourist. But alas, I gave in. I got a cute decent pair of lightweight New Balance sneakers (after behaving like a toddler in DSW…) and truthfully, they were extremely comfortable.  I at least got to change into cute wedges or my Tahari flats for evening so I wasn’t wearing les baskets to dinner but still…I couldn’t help but notice the cute flats and skinny jeans the Parisian women wore while we were waiting for the Metro. I blended in just fine with the other tourists when we were surrounded by them at the Louvre, the Vatican, or Piazza san Marco, but when we were taking public transportation or just strolling around the cities, I wanted to be better shod (especially in Paris).

Me, in front of the Louvre. Check out the sneakers!

So this time around, our Paris trip is more of a joie de vivre type of trip instead of sightseeing (mostly). Our schedule is centered around shopping and eating (or drinking–especially chocolate chaud!) with a few sights that we either are revisiting (Notre Dame) or missed (Centre Pompidou) our last time around. That being said, the shoe choice is up to me.

I am planning to wear my flat boots (a.k.a riding boots–though the closest these are coming to a horse is walking by guards in Hyde Park) on the plane to save room in my luggage. I was then thinking two pairs of flats (silver and black), one pair of sneakers (I know! But Pumas this time) and a pair of heels (yet TBD which ones).

"Mom, can I come too? I don't weigh too much..."

This leads me to my next mission: packing light. I don’t mean packing one pair of pants and one T-shirt in a backpack (I’m not sure I could ever do that, even for just an overnight)–I mean packing my bag so that it’s not hard to carry and is less than 40 lbs (a random weight but something I feel is manageable). I guess everyone’s definition of “packing light” is different. I have already miniaturized my toiletries, either by buying travel-sized versions or by squeezing some of a product into travel-sized containers. I am trimming the contents of my makeup bag to just the “essentials” (on our last trip to Miami, my makeup bag weighed 2.5 lbs–and it was nowhere near all of the makeup that I own). I have found that most hotels have hairdryers in them, so I never pack one. I am, however, bringing a dual-voltage flatiron (which may or may not work) that I can use to supplement the sub-par hotel hairdryer. I just found tutorials on YouTube about using a flatiron as a curling iron (who knew?). Then clothes don’t weigh too much, right?

Wrong. Clothes weigh a lot. And when you’re me and have to pack 3 pairs of jeans (one dressy, one skinny, one casual), it adds up! But I’m going to make a concerted effort this time. I promise. I am contemplating packing two jackets (one trench and one quilted), a blazer, two or three dresses (they barely weigh anything) and a lot of few cardigans and scarves and T-shirts to mix and match. And maybe a pair of black pants.

And…this is how I get a 50-lb bag (which is the limit on most airlines). Seriously though, while I am probably going to end up packing all of the above (really, it’s not that much), my plan of action is to really plan out what we’ll do on a day-to-day basis, check weather.com, and take pictures with my iPhone of each outfit I put together (a la InStyle) to cut down on superfluous, “what if”-types of items that I usually throw in at the last minute and don’t use. For our last Europe trip, I had so many unused clothes since I didn’t pre-choose outfits, but when I traveled to Miami this fall, I had pre-thought out my clothes and ended up not wearing only a few things (a girl always has to have options though–come on!) that just didn’t strike my fancy when  the moment to get dressed presented itself.

We’ll see what the grand total comes to once I actually fill my bag with the stuff that I need for my six-day trip. One thing that fuels my quest for a lighter load: leaving room to bring things back!

But just don’t yell at me if my feet hurt…

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