travel in style: packing for europe


Images: 1, I can’t track down, but 2 is from the lovelies at Obvious State

It’s here, friends! The big fat European vacation I’ve had on my bucket list for…oh, eight years and change…is finally on the horizon, and I am positively giddy. Two glorious weeks (and change) in Florence and Paris. It’s a good thing I have this face waiting for me at home, or I might expatriate while no one’s looking.

While I’m away, you won’t be lonely – I have some extremely stylish guests stopping by to share their idea of a dream day in Europe, and I’ll be popping in with envy-inducing travel snaps (if you’re not already following me on Instagram, now’s the time!).

But before I go, I thought I’d share the holy grail of packing lists, better known as “How to pack for a two-week trip without busting your baggage allowance”. I’ve honed and tested this list for weeks, and I’ll give you a report when I’m back on how well I fared, but I’ll admit – I kind of think I’ve nailed it.

First rule: instead of stressing about outfits, pack a palette. For this trip, it’s black, white and grey (are you shocked?). Camel and black, navy and cream…whatever works for you. If you stick to that rule, you don’t have to worry about outfits, or making sure you have a black and a brown belt, etc. Everything matches, and it saves a lot of stress knowing that everything works with everything else. (It also helps narrow down packing decisions. If it doesn’t fit the palette, it doesn’t go, no matter how cute it is.)

Second rule: don’t take anything that will make you cry if you spill a glass of red wine on it, or if it falls into the Seine on a romantic boat ride. This goes for your favorite pair of shoes, your heirloom necklace, and that Hermes scarf you’ve always wanted to wear in Paris.

Third rule: On any trip over 10 days, plan to do laundry. You’ll save yourself immeasurable grief, and it will make this packing list work for a trip of any length. Take a tiny bottle of delicates wash (or baby shampoo) to use in the hotel sink. Or send it out…you’re on vacation!

6 tees in neutral colors, ideally of the thin, drapey sort. I’m going with 3 black, 2 white, 1 grey and 1 nude.
sweater in a neutral solid, thin & slouchy enough to layer.
1 short-sleeved silk tunic
1 gorgeous printed silk blouse – to dress up, and for when you get sick of all those neutrals.
2 tanks – for layering

Black skinny/straight jeans
Blue skinny/straight jeans
White jeans (very Parisian)
Black dress-ish pants (I’m going with black trouser jeans)
1 skirt (something neutral and comfortable)

1 lightweight carry-on tote
1 messenger-style crossbody
1 clutch

Accessories: This is where you get to have some fun! Remember, you’ll be relying on accessories to dress up your more casual pieces.
1 belt
2-3 scarves
3-4 necklaces
3-4 earrings
1-2 bracelets

Black blazer
Moto, denim or utility jacket
1 layering cardigan
1 weather-appropriate coat. A trench is a solid pick, but there’s no shame in having a little fun with this one.

One classic shift or tunic is all you need. Flats in the daytime, heels and jewelry at night. (If this is a summer trip, you could up this to as many as 3 dresses, but subtract at least 1 pair of pants.)

Shoes: (Always the hardest part, isn’t it?)
Sneakers. Really. Limping is not chic.
Flat ankle boot (fall/winter) or flat sandals (summer)
1 pair of comfortable flats that can be dressed up
1 pair of Tieks (for the plane, and to keep in your bag if you misjudge your shoes one day)
1 pair of heels or wedges you can walk in.


Undies (seamless boyshorts are my travel go-to)
3 bras (1 black, 1 nude, 1 fun)
Really excellent socks (I’m obsessed with Smartwool)

For the plane, you’ll wear leggings or straight-leg yoga pants, a long, lightweight cardigan over a wrinkle-resistant tunic, and top it off with an incredibly luxurious and oversized scarf. Wear your boots, change into Tieks when you board, and you’re set! Plus, you can wear this exact outfit on the return – just handwash the tee in the hotel sink and you’re set.

In case that’s not enough for you, I’ve put together a handy-dandy shoppable list of nearly everything that will be in my suitcase (for even more ideas, check out my Pinterest packing list).

Anything I’ve missed? And more importantly, any suggestions for Paris and Florence? I’d love to know your favorite can’t-miss spots!


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15 comments on “travel in style: packing for europe

  1. Vanessa

    Such excellent recommendations! And now after all your help it’s my turn to give back with a couple of suggestions for Paris!

    Make sure to go to Musee de l’Orangerie in the Tuileries. It’s easy to overlook because it’s tiny and because of its proximity to the Louvre and Musee d’Orsay. But! It’s two large oval-shaped rooms contain Monet’s Water Lilies, displayed wrapped around the curved walls and nearly floor to ceiling. They’re breaktaking and because they surround you on all sides it feels like you’re in the middle of Monet’s beautiful world.

    Also, take some time one day to go to La Mosquee de Paris, in the 5th, to have the best traditional mint tea and pastries in the world. You can also visit their hammam if you’re in the mood for a little spa treatment. The architecture and tile work is beautiful and surprising to find smack dab in the middle of Paris, plus they have a great courtyard where you can sit, enjoy your tea and pastries and relax.

    And if you happen to be near the Saint Michel metro stop, take a teeny detour to stop in front of 22 Rue Saint Severin, also know as the narrowest house in Paris ( also also known as where I lived when I studied there.

    Bonnes vacances!

  2. jillian

    ooo beautiful cities to visit! make sure to stop in the musee d’orsay in paris, it’s my favorite! as for florence i loved the view from the tower NEXT to the duomo cathedral (that way you can see it!) have the best time! xo jillian – cornflake dreams

  3. DL

    I love this, Becki! 🙂 What amazing recommendations – definitely bookmarking this for our next trip (who knows when that will be but a girl can dream, right?) 🙂 Thanks so much – this is extraordinarily helpful in combining practical with chic!

  4. Vanessa

    Le Paul Bert 6 in the 11th, Café Breizh in the Marais for the best crepes ever, Fragonard for Perfume, and Sadaharu Aoki for pastry (I think it’s in the 7th?). Reppetto in the Marais. And Bellota Bellota for Spanish food (yes, you’re in Paris, but it’s very, very good!) . And of course L Gran Epicerie and Le Bon Marche are my favorite stores.

  5. Kelly

    Becks! So excited for you for your upcoming trip! You are always welcome of course to come to see us in beautiful Venice! As far as Florence goes, there is one place that you must must must go: don’t even think about it, just go. It is called la officina profumo farmaceutica di Santa Maria novella-the oldest pharmacy in the world, truly lovely with all sorts of lotion/potion shopping therapy to be had! It is really close to the train station.

    Buon viaggio and Buon appetito!
    Ps-don’t forget to pack one pair of impractical shoes, or better yet get a pair when you are in Firenze!

  6. Kendra

    Bon voyage! Have an amazing time. I’ll try not to be too impatient with the refreshes of my Instagram feed–can’t wait to see what you are getting up to!

    The packing list sounds pretty genius, and I look forward to the report on that, too.

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  8. Serena

    When you first posted your packing list, I thought it was excellent and bookmarked it. And I wanted you to know that I’m using it right now as I’m packing for London and Norway – thank you! (And of course I’m referring to your London posts for planning the trip, too!)

  9. shoppingsmycardio Post author

    Serena: Aww, thank you for this sweet note. You made my day 🙂 Have a completely amazing trip…I’m so jealous! (and not just because I’d give my right arm for some Jelly Tots right about now.)

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  11. Erin

    I am planning my first trip to Paris this June, and a friend directed me to your packing list. It is perfection, thank you!

  12. shoppingsmycardio Post author

    Erin, I’m so pleased to hear it! Have the most wonderful time – I’m so jealous.

    If you need a few suggestions on what to do while you’re there, just search for “Paris” on my site. I have some guides from a couple of my favorite designers, as well as a few of my favorite things to do in Paris.

    Happy travels!

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