Packing for a Month’s Trip to Europe in a Carry-On

For our travels before and after our river cruise on the Rhone on AMAWaterways, we were planning on using public transportation, mainly trains as well as subways and buses.  What we found on our train trips last year through northern Italy was that the luggage racks are above your seats and Blogger Hubby was always lifting our fully packed 26″ suitcases up to the racks.  He is in his early 70’s and quite fit but I still worried about all that lighting as well as all the stairs we had to climb up and down in some of these smaller train stations.  I vowed to pack lighter.

I was determined to fit everything into a wheeled carry-on piece of luggage.  I wanted to be responsible for my own luggage.  I didn’t want to have to ask for help from strangers and I didn’t want to take only what I could handle. I need to be able to lift it onto a train up the step or two as well as if we went up to the upper deck on the train.   If I couldn’t handle it, then I was taking too much.  My friends were somewhat aghast that I would be gone for almost a month but you know what….I did it and felt so great.

I brought with me 2 pairs of printed capri pants, one pair of nylon travel capris, a pair of shorts and three pairs of long pants and a dress.  I stayed with colors that were blue, white and black.  All the tops could be worn with at least three pairs of pants.  One of the tops I brought was a tank top that I could wear by itself if it was really hot and conversely I could layer it under long sleeve tops if it were chilly.   I brought a white sweater, a long sleeve heavier white top that would be layered, a knit outer layer quarter zipped pullover, a thin nylon raincoat/windbreaker, 3 pairs of shoes, underwear/night clothes, curling iron and a bag of meds.  My packing cubes from e-bags helped keep me organized and it made it easier to pack, unpack and repack throughout our journey.  In addition to my carry-on, I also had a LL Bean medium size tote bag that I could loops over the handles of the suitcase and I wore a backpack.

img_1368 img_1369I brought my knitting with me, my iPad that held the books I was reading and as a way to get in touch with family through the free wifi on our river cruise ship and the wifi that came with the hotels that we stayed with.  With my iPhone, iPad, Blogger Hubby’s Kindle and my camera all needing charging I found it an inconvenience last year plugging items in and then unplugging them to charge other items.  I bought for myself on Amazon an Anker 60W/12A 6-Port USB Charger PowerPort so I could charge everything at the same time  Here is a picture of it:


I did bring a small purse with me so I would have it when we would go out to dinner rather than bringing my backpack.

With a limited amount of clothing, it was never an issue of what I was going to wear.  We did make use of the laundry on the AMADagio before we left to make sure we were leaving with clean clothing.  We brought a small bottle of Woolite with us to wash out some things in our bathroom sinks but found we ran out and bought some inexpensive liquid laundry detergent to supplement.

I’ve mentioned how I brought a 22″ carry-on and you are probably wondering what Blogger Hubby brought.  He actually brought the next size up though all of his things did fit in a carry-on.  He brought the next size along so we would have room for anything we might purchase along the way.

Coordinating colors certainly helped make the packing easier, not caring if you wore the same top twice within a few days, be willing to rinse out some of your items in the sink, and not always having your shoes match your outfit gave us the freedom to move around easier as well as for me, being responsible for what I bring.  It truly felt liberating.  Try it sometime

4 thoughts on “Packing for a Month’s Trip to Europe in a Carry-On

  1. You mentioned that you had a tote and a backpack. Most of the flights I have taken limit you to 1 personal item. How did you manage 2?

    We’ve been carry-on only for several years now, but flew a return trip from Europe on TAP in economy (to save miles on daytime flight) and we were required to check our bags due to size restrictions. I wasn’t so concerned since this was the return flight (flew J going so carry-ons no problem).

    Out bigger challenge will be next April. We are flying Alitalia (used Delta miles) in business to Sicily. We have to connect through Rome. The limit is 8 kilos (about 17 lbs) and very strict on size. So I had to get some smaller, lighter weight carry-ons and we will have to take 3 plus our personal items. The personal item my husband carries is a small CHAPS duffel shaped bag that we got in TJMaxx that has a band that goes over a suitcase handle with some Velcro in the middle of it. We put all our toiletries, electronics, etc. in there, so the vital stuff always stays with us. But it will weigh in at 12 lbs., so that is going to be his carryon. Of our new carry-on bags, 2 are just over 6 lbs. I tested one with extra shoes and about 3 changes of clothes for each of us – just makes the weight limit. So, in case of delays or lost bags, we will be OK. Then we can pack the rest of our stuff in 2 checked carry-on sized bags, or perhaps one 24inch. We’ll have to decide that later – we will be traveling by car, so it’s a case of what will be more suitable/manageable. We’re around your age, and while reasonably fit, I don’t like to cause my back any more strain than necessary.

    One thing I have found most useful in my travels is a microfiber anorak with a removable lining. Works great as a decent raincoat, and the liner makes it multi-season. Without lining, it’s a lightweight jacket. I’ve worn it in mid-20’s weather by layering a thermal shirt or turtleneck under a sweater (sometimes with no iron button shirt), knit hat and gloves and been nice and warm, Allows me to be warm, but not look like a backpacker. Also, if you are not going somewhere where pickpocketing is a major issue, I highly recommend the LeSportsac Everday as a handbag. I often take this one as my in-transit bag, and then, on arrival, use a Baggalini that packs flat in my carryon to use as my day bag. The LeSportsac holds a lot, can be expanded, and is very lightweight – which is key for me. Also, strap length can be adjusted, so works as crossbody or shoulder bag. I actually have 3 – got them all for way less than retail. So worth it.

    1. I checked my carry on as luggage and was able to bring my personal item (backpack) and medium home bag on. For my purse, I usually bring my pax safe travel suitcases but this time, I just wanted a smaller, thinner purse

  2. I’ve been traveling for 3 months a year for many years now with only a carry-on and a large shoulder strap purse which contains a small travel pillow, a pashmina shawl, a small backpack/purse and any other items I need on the flight. I’ve traveled both in Europe and also in many third world countries which means I have to bring more meds and other items that are difficult to find at times (such as your own roll of toilet paper!) I always have 3 pairs of shoes: sneakers that I wear on the plane and also for hiking or walking around cities, a nice looking pair of flats that are sturdy and comfortable enough to walk all day, and a pair of flip-flops for the beach or for showers in “iffy” places. I usually travel alone and it’s very liberating to be able to handle my own luggage and still have all the things that I need for fairly long trips. Its easy to do once you lower your expectations on having to wear something different every day!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s