Spending five months in Europe is my dream come true. I’ve read books on it. I even fell in love with a few cliche Danielle Steele novels that take place in St. Tropez (South France). I daydreamed about waking up to glorious sunrises, exploring its rich cultural heritage, sunbathing in its glorious sun (because of course sunshine must feel different in France), looking through dusty shops for keepsakes, sipping coffee on busy sidewalk cafes, and of course indulging in their great variety of fruits, cheese, and wines. What I never considered when daydreaming about life in France was how strenuous packing for 5 months can be! Five months in France-one 50 lb. suitcase=Not going to happen. Or so I initially thought. There’s just no way to fit ‘only certain items’ from my overstuffed 8ft closet! As it turns out, it can be done! Here’s how:
Clean your Closet: First, clean out your closet at least 2 weeks in advance. (This is really not the best time to procrastinate, trust me!) If you haven’t worn something in a year, odds are you won’t be wearing it, so no need to keep it. I combed over my closet 3 times (on separate days), and found that I could hold a yard sale with all the extra clothes taking up space in my closet. And who can’t use some extra money to buy a piece of art, or to dine in at that pricey restaurant that you decided against in your first budget of the trip.
Consider the Weather Make sure you know what the average expected weather for the location and time period that you will be staying in France will be. Expect that to fluctuate and be prepared. Layers, layers, layers are the key. Our weather is expected to be in the 50 degrees Fahrenheit range. Don’t forget umbrellas, gloves, thermals and thick socks. Don’t pack for style, pack for comfort. You may look sexy in that new dress, but being cold and uncomfortable is not worth having a bad experience because of your apparel.
Pick Your Favorite Color I love greens and jewel tones so I made sure to pack a suitcase of mix-and-match items in this colors. Leave that one sweater than can only be worn with one specific pair of jeans and heels. It will only take up valuable suitcase space, and won’t be very useful. If you choose a very neutral palette, you can always jazz it up with bright scarves and glitzy earrings.
Jeans I packed 2 pairs of denim jeans. One in a dark wash and one in a light wash. They’re both stretch, so they’re really comfy, and if need be, I can always wear thermals underneath. I packed 1 pair of dress pants, also a tad bigger than I tend to wear, to be able to wear thermals underneath. Finally, I packed 2 pairs of non-denim stretch jeans in neutrals and 2 pairs of leggings. I also threw in a pair of yoga pants, which I can use to work out in, lounge in, or even sleep in. Notice a trend: Stretch jeans are more comfortable and accommodating.
Shoes I packed 3 pairs of my comfiest flats, again 2 in neutral colors and 1 pair in a bolder color. I also packed 2 pairs of short boots, 1 pair of tall boots (no heel), and 1 pair of workout shoes. I will be wearing my bulkiest boots and coat on the flight. So in all, I will have 8 pairs of shoes in France. A girl’s gotta have her shoes, right!
Makeup & Beauty Supplies Don’t pack your dressing room and makeup artist with you! Keep your makeup to a minimum. Find essential pieces such as foundation, powder, mascara, blush, eyeliner and 1 neutral and 1 bold lipstick/gloss duo. Find your favorite set of day eyeshadows, and 1 dark eyeshadow to turn it into a night-on-the-town look. Ideally you should have 10 pieces of makeup in total, just enough to fit into a tidy (small!) Ziploc bag. Consider air drying your hair, and hair straightners are so slim now you can possibly pack it in your carry-on bag.
Undies and Socks I packed enough to survive 2 weeks without doing laundry. Again this is your prerogative. If you have a washing machine in your place, there’s no need to pack this much. I like to be on the safe side!
Re-evaluate This is the fun part! Pack everything in as neatly as possible. If you see extra room after packing all the essentials, grab those dresses you were dying to pack. After all, you never know who you might run into in France!
I’m all packed and ready to go! I just might have been a pink, diamond-collared, wine drinking poodle in a past life because I am beyond normal levels of excitement!
See you February 1st, France!