Sunday, July 26, 2015

European Travel Wardrobe

Attention: this post is entirely off subject. You may be seeing more of these in the next month. Thank you.

In a short while, my husband and I are taking a dream vacation: a 20 day trip through 8 countries in Europe. Neither of us have been to Europe before, and we are so excited to get the chance to go.   All our boarding passes are printed, and I'm itching to hit the road!

On this post, I'd like to focus first on some of the preparing I've been doing with clothing. 

We are traveling thru in September, beginning in Paris, then taking a 12 day Mediterranean cruise, taking a train through the Alps, then ending with Munich and Oktoberfest.  I've spent hours planning our visits and transportation, researching points of interests, and making reservations. 

This will be our second cruise, the first being a Disney Cruise to Alaska in 2013.  After that first cruise, the bar has been set very high for quality.  I can't rave enough about Disney, but I'm confident Holland America will be a great one too!  We learned a lot from that first cruise.  We over packed, but we also had the kids along.  This time, we will slim-line our choices, multi-use everything, and hopefully be left carrying a lighter load.

Considerations for clothing choices:
  1. Average daily temperatures for the areas we will be visiting range from 75-62 degrees, so layering will be ideal.  
  2. We plan to tour cathedrals which have strict dress codes (no pants or skirts above the knees).  
  3. Obviously, there will be much walking involved, so clothing needed to be comfortable. 
  4. Laundry services will be limited until we reach the cruise ship, and then there are no public-use laundry facilities. So I'm planning to do some in-sink washing. Things need to be hand washable and resist wrinkling. 
  5. There will be 2 "Gala Formal" dining nights on the ship (full suits for men and cocktail attire for women).
  6. The remaining dinners are "smart casual".

Considerations for luggage:
  1. We need our luggage to be light and easily mobile, as we plan on using mass transit as opposed to taxis and such.  There may be times where we need to walk 4-5 blocks on cobblestone paths, carrying all our stuff.  
  2. New size restrictions on carry-on luggage: 21" for international flights.  
  3. It would sure be nice to have extra room for souvenirs we find, we shall see...

With these things in mind, I realized that we could probably handle pulling a small 4-wheeled luggage piece (one small enough to be easily carried if need be) - we will use our small 22" luggage, but a second bag should be wearable. 

I found this: Cabin Max Metz Backpack

It is a 21" backpack that is deceptively roomy.  There's a nice organizer pocket on the front that is great for quick access.  It's also nicely padded on the back and straps, making it comfortable to carry.   Reviewers say it's perfect for carry-on, so Chris and I both have one to use.

Personal items would be our camera bag and my day pack: a Pacsafe Citysafe 200 Gii Handbag

This handbag is new to me for this trip, but I'm already impressed with its security features: RFID blocking, slash proof body and strap, and locking zippers.  It's water resistant and can hold both a water bottle and an umbrella without taking up interior space.  And it is just the right size for the job.  I'm 5'4" and 115 lbs - I have no business trying to haul a huge beach tote around Europe! 

Now onto the clothes. If you know me well at all, you know I'm a planner. So you won't be surprised to find that I went straight to Pinterest.  If you search for "capsule wardrobe" in Pinterest, a whole new world will open to you!!  I learned A TON about clothing, mixing-and-matching colors, and tricks for making the same pieces look totally different. 

I loved the idea of taking a few coordinating pieces, and being able to make an exponentially higher number of combinations of outfits. However, I was not willing to go to the store and start from scratch, buying all new outfits. So I worked with what I had.  Also worth noting: nearly all my pieces are inexpensive, purchased from Kohl's and Target.  (Not the cocktail dress.  That didn't come from Target!!!)  I'm of the mindset that clothes needn't be expensive to look nice.

I picked a color scheme: teal, yellow, and neutrals.  Bloggers say to wear dark colors to Europe to blend in with locals, but I love a little color.  Anyway, they'll know I'm a tourist as soon as I open my mouth (I only know a little rudimentary Spanish, and though we will be briefly passing through Spain, 98% of our time will be spent in countries speaking OTHER languages).  My language dictionaries and lost looks will probably give me away first!

I took a look at my closet and told myself that each piece I choose needs to match/go with at least 4 other pieces - ideally with 2 bottoms and 2 tops.  It also must work with the 3 shoes I'm taking.  All in all, I'm very pleased.  I'm a little concerned that my pumps aren't fancy enough for my cocktail dress, but I find it silly to take different shoes for the 2 formal dinners.  No one looks at your feet anyway, right??

Here is what I'm taking (top to bottom):  
1. 2 T-shirts: one navy, one teal 
2. 3 blouses: cream stripes, dark teal with mesh, and patterned yellow
3. 4 cardigans/button-downs - all neutrals
4. 3 scarves: white, yellow and teal
5. 1 gray tank top
6. 1 black legging
7. 2 pants: 1 dark jeans, 1 cream slacks
8. 1 dark denim knee-length pencil skirt
9. 3 pair shoes: pumps, flats, sneakers
10. 1 lightweight jacket with gloves in pocket. It can separate into a windbreaker and a fleece. 
11. 1 cocktail dress
12. 1 casual dress
13. Not pictured: swim suit and sarong, night gown, and underwear.
From these 14 base pieces, I've figured I can make nearly 40 different outfits!  A nice thing: I believe the outfits will adapt nicely to warm and cool weather. 

Some of my favorites:  (pardon the poor picture quality, and the dogs/kids that photobombed me!  I initially had intended these photos for just my own use, but then decided to share!)

I saved 22 pictures of outfits onto my phone, so I can have help dressing quickly each day. I plan to delete the photos as I wear each outfit, so I don't repeat. 

One outfit will be on me that day, and two more are packed in my carry-on.  That leaves only about 7 pieces in checked luggage - I'd probably be fine without them in a pinch.  That said, I have yet to lose my luggage, and I certainly don't want to on this trip!  I'll cross my fingers.

We have these packing cubes: Shacke Pak set of 4 packing cubes

and I really like how they compress and organize your clothes, keeping things neat and tidy.  The bag used for storage doubles as a dirty laundry bag. 

I think the choices I've made will adapt to all the considerations above, and hopefully I'll look nice!  

The BIG question:  Do I take a knitting project??

It will be quite the adventure!  Check back in, I'll be posting as I go - sharing my travels with you!

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