Packing Luxuries for Europe: You Don’t Need That, But You Might Want It 6


As all of the previous posts can attest, I am very careful and thoughtful about what I bring with me on a trip. The reasons are obvious, I need to carry whatever I choose for up to 7 weeks at a go. Minimalism is very important. Comfort is also important, so balance is the key.

If you’ve been good and kept to your weight limit, leave a little space and weight for being naughty. Bring something that you don’t NEED, but want. Choose one thing that will make you happy and comfortable on the road. I call these luxury items.

My luxury items have changed over time. I try different things and see what makes life better. It depends on the season and my mood. Here’s a little list of my favorites….

Pillow- This is almost out of the luxury item realm at this point. I have slept on a down pillow my whole life, anything else just bugs me and makes me uncomfortable. Pillows that I find when I travel, staying at small family-run European hotels, tend to be hard. Or sometimes really poofy. Or a strange shape. Sleep is so important to me, it’s worth the effort to bring my own pillow from home. Mine is a cheap down pillow, twin sized. Squishes flat without any special compression bag and weighs very little. The added bonus is a pillow cover with drawings by my kids.

Bluetooth Speaker- Totally unnecessary but enjoyable if you happen to love music as I do. I found a tiny, loud and easy to use version from Lon. I use it at happy hours with my groups for a little background music. In my room at night, while I’m laying in bed reading, it’s nice to have a little music in the background. Makes a hotel room seem more like home.

Mug and Water Heater- After a long day on the road, I often just don’t feel like leaving the hotel in the evening. I’m also by myself when I’m traveling, so I don’t feel like sitting in a restaurant for hours alone. Sometimes I’m not very hungry. I found this ultra-light titanium camping mug and coil water heater to bring this past spring. The mug is a perfect size and never feels hot to the touch. The grocery stores sell tea and ramen, or I’ll bring some instant oatmeal from home. A simple pleasure, but sometimes it’s just the thing. I found I didn’t use this often in the summer, though.

Washcloth- This is not something I bring, but after a survey of travelers, I have found that many people do. I can’t explain why you need one, but if it’s your thing, go for it. I make do with hotel towels and tissues for removing make-up. We will discuss this more later since it seems like a big deal for some travelers.

Back-up Battery- My iPhone 4 died mid-tour last year, the battery just couldn’t hold a charge anymore. I picked up a little battery pack at the Autogrill in Italy and I’ve been carrying it ever since. It can charge my phone about 1.5 times, my iPad once. Not bad, especially as I use my phone constantly and need to recharge it mid day on occasion.

Unreasonable Shoes- I bring three pairs, but sometimes I just want or need an extra pair. I’ve brought high heels, which make me feel a little more Italian. I’ve brought knee high black leather boots, which are great for cold weather. Some people want heavy hiking boots if hiking is in the itinerary. A good strategy with heavy or bulky shoes is to wear them on the plane, then the weight is irrelevant. Just remember that they should ideally be easy to remove at security check points.

Laundry line- We sell a rubber laundry line that many people like using. That can be handy. I must admit, I’ve brought it and didn’t use it. Hotels do not like you to do more than underthings in the sink, and typically those things can be hung in the shower. I’d give this a pass, but maybe you won’t.

Fancy clothes- If I have the space, I do like to bring one nice dress, something that I am aware I’ll use maybe two or three times. It is fun to splash out a little every now and then. Lately I haven’t been doing that….I save the space and assume I’ll be buying a new dress. That is often my gift to myself at the end of a trip.

Zip-loc Bags- I can think of a million uses for good, freezer strength zip-loc bags. Separating stinky clothes from the good clothes. Isolating wet things. Keeping your passport and money dry in a sweaty money belt. Bring a few and see what creative uses you can come up with. They don’t sell the exact same kind in Europe, so grab them at home.

This is just a little list, I’m sure I’ll come up with more. The point is, I didn’t need any of these things but they made my day a little brighter. What brightens your day is up to you.

That cute little Bluetooth speaker is here://ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=advenwithsara-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00I87SBZI&asins=B00I87SBZI&linkId=C6QLUGP53XR3TADE&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true

My excellent titanium coffee mug is here://ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=advenwithsara-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00RH7QSLO&asins=B00RH7QSLO&linkId=YM66JNPYVFO3OIMH&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true

The coil water heater is here: //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=advenwithsara-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B001U0PA7M&asins=B001U0PA7M&linkId=GHC7BW62PNOTKGLW&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true

The spare battery pack is here: //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=advenwithsara-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00CTFG26A&asins=B00CTFG26A&linkId=GC7OUH4AAOMQQMZK&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true


About sarahinitalia@yahoo.com

Sarah Murdoch is a tour guide and guidebook writer for Rick Steves Europe. Her blog, Adventures with Sarah, focuses on packing tips, travel stories and advice for planning the best trip possible.


6 thoughts on “Packing Luxuries for Europe: You Don’t Need That, But You Might Want It

  • Heather Lee

    Great suggestions! Looking for the travel mugs for gifts……we are taking our Grandson to Yellowstone next summer, and these, with coil, will be perfect, especially for those early mornings to watch wildlife.

  • Barbara

    I totally agree with bringing the heating coil! I make a cup of coffee in a little metal cup I bought at a sport store in Haarlam first thing in the morning. Heaven! I burned out my first coil with an American plug on my first night in Milan, long ago. Three coffeeless mornings days later, I found one with a European plug while wandering in Venice, so I don’t even need an adapter. I also always bring a little baggie with oatmeal and nuts for my first morning after an overseas flight-since jet lag hits me at 4am and I’m hungry:)

  • gooddayrome

    Ziploc bags are so useful! Great for snacks for the road or sandwiches you might make for a picnic.I also like to put things that might leak in one, such as perfume. When leaving a hotel/apartment after a stay, I pack my wet, nylon body scrubber in one, or anything particularly stinky. I bring three sizes: sandwich, quart and gallon. They weigh nothing and take up no space. I also like Purex sheets (which I store in a Ziploc). I cut a couple of them into small pieces for sink laundry and take a few more whole ones for laundromat use. They are dry so no 3-1-1 concerns.

  • Judi

    Have really enjoyed your blog. Would lve to see what your bag looks like all packed, and know it’s total weight. And I also buy a scarf everywhere I go! A very useful souvenir.

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