diy · Travel · Uncategorized

Packing for a 10 day trip to Europe

Packing yourself for a European trip can be a little stressful. Packing a family of four…ummmm, yah…I’ve been kind of dreading it!!!!!!!!

It is March and my family of 4 is heading to London and Paris for spring break. I can’t wait!  It’s our kids’ first time traveling outside the country and my husband and I haven’t been back to Europe in 15 years.  In total, we are going to be gone for 10 days–not long but I’m still SOOOOOO EXCITED.

Carry On ONLY

Yep, we are packing light and only bringing 1 carry-on per person.  I bought new, inexpensive carry-on’s for the whole family. My husband and I did the same when we went to Italy 15 years ago and it worked out perfectly.  If they get dinged or dirty on our adventures through the cities, it’s no big deal!  I mean if a Louis Vuitton got grease marks from the Metro or the Tube, I think I would go into cardiac arrest!

I found our carry-on’s at Sierra Trading Post .  Have you ever shopped there?  I had never heard of them until the new Marshall’s opened near our local Target and a Sierra Trading opened right next door.  They are owned by the same company.  Sierra Trading is geared toward the outdoors.  It’s kind of like a discount Rei.

Our carry-on’s were not available in the store but I found them online for $39 each (They are out of the small size now but they have the 20″ size):

I bought 2 white carry-on’s: one for my daughter, Jillian and one for me.  For the boys, I chose 2 of the blue cases.  I LOOVE the white (I know, not practical AT ALL–remember that grease comment…!!!) and I knew the boys would prefer the blue.

The Packing List

Now, it’s time for my capsule wardrobe list!

Here is what I packed:

  • 1-2 long sleeve/button down shirts
  • 2 sets of shoes (1 to wear on the plane, 1 packed)
  • 2 pants + 1 leggings
  • 2-3 shirts
  • 3 sweaters
  • 1 coat
  • 1-2 tank tops
  • 1 under-layer (wear as pj’s)
  • 2 bras
  • 7 undies
  • large scarf
  • thin gloves*
  • hat
  • 6 socks

*I didn’t end up using these.  My pockets worked just fine. 🙂

What is a Capsule Wardrobe

A capsule wardrobe is made up of basic pieces that can all be paired together. Now there may be one or two statement piece (like a flowered top or a striped sweatshirt throw in the mix) but most of the pieces are neutral, solid colors.

Jillian’s Clothes


How to Pack with NO WRINKLES

Once you have chosen the clothes you are going to take, it is time to pack them nice and tight into that carry-on.

1. Iron Everything.  I know.  Not fun. But it saves time in the long run and helps everything fold together so nicely.

2. Stack the Long Sleeves.  Start with your long sleeve shirts and sweaters: lay one down on the floor, smoothing out any wrinkles.  Repeat with the second shirt/sweater, but lay it the opposite way.  Continue until all your long sleeve shirts/sweaters are stacked.


3. Stack the Short Sleeves. Start stacking your short sleeve tops, flip flop them as you stack them: shoulders line up with bottom hem of the second shirt. Sleeves align on both sides. Here, I have all the shirts stacked,  short sleeves on top of the long sleeves. Notice, all the sleeves lay one on top of the other.


4. Wrap the Sleeves. Once all the shirts are stacked, it is time to fold the sleeves over the pile, one at a time, smoothing them with your hand as you go. Short sleeves first then wrap the long sleeves over the whole pile.

5. Non-wrinkling Roller.  I kept one of Jillian’s sweaters out of the pile (one that doesn’t wrinkle) and decided to use it as a roll/spacer at the fold to avoid having a hard crease down the belly of the shirts.

6. Fold Pile in Half.  Keeping everything together, take the bottom half of the pile with the wrapped sleeves and fold it up to meet the top half of the pile. (see below)

7. Wrap Sleeves Again.  Wrap the other sleeves over bottom half to create a nice tight package.

8. Stack Pants.  I stack the long pants together and fold in half.

9. Package Undies & Socks.  I found cute reusable zip-locks from Marshall’s to using to pack together socks, undies, snacks etc.  Here you see Jillian’s socks and undies in two of them. The small one has a watermelon and big one has black and white gingham!  So adorable. Makes keeping organized fun, right?  🙂  Anyone with me???!!! 🙂

10. Second Day Outfit & PJ’s.  Are you going straight to your long-term destination?  If the answer is NO, I suggest keeping a few things OUT of your folding: an outfit and your pajamas.  See the striped sweatshirt and the black top and leggings (above)?  I kept those out of Jillian’s folded items so that she has a top to change in to when we get to our destination as well as pj’s to sleep in that night.  We are only going to be in London for 1 night so I didn’t want to unwrap all my perfect folded outfits for just one night.  When we get to Paris on day two is when I will unpack all my nicely folded garments, hang them in the closet and place my accessories, socks, undies, etc. in the drawers. *Note: the kids just lay their suitcases open, and lay their flat shirts on one side, pants, socks, etc. on the other side. 🙂

11. Compression Bags.  I found these Sharper Image bags at Marshall’s a while back and bought a set for each of us.  They worked perfectly!  Especially when one of our bags needed to be checked going thru security…we didn’t have an avalanche of things falling out of the suitcase.


12. Seal Them UP!  I used the large compression bag for the stack of tops, and the smaller compression bag for everything else: pants, pjs, change of clothing, socks and undies. The compression bags work like a ziplock.  Zip close the top till there’s just about 1″ of an opening.  Fold over the empty part of the bag, place your weight on top of the whole bag, releasing as much air as possible.  While still pressing on the bag, seal the last 1″ shut.  Flatten back out and now it should be air tight and ready to place in your suitcase.

A 9 Year Old Can Do This Too!!!

After packing Jillian, I worked with my 9 year old and taught him the folding and packing process:

Bryson’s Capsule Wardrobe


1. Iron

2. Stack the Long Sleeves 


3. Stack Short Sleeves


4. Wrap Sleeves


5. No Wrinkle Roller (we used his thermal layers)

6. Wrap Sleeves Again


8. Stack Pants

9. Package Undies & Socks

10. Second Day Outfit & PJs

11. Compression Bags

12. Seal Them Up!


And, that is IT!  3 suitcases done and ready to ROLL!!!  Now if only the hubbie would get home and pack his bag! (I may have laid out a few “suggested outfits” 😉  But my mom always said to let them do their own, “…you don’t want to be blamed if you forget anything!” 😉  Smart woman.).


Now I’m off to pack the carry on!  Do you want that list too???  Let me know! Happy to share 🙂

Hope you have a fabulous Spring Break as well!  Are you going somewhere fun?  Or just planning on relaxing at home?  Tell me about it!  I would love to here your plans!

Happy Spring!

xo, Melis

2 thoughts on “Packing for a 10 day trip to Europe

  1. Great tips on packing! I learned you can roll socks/ underwear and place them in shoes to use all available open spaces. I will need to try your folding technique when we take our trip to Seattle and ir’s surrounding areas.

    Liked by 1 person

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 )

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