So we’ve just come back from one month of travelling around bel’ Italia. From mid-November to mid-December, we visited: Rome, Bracciano, Semproniano (in southern Tuscany), Florence, Bolzano (in the Alps) to see the Christmas markets, then back to Rome for a couple of days before we flew home. We travelled mostly by hire car and train.
It was quite a few moves in one month, and our luggage had to be small enough to be able to move easily and fit into the boot (trunk) of a rental car, but large enough to fit a change of seasons clothes plus the bits and pieces we bought along the way.
Firstly, when it comes to luggage, we ALWAYS buy luggage on wheels. Always. It means I can trundle along behind my husband and can handle my own bags. If our son is travelling with us it means he can handle his own luggage himself too. Being the frugal people we are (ok, cheapskates) I usually go to the Chinese markets in Sydney and buy ultra cheap luggage. I don’t expect it to last long; it usually only lasts two or three trips and then it needs to be replaced.
This trip, we dragged our grubby tatty luggage with us all around Italy… but towards the end of our trip (when the bags were at their heaviest) we noticed the zippers splitting open, and thought they might not last the flight home.
Cheap luggage isn’t easy to find in Rome ~ and it isn’t cheap. So we indulged ourselves. We went into La Rinascente and bought ourselves new Delsey luggage. I chose Delsey on the recommendation of several friends who work as flight attendants. What a revelation it is to have proper, well-made luggage! The wheels roll and turn so easily its no longer hard work to drag or push the bag along. The insides are lined with light coloured lining, which makes it really easy to see where everything is.
We bought the largest size they had, which does mean its tricky to fit two cases into the trunk of a taxi or hire car. When totally fully packed (as ours were when we flew home) they checked in at around 30 kilos each. We’re fortunate to have extra baggage allowance with our frequent flyers club, so while the weight wasn’t and issue for us on this trip, it could be a problem if your baggage allowance is only 20 kilos. And of course its simply too large and heavy for budget european airlines, some of which only allow 11 or 16 kilos. So with hindsight, perhaps the second largest size would have been better.
And then, there comes the packing itself.
Finally, I think I’ve got it cracked. I wore everything I took, I wasn’t overloaded with useless things… everything was practical, easy to wash and wear, and comfortable without being slobbish.
I took 3 pairs of pants – one pair of dark grey slim fit jeans. One pair of slim-fit black ponte pants, and one pair of Lululemon hiking leggings. All with a a little bit of stretch.
I took 5 tops – 3 of them were long-sleeved, 1 was short, and one was a more dressy drape style. I could have done with one more lighter top as it was unseasonably warm in November when we got to Rome, but it was cheap enough to buy a lightweight top.
I took 2 pairs of shoes. Yes, just TWO pairs. I took a pair of mid-heeled ankle boots which I wore through the airports because they slip on and off easily, (and they go with all the skinny leg pants I’d taken) and a pair of super-ugly but ultra comfortable walking boots. I took the walking boots because we did lots of long hikes. If you’re not hiking, then I’d probably swap them out for something like Converse style sneakers. However my walking boots totally saved my feet, and really were essential for me since the bones in my foot are still healing from the surgery I had. I thought I’d really stand out as a tourist in them but the thing to remember in Rome — and indeed in most of Europe — is that most Europeans don’t drive everywhere like we do, they walk everywhere, so they all generally wear low-heeled comfortable shoes themselves. Granted, they are usually italian made and really beautiful.
I took 2 coats and 1 cardigan. Right now in Italy everyone is wearing puffer jackets. Fortunately one of the coats I took was a black puffer style jacket. The other was a heavier, water-resistant style coat, which I have to say I didn’t wear as much as I thought I would. The cardigan I only wore a few times, but it was handy. The puffer jacket and the cardigan could both be layered under the larger coat if needed.
I took 3 ultra-thin Heattech thermal layers that I’ve previously blogged about here http://wp.me/p4jE2L-Q that I bought from Uniqlo. I took a camisole, a short-sleeved and a long-sleeved one, and a pair of their leggings to layer underneath pants, though I have to say it wasn’t really cold enough to warrant the leggings, but they also double as tights to wear with my flying dress. They are super thin and take almost no space at all.
I took 2 scarves, and wore one with my simple black shirtdress on the flight. I also took 1 woollen beanie, one pair of gloves and a fold-up umbrella. And a cheap swimsuit – which I used in one of the thermal springs.
As for socks and underwear – I only ever take a weeks supply, but we always rent apartments which usually have a washing machine in them.
And that’s it. I didn’t take a hairdryer, but I did take my straightening iron. Next time I probably won’t take it.
Packing light means there’s space in your luggage to buy a few lovely Italian things. x