Pack light to Avoid Extra Airline Fees!
That is my best packing tip and I tell it to everyone especially the people I travel with since I want no part of helping people carry heavy luggage. Take the smallest suitcase you can. Think about what you really need to take with you to enjoy your trip.
When most of us travel we spend the night in several different cities which means hopping on and off trains and buses where you have limited luggage storage. You constantly have to lift your suitcase to put it in the overhead compartment. Many hotels have small elevators or no elevators so you are lugging your suitcase up and down stairs or trying to squeeze into an old elevator made to fit one or two people with no luggage. Don’t even get me started on trying to haul big suitcases over the bridges and up and down the steps in Venice.
I have lost count of how many times the airlines have lost my luggage over the last few years. I never check luggage anymore. In the past I have been stranded for days without my luggage.
Twice in the past year I have made it halfway to my destination only to be dumped in a city not of my choosing but very thankful to have my luggage with me.
Why pay the fee to check luggage? Save your money and treat yourself to a good meal in Italy.
Here is how you pack light for your trip to Italy:
Women can pack light . . . just try
Limit your luggage to one carry on suitcase and a small bag by packing light. Take a suitcase that expands so you can pack everything you buy on your trip. You can check your luggage on your way home when it is not as important for the two of you to arrive together. Make sure you carry all your breakables and real treasures with you on the plane.
Can’t do it?
If you can’t limit yourself to carry-on luggage make sure you carry enough clothes with you to get through two or three days in case your luggage is lost.
Zip it up.
Use zip lock bags for make-up, over the counter drugs (remember to keep the directions), jewelry, etc. Zip lock bags take up much less space than typical travel bags and they are cheap.
Don’t pack your hair dryer
Most hotels now have hair dryers but they are much less powerful than American style hair dryers. If you choose to bring your own dryer remember to bring the right converter plug.
Ditch the stilettos, comfort is key.
In the unlikely event that you get invited to La Scala in Milan you can buy a new pair of shoes, Italy is known for their beautiful shoes, many of them custom made. Two pairs of shoes are the most you will need and make sure at least one pair is very comfortable, the kind of shoes you can walk miles in and still be happy.
If it is your bag.
Bring a day pack or small bag that you can use for picnics, shopping, etc. There are companies that make small back packs or shopping bags that fold up so they are easy to pack. Or you can do as I do and use your day pack as your second carry on bag.
Take only enough shampoo for a few days. Most hotels have shampoo and conditioners. Plus, it is fun to buy these products locally if you need to.
Layers make sense.
Prepare to dress in layers; this minimizes the number of things you need to pack.
Roll it up.
When you pack roll your clothes, it takes up less space and reduces wrinkles.
There is a better use for the towel warmer.
If you will be traveling for more than a week, bring underwear, socks, tops, etc. that can be rinsed out in a sink and that dry quickly. If you have a towel warmer in your room, turn it on and hang your wash on it. If you rent an apartment most of them come with a clothes lines which you can put to good use and feel like a real Italian while you are doing it.
My memory is gone and I still have three days left.
Don’t forget to bring your camera, along with an extra battery, recharger and a converter plug. Also, make sure you have enough memory; you don’t want to miss out on photo opportunities.
Shorts or Capri’s, you decide.
In many countries it is rare to see the locals wearing shorts away from the summer resorts. You will see Americans wearing shorts, but that is often it. Capri’s are a good compromise for ladies. You can also take slacks that can be unzipped into shorts in case it is hot or you decide to go hiking.
I am not wearing a garbage bag.
Most churches still require that legs and shoulders be covered. Some churches have shawls or garbage bags that they will give you to cover shoulders and legs while you are in the church. Ladies, take a shawl or long scarf that you can use for this purpose. A shawl can also be used in the evenings if the air is cool or you can spread it on the ground if you want to sit and enjoy a view.
When do you wear sunglasses at night?
If you are dependent on eye glasses or contact lenses make sure you bring an extra pair or bring your prescription. Otherwise you will be wearing your prescription sunglasses at night if your regular glasses are lost. It is also a good idea to bring an eye glass safety strap so that if your glasses slip off you will not lose them.
The only thing with bugs is my computer.
There are few places in Italy where you will be bothered with insects. If you are hiking you need to be prepared for bugs otherwise don’t take up precious space in your suitcase with an insect repellent. If you are traveling to a nature preserve or other environmentally sensitive areas make sure your bug protection is not toxic to the environment.
Rick Steves’ Packing Light Tips
A man’s view of packing light for your trip to Italy