European Vacation 2012

Eiffel Tower
I’m starting a series of blog posts on my recent 3 week trip to Europe. It’s going to be a long and ongoing series since I want to share all the places I’ve stayed in, ate at and seen in Spain, Italy and Paris. I hope this series will help anyone planning a trip to Europe. For those who couldn’t care less about Europe don’t worry I will still be posting about Manila restaurants and other places in between. You will find the links to all Europe posts on a special page on the sidebar for easy access.

The first and last time I went to Europe was when I graduated from college a zillion years ago and my parents gifted me with a 2 week trip to Europe.
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My dad had this smart idea of joining a tour in Hong Kong since it was cheaper. He just didn’t think how I would feel about the entire tour being conducted in Cantonese! You bet I didn’t understand a thing the tour guide said. Despite the language barrier I enjoyed the time with my tour mates who made me the group’s mascot since I was the youngest.
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Hong Kong tour group

It was a frenetic bus trip that had us driving for hours from one country to another. I knew I didn’t want a repeat of that so me and my traveling companions, Rochelle and my cousin Sharon who’s based in the USA, chose the places we wanted to go to and spent an average of 3 days per place. It still wasn’t enough but it gave us a good overview of the cities and gave us an idea where we want to go back to.
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80’s poofy hair 😀

Our three week trip began in Madrid then to Barcelona and San Sebastian. Next stop was Florence and Rome and the last stop was Paris.

Planning for the trip took a lot of research and planning. We bought most of the museum and tour tickets online weeks before our trip. I also did a lot of research on how to pack light for traveling to Europe.

I’m the last person in the world who can pack light. It was hard but I managed to fit everything I needed for 3 weeks in Europe in one standard 22″ hand carry. I brought even more stuff to my recent  4 day trip to Boracay!

I followed the most common rules for packing light. (Summer edition)
1. Pack enough for one week. That means whether your trip is for one week or one month you will need the same amount of clothing.
2. Be prepared to hand wash your clothes. Bring light weight clothes and those that dry quick. That means avoid bringing 100% cotton clothes which take longer to dry and wrinkle more. I actually tested all my clothes by washing and drying them in the bathroom.
3. You will do some shopping so wear your new clothes. This was so true for me.
4. Bring scarves and accessories to complement your clothes.
5. Plan your clothes around a certain color. Mine was blue, black, gray and khaki.
6. Strategize with your travel mate so you can share toothpaste, soap, shampoo and other stuff. In our case we shared laundry soap and our beloved and invaluable clothesline.
7. I left my bulky camera and lenses at home and just brought a small point and shoot, Canon S100. Limit all the gadgets you will bring but don’t forget to bring all the chargers and cables and put them in your hand carry.
8. Rick Steves said Europeans don’t wear shorts in summer so don’t wear shorts so you won’t stand out as a tourist. Big mistake!!! Everyone was wearing shorts!! Tourists AND Europeans. I wish I brought shorts!!! Whether I wear shorts or not I will still look like a tourist anyway.

First list all the clothes you want to bring and weed it out until you have enough for a week.  I limited myself to 3 pairs of pants, 1 of which I will wear and 6 shirts, 1 set sleep wear and a windbreaker in case it rains. I didn’t bring an umbrella. I didn’t bring my iPad but brought my Macbook Air which was so useful for backing up pictures and even doing my blog in my downtime.
packing for Europe

If you noticed the make-up in the roll up bag above this is what’s inside. (The iPhone is just there for size perspective.) The pink aluminum tin is actually a mints tin. It was enough for a variety of eyeliner, eyeshadows and a universal shade of blush. The brush set is from Bobbi Brown.

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You know those free make-up samples you get with a purchase of cosmetics worth a certain amount? I de-potted those and put magnetic tape behind it and then stuck it to the tin case. I have a bigger case that has a lot of these small pots and I can just change colors in the travel tin depending on my mood. (The dents on the eyeshadow came from when I dropped this tin.)
de-potted eyeshadow

I only brought 2 pairs of shoes. I wore one and packed the other one. I was initially going to bring more stylish shoes but at the last minute I was diagnosed as having flat feet so I had to rush out one day before my trip to buy running shoes with high arches. Ugly but it saved my feet from more pain.
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All my shirts and sleepwear went into an packing organizer. In hindsight I wish I brought more colors instead of 2 black shirts. I rolled everything to avoid creasing.
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First layer in my luggage were the pants, jacket (didn’t use it), eco bag (which I never used), hat (got a lot use in sunny Europe). Not in the picture is my foldable Vapur water bottle which I brought with me everyday.
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Next layer was my shirts and roll up bag with hanger which contained everything I needed in the bathroom. I bought this bag in SM for about P350 only. It was really useful.
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Next was my folded up Samsonite duffle bag.
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This 1 lb. duffle bag is my secret  weapon whenever I travel. It folds up to small square and can carry more than 50 lbs. of stuff. All of our shopping went into this bag which I checked in on our flight back to Manila. This way we didn’t have to pay for any overweight.
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Samsonite Tote-A-Ton

My laptop fit in the outside pocket of my luggage. It was the perfect place to store it since I could pull it out easily for security checks. I didn’t check in any luggage. All I had was this small luggage plus another tote bag since I was allowed two hand carry pieces in Qatar Airways. Rochelle had a bigger luggage and I had to put my overpacked toiletry bag in it as well as some shopping I did along the way. How can I not shop in Europe?
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Hope this helps those who pack everything but the kitchen sink. I used to pack a lot of “just in case I need it” things but I realized I can buy anything I ‘may’ need. Just don’t forget to bring all your medication and supplements and pack them in your hand carry. Those you can’t buy without a prescription.

16 thoughts on “European Vacation 2012

  1. Nakaka aliw ha! Me advertisement pa talaga eh! Do you think we can pack light with Kat and Alex? haha. ANyways, I think they’re still too young for Europe and might find museums, architecture and cultural events “too boring”. Nice one Leslie, will wait for the other parts of your trip. Awaiting…..

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  2. galing!!! same here i am really not a light packer luckily i travel with paul so i get additional baggage allowance bec his luggage is super light! haha

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  3. les. how about packing light (autumn edition)? i borrowed rochelles luggage and its so tiny compared to the one i am using! help pls…

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  4. Chris I suggest you follow the same concept and just wear your thicker coat when you travel. Just pack several shirts for layering. You just need 2 thermal undershirts and you’re good to go. I suggest Uniqlo’s Heattech shirts. They’re thin, lightweight, quick dry and will keep you warm. That’s what I used last Fall in Virginia and New York.

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  5. Hi! If not cotton, what quick dry materials would you suggest for shirts and pants? You didn’t need flipflops on your trip?

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  6. Material with a rayon blend is good. Just anything not pure cotton. Flip flops would be good for use in the shower if so inclined. I don’t find flip flops a good walking shoes kasi. But if works for you go ahead since they’re very lightweight anyway.

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  7. Thanks for the tip on the Samsonite Tote-a-Ton bag! Needed something collapsible like that to take back souvenirs too! Just bought it at Bed Bath & Beyond for $17 with my 20% off coupon!

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