Here are a few lessons learned by someone who is a complete and proud packing geek:
1. Weigh your bag. You are allowed to bring 50 pounds in a checked bag. Do not leave for a great trip with 47 pounds of stuff. You are going to want to shop. Even if you think you are not a shopper. You will want to put more than 3 pounds of purchases into your suitcase. Get that weight down. Aim low people!! Don't shlep lots of stuff you don't need. We take advantage of laundry services on the boat and in hotels. It's worth the cost for us to have favorite clothes professional done and carry less. Pinterest has great packing lists for any of you other packing geeks out there.
2. Three or four pairs of shoes. That's it. No more. (They weigh too much!) Bring the most comfortable pair of walking shoes you have. Shoes you can walk for miles in! And yes, they can be sneakers. That story that Europeans don't wear sneakers is not true anymore. Sneakers are everywhere. Bring the most comfortable ones you have. Also bring shoes for bad weather. (Learn from me, on one trip to Italy, I was running through massive puddles in Siena in patent leather ballet flats.) Bring something dressy, loafers for men, ballet flats or strappy sandals for women. The joy of being on a river cruise is that you can wear dressy shoes to dinner and not have to walk far in them! If you leave the ship for a night to go to a nice restaurant, you are going to be thrilled to have them. Author and social media guru Amanda Brooks suggests "Always bring a party dress", I also suggest that men always bring a blazer.
3. Do not bring books. None. You don't want to carry them. Bring your kindle or as I prefer, an iPad with the kindle app. I'm a needlepointer so I also love having audible books and noise canceling headphones. I can stitch away in listening to fabulous books in peace on a noisy plane.
4. Leave big purses at home. A medium cross body bag is what you want. Big enough to hold essentials and a few small purchases. Hands free and pick pocket proof is the way to go.
5. Rain Gear
6. If you use apple products and a camera, bring the little white apple card reader. It's so fun to be able to upload your photos in the evenings. It will inspire you to bring your camera with you the next day.
7. Bring a sampling of the over the counter medications you prefer when you are sick. If you get sick on a trip, you do not want to have to navigate pharmacies with language barriers to purchase medications you have never heard of.
8. Sleeping favorites. I actually travel with my favorite pillow from childhood everywhere I go. It's worth it to me to ensure I have a fabulous night sleep. My husband and I travel with two sleep masks and two small reading lights. This way we can both read or sleep anywhere.
9. Sunglasses, hat, extra camera charger, extra glasses and contacts, headphones. Colorful scarves are a great way to dress up or change outfits you are repeating throughout the trip. A warm wrap is fabulous on a cold plane or for a spontaneous dinner al fresco. I have a favorite black cashmere wrap given to me by a dear childhood friend. I always fly with it and it doubles as a wrap to dress up any outfit.
10. Be prepared for a luggage disaster. Twice while traveling we have known people who have lost their luggage on the way TO the trip. What could be worse than arriving for a dream trip after 12 hours of traveling without any clean clothes?! We carry at least one great outfit in our carry ons (I prefer 2). The other trick some couples do is to pack half of each person's clothes in each of the two suitcases. This way if you loose one suitcase on the way, you each have half your clothes. We have not yet tried this, but have been tempted!
* Do not bring ANY good jewelry. It's so not worth it. Every one of us has heard a story or two about someone we know who was robbed while traveling. Leave it all at home. A wedding band if you are married and a simple pair of earrings are all you need. Simple inexpensive jewelry is fine. Knock off costume jewelry is not the solution. Someone who is going to rob you is not wondering whether or not your sparklers are cubic zirconia. Don't call attention to yourself.
For luggage... We are loyal Tumi users. Love the 4 rotating wheels. Great quality, no flash. We opt for grey because it hides the dirt but still stands out amongst all the black luggage. In addition we have added colorful markers to help identify our bags. We each also use a Tumi carry-on bag. My husband prefers a tote bag and I prefer a small, soft wheelie bag that fits under the seat in front of me. Both of our carry-ons attach on top of our larger bags.
Photos taken on our second day of the trip in Vienna, Austria. A grey, rainy yet beautiful day.