Posted by: Kristie | September 30, 2009

The Goods on the Gear

This one’s for all of the travelers out there scrounging for info on gear and clothes.

We have been travelling for nearly a month now so I thought I’d check in and give everyone an update on our gear/clothes. What’s working, what’s not, what I wish I brought and what I wish I’d left at home. Since I never really posted info on what gear we brought, I’ll also go into that. To see our original packing list, check out Europe Packing List.

Carry-On Bags
Both Eddie Bauer roller bags. Not sure of the exact size, but I would say about medium, probably 20″. Brett’s is one I’ve had for a long time. It’s held up well so I decided to buy another one for this trip (both were actually purchased from Target). What I didn’t realize is Brett’s is slightly smaller and is actually convertible so he can put it on his back.

My bag

My Eddie Bauer bag bought from Target in early 2009

So far so good on these. Brett likes the ability to convert, especially when we were in Brugge on the cobblestone streets. I still prefer the roller bag style. I am just not a backpack person and ultimately, I think it helps my shoulders. I think if I had to do it all over again, I might look into the Samsonite spinner series carry-ons. They have 4 wheels that twirl so it can move all around and are supposed to be pretty light. I’ve seen several of them in airports and they look pretty sweet.

Purse/Backpack

For my day bag/purse, I decided to go with a regular purse as opposed to a backpack or a “travel” purse. It definitely makes me feel less of a traveler, especially in the bigger cities. I chose one that you can wear as a regular shoulder bag or over the shoulder. It’s large and spacious enough to carry our camera, books, wallet, even our laptop. The only problem is that the over-the-shoulder strap is not comfortable since it’s only straps. I might look into getting one of those cushiony straps.

Purse also from Target

Purse also from Target

For the trip, Brett bought a new Camelback Maxium Gear backpack (he wanted to make sure I clarify that his is all black). I will let him write the review on this one: I love this backpack.  If I wasn’t already married to Kristie, I would marry this backpack.  It is that good.  It is deceptively spacious with compression straps both inside and outside the compartments which allows you to expand or contract the pack as needed.  The strap system is very good at what it does in that you could easily load this pack down with 50-80# and still carry it comfortably without over stressing the seams, buckles, zippers, or fabric.  Basically, you can make this thing as small or as massive as you want and it’ll do whatever you ask it to do. I literally can’t think of any negatives about this bag just yet, I reckon we’ll do a gear update at the end of the trip and see if we still feel the same way.  (From K: I think he keeps it obnoxiously large where he’s wacking people left and right.)

Other Gear

Wallet/Clutch – For my birthday, my hubby bought me the Hobo Lauren Clutch/Wallet. I had been coveting it for some time now and decided it would be a great birthday present for me. Ha! I knew it would be perfect for the trip. It’s large enough to easily find in my large purse or Brett’s huge backpack. It fits my iphone, money, change and passport. The only thing that doesn’t fit is our Eurailpass, so I put it in the middle and the magnetic closures hold it in place when we’re traveling. Then, if we’re just going to dinner down the road, it doubles as a clutch so I don’t always have to use my large purse. And it’s pretty. I love it.

Lovely Hobo Wallet/Clutch

Lovely Hobo Wallet/Clutch

Packing Cube/Folder– The packing cubes have been lifesavers. It completely helps me to stay organized, which is especially important when only staying 2-3 nights at one place. I bought both packing cubes and a pack-it folder. The cubes, from Rick Steves, hold my pants/skirts and undies/socks. Their mesh and unstructured so I can smoosh them down for extra space. The folder, Eagle Creek, holds my tops and comes with a plastic board to fold your clothes, helping to keep them wrinkle free. 

Hanging Toiletry Bag – I got this toiletry bag from The Container Store and it has worked out great. When I arrive in a new place, I hang it up in the bathroom (there are always hooks) and it helps to keep everything organized and contained.

Hanging Toiletry Bag

Hanging toiletry bag has three main compartments keep all my things separate and organized

Clothes/Toiletries

I am happy with everything I brought. I am so glad I decided to go with more “normal” clothes than travel-friendly clothes, especially my jeans. They take a little longer to dry, but if you plan accordingly it’s not a big deal. It just makes me feel like I fit in better and don’t necessarily stand out as an American traveler. Who knows if that’s actually true or not.

Things I Love That I Have:

  • Having a light cardigan, a heavier hoodie and a jacket. Can be worn all together if it’s really cold or worn alone for all types of weather.
  • Slippers – Called Footie Slippers, they have a little more structure than slipper socks, but not bulky like regular slippers. They are light, barely take up any room and great for the apartments that we’ve been staying in because they all have either tile or wood floors.  (Update: I left them in the Marsielle hotel room! Urrghhh).
  • Foot liners – These are absolute life savers! They help to prevent chaffing/blisters, especially important with new shoes, plus they help keep foot odor at bay while being much cooler than normal socks. And they dry quickly and take up virtually no space. A definite must for travellers.

Things I’m Surprisingly Glad I Have:

  • Perfume – I bought a smaller, roller-style perfume from Sephora. I’ve been wearing it every day, it helps me to feel a bit more “refined” rather than a grungy traveler.
  • Leggings – This is actually thanks to my friend Shannon, who asked if I was bringing tights for my skirt and dress. I actually hadn’t planned on it, but when I thought about it, I thought having leggings to go underneath might be a good idea. So glad I did. Up until we got to France, I mainly only wore my skirt/dress with the leggings. And the perfect thing is if it warms up during the day, you can just take them off. 

Things I Wish I Brought:

  • Conditioner – At the last minute, I took this out because I figured the first couple places would have it and I could just use theirs. Wrong. It would’ve been better to not bring shampoo and bring conditioner. Nobody had conditioner and at first it was fine, but with this long hair, my hair kept getting knotted up and I was in desperate need. Then I had trouble finding a small one. I guess Europeans don’t use conditioner a lot. I finally found one at The Body Shop.
  • Sudafed/Cold medicine – I decided not to bring any figuring if we got sick, we could just buy some somewhere. I wish I brought a couple, just to get us started. Brett started getting sick on Thursday but didn’t want to get any medicine. By Saturday, he gave in but all of the pharmacies in Austria closed after noon and were closed on Sunday. We were SOL.

 Things I Could’ve Left at Home:

  • Clothes – I would say I brought one too many t-shirts and I didn’t need the nightgown/bathing suit cover up. It just took up space and if I’d rather have that space for buying something new. We sent a package home from Amsterdam so I stuffed those in as packing material. I would also say I could’ve gotten away with one less pair of pants and still been fine.

Things I’m glad I didn’t bring:

  • A lot of jewelry — when researching packing light, so many things I read said to bring lots of colorful jewelry because it doesn’t doesn’t take up much space and its light (I guess that really depends on what type of jewelry you’re bringing, there’s a lot of heavy jewelry out there). The idea is that you can change up the same outfit by using different jewelry. Well, I’m not really a big jewelry person. My typical routine is my ring, a pair of earrings or a necklace. I knew this wasn’t really going to change just because I’m traveling. Plus, can a different-colored necklace really make that same black dress you’ve been wearing for the past three days look different? I think not. At least not with my accessorizing skills.

Things I’ve lost:

  • Slippers (still so annoyed about that!)
  • Lip gloss (happened during the couple days of the trip)
  • Black Camisole (think that got lost in the laundry in Amsterdam)
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Responses

  1. Love the tips – I will have to reference this the next time I take a month long trip somewhere! Which will probably be in another 10 years and then these products will probably be discontinued! None the less, I learned a lot.

    But I do have one comment: different jewelry can TOTALLY make the difference in the outfit – even that same black dress you’ve worn 1000 times over. However, since all of my jewelry was stolen out of my bag in the Dominican Rep., I say you were smart not bringing it. 🙂

  2. You mention trying to find a conditioner in a small enough container – is this for carry-on purposes? And if so, are the restrictions for train travel the same as air? Or just for space consideration?

    Also, did you guys bring a voltage converter for any of your electronics? I imagine most of yours already accept dual voltage and you just need the adapter. I have a cheapo european hair straightener but would love to bring my regular one. I just can’t find my converter. I may have chucked it after it failed to protect one of my other pricey hair straighteners, come to think.

  3. And I LOVE the color of your Lauren clutch, gorgeous.

  4. Katie – You need to teach me your accessorizing skills because I obviously don’t have any. Sorry to hear about your jewelry though, that sucks!

    Shan – There’s no restrictions for the train, I just don’t want to take up the space or add extraneous weight to my bag. And no, we didn’t bring a voltage converter, just an adapter. Everything electronic we brought is dual voltage. Maybe your straightener is too? I killed my straightener in Romaia because I forgot about the converter. The plates actually melted off.

    • Hm, ok, maybe I’ll just see how the euro straightener does it. I remember being pleasantly surprised by it the last time I used it in Ireland. I’m fairly certain my current main straightener is the same model that melted down on me in Oman… I pushed it too far past the strange buzzing stage, that’s why the last half of pics are all of me with my hair pulled back :). Although not as dramatic as the plates MELTING off, that’s cuh-razy.


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