The weather and the colour scheme,
These are the two things I think about when packing for a short trip, such as my recent 3-day trip to Barcelona over Easter. This time I decided to travel light: only cabin luggage. A challenge? Not really. I’m a frequent traveller as I have homes in two countries, but above all I’m both busy and lazy and can’t be bothered to think about packing too much.
Of course, I always check the temperature at my destination, but I plan for some surprises, too. For instance, if the temperature is supposed to be around 15 ºC (59 ºF), I pack clothes suitable for weather around 12-20 ºC (53-68 ºF). And before you can say ‘layering’, let me remind you that I refuse to wear more than two layers (= a top and a coat), never mind the temperature.
As far as the colour scheme goes, I decide which bag and coat I want to wear first, and the rest of the colour scheme sort follows from that. On this trip I wanted to wear the purple trench I bought at the sales a few months ago and my new coral bag.
So, what works with purple and coral? Other than neutrals, that is. I don’t do beige. Or brown. Or any of the other ‘muddy’ colours, for that matter. OK, I actually packed a pair of olive trousers for this trip, but that’s as far as I go with neutrals. They just don’t do it for me. In fact, they either make me look sick or fade into the wall, neither of which is very appealing.
But, Breton stripes work with anything, and navy and blue combo is practically a neutral, at least for someone with my natural colouring. So, I packed two long-sleeved stripy t-shirts.
And the short-sleeved Breton top you see here? I bought it in Barcelona… I swear I didn’t go looking for it, honest. It found me, and it was love at first sight. Did I mention the t-shirt is very light, and made of linen? Oh, I also bought this beautiful silk / wool pashmina in Barcelona…
But, back to packing… I always start with the bulkiest pieces:
the coat, the shoes and the bag that I would be wearing both on the plane and once in my destination. These items just take up too much luggage space, so there are no back-up options. Besides, I want to leave some space in my luggage for the inevitable shopping I will be doing in my destination.
A short trench goes with anything
I choose a (seasonally appropriate) coat that goes with every piece of clothing I plan to pack and works in every situation. In spring the trench coat is the obvious choice, but in summer it could be a light jacket. I prefer a shorter trench coat when travelling as it is easier to fit into the aircraft overhead locker or fold over a chair in a restaurant. Or carry folded over your arm when the weather suddenly gets warmer.
Spring can a bit tricky because it may be cold enough for a coat in the evening but much warmer during the day. So, I often take a cardigan, too. I suppose a jacket would do the trick just as well, but a cardigan packs and travels better. So, if I travel with cabin luggage only, a cardigan it is. I’ll show you an outfit with the cardigan I packed later in another post.
Two pairs of shoes
Two pairs of shoes is the maximum if I travel with cabin luggage only. And it goes without saying that the shoes I plan to wear on the plane must be easy to take off at the security control… I suppose I could manage a 3-day trip with just one pair of shoes, but I think it’s better for the feet to change the shoes, especially if you walk a lot.
It sounds simple, just 2 pairs of shoes, but this time of the year I also have to think about how I’m going to get to the airport from home. This time my journey started in Finland, where the temperature is still quite a bit colder than in Barcelona. Most people would suggest taking a taxi, and a year ago that’s exactly what I would have done. But now there’s a direct train connection almost literally from my front door to the airport, it takes all of ten minutes…
So, if I can just manage to get to the platform without getting knee-deep in snow, I’ll be fine (as I’ve already had the flu twice this year, I’m not going to risk getting a cold by getting my feet wet). Fortunately, the weather seems to finally get a bit warmer, so most of the snow was gone the day I left, and a pair of shoes with thick soles was all I needed.
Thick soles also come in handy in my destination as I expect to do a lot of walking. Yes, Barcelona has excellent public transportation, but walking around more or less aimlessly is what Professor M and I call ‘sightseeing’. So, good walking shoes are a must. And no, I don’t need shoes for ‘going out’. All our lunches and dinners tend to be in places with a rather relaxed dress code, or we might even resort to the hotel room service. After a day of shopping and sightseeing both of us are often quite happy to rest in the hotel. Does that mean we’re getting old? Who cares: what’s the point of booking a nice hotel if you’re not going to enjoy what it has to offer?
A crossbody bag is a must
I often take two bags with me when I travel: a small(ish) shoulder bag and a tote. But I would advise anyone going to Barcelona to just leave the tote at home. And I think a crossbody bag is the most sensible choice for many reasons. Yes, it gives you the freedom of movement etc. But that’s not the reason why it’s the best, or maybe even the only bag suitable for Barcelona,
Now, I don’t often give advice (because I think everybody knows what’s best for them, and my ideas, as brilliant as they may be, might not work for somebody else). But now I want you to take this to heart and just believe me: Barcelona is the pickpockets’ paradise. And it’s not just pickpockets you have to worry about but bag snatchers, too. So, to make sure your valuables are safe, you’d better attach them to your body one way or another.
And the rest is just filling in the gaps
What do you really need for a 3-day trip? There’s some sightseeing, shopping, restaurant hopping… That’s 4 t-shirts (2 with short sleeves and 2 with long-sleeves to allow for some changeable weather) and two pairs of trousers. A scarf or two (or three, who cares: they take practically no space in your luggage) and two pairs of sunglasses, maybe a necklace or two. Of course, all of the above can be mixed and matched and should work with the coat, bag and shoes. Well, that’s the plan anyway…
What did I actually pack? And what did I wear?
My travel outfit was a pashmina over a long-sleeved t-shirt, and the jeans, trench coat, crossbody bag and burgundy shoes you see in this post.
And this is what I was wearing over the 3 days: a trench coat, a cardigan, jeans, a pair of light-weight olive trousers, a long-sleeved Breton top, 2 short-sleeved t-shirts, two pairs of sunglasses, 3 scarves, 2 pairs of shoes, a necklace, a crossbody bag.
What I had packed but didn’t wear: a pair of navy trousers, a skirt, 2 short-sleeved t-shirts.
And what I bought while there: a short-sleeved linen t-shirt, a pashmina, a necklace, a long-sleeved t-shirt.
So, did I overpack? Of course I did! I like to have some options. Besides, t-shirts and scarves take up hardly any space, and it is easy to fit several pairs of trousers or skirts in cabin luggage. And I had some space left for my shopping, too.
trench coat: Hobbs / bag: Furla / necklace : vintage via Hirst Antiques /
metal-frame sunglasses: Cutler and Gross / leopard print sunglasses: Dolce and Gabbana /
floral pashmina: Carolina Herrera / linen scarf: Global Accessories /
short-sleeved linen Breton top: Caroll / long-sleeved Breton top: Jigsaw
burgundy shoes: Clarks / gold shoes: Van Dal /
What are your must-haves when packing for a short break?
PS: There’s a fabulous new DILETTANTE ARTIST post out, too…
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