Europe: Summer 2018. This is my 3rd full summer in a row of traveling, but normally I’m hunkered down in one place for the long haul. Summer 2016, Costa Rica for 6 weeks. Summer 2017, Malaysia for 8 weeks, and then to Greece and Italy for a couple of weeks. Warm weather. Easy, light packing. Washing machine at my disposal. Never one to to be accused of sticking to what works, I decided that my 2018 Summer trip would be different. Yes, this year I was going to pack a minimum of 10 countries into almost 3 months. Packing 10 countries INTO 11ish weeks should be an interesting challenge, I admit. But packing FOR 10 countries is a much more daunting task indeed, especially when you are starting out in chilly Iceland in early June, and hanging out in sweltering Malta in July. Oh, and did I mention that I only travel with a carry on? I’m not a masochist (well, maybe a bit!). What I am is a cheap ass. That, and my sherpa (Brian) will only be there for about a week of this entire trip. Getting to 10 countries means a lot of inter-European flights on budget airlines that want to charge more than my wardrobe is worth to check a bag. Uh, how do you say “no thank you” in 7 different languages?? And each airline has its own requirements…
|Airline||Route||Carry On Limit|
|WOW||Los Angeles to Reykjavik||56x45x25cm 12 kg carry on + 1 personal item 42x32x25cm 10kg||Must pay $50 for the carry on.|
|Easy Jet||Reykjavik to Edinburgh||Carry on 56x45x25cm no weight limit. Personal item 45cm x 36cm x 20cm||Can only take a personal under the seat item if you pay for the upgraded seat.|
|Ryan Air||Edinburgh to Dublin||55cm x 40cm x 20cm 10kg that must be checked at gate + 1 personal 35cm x 20cm x 20cm||Pay for priority to guarantee carry on not placed in hold.|
|Air Lingus||Dublin to Nice||55 x 40 x 24 cm 10 kg carry on + 25 x 33 x 20 cm personal item|
|Easy Jet||Nice to Catania||Carry on 56x45x25cm no weight limit. Personal item 45cm x 36cm x 20cm||Can only take a personal under the seat item if you pay for the upgraded seat.|
|Ryan Air||Catania to Malta||55cm x 40cm x 20cm 10kg that must be checked at gate + 1 personal 35cm x 20cm x 20cm||Pay for priority to guarantee carry on not placed in hold.|
|Ryan Air||Malta to Rome||55cm x 40cm x 20cm 10kg that must be checked at gate + 1 personal 35cm x 20cm x 20cm||Pay for priority to guarantee carry on not placed in hold.|
|Blue Air||Rome to Bucharest||55cm x 40cm x 20cm 10kg carry on. NO personal item.|
|Wizz Air||Bucharest to Basel||55 X 40 X 23CM Carryon 10kg- No personal||Pay for priority to guarantee carry on not placed in hold and add ability to take a personal item|
|Air Europa||Zurich to Madrid||55 cm. x 35 cm. x 25 cm 10 kg carry on + 1 personal 35cm x 30cm x 20 cm|
|Norwegian||Madrid to Los Angeles||55x40x23 cm carry on + 1 25x33x20cm personal. Combined weight 10kg|
I normally travel with two bags- my FABULOUS Ebags Mother Lode Weekender Convertible (55.9 x 35.6 x 22.9 cm) and my “fish bag”- a really oversized handbag of sorts that my laptop, my day pack, and a bunch of other junk easily fits into. But my fish bag is way too big for some of these airlines requirements, and some don’t even allow an extra personal bag (wtf???), so I’m leaving the fish bag behind and just taking my day pack as my personal item. I’ll have to cram it into my carry on and hope I don’t go overweight on a couple of these airlines. Oy! And my Ebags back is bigger than what Ryan and Blue Air like… I’m not going to cram it full and it’s soft sided, so I’m just going to hope I can smush it into the measuring box if they ask. I went ahead and paid an extra $9 per flight for priority so I don’t have to check my laptop. Guys and gals, always read the airlines requirements. I learned that after having to pay like $30 at Air Asia in Malaysia for being over weight by just a couple of kg…
Let’s start with the cold weather. I live in Los Angeles. The land of perpetual 78 and sunny. The running joke here at the house is that if it’s 65 degrees, it is 5 degrees below zero. Because 70 is my zero. Anything below that, I’m bundled up in several layers. I’m not kidding. So Iceland is definitely an interesting choice for me. But I got a cushy housesit for 12 days, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity! And then Brian and I decided to meet for our mid-trip reunion in Malta. Weather report for Iceland? Rainy/cloudy with highs near 20 below zero (50 F for you laymen). Wind chill? 30 below zero (40 F)!! Weather report for Malta? 88 F- my kinda forecast!! All these different destinations and climates, and crazy baggage limits…This is going to require some thought, ingenuity, and maybe a Pack charm (that’s a Harry Potter reference- not J.K.’s most original moniker…).
The first hurdle is actually having warm clothes that are light weight. I’ve done France twice in December, so I have winter clothes, but they’re all really bulky and heavy- not appropriate for this trip. I’ll traipse all over the world without a care. It takes an act of god to get me off of my couch and into a mall though, so I turned to my two favorite sources for travel clothes: Sierra Trading Post and Amazon. On Sierra, I got myself 2 fleece lined, antimicrobial (meaning you can wear them for a few days without getting stinky. Don’t judge.) thermal underlayer tops for $16 each, and a really awesome Craghopper’s Compresslite Travel Jacket– insulated, wind proof, water resistant, space saving for packing- for only $22. Score! Also got a pair of fleece lined leggings. From Amazon, I snagged a really soft and warm beanie/scarf set for $14, a waterproof walking/hiking shoe for $40, some really cool (I’m not a fashionista) water/wind proof fleece lined ski pants that don’t really look like ski pants, with big pockets to carry things in (I am practical). And a pair of gloves for $13. It’s always hard for me to decide on gloves, because inevitably 3 days in I will only have one glove… I already had a fairly lightweight warm dress, another thermal baselayer top, a pair of long underwear, another pair of fleece lined leggings, my Columbia rainjacket that goes everywhere, but has hardly ever left my suitcase, and my “go everywhere” convertible pants. This would be my Iceland/Scotland/Ireland/mountains of Romania and Switzerland wardrobe. Those ski pants are going to get a LOT of wear!!
For summer, I didn’t have to buy anything new. 3 of my lightweight, quick dry travel dresses that go everywhere with me, 3 shirts, one pair of shorts, my (now discontinued, of course) Merrell All Out Bold walking shoes that I LIVE in at home and away, my Exofficio panties and bras that I don’t get on a plane without, and that’s it. That would be my French Riviera, Malta, Italy, Spain, and any warm parts of Romania and Switzerland wardrobe.
My Ebags Mother Lode Weekender Convertible bag that I LOVE LOVE LOVE weighed 13 lbs with all of that. Not too bad. I’m proud to say that I got on to even the most size/weight restrictive budget airlines with NO issues! We will not mention the fact that sometimes I was wearing ski pants under dresses to board the plane and stripping them off in my seat to make weight but hey…pack light, or stay home, I say! 🙂