The number one most difficult thing for everyone to pack is…CLOTHING! I am not kidding about this.

It seems to be everyone’s weak point, mine included! Traveling in Europe is not like it is here in the US where there seems to always be a valet to help with your luggage. If you are doing a side trip at the front or back side of the painting trip, catching trains or taking additional flights – you’ll find that most of the time you’ll need to schlep your own luggage. Up stairs, down the stairs…walking, walking. Two times come to mind when I went to Italy and, after one day of carrying my own luggage, promptly shipped a box full of clothes back home. Billy Crystal was totally wrong when he said on Saturday Night Live, “It is better to look good than to feel good.”

Here are some ways I’ve cut back on my own packing. Trust me, when you start to pack you’ll think you can’t live without a certain top – or an extra pair of pants – but you will thank yourself later if you leave them home.


First – size and type of luggage. Do not take the very biggest suitcase on the face of the earth, especially if it’s that hard sided stuff. There is absolutely no stuffing a hard-side into a bit too small vacant spot on a train, although the Europeans get great pleasure from watching us try to do it.

I recommend the mid-size piece of luggage, which normally measures about 26″ x 19″. If you absolutely need a bigger size suitcase, don’t fill it – leave room to bring home a few things.

Art supplies take up very little room. In the last post, I furnished you with a list and photo of all the supplies. Here I’ve packed all of the small items from that list into a baggie and put that into the back pocket, along with all of the pencils. Your journal or watercolor paper/support can go into the lid pocket if you wish, which saves the main suitcase portion almost entirely for your clothing. I ALWAYS PUT MY PALETTE IN A GALLON SIZE ZIPLOC and pack it on socks or my hat to cushion a bit. That goes in the bottom of my suitcase. You can also put your art carrying bag in the bottom, unless you are using it as your carry on. I always pack my camera, cell and any prescriptions in my carry on – more on the carry on bag in a moment. You also see a LIGHT rain jacket here. Personally, I take an umbrella and a rain jacket (more like a wind breaker, actually). I sometimes wear it on the plane, along with another layer or a sweater. It’s gets cold on the plane and it’s that much less I pack in my suitcase. If I don’t need it once I’ve arrived, I just stick into the front OUTSIDE pocket of my suitcase.


So, here’s what I normally take as far as clothing in my MAIN SUITCASE: Note this says MAIN, not MAN. Men will not want to pack most of these items….except for the pants.

* PANTS take up the most room, so I try to choose three – jeans, black pants, khaki’s or other favorite that will go with several tops. All of these types of pants will go with many types of tops and the idea is to mix and match. On these trips, we all wear items more than once! Do NOT take a pair of pants that doesn’t go with more than one top…unless you are meeting the queen.

*TOPS – I’ve found that you can pack about a million of those t-shirty type tops into a tiny space. So, I take several of them to mix and match with more than one pair of pants. They are also very easy to wash out in a sink and dry for the following day, if need be. In addition, I usually take a ‘special’ top or two…but nothing bulky. Maybe something colorful or a bit more dressy fabric.

*SCARVES – to this I add one or two scarves that are my favorites. Scarves can really dress up an outfit! It’s amazing, actually. But let me warn you – you will buy scarves in Europe. You just can’t help yourself! No matter how many scarves I have (and I promise myself before I go that I will not buy a scarf, will NOT buy a scarf) I buy the darn things. It’s just fun to buy a new scarf and wear it to dinner that night, everyone ooing and ahhing about “where did you find that”?

*ONE PAIR of PJ’s – one pair is really all that is needed. Not one pair for every night (you know who you are).

*SHOES – Two pairs of very comfortable walking shoes that have been broken in. Do Not take a brand new pair of shoes. There’s a lot of walking in Europe and blisters are not fun. Take two pairs so that you can change them every other day. They will wear on your foot in different locations and hopefully not rub a blister. Tennis shoes are wonderful for walking as we Americans know. I usually wear my heaviest pair of shoes on the plane and pack the other light pair or two. If you want more shoes, buy them over there! Much more fun than lugging your own shoes all over Europe.

*SWEATER OR LONG-SLEEVE SHIRTY SOMETHING OR COVER UP to layer in case the weather gets cool. I have three pieces that I generally have with me – two of which I usually wear on the plane. I have my light weight rain jacket, a light black sweater and a light weight black jacket. I wear two of those three on the plane and, if it’s hot on the plane and I don’t need all three, I stuff one in my carry on bag or use it for a pillow. The black jacket can also go with any of my other pants for a ‘dressier’ sort of look over a t-shirt top. (Aren’t I just the fashion maven)?


*PRESCRIPTION MEDS – it’s always a good idea to carry them in their original bottles with Rx on the side, in case you are questioned. I also have some time-release melatonin that I take to help me sleep on the flight.


*MAKEUP BAG or other essentials in case your flight is delayed. Don’t want to scare the other passengers, for heaven’s sake.

*ONE OUTFIT just in case your baggage is lost.

**I KEEP OUT ONE OF MY LARGE SCARVES for the plane. Some airlines keep the lights on all night and I like darkness when I’m trying to sleep. I also don’t like people to see the contortions I do while sleeping, or a drool, that sort of thing. So, I wrap the scarf around me and slide a portion up over my face. Ahhhh…private space.

*EARPLUGS in case of crying children on the flight.

*SOCKS – my feet get cold on the flight!

*I CARRY ALL OF MY IMPORTANT ELECTRONICS WITH ME – cell phone, camera, ipad. I do not take a laptop. There’s usually a laptop at the location that can be used, or someone else on the trip will allow you to borrow. I can get email on the ipad, but I take it mostly for it’s capability to download photos from my camera. Then I can have access to them back in the studio to finish a piece.

*VISA, ATM card, PASSPORT – of course! Also, make and bring copies of all of those items. Much easier if any are lost. The first thing I do when getting off the plane in Europe is to find an ATM and get some Euros. The second thing? GELATO! I do have my priorities. 😉

Thanks so much for reading!

Kathie xo

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