I’ve just spent 6 months house and cat sitting in France and the United Kingdom starting out in Corsica and southern France where I needed summer clothes followed by rainy winter weather requiring a hat, gloves, and a jacket. Spring is warmer but still wet. I’ve stayed in large cities but also rural villages.
No problem, you say, just take a large suitcase. But I would be travelling by bus and train to 20 different locations and I have a weak back. The suitcase had to be small, supplemented by a backpack which was primarily for my laptop, iPad, and electronic gear.
I’m nearing the end of my time abroad, and I’m relatively content with what I packed. And the total weight was less than 18 pounds (12 for the suitcase and less than 6 for the backpack).
Here’s what I took:
2 pairs of shoes (1 dressier pair, 1 heavy waterproof pair that could handle mud)
2 pairs of black pants (1 casual, 1 dressy)
Lightweight black skirt and matching cardigan (invaluable in the hotter weather)
Sleeveless, fast-drying shell
Silk t-shirt with ¾ length sleeves
Sleeveless turtleneck sweater
Long-sleeved nightgown that doubled as my at-home, watching-television outfit
7 pairs of underpants and a camisole
Socks, including some heavier ones that served as slippers in the evenings
2 shawls (a light-weight, easy-to-pack alternative to a sweater)
Bathing suit (shipped home once I left Corsica)
Hooded rainproof winter jacket
Clothes had to be mix and match and the variety of tops allowed me to layer as the weather required. Scarves and necklaces provided some variety. Most European homes don’t have clothes dryers so I chose lightweight clothes that wouldn’t take forever to dry.
You have to be ruthless if you want to keep the weight down. Toiletry items can take up a lot of space so I made sure I had the smallest possible containers (I didn’t say small; I said smallest!).
I did laundry on average once a week so my clothes got worn several times before they were washed.
I avoid buying souvenirs and anything I do buy gets mailed home immediately. My only books were on my iPad.