A somewhat practical guide to packing your checked bag

My ideal luggage

If I could, that is what my suitcase would have in it. My favorite blanket, my bike, my pillows, my kitten, lots of cute high heel options, my extra winter coats (you never know which one will match the outfit you are wearing), etc. All of these things are great, but they will not fit into my ONE checked bag!

Goal: Fit everything I want (NEED) into ONE checked bag that is under 50 pounds! Plus I will have my carry-on.

As a general rule, I like to be practical. As another general rule, I am very irrational. So sometimes my conflicting ideas cause personal problems. For example, I really want to bring all of my sports bras because I love them (irrational), however, my practical side knows that I will probably only work out three times a week (if that) and that I really do not need to bring fifteen sports bras. So, my practical side won that battle and many more to come. Let’s compare packing to arguing with your siblings. The truth is, no one ever wins. Plus, then you have to give her back the shirt that you borrowed that she said you could have but now wants back just to be mean. So, now she has the shirt but she never wears it, and if she never wears it then no one ever wears so no one wins. The thing about packing…


You think you are really good at packing? Be my friend and teach me your ways.

So basically, what I am trying to do here is give you a general idea as to what types of clothes to bring and how many of each type of clothing. This assumes that you will be doing the laundry at least once every week and a half. It also assumes that you will be in Europe for an extended period of time (multiple seasons). Now, for those of you who may be confused, I am NOT by any means instructing on specific styles of clothing to bring. Let’s not get these things mixed up. I am not fashionable (I mean, I try). All I am here to tell you about is what types of clothes should be in your bag, not the specific items of clothing. For those of you who don’t see me in real life, let me enlighten you as to my everyday appearance.

Every day
Every day and not socially acceptable, oops!

Oops, yup. That’s me. Pony tail, t-shirts, cats, really any outfit you can wear in a gym is something I would wear on a daily basis (cats at the gym? what?). Anyways, that sort of thing is my natural state and I don’t try to fight it (most days). No, no, it does not take any time for me to get that beautiful. If you want my look, you can just roll out of bed and begin your day. Make an appearance at Wal-Mart? You will fit right in. Want to go to the gym? You are set! Maybe spend a day on the boat? Sure thing, you got it. Go to work? I do, but my co-workers think I am the smelly kid. Anyways, this fool proof method of being “socially acceptable” needs to go (because it’s not fool proof). I am going to have to dress in a “socially acceptable” manner while living in Madrid. Why people don’t dress like college students in Europe is beyond me, but I am going to have to move past my “I just rolled out of bed” phase and actually try to look normal. So, when I try to be socially acceptable I like to accessorize (earrings and scarf), brush my hair, put on make up, smile awkwardly and sometimes pose pretending to smell flowers. These are all the looks I am going to go for when living in Europe. Especially the flower one and lots of awkwardness just because I can’t really help it.

Trying to be normal.
Trying to be normal.

So, what I am trying to say is, I am going to try. If I can try, so can you. I don’t have many clothes that I wear when I am not wearing workout clothes, so for me, when packing things like that, it’s not really a challenge because I am probably going to bring everything. When it comes to workout clothes, that is where my problem comes in. Anyways, I am now officially going to begin breaking down what needs to be in your checked bag.

1. Every-day shirts (shirts that are “socially acceptable”)

Bring at least 7, I am going to have to buy some! Because it’s just not practical to cycle through 7 shirts each week for a year…they will get ruined really fast (that’s my excuse to buy things and attempt to be fashionable)…see what I did there?Shirts

2. Every-day bottoms (wear these in public too)

Jeans, shorts, skirts (I don’t have skirts that’s why they aren’t pictured!) & leggings. I would say a couple of each! I wish I had more skirts/shorts because it’s going to be hot for a while!


3. Work-out/PJ shirts (these aren’t allowed in public, not even sure if they are fine at the gym…)

A couple work-out tanks, at least four shirts for sleeping in! I use t-shirts for working out and for sleeping, so I am bringing six!


4. Work-out pants/PJ pants (again, wear workout pants at the gym only. So weird.)

I brought 2 long workout, 2 capri and 2 shorts for working out. Then I brought two PJ shorts and one sweatpants. (I love comfy lounging clothes!)


5. Under-things (don’t leave the house without these!)

Bras of all types, socks of all types, tights, underwear, camis & bikinis (not sure which section bikinis goes in).

Some numbers: 5 sports bras, 5 regular bras, 2 tights, 3+ camis, 2ish bikinis, LOTS of underwear, LOTS of socks (warm and athletic). Again, let’s focus on how you are going to be washing things every week and re-wearing them over and over. So, if you have more, they won’t get worn out as fast. These things can all be bought in Spain if yours wear out. However, if you have them already and they fit in your bag, no sense in leaving them at home.


6. Outer-things (Clearly I am lost for category titles)

ONE winter coat, work-out windbreaker, warm running thing, cardigans, hoodies, scarves, mittens, belt, flats, boots, running shoes, sandals, SLIPPERS, heels, (hats?) & anything else that you may need to wear over your under-things!Outer

7. Special things

These things are things that you definitely don’t need but they will keep you happy. For me I am bringing a couple hoodies to cuddle up in, my pillow (with extra pillow case) and my reusable farmers market bag because they all remind me of home.


8. Toiletries & prescriptions that you couldn’t leave home without.

So, I am going to bring my prescriptions, contacts, some tissue, face wash, girlie products and medicine that keep females happy. Just being honest. I am sure there is stuff like this in Europe but since I had it already, I packed it. Also, to demonstrate my practicality, I fought the urge to go buy 100 boxes of NyQuil  for fear that I won’t find an equivalent in Spain. I am all out of NyQuil but since I don’t already have it at home, I am not going to go buy it before I leave. Will I regret this decision? I suppose I will find out the hard way!


9. Bags/purses

You need to have somewhere to store your euros!Purses

In the end your bag should look something like this…and weigh under 50 pounds. Mine is 48. Remember, heavy stuff in your carry-on if you can!IMG_4913

So, that is that! This is essentially anything and everything you may need! One thing I did not pack that I might want are rain boots (I don’t have any).  Don’t forget to pack the things that you won’t be able to get in Europe! If there is anything you think I may need that I have forgotten, feel free to let me know! Otherwise, these things are the things that I am bringing with! I will let you know what items that ended up being unnecessary and what items I wished I had more of!


3 thoughts on “The unfashionable girl’s guide to packing for Europe

  1. I wish we could take cats to Spain!!! 😦 I’m already having separation anxiety from mine. Anyway, I think you made a lot of great points when it comes to packing your checked luggage. I know I’m completely lost and haven’t even started to pack because I’m so confused and I guess lazy as well. 😉 hehe. I think you make a lot of great suggestions!! Especially about tops/shirts because I know I’m having trouble with this because it’s difficult to dress to European standards when it’s so easy to throw on a t-shirt and some unmatched pants and no one will say boo about it here in the US because it’s just part of the norm. I know I’m gonna struggle when it comes to dressing right while I’m in Madrid too. Good luck with packing and so far it seems to me that you’re on the right track as to what to bring or not overseas. 🙂


    1. I know, Dexter is just a baby and I want to coddle him forever!! Yeah, packing is super hard, especially because there are so many things that I want to bring but I know are not necessary! I will try to dress to socially acceptable standards but it’s so hard! I need fashion tips ASAP! lol! Let me know how your checked luggage ends up!


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