Packing Light for Rookies

My first trip to Europe my friend Amanda gave me this advice:

Pack your suitcase. Unpack half of it. Then you’re golden.

I thought I knew how to pack light my first trip abroad when I was a student, and it was a learning experience. I remember my friend Zak was helping me load my big bulky suitcase packed for 6 weeks into the cab on the way to the airport and the handle snapped off. Before we even left for the airport! What a great start! haha and I had to deal with this enormous heavy suitcase pulling it onto boats using those skinny ramps in Venice or up into trains in Naples and when I was alone it was difficult because if I needed to let’s say use the restroom certain places it was too big to take with me so that was a dilemma.Learning to pack light has been trial and error and I’m happy to say I’m becoming quite the master at it.

I was mentally packing & unpacking for my most recent trip far in advance.

The beauty of packing light is, it can save you money, gives you freedom because you can throw your things together in a moment’s notice, and makes getting around SO much easier!

Especially for solo travel running after trains and ferries and navigating through the airport makes such a world of difference if you’ve packed light. You also realize how little you really need the more you travel.

This time I brought 2 small bags I wouldn’t have to check and I was even able to fit them on to a scooter if you can believe that! And they were light so I could easily carry them around without getting tired or if I was in between places to stay I could take them with me to a restaurant or cafe without taking up too much space.

My advice is to pack for a week even if you’re going away for a month. Wash your clothes (I hand washed things all the time). Bring pieces that go together easily. I pick a couple different colors and maybe 2 pairs of shoes that go with every outfit. I packed so light and there were still some outfits I never ended  up wearing!

Would you guys be interested in my favorite products I brought with me? If so I’ll do a post on that! How do you manage packing light for your travel and what are your best tips?



****Since you guys asked… here’s some pictures of my luggage with some of my favorite beauty products I’ve been using!


Favorite deodorant. Beauty elixir mist. (I got the travel size from Sephora).  GlamGlow hydrating mask. Dry shampoo love the volume this gives! Almay eye makeup remover pads. This washcloth also removes all your makeup without any product!

A good time to buy travel size beauty products is after Christmastime! Just go on Sephora, Ulta, or Nordstrom when they do a sale and buy a kit!

Loved the eye mask I tried on this last trip! I also tried this lip mask and it was so hydrating! And I’m eyeing this glamglow set!

So this clear bag is a vacuum-sealed bag I got from Target but all you do is push air out of it and it frees up space! Then when I’m staying somewhere for just a night I don’t really properly unpack so it makes it easier for me to see the outfit I’m wanting to wear.

My travel staple is a dress like that red one. I think dresses are easier to wear because it’s just the simplest thing to me.  Rather than piecing together an outfit and matching things it takes me 30 seconds to get dressed and the cotton dress I can ball up tight in my bag and it doesn’t really wrinkle. I got it for $5 at H&M in DC years ago and have probably worn it at least once a week since then! (just go to the clearance section in the store.)


Something I’ve encountered at a few airbnb’s in Europe is they don’t always supply you with shampoo, conditioner, or soap so I always bring some with me in case. Normally I keep some hotel samples in my bathroom at home so I throw a few in my suitcase before leaving!

I also always bring a couple washcloths (since you’re in someone’s home I wouldn’t want any makeup coming off on their nice towels.)

I pack a small mirror with suction cups on the back because bathrooms don’t always have great light and I prefer to find some natural light for applying makeup if I can. When travelling with someone I also don’t want to take over the bathroom so that way I can shower and then do the rest of my regimen with my little mirror and let them use the bathroom.

I never travel without my satin pillowcase. I won’t wake up with lines on my face, it prevents wrinkles and smooths my hair so I don’t have to style it was much in the morning and can get up & go!

Please ask any questions you have or if there’s something else you think I should include!


Published by sittingprettyinthequeencity

Hi, I'm Joanna. NC based. Lover of beautiful things. Welcome to my blog! I also own The Classified Design, a website design and social media management company! This blog is a really fun creative outlet for me and I love interacting with readers so if you have questions or tried something out from the blog, please share! I always look forward to questions and comments. To follow along on Instagram: SittingPrettyintheQueenCity for my business accounts: TheClassifiedDesign xoxo Jo p.s. follow me on Instagram: sittingprettyinthequeencity Twitter: JoSittingPretty For sponsorship opportunities or collaborations email

43 thoughts on “Packing Light for Rookies

  1. I enjoyed your photoshoot from Positano. I like your pack for a week, if you go for a month (or as I found out six months). Here are two tips I use for packing light (need to make a blog entry for these):
    1. As you suggest, hand wash clothes frequently: After wringing out clothes, wrap in a towel and wring again. The towel absorbs more of the water. If clothes are damp in morning, put them on and (walk briskly in the morning sun). Body heat works like a dryer 🙂
    2. Packing for Summer Deserts vs Winter Snow Storms: Short sleeve shirts and shorts and raincoat and water repellent shoes for cloudy days vs short sleeve shirt, then long sleeve T-shirt, then long sleeve shirt, then sweater, then simple plastic raincoat and two pairs of socks in the water repellent shoes (its all about layering).
    This got way to long. But thanks for letting me put my thoughts in order. Look for this on misplaced mapcase.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. haha I’ve definitely utilized #1! It’s almost a staple in Italy. The towel idea is so useful I never knew that! I wasn’t good about preparing for different weather this past trip so I learned that lesson! Good advice thank you for sharing! You should write a post about it.


      1. I learned so much reading this post! The mirror idea is brilliant and so is the satin pillowcase… that tip might just change my life. Thanks for the update and I really adore your blog!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I travel for work and that involves a lot of flying, driving, and checking in and out after one night to head off to another city the next. Packing light is an essential, vital part of efficient, conscious, and more enjoyable travel. Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi there! We travel frequently and packing light is a constant struggle in my life! Recently I packed for a week in only one carry on pack back. What are you favorite tips for packing accessories and what are your favorite travel shoes to take with?

    Thanks, Jenny

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jenny, I think I’ll be doing a more lengthy post on this because it’s hard to summarize but I will be sharing all of these tips with you guys! And this past trip for 3 weeks I brought 1 pair of wedges (that were comfortable and easy to walk in) one pair of cognac sandals that went with every outfit and had a small block heel so I could dress it up or down and one pair of white tennis shoes. All 3 of the shoes I got from Target!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Very useful advice! When I traveled solo through Europe for a month, I brought a giant suitcase and had so much trouble lugging it around everywhere. Definitely should have stuck to the necessities! Would love to see your packing favorites 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Great minds think alike, I was planning this kind of post for my blog as well! Really enjoyed yours! I prefer to pack the basics for clothes so I can mix it up + essential skin care and one pair of shoes (almost always, trainers) that I actually wear so it doesn’t take extra space even if I’m doing a transatlantic flight. If anything else is needed on the spot, I would just go shop for it 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love that! We pack so similarly I just bring one pair of dressy shoes for a nice dinner or dancing (there’s a club with a dress code we went to) and honestly from the heat and walking my feet would swell and literally not fit in my tennis shoes so I had to wear my sandals everyday until I was in cooler weather up north and then I rocked them almost everyday!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The photo goes well with your post because it shows how light you pack. Superb job, Joanna. And it was a wise decision because that building is beautiful. Never been to Italy, but planning a trip to Rome hopefully next summer.
        P.S. I love your posts. You’re a wonderful writer. Godspeed on your future travels. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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