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Packing Light...WHY?

There always seems to be a thread on Slow Talk about "packing light". Some are able to pack for weeks in one carry-on bag. Others wash out clothes every night and wear them again. Jerry just blogged about why he also brings plenty of clothes and shoes.

I guess if one is traveling by train, or alone, or going somewhere (I can't imagine where this would be) where they won't see anyone, and if they don't ever take photos with themselves in the picture, then maybe a case could be made for the freedom of one bag. I figure, I can handle my luggage, Brad puts the bags in and out of the car (only once this trip), and a driver will meet us and deliver us to our apartment in Rome. I like to dress for dinner, match accessories, and be what I call "appropriate", SO... I am packing Palmabella style.

I have gotten better. I have my 28" bag (with lots of room at 47 lbs, and a second bag (which COULD be a carry-on, but I'm checking it). Then as usual, my very light carry-on has a book for the plane, my pillow, jewelry, and snacks for the trip. (One year the jewelry was 16 lbs., but I have learned to bring lighter pieces.)

Brad has one big bag for clothes, a second small duffle full of kitchen/cooking items (all my stuff) to check, and he will carry the laptop with his reading material. No sweat!

Brad packs the electronics: cameras, Italy cell, adapters, converters, Italian hair dryer, ipod, GPS, and appropriate chargers.

What do I bring for two weeks, you ask? It is no different than what I would bring for 3 weeks.

* White and black pants and capris. Don't ask how many. OK, 10 pair. (3 black, 5 white as well as two other solid colors)
* Three skirts: black, white, and dressy black.
* 5 pair of shoes: black and white walking, black and white sandals, black and gold dressy ( know that makes 6, but one will be on my feet so we don't count it for packing!
* I will wear jeans, and a jeans jacket and top on the plane
* I packed 4 light jackets (cotton) for evenings (60s is cool for me)
* several shawls (yes, I know I can buy them there, and I have and I will.)
* LOTS of tops! You don't want to know. I often change for dinner! (almost 2 a day. Do the math)
* underwear...a pair for each day, bras and 2 nightgown/jammies
* 2 books
* appropriate jewelry for 11 outfits

Let's talk purses! (That's what we call them in California). There is an ongoing thread on Slow Talk that amuses and puzzles me more than even the "packing light" discussions.
It is about the "perfect travel purse". People discuss "healthy bags", "messenger bags" fanny packs (God forbid!), backpacks (someone would have to shoot me full of drugs), money belts (don't use them), tiny bags that only hold a credit card and hang across the chest, (WHERE would I put my cigarettes?), and all kinds of canvas bags that have pockets to hold everything!

I figure, we are in Italy! This is where the most beautiful leather bags and handbag designers in the world show off their stuff. I love to see Italian women walking around with their beautiful leather bags. I love to BUY those beautiful leather bags which are still cheaper than at home. I can't even imagine looking like a "messenger", or like I am what?, dressed nicely, but going camping??? I am not trying to "pass for something other than an American". HOWEVER, I will not look like an American who wears white tennis shoes and a t-shirt and jeans. I have been mistaken for Italian by Italians, who have said, "You look too put together to be American." I don't use a canvas bag at home, why would I when I am in Rome? I guess that makes me a "purse snob" (though I don't judge what works for others). I do judge myself. I will be comfortable, but appropriate and accessorized. I don't mind a second checked bag to do that. I DO, however love both my Bagallini jewelry organizer, AND the leather FURLA one my friend, Jan, gave me for Christmas.

Since I am only bringing black or white skirts or slacks and shoes, I only need a white and a black purse, and a couple of evening bags. I am quite partial to FURLA. I do not worry about being robbed. I walk around like I own the place, with a tight grip on my bag. I keep it zipped shut. I do not have a lot of cash. I keep my ATM card separate as well as a credit card and an extra for an emergency. I do not set down my bag, hang it on chairs, or have to go under my clothes for money. I tried it once. I can't do it.

Black Furla (U.S. price was $1,000. Half price sale at Nordstrom was $500. Furla store in Firenze last summer: 200 Euro)


White Furla (Furla Store, Firenze: 120 Euro) The leather is soft as butter!


There is also a leather shop in San Gimignano, where I have a favorite bag. The price has stayed at 80 Euro for 4 years. I'm hoping to make a run from Montisi (yes, we'll drive over an hour for a purse) one afternoon to get another color. I have coral, leaf green, and hot pink. This year I want a yellow one! Brad keeps losing his glass cases, so he's all for getting some replacements.

With only the addition of a Rome walking map and my travel journal, I carry exactly the same things I carry at home in a purse: small leather wallet (minus the credit cards I don't need), lipstick, cell phone, cigarette case, pen, sunglasses, mints, and camera.

Let's talk about Brad: It is much easier for a man. Brad is a "tucked in" kind of guy. He brings 5 pair of slacks and wears jeans (with pleats) on the plane. He packs 7 polo shirts and 10 dress shirts. He will go to the cleaners on our sixth day in Rome, so that all his clothes are clean and pressed at the mid point of our trip. He does not OWN tennis shoes. He does not even have a t-shirt with writing, and he does not wear shorts in Italy. (I suggested he bring one pair for cooking duty at the villa.) It is sad when your husband usually looks "prettier" than you do, but I have gotten used to it.

Other misc:

This trip, because of the cooking, I also packed several Trader Joe's grocery bags (and my Slow Travel recycle bags from Savannah), insulated bag for cheese, and several TJ's wine carriers for schlepping water and vino from the Coop or wine tastings. I have a binder full of recipes in the laptop bag.


So far the airport gods have been with us. We have never lost checked luggage. Let's hope that continues. If not, I hear there are shops in Rome!

Comments (9)

I LOVE your white Furla bag! I love Furla in general but have never had one. Maybe it is time! I am looking for a white bag for summer so thanks for the idea.

I was laughing reading your post and especially the part about your puzzlement about the purses!


What you say makes complete sense to me if you have a rental car for the whole trip. Not on trains, though.

I know you probably have your bags already packed, but what about Brad? Does he do it way in advance, or is he a last minute packing kind of guy (like Bill, who washes his clothes and packs within hours of leaving for the airport)?

I admire your style - you always look like you walked out of a fashion magazine!


Brad will probably spend ALL day Sunday folding shirts. They are clean and ready for him. He folds like no other man alive. I can hardly stand to watch. Minimum of 10 minutes per item. It makes me crazy, but he will not have wrinkled clothes.

You are too funny girl! I love to pack for trips as well. And I am a purse snob too. Every year when traveling to Italy I usually come back with at least two! Last year my husband brought me the most awesome lime green one in Firenze. I brought an orange one as well! Have a great time Ciao Bella!

Barb Cabot:

Being a jewelry fiend, I LOVE to see your accessories. I admire the way you do not forsake your style or your vivid sense of color when you travel. It's always fun to see what you are wearing.


Right on, sister! I have a similar packing style (excluding the kitchen utensils. And maybe just 2 purses.)

But as I said on Jerry's blog, we're going to Europe, not to a forced labour camp. I don't want to wear the same clothes over and over. Further, if something happens to an outfit, or you develop blisters from a certain pair of shoes, it's helpful to have some other choices.

Mind you, I say these things now, but when I'm dragging my stuffed suitcase on and off trains, I do sometimes wish I could pack less. But realistically, it's not possible.

I love your purses. And the prices often are so much better in Italy. I bought a wonderful, red Furla in January (half-price!) which I'm now using as my spring handbag. I love Furla purses, although I wish more of their styles zipped closed at the top. The single-snap-closure style worries me a bit, in that I can be a bit clumsy and knock things over, and I hate to have the contents of my purse flying around.

You will look smashing all through your trip, brava!


I completely advocate over-packing for a trip to Italy. I couldn't bear to be wearing the same thing continuously in a place that is renowned for its style! You go girl and overpack to your heart's content because you'll be in Italy and because you CAN! (PS you got a great deal on those Furla bags I'll have to pop into a shop and find a few bargains.)

From a self-confessed overpacker who will not conform to suitcase frugality.)


What do you use to charge your gps. Do all rental cars have the cigarette lighter thing you can plug into? Is the current 240 and is the device you use both 110 and 240? Or do you need a converter? Where do you get it? Or do you use a charger that you use in an outlet in hotel?



We have a car charger for the GPS that works in Italian rental cars, and also one that plugs in the wall with an adapter.
You can by the adapter at any travel store.

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