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Okay, now I KNOW that I need a miracle....


(Photo: from vintage cards on Etsy)

"Comfort has its place, but it seems rude to visit another country dressed as if you've come to mow its lawns." David Sedaris

I am going to really need a miracle to get my suitcase closed this time. More than two weeks before my trip to Italy, and my packing list as yet in no way resembles the packing list advocated by www.onebag.com. Or any other packing guru's list of do's; instead, mine matches most packing guru's list of don'ts.

This shouldn't be so hard. The beauty of traveling to Italy in June is that the weather really should be very predictable. Hot and humid. This should lighten the packing load, right? In fall, one worries about uneven weather. Sweaters, tights, a raincoat, a few pairs of shoes are all important to have, but add to the suitcase weight.

But June? Should be easy. A few sandals, some T-shirts and I should be good to go. Maybe a shrug or 2, just to cover the shoulders if it becomes cool at night.

As if!! I couldn't pack that light for an overnight trip to someone's cottage.

Still, I dream of packing light. It's my constant goal, like losing weight, learning to love my long, elegant feet, performing a head stand in yoga. Learning to do my own nails. Will any of these ever happen? Not likely. But a girl can dream.

So, I've been pouring over the many suggestions on onebag.com. At this point, however, instead of suggesting things to pitch overboard, onebag just reminds me of things to ADD that I might otherwise have never considered. Like a flat rubber sink stopper. I have never seen a hotel bathroom sink that actually holds water for more than about 5 minutes. This makes it challenging to wash out underwear or T-shirts in the hotel sink. That said, I don't actually know how long I should be soaking travel clothes to get them clean -- assuming everyday kind of grime and not, say, beer that has been dumped down your shirt or baby vomit. Soaking for 30 minutes? An hour? Is that enough?

I digress. Into the suitcase goes the flat rubber stop. It can also be used to twist the lids of jars, by the way. This may not be so handy in hotel rooms, but you never know. What if I start drinking wine out of jars?

Back to packing. Maybe I can get by with 2 pair of sandals -- one that I wear on the plane, and one packed. That way, if one sandal is eaten by bears, I'll have a second pair. I would love to have the option of buying another pair in Italy, but Italian designers don't produce much for my long, elegant size 12 feet. I guess no Italian woman has a similar kind of feet!

At least I can skip the coat; maybe one blazer, aforementioned shrugs; no jeans, no pants at all. Just cotton skirts.

Actually, it's the appliances and the personal care products that really weigh me down. And let's not discuss the travel iron; that's essential. I can't bear to be rumpled. But the 2 big bottles of contact lens solution are killers. When will Alcon sell Optifree solution in Italy? Is there a good replacement, 5-second-cleaning-and-soaking solution? Mind you, as I use up solution, it frees room in my suitcase for wheels of Parmigiana cheese. Or jars of honey.

And books. I'll take only my Cadogan guide for Emilia Romagna and a small guide to Umbria. But I need a few novels and mysteries as well -- I have to always have fiction to read so I can relax. Lightweight paperbacks don't weigh much but do take up space. I have to learn to leave them behind when I've finished reading them for other travelers.

Ultimately, I don't think onebag.com and I have quite the same philosophy. It suggests basically 2 tops, 2 bottoms and 3 pair of underwear are all a traveler needs. That's fine if you don't mind looking as if you've arrived in Italy to mow lawns. But not quite my style.......

Comments (16)


Thanks for the laugh. I can go through 2 tops in one day, what are they thinking? I definitely got the "What is she wearing?" look many times. My problem was the "just fits" at the start of the trip, became, "way too tight" by the end, so my options were even more reduced and my feet wanted comfort over cute. Good Luck.

That flat rubber sink stopper does not work. I was sucked on with an advertisement and bought one. Can't really answer the how long question. I usually go for 15 minutes. No patience for anything longer.

I know just how you feel about trying to pack light but then adding on more and more. I am a terrible packer and can never figure out how my bags get so full. I really don't think I take too much and pretty much use everything I pack.

I have given up on trying to take just one bag. Even though taking two rolling bags sounds crazy, last year was my easiest year having two rolling bags and a smaller carry on that slipped over one of the handles. I was able to hook the two rolling bags together. I made sure the weight was even between the two bags so that neither was too heavy. I did cut down to a 20" and a 22" bag (not sure how that converts with metric measurement).

I would think that there would be good contact solution in Italy by now.

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Sandra, I had to giggle while reading your wonderful and funny post this morning. I do feel your pain while packing. I'm always at the 11th hour fiddling with my luggage putting things in then out then in again and never really satisfied. And I completely agree with you about these packing gurus who can travel for three weeks with just two pairs of everything. Kudos to them, but I couldn't do it!

Good luck with the packing! And how exciting that you leave in just a couple of weeks!


Hi Kathryn, I know what you mean! I usually go through 2 tops a day, especially when it's hot. I don't feel like I have to wash each after every wear; sometimes it's just a matter of freshening up and putting on something different for dinner. I think the packing gurus probably do look like they've arrived to mow Italy's lawns!

Girasoli, I actually have an old sink stopper that I bought years ago when I lived in an apartment with a leaky sink. It used to work -- maybe because it wasn't made specifically for travel!!!! But perhaps I had better test it before I go. Or abandon the whole idea. It's a small item, but if I keep throwing in small items they'll add up fast!

I was intrigued last year by your 2 rolling suitcases; it sounds as if it worked out well for you. Two isn't necessarily harder to manage than one, especially if the 2 are managable weights (as opposed to one heavy suitcase!)

I also want to try a couple of inflatable hangars for drying laundry.

Kathy, I'm always fiddling at the last minute, too. Onebag.com advocates sticking strictly to your packing list and not freaking out at the last minute, throwing stuff in. That philosophy works with grocery shopping lists (I'm very strict) so I think I'll try it with packing. What's the worst that can happen???

You are too funny! I was cracking up. Anyway, in Bologna there is a store for larger size women's shoes, I will see if I can find the address. My friend bought some great shoes for her mom there.

Brad'll Do It:

I travel with someone who does "two-a-days," outfits, that is. So, gone for three weeks, that's at least 22 outfits, if one recycles. That ain't one bag, it's a huge 28-inch Briggs and Riley wheeled duffle, a 22-inch Briggs and Riley wheeled upright, and a computer bag, for a total of 5 bags for two people. One of the 22s is full of stuff we're bringing for others, and is then filled with stuff we bring back.

We make the weight limitation at the airport by a half-pound or less PER BAG, which is 225 grams for you metric types.

Also, you're going to Italy, which is, maybe, the best-dressed country in the world. You GOTTA have stuff to wear, and room to bring stuff back, dontcha?

And we think we're now efficient packers.

Funny post! I'd never heard of onebag.com - looks like a great website. Love the Sedaris quote!

I'm a one bag traveler...one rolling carry-on bag. I don't know how I do it but I do know why...I don't want to arrive anywhere and have to deal with the hassle of lost luggage, and I don't want too much stuff to schlep around. I don't think I look like a lawn mower but I do wear the same thing several times. That's one advantage of traveling in winter - your clothes don't get sweaty and smelly.

Last year, I bought an expandable bag so I could buy stuff (and I do check it on the way home when I no longer care if it gets lost).

16 days - that is exciting!


Thanks for the laugh, I giggled and chortled the whole time reading this, Sandra!

I have the same problem whenever I research packing tips...I always come across things I wouldn't have thought of on my own, but that immediately become "must brings"!


Hey Sandra,

I didn't realize you have only two more weeks to go for Italy. How wonderful. (Do you see a pale shade of green around these words? That's me going green with envy!)

Wow, you really plan your packing. Me, I'm a last-minute person. And I have a simple formula: lay out everything, and then prune it by 50%. And you know what? When I look back at the end of a trip, I often find that I could have pruned it a lot more. But do I learn? Heck, no!

Are you taking your laptop along?


Ciao Chiocciola! If you find that address, I owe you a smart cocktail (or a giant gelato) when we eventually meet (in Italy, of course!)

Brad, you would be an extraordinarily bad influence on me!!!

Annie, I think you have to share your packing tips! I am certain that you pull lovely looks from your single bag -- I just wish I knew how to do it.

I suspect if I ditched the travel iron, curling iron, and adaptors that go with those, I would still look pretty much the same but wouldn't be weighed down by so much luggage. (And that would leave more room to bring stuff home!)

Speaking of bringing stuff home, Anne, I'm sure you did NOT pack your new leather jacket from Florence but made sure that was carry on. I definitely wouldn't want to risk losing something as beautiful as that.

Nirmala, the cutting by 50 per cent rule makes a lot of sense. And you travel so much, over such long distances, that I'm sure keeping the luggage down is a priority. I might have to try that.....


Sandra, you are so funny! I know there are a few grains of truth in what you say, but it was funny nevertheless.

16 days to go - that's so exciting!

Funny post = still chuckling. The best part of it is that Italy is less than a month away! Now, back to packing: I can't give you any pointers - sorry. I go to Hawaii with two large suitcases! Good Luck..menehune PS: I agree that personal appliances and products take up more space than the clothes. My older sister tells me to wait: then medicines and more personal products start making you pack less clothes.

I do the same thing that Nim does...lay a bunch of clothes out and prune based on how many fit in my one bag. Sometimes I prune based on whether something mixes and matches well with the other stuff.

The Etsy card makes me think about what in the world people did before the rolling bag was invented!


Thanks Nancy -- I love watching the countdown clock!

Menehune, I can just imagine that with time, all of the personal care products will far outweigh the clothes!

Annie, I'm going to have to try the pruning. And it is hard to imagine life before rolling suitcases. But I suppose in those days, there were a lot more porters! (I'd give a big tip if I could ever find a Trenitalia porter.)


You dont need a miracle, you need a schleppopotomus! Brad exaggerates...only THREE bags and laptop this year! Got to look good!

Just catching up on reading my favorite blogs.
Funny post, and great as usual.
I always have hard time packing to travel to Europe, and especially Italy, because I do like to look fashionable, well somewhat anyway. My problem is shoes, I tend to pack many pairs of shoes, and I follow strict codes when it comes to matching my purses with my shoes, so many purses as well. Shoes weigh a lot, and purses take a lot of space. Not good. On my two week trip to Thailand, I took five pairs of shoes, and three purses. Came back with seven pairs of shoes, and four purses. Again, not good.

I will have to check onebag.com, I've never heard of the site before.

Also, I think a fifteen minute soak for your clothes should be enough. I do a smell test, that is soak for fifteen minutes and smell the clothing item, if the detergent smell is strong, it is good to go. My experience has been after fifteen minutes of soaking, most summer clothings smell fresh.

Yeah, how exciting, your are leaving soon!

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