One part travel blog. One part nerdy history lesson.

It’s Packing Day!

Friday is the day. We head out Friday evening for a two week trip to Italy. We have direct flights from Atlanta to Rome (which was part of our decision to go! Direct flights are really great when traveling with a three year old!)

Since everyone’s favorite post last trip seemed to be the packing tips, I figured I better not disappoint this time either! 

This trip’s goal: 2 weeks, 3 people, no checked bags.

One of our biggest lessons learned from our last trip was that lugging full size suitcases around when every night is a different house or hotel was not much fun…and beyond that, there just isn’t the same storage in a European car vs an American car. With 4 of us in an SUV we barely had room to put our bags.

So… That means 2 weeks of toiletries in plastic zip-lock “TSA compliant” baggies, as well. 1 per person. 

I’m pretty particular about hair and face products so just “using the hotel shampoo and conditioner” like all the other posts I read recommended doesn’t work for me. Plus we aren’t staying in hotels; we’re staying mostly in local apartments booked through AirBnb.

eBay was my best friend for this. I just searched for samples of my have-to-have items. Packets of my shampoo and conditioner were available 10 for $10  

My Wella hair oil is too big, but eBay saved me again- 6 sample vials for $8  

Face lotion- eBay. (I’m not going to price this one for you for fear of you all thinking I’m crazy. Let’s just say when something works, you splurge a little. Ha)  

Norah’s hair also requires particular products so I found a travel version of the Wen product we use on her hair and filled an empty travel container with her “women of color” hair creme. (I kid you not. lol)

You don’t have to go on eBay if you save the bottles from hotel visits or beauty product samples… Even if you don’t like the products, the containers can be useful.

We repurposed this face scrub sample jar into a hair putty holder for Kegan   

Also, Target has a huge travel section and you can usually find small versions of the major brands of items.  

Another area people get frustrated packing in a ziploc bag is perfumes. Kegan found this amazing stick perfume at Victoria’s Secret over 5 years ago and it’s still my travel go-to…although I admit it’s seen better days and is down to the last nubbin.   

If they don’t make your signature scent in a sample size and you have to have it- get one of these bad boys. You set it on top of your bottle and pump it into the travel size. If you do get one, I’d recommend the rollerball kind because those cheap spray tops wouldn’t be as consistent as a standard perfume bottle and you don’t want to walk around smelling like a hooker. Rollerball. You’re welcome.

Last liquid I had to pack was an elective. Since again, we aren’t staying in fully equipped hotels, an iron and ironing board isn’t always readily available. I filled a spray bottle with Downy Wrinkle Releaser and bought this cute little travel garment steamer. I’ll let you know how well that does by the end of the trip.  

Other ways to save on liquids space is to use a stick deodorant instead of a gel or a spray, since it doesn’t have to go in the baggie. Also, you can find this non-aerosol hair powder that is a dry shampoo and root volume in one.   

I won’t say I skimped down to basics on makeup, but did only take the minimum I needed to not feel like I was camping 🙂 I mean, selfies. Right?  

(You haven’t had too much wine-the photos are blurry. My iPhone camera broke just in time for vacation and will only focus less than 6 inches away. I effectively have only a macro lens for this trip.) 

Luckily, my big buy for the trip came in two days ago and I get to review my new Betabrand Storrist Pack!
This backpack appealed to me for a lot of reasons. First is that Betabrand is basically a company founded through crowdsourced innovative products (Work pant Yoga pants, Chef jeans with breathable grommets, RedEye travel cardigan with its own pouch for travel- good stuff)

Also I liked it because it was made for a city bicyclist to pack everything for the day and evening including a computer and your camera gear.  


The inside has a bottom compartment- which opens from the front and includes a padded organizer for your camera and lenses  


Then the top section is a giant open compartment for clothes that rolls down like a grocery sack to secure everything with a heavy duty strap. 

Since I wanted my small travel camera bag for daily use for the trip I opted to not use the included padded organizer this trip, instead using the bottom section to stack all my pants and some PJs for easy access and using the top for my Day 1 clothes when we get to Rome and my camera bag.

The back laptop slot will hold my Galaxy Note tablet since I’m going without a laptop. Yes. You read that right. But in full disclosure, I feel better about it because I know our friend Kate is bringing her MacBook Air and she’s coming with us as our Norah evening babysitter for a few nights out during the trip. So it’s not a total cord-cutting. But I still have a little anxiety about it.

The back pocket also holds my Atlas and notes about our itinerary. Very handy.


Lastly-we have to have milk for Norah and it worked out well in Ireland to have a cooler for various cheese and meat we errr…meet…along the way that wants to come on the trip with us. So based on the recommendation of friends (Looking at you, Shallbetters) we bought a PolarBear Collapsible cooler in a clearance color.
I packed all of Norah’s stuff for the plane in it for the trip over along with a collapsible shopping bag, so when we get ready to use it as a cooler, I’ll have a tote bag for her stuff as well.

So, in the end: not a bad amount! An umbrella down the side of the backpack, Norah’s blanket strapped down to the outside and Barbie supervising the whole endeavor. 

 Lastly, if you’re still reading what has turned into a monstrous post, I thought I might give some ideas for how to pack two weeks of outfits in a carry on. Full disclosure: I packed half my clothes in the blue suitcase, The rest is all of Norah’s stuff and the rest of mine is in the backpack- but I am sure it would have all fit in the blue carry on.
Some tips-take them for what they are worth. First off, choose a color scheme and go with it. Black or Brown. Then you can pick one other main color as well. I chose Black and Navy. Almost all my pieces coordinate around those 2 base colors so I can mix and match.

I decided that I was going to get by with only my 2 pairs of Tieks ballet flats because they not only pack super small, I can walk for days in them they are so comfy! (I was lucky enough to receive a pair as a gift from my stepmom Sherri that got me hooked. Thanks again!)

  I’m taking one black dress that can be paired with sweaters or scarves for nice dinners out if needed.

By taking two really thin shirts that coordinate with the yellow sweater, I have two other options.  
 Same here- two similar colored shirts/scarves give me two options with this heavier sweater for cold days
A Navy cardigan allows me to match the above shirts and pants for a different look , too.  
 And these similar sweaters with dark red allows for mix and matching as well. 

The greatest thing about the plaid scarf is that it’s so big, it doubles as my blanket for the airplane!

 I also have an inflatable travel neck pillow that folds flat in case I do actually get the chance to sleep on the plane. 

Well, I hope something here was useful!

A long post to kick off what will probably be a lot of long posts this trip as there is just too much history to cover in Italy! Just Day 1 in Rome walking through the excavated Roman ruins could span textbooks! The art inside the Galleries Accademia in Florence alone needs a book – and has lots of them! But I’ll try to boil it down to enough highlights to pique your interest for your further research or questions. 

Thanks for following along with our trip! Look forward to sharing our experiences. 🙂

1 Comment

  1. Connie Wayman

    always wanted to go there. Excited to read your posts. Have fun!

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