Roma: Packing Lite

Hiya! Welcome to any new readers coming from Married Up with Wine!  Over here in the Parker Haus we are just getting going on recapping our own travels abroad.  In May/June Matt and I spent 8 days in Rome/Amalfi Coast.  Have a look around and leave us a note.  Hope to see you again soon!

This post could alternately be titled: 8 Days with 2 pairs of undies.

You think I am joking?  Here is all of our luggage for 8 days in Italy.


Him: Black carry-on and red backpack.  Her: Green carry on and brown/orange camera bag.

Why did we bring so little?  The airlines made us do it! You see, we were taking a train to Vancouver BC then flying through Minneapolis, through Chicago, on to Italy.  Why might we do such a crazy thing? We saved $800 on airfare AND most importantly it got us on the same flight from Chicago as half of our traveling buddies.

Certainly the airline could check our luggage from Vancouver to Rome, right?  Well they could, but we had a short connection (an hour or less) in Minneapolis and another super tight connection in Chicago giving us very little confidence that if we made our connections that our  luggage would too.  We decided that we would feel better if we carried everything onto the plane with us.

So, the challenge began.  How light could we pack?  We used a couple of strategies:

  • Basic colors that can mix and match
  • 1-2 pair of shoes
  • Quick dry clothing so we can wash and hang up to dry

Want to see what was in our bags?


1. Basic tanks in white and black (not quick dry… took forever to dry) – from Costco

2. Columbia Sun Goddess Shirt (quick dry) – no longer available

3. Royal Robbins Essential Ruched Shirt in black, white, and Nile (quick dry) this shirt is so flattering, it’s a staple in my closet now.

4. North Face Boyfriend Shirt (quick dry)

5. Georgette Tiered Tank from Victoria’s Secret (quick dry) – No longer available


6. Maxi-Skirt from Mossimo (not quick dry) I wore this on the airplane with a pair of leggings underneath for extra warmth.  The skirt can also convert to a strapless dress.

7. Marisa Fit Belted Beach pant from Victoria’s Secret (not quick dry)- no longer available.  These linen pants are the most comfortable pants ever.  Just like wearing pajamas.

8. Travel Smith Voyager Knit Pant (quick dry) another comfortable, breathable pair of pants.  Rolled up very compact, unrolled with no wrinkles.

9. Athleta Bogeda Skirt (quick dry) super comfy this above the knee skirt was reserved for days when we weren’t going to be going to any churches.

10. Athleta Narsara Skirt (quick dry) – no longer available. I had this skirt hemmed so it hit just below my knees.


11. Suddenly Slim by Catalina Shirred Halter Swimsuit – no longer available. I found this suit at of all places Wal-Mart.  I only wore it twice on the trip but it was nice to have the option.

12. & 13  Old Navy Grecian Maxi Dress (not quick dry) & White cotton Shrug -both no longer available. This was a last-minute addition to the suitcase and my favorite outfit. I used the shrug to cover my shoulders when we visited churches and tucked it into my camera bag when outside.

14. Assorted scarfs – not actual scarf.  This was a simple way to dress up my white/black tanks and tees while also having a handy shoulder cover if we wanted to go into any churches.

15. Victoria Secret wrap sweater. – no longer available.    It was warm enough in the evenings that I didn’t need it on the trip but it was an absolute lifesaver on the cold airplanes.

16. ExOfficio Give-and-Go Bikini Brief: I packed two pair of these. every night I would wash out a pair and hang them up and by the morning they were dry.pack4

17. Cushe “Mia Remy” flat– no longer available.  These became my go to shoes after the trip. On the trip they didn’t come out of my suitcase because I was so in love with my Naots.

18. Naot Kirei shoes– Handmade Israeli shoes worth every penny you pay for them. I wore these all trip and had zero blisters despite averaging over 20 k steps per day.

19. Rick Steves Clothes Line– made drying our clothes easy Necessary? No. Convenient? Yes.

20. Anti-bottle: foldable, DW safe, Freezable, BPA Free. We clipped this to Matt’s backpack and filled it up when we came across one of Rome’s drinking fountains.

21. Purex Complete laundry sheets– forget packing laundry soap boxes, these sheets are compact and work wonderful. I cut the sheets into quarters which was the perfect size to do a bit of laundry in the sink.

22. Flip Flops – another last-minute addition I wore these around the condo and at the pool. They took up so little room it was no big deal

23. Travel towel – this micronet towel was amazing. Our towels weren’t changed every day at the condo and 8 people went through towels fast. It was nice to have this one to fall back on.  It also helped to dry our clothes quicker.  Just roll wet clothes in the towel and a good amount of water is removed.


24. Swiss Army 20 inch suitcase: This was the smallest suitcase in our Swiss Army set and its the only suitcase I use now.

25. Kindle: I stocked up on e-books before the trip and saved a good deal of space (and weight).

26. Universal Converter: we brought multiple converter/adapters to power our electronics

27. Ipod touch– the kindle app made this a reader for Matt and we used it for internet searches whenever we were at a hotspot.  I might have played a fair amount of Boggle on the plane too.

28. Silk money belt: I discussed the merits of a money belt here

29. Inflatable footrest– we flew coach which wasn’t the most comfortable but it was a million times better with this footrest. I’m short and my feet don’t always touch the ground. As a result the circulation is constricted in the back of my knees and my ankles and feet swell something fierce.  The footrest helped to lift my knees off the seat so that circulation wasn’t impacted. I now take this with me on any flights over 2 hrs.

30. Compression stockings – yes, I know they are ugly, but you know what is worse? Cankles.  I wore these under my maxi dress for our flights and experienced only a bit of leg swelling.

31. Sigma 30mm 1.4 for Pentax– this lens is FAST which is essential in low light/no flash conditions.

32. Crumpler 6 Million Dollar Bag– In my opinion the best camera bag for travel. It easily stored my body, two lenses, a tabletop tripod, extra battery, accessories, my kindle, my iPod, phone and wallet. I loved the handle on the top of the bag. In crowded situations I would rest my hand on the handle and be confident that if anyone tried to snatch my bag I had a good hand on it.

Along with the Crumpler bag I used the Black Rapid RS-W1 camera strap designed for women. It was so comfortable and the side hip orientation of the camera meant that I could easily rest my hand on my camera while in crowded areas.

33. Pentax 16-45mm F4 Wide Angle zoom– I love wide angles for cities with narrow streets.  This lens was a lot of fun.

Not pictured is a basic makeup kit and hair straightener. I made use of almost all the space in my suitcase but Matt on the other hand had a surprising amount of room in that mini-suitcase of his.


34.  EXO Dri Short Sleeve Tee and other various quick dry teeshirts. In total I think he packed 4 tee-shirts

35. Thad Stuart Providence Tie for the Walking Company– these are his version of my Naots – pure heaven on his feet.

36. Arc’teryx Rampart Pant– (quick dry) These pants didn’t breathe as much as the Kuhl Renegades did.

37. Northface Windstopper Hybrid Full Zip– This was most useful on the airplane as the nights didn’t get too cool in Italy. Its Matt’s staple jacket around Seattle though.

38. REI Red Stone Plaid Shirt (quick dry) – no longer available

39. Kuhl Renegade – (quick dry) Matt loved these pants, pure and simple.

40. Exofficio Give and Go Boxers– Matt brought just two also

41. Exofficio Trip’r’ check long-sleeve shirt (quick dry) This shirt was so light and breathable. Matt appreciated the hidden under arm and back venting.

42. Velocé Shoulder Bag: this thing holds a lot but sacrifices shoulder strap comfort.  I especially like the hidden pocket which is where Matt stored a small wallet.

pack7Matt’s backpack served primarily as our day pack on the flight over however it stored travel essentials.

42: Assorted pillows and blankets

43: Rick Steves Europe 101: History and Art for the Traveler

44: Nintendo DS Lite– I believe Zelda the Phantom Hourglass was in rotation on this trip

45: Rome Guidebook

46: Snapshot: Naples and the Amalfi Coast

47: Rick Steves Italian Phrase Book and Dictionary

Whew!  We carried on our luggage and made all of our connections without a hitch.  An unforeseen consequence of our quest to pack light is that it has become the norm for us now.  We haven’t checked bags since then because our system works so well.  We have a whole set of luggage not being used because the set up we used for Rome is our standard setup now.

Edited to add: Helpful Items

Do you pack light?  What are your best packing light tips and tricks?

Need to catch up on Roma recaps?



Filed under We Travel

19 responses to “Roma: Packing Lite

  1. WOW! I’m really impressed with how efficiently you guys packed for 8 days. I usually over pack, not by much but I usually get back from a trip with a couple of tops and maybe a pair of pants that I didn’t wear.

  2. Kimberly

    Man… I was freaking proud of myself for packing all my stuff and the fiances stuff in one checked suitcase for a 4 day trip to a wedding cross country. You make me look like armature hour over here. VERY impressive!

  3. What a great post. I travel a ton and am constantly adjusting what I bring. I love the ex-officio undies. They are so amazing. I have a could quick dry, uv reflective dresses from Columbia that I adore. I have to try the laundry sheets. I’m lucky because moost hotels I stay at in Africa have the clothesline in the bathroom. I’ve been thinking about doing a similar post — we could compare must have travel supplies.

    • Thanks Catherine! I would LOVE to read about your must haves, you travel so much! A tip about the laundry sheets- put them in a ziplock bag because the scent is very concentrated- not bad when you wash your clothes but OMG its strong on the sheet!

  4. I think I may have you beat, but only because I’m seriously the lightest packer I know. For example, for our 10-day honeymoon to Greece my husband and I brought just one suitcase between the two of us (with a laptop bag for each person as well). But then again, I’m pretty gross — the only things I will not repeatedly wear are undies! For the rest, I bring along a small bottle of Fabreeze.

  5. I am seriously impressed! Very nice on the packing efficiency there. I love all of Columbia’s quick dry and UV protection clothing! My husband has employee store access. If you’re ever in town and want to go, let me know! That place is amazing.

  6. Great packing list! Whenever B and I travel now we do it with carry-ons only but that is because we are cheap and after paying for the airline ticket we don’t want to shell out for checking bags!

  7. Such a great post! We were just out buying clothes for our Costa Rica trip, actually! We’re getting the last of the summer stuff on sale, which is great. We’re going for 3 weeks, which makes me want to pack lots, but we will have weekly laundry access, so it won’t be as bad as I’m currently imagining.
    My holy grail right now is the perfect camera bag/day pack/purse thing.

  8. Great packing! Seriously carry-on only is so much less airport hassle. We only had carry-ons for 3 weeks in japan..we just did laundry while there. Now, how’d you bring the souvenirs back?

  9. ooh this is so helpful–i am so impressed with your planning!

  10. Liz

    Did you bring any personal care items?

    • Yep, but we keep to the basics. We used gotoob bottles to bring shared shampoo, lotion, and body wash (skipped conditioner) we also shared tooth paste and each bright a small travel size of deoderent. I kept my makeup to the bare minimum. I did however bring my hair straightener.

  11. Pingback: Travel Tips: Packing – What to Pack | Go Darty Blog

  12. Bonnie

    So glad I came across this! Thank you for the tips and information! This summer we are headed to Europe for 13 days, and have challenged ourselves to pack carry-on only. I admit I am a bit panicked, but feel a little better now reading this. I had my first practice packing my carry on last night, and failed miserably. I was way over packing. I was thinking we would find a Laundromat (we’ll be in Paris, Rome and Dublin) and do laundry hallway into the trip. Will it be easier to just wash our clothes as needed in out hotel as needed? I’ve never been to any of the cities. Thanks! 🙂

  13. Cindy

    That does not look light at all. Interesting to see how much each piece weight. Impressive.

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