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Your Fall Travel Packing Blueprint

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Fall is quickly arriving and with it comes the struggle of how to pack light when you have to plan for weather that may be warm, cold, or anything in between. While planning for our Paris trip, I’ve been checking the weather forecast nearly everyday to come up with a strategy. If you have a fall vacation booked and need some packing help, I’m here for you.

Fall travel comes the struggle of how to pack light when you have to plan for weather that may be warm, cold, or anything in between.

This will be our third trip to Paris at the end of the year and probably one of the warmest times we’ve been there, but there’s always the chance that the temps will drop when we get there and mean we need warmer clothing. Here’s how I’ve packed for us in these situations before:

Mix and Match & Layer

You want to make sure everything you’re bring goes with everything else. I like a neutral bottom and a colorful top, but I try to stray away from many patterns, because if I have to wear multiple pieces at a time. Our last time in Paris, it was 20 degrees and raining every day, so we were wearing 3-4 layers at a time: t-shirt or tank and/or lightweight long-sleeve shirt, sweater, and coat with a scarf. We didn’t bring heavy coats with us, which made the extra layers necessary, but we were comfortable, even while walking outside for long periods.

I always travel with a scarf/wrap a lightweight jacket and a cardigan or two. This way I’m covered if it gets cooler at our destination and for the chills on the plane. It may seem silly, but on the plane I wear a pair of stretchy jeans, comfortable slip-on shoes, a t-shirt, a cardigan and a scarf. If it gets warm, I can shed some layers, but if it’s cold, I’m set. I have this awesome HappyLuxe wrap that I can also use as a blanket. In fact, I can wear it as a scarf while also covering my lap if my legs are cold.

Layering also gives you the ability to wear part of your travel outfit at your destination, so I always dress with that in mind. I work with three bottoms and four-five tops total. When they all go together, you have 12-15 different outfits. You can see how I’ve made different looks with each of these tops and bottom combinations.

I usually toss in an easy dress (and a pair of tights, in case it’s really cold)  that can work for day and night, then go with just two pair of shoes. Both should be great for walking and at least one of them should work for your dress. Make sure you bring shoes appropriate for your destination. Paris has a zillion steps to or inside all their landmarks, so wearing shoes that aren’t too confining are best, as my boots last time were a bit too tight with socks and I ended up with a stress fracture in one of my feet. 

Sneakers, open-top flats (like Toms) or some great booties with stretch. I prefer my Arcopedico booties, because I can walk all day (even on cobblestones and steep inclines) without my feet hurting. They’re also pack down small, so I don’t have to wear them on the plane to conserve space. Bonus: If you’re going to Europe, you won’t stick out like a tourist. My other biggest tip when it comes to shoes: don’t bring shoes you haven’t worn before. You will 100% regret it.

Do Laundry

There’s no way around it. If you pack light and you’re gone for more than a week, you’re going to have to do laundry. Schedule some downtime (which you should do anyway) to clean your clothes. It doesn’t sound fun, but you can take the time to hit the pool, watch a show or catch a nap. Just need to freshen up a piece? Spray some vodka on it. It deodorizes, and since it doesn’t have its own smell, you won’t reek of booze.


Throw some accessories in your bag to give you other options. A lightweight scarf can jazz up an outfit or work as a head/shoulder covering in a church. A good piece of jewelry can literally turn a day dress into a nighttime one, especially if it’s a cute little black dress, which is what I take with me everywhere. A fun sunhat can keep you from getting sunburned and also give an outfit a new twist. 

Now all your clothes fit in a carry-on. You know where all your things are. You don’t have to wait at the carousel for your luggage. You don’t have to pay baggage fees. You don’t have to break your back trying to get your bag up stairs. Now, you just need to get working on making your toiletries lighter.

You can do it!

Carry-on packing can be difficult at first, but with some practice you can become a pro and save baggage fees. With fewer bags to deal with, you’ll feel freer as you waltz off the plane and get right onto your vacation while everyone else is still waiting for their suitcases. 
Our last international trip had us taking two large carry-ons and two large personal items, but we were also going to a wedding and needed fancy clothes and shoes. This trip I’m challenging myself to pack one large carry-on and two medium personal items, one of which will fit into a smaller carry-on (in case we bring back souvenirs). 
What are your biggest struggles when trying to pack light?

Want to read more tips for traveling worldwide on a budget? Check out my blog at Shereen Travels Cheap or find me on Facebook or Twitter. You’ll also find product and website suggestions, packing tips, current deals and a whole lot more to help you travel better for less!


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