Packing Practice Run

When we last left off, I was struggling with two things: how am I going to pack enough items in a carry on and personal item only for a two and a half week trip, and what do I do about my Tieks sizing issue?

Well, I have answers for both of those, now!

Mastering the Luggage Limitation

There are two reasons I want to pack all our luggage in just our carry-on items. The first reason is that we are going to be changing cities every five days, and traveling with giant suitcases seems incredibly cumbersome, frustrating, and like a great way to really work up a bad mood in a short period of time.

The second reason is because of how we booked our flights. We live in Denver, as you know by now. Flights to Europe from New York are way less expensive than trying to leave from Denver, so we saved at least a thousand dollars by using our Southwest points to get us a round trip to New York from Denver, and then we booked the Italy segment as a round trip from New York. The problem: the day we get back, we land in JFK, but we leave for Denver from LaGuardia. We have four hours between landing and having to be on the next flight, and the airports are only 20 minutes apart. Thanks to my Global Entry Status and the Mobile Passport App, I’m not worried about customs, but I am concerned about waiting at the carousel for luggage. So, hence the goal of packing everything in carry-on compliant bags.

And guess what – I did it! I followed advice that you’ll find all over the internet – I chose clothing that will mix and match, so that way I can re-wear each article without repeating outfits. The secret sauce I added on top? My specialty: a spreadsheet.

I made a diagram with tops running across the x axis, bottoms running across the y axis, and marked everywhere a top and a bottom could pair together, like so:

blog - packing list

So, I just planned 37 outfits without taking a single piece of clothing out of my drawers. Additional items that went on the packing list included:

  • Bar of Laundry Soap
  • 1 Swimsuit
  • Sam Eidelman sandals
  • Merrell walking sandals
  • Patent nude Tieks flats
  • Underwear in clean/dirty organizer
  • Small Purse
  • Toiletry Bag
  • PJ’s
  • Camera, charger, SD cards
  • Phone and charger
  • iPad and charger
  • Portable Battery Pack
  • Kindle
  • Wallet, Passport, etc.
  • Earbuds
  • Small cosmetic bag
  • Fuzzy Socks for Plane
  • Sunglasses & Hat
  • Inflatable neck pillow
  • Travel blanket

So, that seemed like A LOT, even with the mixing and matching concept, so I did what any reasonable person would do – I packed for my trip 2.5 weeks early to see if everything would fit! And guess what?

It all fit. Plus a bit more. 

Here’s a photo of  my packed suitcase:


And here’s a close-up of my packed purse:


The only things not in here are what I’ll be wearing on the plane: the Tieks, my black jeans, my pineapple graphic tee, and my lightweight jacket. I’m not exactly sure how I’ll get the hat there without crushing it but I’m not too worried – I figure I can wear it through the airport or fold it gently in my purse, and then either keep it in the purse or stow it overhead once we board.

Also included that I didn’t originally have on my list:

  • 3 guidebooks
  • 1 Italian language reference book
  • 1 deck of cards
  • 1 pocket-sized cribbage game
  • Sunglasses cleaning kit
  • Wrinkle release spray
  • 1 Lush solid shampoo bar in tin
  • 1 Lush solid conditioner bar in tin
  • Set of compression bags
  • Canvas tote bag

The compression bags and canvas tote bag are there in case we end up wanting to bring home more than we have room for. I did save some extra space, probably a wine bottle could fit in my rolling luggage if it had to, but if we wanted to bring home anything larger we’d likely need to make room in our rolling luggage and would probably end up checking a bag. So, the canvas bag allows me to unpack nearly half my clothing if needed (and I bet I could get nearly the rest into my purse) and the compression bags allow us to squish down anything else that’s left! Voila!

And I’m so happy I’ll be wearing my Tieks on the plane! 

I had a wonderful experience with Tieks customer service team. If you recall, I originally ordered size 8’s, but was concerned that they were too wide. When I got the 7’s to try on, I was fretting because they were sooooo tight. Well, I stuck with it for a few days in the house and finally dared to venture outside once they felt just right. I used the blowdryer trick a couple times and that seemed to expedite the process (blow hot air into your shoes, then wear them immediately after around the house with thick socks). Then, I had a bit of a mishap with my brand new pairs, just days after walking outside – a rock or something sharp punctured the back of the heel and literally peeled off the pretty patent part. I was so sad. In retrospect, this was no one’s fault – it happened on day three, but it also could have happened on year three – it’s just one of those things. But Tara, the customer service rep I’d been working with since the first time I needed to change sizes, was INCREDIBLE. She helped get an exchange approved, even though this kind of damage typically wouldn’t have qualified, and now I’ve got a nice new pair of Tieks ready to break in for this Italy trip! Interestingly enough, this pair doesn’t feel as snug as the last, even though they’re the same size. I think one of two things must have happened: either my feet got used to the snugness with the last pair, so this pair didn’t feel quite so tight, OR since these shoes are all handmade, maybe there’s a bit of size variance and I happened to get a new pair that leaned towards the slightly larger side. Who knows – all I can tell you is that I’m so excited to wear these pretty babies out and about Italy in just a few weeks!!



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