I’m often asked what to pack for a trip to Italy. Though the list is long (you can find it in my e-book, “Planning Your Dream Trip To Italy: Tips & Tricks”), these are six specific items that I always – always! – pack, no matter where I’m going or how long I’m going for:
I LOVE this travel wallet! The wallet I use at home is a bit heavy and bulky even when it’s empty. This nylon wallet by Baggallini (an Italian company!) is super lightweight, incredibly durable and has five zipper pockets! All of the zippers are different colors, which keeps you from getting confused about what is where. The large zipper pocket is big enough for your passport, too. I usually put credit cards in one of the colored zipper pockets, debit cards and driver’s license in another, large value coins (€1 & €2) in a third and smaller value coins in the fourth. I keep cash in the larger pocket (I usually keep my passport zipped up in an inner pocket of my crossbody bag – see below).
2) Crossbody Bag
I like to travel with a crossbody bag – even though I’m sure it makes me look more like a tourist than my usual purse – because I like to have both hands free and, with a crossbody bag, I don’t have to constantly worry about my purse falling off my shoulder (particularly in a crowd). There are a few things my crossbody bags MUST have, though:
1 – A large zipper pocket. Snap closures (or no closures) allow too much opportunity for a pickpocket to stick their hand in and grab something, no matter how tightly you think you’re holding your bag (trust me – it happened to me in Paris!). Preferably, I like there to be a snap-closure flap over the large zipper pocket, for extra security.
2 – An inner zipper pocket that can hold my passport and the majority of my cash. If a pickpocket does manage to open my large zipper pocket without me noticing, they’ll have a hard time managing to search around in my bag long enough to open a second, smaller zipper on the inside before I catch them!
3 – A pocket or two on the outside to hold my phone, camera, or transit ticket is a nice feature, as it lets me grab them quickly without opening my main purse, but not absolutely necessary. And of course, keeping those items outside my purse makes them less secure.
4 – Size. I always keep a tablet with me with reference documents on it (maps, itineraries, pdf copies of tickets and identification) so my bag needs to be big enough to comfortably fit it inside the large pocket. Not only that, but I also always have my Kindle Paperwhite on me (I talk about this more below), as well as sunglasses, a camera and / or phone, lip gloss, a small bag of medication, hand lotion and anti-bacterial gel. That may sound like a lot, but I can really get away with a fairly small bag.
5 – Material. Leather isn’t good for traveling; it damages too easily. I’m not a big fan of the way vinyl looks, though, so I usually look for a lined canvas. The lining is important, as it helps to protect my items if I get caught out in the rain.
6 – Style. A crossbody bag is always going to look touristy, I know, but I like to pick one with at least a little style to it. Function isn’t everything!
That being said, there are two specific bags that I gravitate toward, one with a bit more style than the other. My favorite right now is the Vere Gloria Messenger Bag. It has a special pocket for my tablet and a flip closure that snaps shut over the large zipper pocket. I love it’s rustic look (I’m really digging the olive color right now!) and affordable price. It’s not particularly feminine, either, so works for guys, too.
For those who are a bit more into function, though, and want some extra space, this traditional travel crossbody bag by Travelon is the way to go. The nylon is laced with security fibers that prevent a thief from cutting through either the strap or the bag itself. The zipper for the large pocket connects to the strap, so you have to unclick it to open it (another security feature). There are also pockets that prevent anyone from scanning your credit card or passport strips through your bag, though as I said before, I would keep them in an inner pocket, not one of the two, small, zip pockets on the outside of the bag. Around the same price as the Vere Gloria bag, you’ll find a lot of uses for this Travelon bag for years to come.
3) Universal USB Power Adapter
You may encounter two different plugs in Italy, depending on the age of the building and where you go, which is why I like this Poweradd International Travel Charger. It has adapters for not only most of Europe, but also the US, Japan and Australia (note: this is not a converter! Make sure your electronics can run on 240 volts before plugging them in without a power converter. All Apple products are dual-voltage so do not pose a problem). It’s compact but has places to plug in four things at once: two traditional outlets and two USB ports, perfect for most phones, tablets, and cameras (as well as a Fitbit, if you’re logging steps on your trip!).
Nothing looks worse than wrinkly clothes, and when you’re a tourist you need to put your best foot forward. A lot of hotels have irons, but then you have to worry about setting up an ironing board, about creating creases, about the iron being too hot or releasing rusty steam from the last guest – yuck! So I always save a pound of weight in my checked bag for my Conair Travel Steamer. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it keeps me from leaving my hotel or apartment like I was just rolled up in a suitcase for two weeks!
Before I steam my clothes, I always spray them lightly with Downy Wrinkle Release. They have a handy travel-size bottle that’s perfect for packing, and I find that the steaming seems to be even more of a breeze after a few sprays of this stuff!
I spray all of my worn clothes with my travel-size bottle of Febreze. Sometimes I’ll have “lightly” worn something and it doesn’t seem dirty, like a cardigan I wore only in a restaurant or a scarf that I should be able to easily wear again. Before packing it in with my clean clothes, though, I give it a few light spritzes of Febreze so that I can be confident no “hidden” scents will appear while it’s shoved in my suitcase between one city and the next. I also spray it on my dirty clothes before I put them in my “dirty laundry bag” (see below. Yes, everything in there is dirty and I’ll wash it all as soon as I get home, but there’s no reason for it to smell more than it needs to!
7) Luggage Compression Bags
I know that luggage cubes are all the rage, but I always go back to my trusty compression bags. You just put whatever you want into them, seal the top and then roll the bag (contents and all!) to expel the air. A lot of people use them because when compressed, clothes take up less room in your suitcase. I, however, use them to organize my clothes either by type (pants, tank tops, blouses) or by days and cities (these four outfits for my first four days in Rome, then two days in Florence, etc). My favorite use of my compression bags, though, is to separate my dirty clothes in an airtight way that won’t contaminate the rest of my suitcase. You can try to use regular plastic bags all you want – they’re not airtight and some scents can and will “leak” out, particularly on a longer trip. Right now I’m using these bags by Eagle Creek, one of my favorite luggage brands, but there are all types and sizes.
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