When I started to think about what to pack for an entire month in a new city, I felt overwhelmed. Packing for just a week-long trip feels like a lot. You don’t want to forget anything, you want to be prepared, and you want to pack all the cute outfits! I couldn’t imagine how many suitcases I’d need for a whole entire month. And during a cooler month no less.
I was overwhelmed at first, but then quickly got control of the situation and feel like I actually packed nearly perfectly for this trip. There wasn’t one clothing item that wasn’t worn multiple times. And there was only one cozy item I didn’t use.
Overall, I feel like my packing list was pretty damn good. I felt like I had everything without overpacking an insane amount.
Another thing I kept hearing from everyone while sharing this packing journey was “just buy it while you’re there”. While I love the idea of just buying all new shit when I land. I am not made of money.
If I can avoid spending money where I can, I will. Because what will most definitely happen once you get to your destination for your extended stay, is you’ll need to buy things you actually want to add to your life, and not just replace them in the time being. So my method was, if I can pack it, I’ll bring it.
How To Pack For An Extended Stay
Check The Weather
While you can’t know what the weather will look like for the whole month, you can get a general idea. You can check average temperatures and rainfall for wherever you’re going for a month. To be safe, and if you have space, throw in emergency weather items.
I was traveling in the fall to a place that rains sometimes, so I packed my lightweight rain stuff. A light rain jacket, my lightweight rain boots and a travel umbrella. Thanks to the weather being unseasonably warm, I ended up wishing I had more tees and even dresses.
Some things you just can’t prepare for and that’s fine. If you can throw in an extra item, or make use of what you’re bringing for multiple temperatures, that’s key!
Plan Your Outfits
An extended stay usually means you’ll have some sort of access to a washer and hopefully a dryer. With that in mind, you do not need a month’s worth of outfits for 30 days. I basically overpacked for a 10-day trip of outfits.
And honestly, I think I should’ve stuck to 7 days. But I planned them to a T.
To do this, I spent some time pulling out items from my closet and creating outfits. I started with my absolute favorite bottoms and tees I knew I wanted to have no matter what. The things you always reach for, bring those.
I tried on every single outfit I could create with the pieces to make sure I was packing a truly functional capsule wardrobe that will work cohesively together. And I also took photos so I could visually see in my camera what I was packing. I found this helpful to me.
It was really eye-opening because there were things I thought I wanted to bring, but they were a challenge to style with my go-to basics. So those items got cut from the list. Trying things on is crucial! For me, there were zero fun pieces I added.
Every item served a purpose in multiple outfit variations. Period. If not, it’s not coming. This is one of my favorite packing tips no matter where I’m going or for how long.
Stick To A Color Palette
The best way to maximize the space in your luggage with your outfits is to stick to a color palette. I opted to go with black this trip and brought my black purse, shoes, belts and so on. This kept my outfits more cohesive too and maximized my space. It also made getting dressed really easy.
Turns out a capsule wardrobe is in fact, the best and easiest way to get dressed. I also stuck to lots of neutrals like camels and tans. This made my suitcase feel like it had some variation without being just all black.
Create A Packing List
Packing lists are essential to not forget anything! I kept a note on my phone to start a running list of things I’d think of to pack. I did this several weeks before I left and would add things as I would use them throughout the month.
Sometimes there are things you only use once or twice a month, you don’t want to forget those items. I also did my usual packing list here which included the essentials. I just like to have a list that I make sure I can check off. Makes things feel more organized and you know that you won’t forget anything.
Bring Your Cozy Items
An extended stay, especially at sterile corporate housing or a sad Airbnb, can make you homesick a bit. So bring a few things that help to make you feel cozier.
I brought slippers which I lived in, my pillow, and a little thin throw blanket. I am so thankful I brought my pillow and slippers, but I never sat on the couch once so the blanket never got used.
Bring The Crazy Items Too
I feel like everyone has their own things they’ll want to bring that seem totally normal to you, but totally crazy to someone else. I polled my audience on Instagram to ask what would be their non-negotiable, must pack, for a long stay in Paris. And the number one response was actually tampons. Right behind a bathrobe.
For me, it was my kitchen knife. I was going into an Airbnb that was very bare and anyone who likes to cook will know these spaces are not equipped with quality items. So I was glad I brought my small paring knife. I used it more than I thought I would.
Something I wish I packed was my small frying pan. I make eggs every morning for breakfast and knew I’d want to cook a bit and the kitchen did not have one I could use. I ended up buying a cheap one and next time I’ll be packing it if I have space.
Travel Size Versus Full Size
My trip included a few weekend trips so I decided to not only bring a few full size toiletry items, but also my usual toiletry bag that’s always packed perfectly. I am torn on if having full size was needed for a month.
I feel like I could have gotten away with travel sized toiletries and maybe bringing two body washes and just filling all my bottles to the brim. But I did bring all my usual full-size skincare items (lotions and serums) which I think was fine, they don’t take up much space. But I think I could have made it work with just added travel-size items.
One thing I totally forgot to pack was a lingerie bag. It didn’t even cross my mind. I wish I had it for my silk pillowcase and bras. I didn’t trust them in the washing machine. If you have the space, you may also want to pack a few dryer sheets and a few detergent pods.
Buying an entire bottle of detergent is a waste. If you can throw a few in a bag and toss it in your suitcase, great. Otherwise, you may be able to find a travel-size one but I found this hard to find in Europe. My Airbnb had a bottle but it ran out on the last cycle and I’m glad I didn’t have to buy a whole other one.
Ask Your Host
Ask your host what is in the house. Sometimes they list things out in great detail and sometimes they don’t. I made sure there were hangers and that’s it. I wish I asked about detergent and soap.
So I ended up needing to buy hand soap and almost had to buy laundry detergent. It’s also possible the host may replenish these things for you for, so it never hurts to speak up and inquire!
Leave Some Space
It is tempting to overpack for this type of trip. And we’ll get into that in a second. But if you can, while packing, leave some space. You’ll thank me later! At the very least, pack this packable duffel that takes up no space, and can be checked on your way back.
How To Pack A Suitcase To Maximize Space
While I think you should bring however many checked bags you see fit, it’s still best to maximize your space. It can sometimes be more affordable to just check extra bags than to try to ship items home or be forced to buy things once you arrive. There is no shame in checked luggage!
Use Packing Cubes
I really swear by using packing cubes. They also just keep your life organized. But you can really pack a ton of stuff in them and zip it up to compress it all. Just keep in mind the weight of it all. This is an easy way to add tons of weight (but not take up too much space) to your suitcase.
Fill Your Shoes And Bags
No matter what, I put socks, bras, and any smaller items, into each pair of shoes and my bags. It helps to keep them from being crushed and you can maximize your space.
Roll Your Clothes
I’m a firm believer that rolling your clothes is also a space saver. Whether you roll, or properly fold your clothing, just be mindful of how you’re putting everything into your suitcase. It really does make a difference to take the time to fold clothes and make them as small as possible.
Random Things I’m Glad I Packed
- Small Paring Knife – I bought this knife guard for it
- Few Dryer Sheets
- A packable duffle – great to be used for several purposes and as an extra suitcase on your way home
- Reusable canvas tote bag – great for grocery shopping, as a backup bag, I used mine a lot.
- A few washcloths – Airbnbs just never have enough. I wish I packed a couple more. I use one every night to wash my makeup off.
- All the meds – go above and beyond here especially if you’re in a new country. Thermometer too! I also packed sick meds just in case.
- Tide Pen
- Nail file and nail clippers – I also packed my nail polish because that’s what I do.
- Extra cords, plugs, converters and so on
- Water bottle
Things I Wish I Packed That Are Unique To Me
- Round Brush
- Blow Dryer
- Kitchen Sponge – because this one is holy grail IYKYK
- Lingerie Bag
- Laundry Detergent – would maybe consider packing a few detergent pods and dryer sheets, otherwise not a huge deal
- Small Frying Pan
Things I Brought And Didn’t Use Or Won’t Bring Again
- Throw Blanket – feel like this wasn’t used because I didn’t love my Airbnb and didn’t want to sit on the couch. I am on the fence if I would bring this on a future trip.
- A Good Bath Towel – I packed my big fluffy bath towel and while I used it a bunch, I don’t think it was necessary. Especially since this Airbnb did not have a dryer, it took forever to hang dry and was just a hassle. It was a bulky item in my suitcase too and wish I just left it out.
The 54321 Packing Method
This is a packing method that can come in handy if you’re overwhelmed with packing your outfits. The idea is you get a great selection of outfits by packing with 54321 in mind. Each number is assigned a category.
And I think this method is really something you can tailor to your personal style. In general, it often looks like 5 tops, 4 bottoms, 3 shoes, 2 dresses and 1 bag. You can also add in additional things like maybe 2 belts, and 1 hat.
Overall, it’s about having more of the most commonly worn items, slightly fewer less worn items, and so on. I think this also keeps in mind that you don’t need 5 pairs of shoes for a trip. Sure, I packed a lot for my trip, but in general, you don’t need to have more shoes than tops. So the 5-4-3-2-1 packing method helps to keep these ratios in mind.
54321 Packing List
This can truly be applied to any scenario too and any personal style. Just rearrange the numbers as you see fit to what you’ll wear most and work backward. Plus, you can assign a few categories to each number if you need to like shoes and bags as your 1 or 2. Here are a few examples.
Going somewhere warm and tropical? 5 dresses, 4 tops, 3 swimsuits, 2 bottoms, 2 shoes, 1 bag, 1 hat.
Going on a snowy wintery getaway? Try 5 sweaters, 4 basic layers, 3 bottoms, 2 coats, 2 shoes, 1 bag, 1 scarf.
And if your trip is super short, forget the 5, and start at 4. I think no matter what, the 5-4-3-2-1 packing method can help you figure out what’s important to pack more of so you have enough of each item.
My 5-4-3-2-1 Packing List
Below is a pretty fair representation of what I brought to Paris. I then basically doubled the tops and had an extra coat. For bottoms, you can always swap the skirt or another pair of jeans for a dress if you’re more of a dress person.
I’m a denim person, so I wanted all the jeans and my beloved faux leather pants that I live in. These looks can easily be dressed up or down with ease. Which is always key when packing. Right click and save the packing guide below for future reference!
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