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Packing Tips for a Picture-Perfect Summer Trip

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As I sit here working on this post, we’re just over two weeks out from our big summer trip. Last May we went to Italy (read about our travels to Florence and Positano here) and I LOVED how I packed. My packing style has evolved from our pre-Elle Paris trip four years ago when I was still figuring out my off-duty look (having spent much of my post-college time in an office up until that point).

I digress. There’s something about walking around European cities feeling confident you don’t look like a tourist that I very much enjoy. And, even if you’re not going to Europe, I think the tips are helpful for any vacation on which you want to look pulled together.

This year we’re going to Scotland and London and are dealing with an added element…cooler weather. So, I’m writing this as much for myself as you. In general, I follow a few guidelines that I’ll share below…but, never one to do things one way, I also think about every potential outfit opportunity and then some. I’d rather check a bag or two and be prepared…it’s more fun and less stressful that way (until you have to get on a train, but I still think it’s worth overpacking for that moment of angst). Per request, I’ll also include ideas for a European wedding and will, of course, follow up with a post-trip recap that captures all of our favorite finds, restaurants and kid friendly spots.

My Top Five Packing Tips

Stick to a Color Family But Don’t Be Afraid to Have Outliers

The more your aesthetic matches itself, the further fewer pieces will take you. Try to have accent colors that you carry through all of your pieces because the more everything is framed around a certain mood or aesthetic, the easier you will be able to mix and match to create looks on the fly. Inevitably we always have extra outfit opportunities arise and I like to be prepared with the right shoes, bags, etc.

Let Sneakers Be Your Best Friend

There are so many cute, flattering options out there…your feet will thank you and you’ll be more fun on the trip.

Know Your Itinerary & Style Outfits Accordingly

I always try to plan around what we’re doing…I peg specific outfits to days, but do so with flexibility. I start by outlining days and events (day/beach/dinner, etc.) and then assign outfits to days. I like to hand write it (helps my brain somehow). Also helpful to pull all the things you want to bring onto clothing racks as you’re deciding which day you’ll wear.

Dress Up for Dinner

You’re on vacation! Put a little effort into your up-front packing and you’ll look smashing along the way. I always like my vacation outfits better because I took the time to think through them in advance. Dinner is the most fun on vacation for this reason!

Plan Ahead

Think about the things you want to bring weeks ahead of time so that you have ample opportunity to fill in the blanks. Recommendations by category are below. Scroll down to shop if you’re short on time!

Packing List Outline

  • Walking/City Trip
    • White/Cream Midi Dresses + Chic Sneakers for Day
      • My Favorite Dress and Sneakers for Reference
      • Option: White Jeans (Not for Me, I Don’t Like Sneakers + Jeans on Myself, but Very Workable for Many)
    • Cross Body Bags Like This or This for Day
    • Sweaters to Tie Around Your Waist / Pop On If You’re Cool (As in Chilly)
    • Neutral Color Raincoat
  • European Wedding
    • Italy/Greece: Midi or Long Dress that Lets Air In. Options Here, Here and Here
    • Paris: Fashion-Forward Options Including Puff Sleeves, Please!
    • England: A Lovely Hat or Fascinator to Match Your Dress

Other Trip Tips & Tricks

Schedule Photo Opps

Taking photos along the way is, of course, the best way to capture memories but I also loved having time slated for frame-worthy moments. It made the trip less stressful (for me) to know that we’d hit all the beautiful spots in the city with a professional on hand. We loved Flytographer in Florence and Positano and have booked them again in London. Michael joined for the Florence session which made for some of my favorite photos of all time.

Book Your Session Early

You’ll get to experience the city you’re visiting before the hustle and bustle and with your own personal tour guide via the photographer. The best light will be early in the day too (think 7 or 8 am). It’s well worth the early wake up call.

Get Your Hair Done

Pre-trip and on the trip, before photos. Book blow outs through your hotel as they’ll know the closest salons. Your hair will last a couple days and photographs will look that much better.

Bring Skincare on the Plane

I always bring my jade roller and makeup bag filled with hydrating creams and serums (travel sized, of course). You’ll be so dry from flying these provide welcome relief. Also throw in a toothbrush, deodorant and a bobby pin to keep your freshly blown out hair tucked back while you rest.

Buy a Neck Pillow

This will be my first trip with a neck pillow (mine is from South of Hampton, is monogrammed and also works as a regular pillow too). I’ll report back.

Most of all…have fun! Enjoy your vacation, don’t stress about packing and unless you’re going somewhere remote, you can always buy something new when you’re there!

Midi Dresses

Sneakers

Cross Body Bags

Sweaters

Cover Ups

Suits

Slides

Sunnies

Hats

Beach Totes

Evening Lewks

Small / Evening Bags

Heels / Mules

Pajamas

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About Emily

Emily Hertz is an Atlanta-based, NYC-born lifestyle blogger with a passion for party styling and an affinity for all things beautiful. Explore Emily’s fashion favorites, entertaining ideas and tot-friendly finds.

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