When planning the trip to France I was struck with a serious dilemma in terms of packing. All guidebooks strongly suggest that you pack as little as possible when traveling abroad. However, this wasn’t going to be easy for us considering that we were bringing along all of our climbing equipment, clothes appropriate to Paris, and clothes that were appropriate for hiking in the Alps where temperatures vary. In the end we had a large rolling suitcase, a backpacking backpack, a daypack, and I had my oversized handbag. My packing lists ended up being several pages long. We did, however, use most everything except for a few items on the list. While the amount of luggage we had was sometimes cumbersome, it was also needed. Luckily, our trip itinerary didn’t involve moving about a lot. We only moved locations twice in the two weeks were in France. For people traveling abroad with a lot of luggage who plan on traveling within Europe to visit several different places I would make one suggestion. Don’t buy cheap airfare. Their excess baggage fees are often unbearably steep. A wonderful alternative is Europe’s amazing rail system! It’s affordable and most trains don’t have a limit on luggage.

 

The following are lists of items we found particularly unnecessary and VERY necessary during our French adventure.

 

Things we brought that were unnecessary: 

  • Hair Straightener: The converter that we bought didn’t work and we were stuck lugging around a useless straightener for two weeks. 
  • Flip Video Camera: We ended up not using this at all. Our camera can take video as could our iPhones and we found those to be a satisfactory replacement.
  • Swimsuits: Guidebooks suggest that they be packed. However, if you aren’t going to be staying in a hotel with a pool (like us) they are really unnecessary. We did use them on our last night while staying at the Hyatt, but we did that just so we could say we’d used them.
  • Two Climbing Ropes: For the leisurely climbing we did in the Chamonix Valley there was no need for us to haul around two climbing ropes. 

 

Things we brought that were VERY necessary:

  • iPad: For any traveler an iPad is an absolute must! It’s so light weight, versatile, and easy to use. My iPad had all my airplane necessities on it including books, games, and movies. I was able to blog with it (assisted by my wireless keyboard) and we were able to upload our pictures to it every day! My only regret was getting the 16GB, looking back I would’ve preferred the 32GB or higher. With the movies and pictures we ran out of space on the trip and had to delete a few items. 
  • An oversized handbag: While in Paris we didn’t want our appearance to scream that we were tourists. Rather than carry a backpack we decided to bring a larger purse and fill it with our daily necessities. In my purse I had our passports (secure in a zipper pocket), guidebook, common phrase book, snacks, medicine, toilet paper, and extra cash. Because it was an over the shoulder bag with a short strap it was always under my arm and against my body protecting it from pick pockets. 
  • An amazing pair of shoes: Bobby mocked me for bringing a pair of heels but for going out for dinner at night I found them a necessity I wouldn’t want to go without! The fashion in Paris is fabulous and you don’t want to be left behind! 
  • Trekking Poles: For my sometimes shaky ankle, hiking can be difficult and painful. Before our trip I decided to invest in a solid pair of trekking poles. That was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! Usually, after a vigorous day hike walking afterwards is difficult. But, with my Black Diamond Trekking Poles I had no problems and my ankle felt great!
  • Solid Hiking Boots: We both tried to wear sandals the first couple of days in Paris and soon realized that fashion shouldn’t always win out. In spite of the dorky appearance hiking boots can sometimes give. I couldn’t recommend anything more highly for a tourist with a busy schedule! Our legs lasted so much longer on the days we wore our hiking boots and we were always less fussy! 
  • Sweatshirts: I wasn’t planning on packing any heavy sweatshirts but Bobby threw them into the pack at the last minute. Am I glad he did! While in the Alps, especially atop Aiguille du Midi a heavier sweatshirt was most definitely necessary! 
  • Rick Steve’s Common Phrase Book: I can’t count the number of times this book came in handy! Especially while at restaurants to order and decode the menu. It is nicely laid out and easy to use in a jam.

 

Original Copies of our packing lists.

 Clothing ~ Maura

  • Underwear (5 pairs)
  • Bra
  • Sports Bra
  • Socks (5 pairs) ~ 3 pairs hiking and 2 pairs regular
  • Hiking Pants (2 pairs)
  • Jeans (2 pairs)
  • Capris (1 Pair)
  • Belts (Brown & Black)
  • Shirts (4 for hiking) ~ 3 short sleeved and 1 long sleeved
  • Shirts (5 for Paris)
  • Shoes ~ Blue Chacos, Hiking Boots, Blue Sandals, Brown Wedges
  • REI Gray Fleece
  • Swimsuit
  • Rain Jacket
  • Sweatpants and Tank (sleep)

Clothing ~ Bobby

  • Underwear (5 pairs)
  •  Hiking Pants (2 Pairs)
  •  Shorts (1 Pair)
  • Jeans (1 Pair)
  • Belt
  • Shirts ~ 4 short sleeved shirts and 2 long sleeved
  • Socks (5 pairs) ~ 3 pairs hiking and 2 pairs regular
  •   Shoes ~ Chacos and Hiking Boots
  •   Lightweight Hoodie
  •   Swim Trunks
  •   Rain Jacket

 

Toiletries 

 

  • Lotion
  • Face wash
  • Sunscreen 
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner 
  • Hair Gel
  • Razor
  • Shaving Cream
  • Laundry Soap
  • Hair Brush
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrushes (2)
  • Floss
  • Deodorant (2)
  • MouthWash
  • Toilet Paper Roll
  • Quick-dry Towels
  • Hand Towel
  • Tweezers/Nail Clipper
  • Medicine
  • Q-tips
  • Kleenex packs (4)
  • Makeup
  • Retainer
  • Hair Straightener
  • Extra Hair Binders
  • Hair Pins
  • Barrettes 
  • Jewelry 

 

Carry-On Goodies

 

  • Passports 
  • Iphones
  • Headphones (2)
  • Splitter
  • Ipad
  • Travel Pillow
  • Snacks
  • Iphone Chargers
  • Guide Books ~ Rick Steve’s Guide to France, Chamonix Rock Climbing, Chamonix Hiking, Rick Steve’s Common Phrase Book
  • Water bottles (2)
  • Camera and extra batteries
  • Flip and extra batteries
  • Watch
  • Notebook
  • Pencils
  • Sudko
  • Magazines
  • Books
  • Copies of: passports, credit cards, and photo ids
  •  Checks
  •  Cash
  • Adapter
  • Converter
  • Luggage Locks
  • Trip Info Folder
  • Trip Itinerary Folder

 

Climbing Gear

 

  • Harnesses (2)
  • Helmets (2)
  • Ropes (2)
  • Chalk
  • Chalk bags (2)
  • ATCs (2)
  • Grigiri
  • Slings
  • Carabiners
  • Quick Draws
  • Climbing Shoes
  • First-aid Kit
  • Belay Gloves
  • Mini toilet paper roll
  • P.A.S. (2)
  • Locking carabiners (7) 
  • Nuts
  • Cams
  • Water Filter
  • Go Girls
  • Trekking Poles

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About the author


I am the youngest of six daughters and spent my childhood vacations camping in the beautiful State Parks of MN. In 2009 I married my best friend, Bobby Marko. We have embarked on numerous adventures along with our Golden Retriever, Latigo, our son, Jack (born 7/26/2014) and our daughter, Rowan (born 10/25/2016). When not adventuring in the great outdoors I spend my time as a stay at home mom and volunteer. I am a Branch Lead for the Twin Cities Hike it Baby branch. My favorite pastimes include dog training, eating chocolate, reading mysteries and crappy romance novels, and creating paper crafts, my passion lies in writing.

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