LivingTravelPacking light for your trip to France

Packing light for your trip to France

Packing light, especially if you plan to visit more than one city or take the train, is an art. A lightweight bag can make the difference between a pleasant or an unpleasant experience.

Use these tips and tricks to pack light.

While all major Paris train stations have left luggage, many French train stations do not have lockers available, and a quick day trip to a passing town can be excruciating lugging heavy suitcases around the city. Take a look at which stations have left luggage facilities in France.

However, you don’t want to arrive in France and find that you don’t have your prescription drugs, extra contact lenses, essential clothing, underwear, etc.

There is an art in packing light AND packing well at the same time. Use these tips and tricks to travel as light as possible, without missing out on important items in your home.

General advice before traveling

  • As soon as you know you are visiting France, put a box or basket in a convenient place to put your travel necessities. Also check out a packing checklist and keep it at the top. You can keep adding items by marking them.
  • Buy a small collapsible bag to fold up and tuck into your main bag. You can be sure that you will buy something in France, and this means that you have a manageable bag without spending money in France.
  • Think hard about what you plan to buy there . If there is something that you are packing, but will probably buy while in France, don’t buy it and buy on your vacation.
  • Get a suitcase or backpack with wheels . Even a light backpack can get heavy after a while. However, don’t think that the wheels will save you all the time. If a bag is too heavy to carry, you won’t be able to lift it up and down the train platforms (often stairs). There will be times when you will have to carry that bag.
  • Make that suitcase small enough to carry on the plane. That way you won’t have to bother with waiting for luggage, or the possibility of missing luggage.

Check out Shopping in France

Buying bargains in France

Outlet stores and discounts in Troyes, Champagne

Compras in Calais

Bespoke shopping in Paris

Cheap shopping in Paris

Shopping districts in Paris

What you should bring

There are certain items that would be disastrous, or indeed extremely inconvenient, to leave behind. When trying to pack light, make sure you don’t leave a mandatory item. Be sure to bring:

  • Any necessary travel documents , such as a passport or visa. Also leave copies of these documents with a trusted friend or family member in case they are lost.
  • A sheet of paper with the phone numbers of all the credit cards and the stub numbers of the traveler’s checks in case they are lost.
  • Copies of all hotel confirmations . If you did not receive an email or fax confirmation from a hotel, insist on it while you are still at home.
  • Detailed maps and directions from the train station or airport to your hotel. Don’t assume that a taxi driver will know.
  • Euros! Never enter a country without at least a small local currency. Of course, don’t go crazy and get hundreds of euros at your local bank, where the exchange rate is regular. For more tips, see How to get cash in France: Dos and Don’ts.
  • Prescription drugs . Not only would it be difficult to get a prescription while traveling, it would also be impossible if the same drug is not available in France. Don’t forget your backup contact lenses, either.
  • Wallet, purse and other items that you would normally carry at all times. In the last minute packaging craze, these essentials can be forgotten.
  • Airline tickets and airline tickets or information on your phone.
  • Electric currency converters and plug adapters (yes, these are two different things, and both are necessary). If you plan to bring a laptop, which I wouldn’t recommend if you’re packing little, you’ll need a phone adapter as well. However, keep in mind that most hotels have free internet access and many cities have internet cafes in France.

Clothing will make up the majority of your packaging, so it requires the most attention. There are several things you can do to lighten the load:

  • Look for fine, synthetic fabrics . Not only do they take up less space, but they dry quickly if you need to hand wash them in a hotel room. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on “travel” clothing. Look for wrinkle-free polyester or rayon blends. At home, pay attention to which laundry comes out of the almost dry spin cycle. Bring some Woolite on the road or use the hotel shampoo if necessary.
  • Invest in compression garment bags , which cost around $ 20-25 at travel stores and outdoor stores. They won’t make your clothes lighter, but they do make them much, much smaller. Just make sure you don’t pack so hard that you hit your bag over the airline’s weight limits.
  • Determine what you REALLY need to drink . I would suggest setting aside all the clothes you think you need to pack. Then live only in those clothes for the number of days you will be in France. Do not wash your clothes, but if you want to wear something enough again; wash it by hand. You will probably be surprised at how many items you never used during that period. Eliminate those pieces from your list.
  • I know this may sound terrible to some of you, but invest in a pair of shoes to wear and NO MORE. If you go to a comfortable shoe store, you can probably find a pair that is comfortable for a lot of walking but looks pretty enough to wear to a fancy dinner party. You will spend more, but it will be worth it. And you won’t have bulky shoes to pack.
  • Pack clothes along a similar color scheme so you can mix and match. Why have three full shirt-skirt-jacket combos when you can have a pair of shirts, a skirt, a pair of pants, and a cardigan, for example.
  • Eliminate almost all bulky and heavy items. Don’t pack more than one pair of heavy jeans or sweater. For one thing, you can probably go back to using some of the heavier items. On the other hand, it will take up the space and weight of several lighter items.
  • Find cheap old clothes or underwear that you don’t mind leaving behind when you wear them. That will clear some space as you go.

We all need some very basic toiletries when we travel. Who can live without a toothbrush or soap, after all? But there are a few tricks to remove unnecessary items or keep them light and small.

  • Your hotel will likely provide many of the basic items , such as shampoos, soap, and conditioner. I always think I need to pack these things and end up with a suitcase loaded with little hotel bottles. Even if you won’t be staying somewhere with great toiletries, what could be more fun than having an excuse to buy French ground soap in Marseille, for example?
  • Save yourself the surcharges of purchasing sample sizes. Get some small bottles and fill them with your favorites and add a label. Or visit gift giving sites to find companies that give away samples. Some come in packages rather than small bottles, which pack even better.
  • Get a small bag of travel toiletries to keep all of this organized. Getting a small one will also help you keep toiletries under control.
  • Don’t pack a hair dryer if you can help it. Almost all hotels in France have a hair dryer.

Information on French hotels

Accommodation in France: general information and tips

Cheap hotels and good chains

Logis hotels are a good option

Understanding the hotel star rating system in France

Edited by Mary Anne Evans

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