Real life one bag travel: trans seasonal packing list for Europe

Hi Frugalistas!

I’m off to Europe this week and have some unique packing problems to overcome – I’m going to three distinct climates (around Paris), in the foothills of the Alps (Alsace) and Istanbul. Looking at the 10 day weather forecasts, the weather in all three destinations is also all over the place!  My packing solution needs to not only meet the needs of three distinct geographic regions, it also needs to cope with true trans seasonal weather!

This sort of itinerary and weather quandary is tiger country for the one bag traveller (‘just in case’ becomes a serious temptation!)  So, this is what I’ve come up with as an ultralight trans seasonal packing solution.


Two skirts, and two pants that go with everything

Two skirts, and two pants that go with everything

I’m going with 4 bottoms. Two skirts, and two pairs of pants. One of the pairs of pants are plain black, but I’m also taking a pair of black velvet jeans, that can be dressed up or down according to the occasion, and are lighter and take up less space than denim (regular readers will know I never take traditional denim for weight and space reasons.) I’ve got a classic black pencil skirt that goes with everything, then a patterned pencil skirt that not only matches all my tops, but is also stretchy – so great for when comfort is key!


Three knits and three long sleeved tees that match everything

Three knits and three long sleeved tees that match everything

Regular readers will know I tend to go with cashmere because of its lightness and warmth. This time I’m mixing it up because of the weather. I’ll still be going with cashmere – a classic black jumper/sweater, and a blue cardigan (that matches with the patterned skirt). Instead of a third cashmere I’m taking a light wool cardigan (in purple to match my skirt). I can wear this when it’s not so cold, but can also use it for extra layers with my black jumper if need be.  In addition, I’ve packed a little black jacket that I can multiple ways – on days when it’s too warm for my coat, as an extra layer when it’s cold, and in the evening for going out with some smart jewelery.

One classic black jacket

One classic black jacket


For smart trans seasonal layering I’ve chosen to pack 3 long sleeved tees. Classic black and white, but then one in blue that matches my patterned skirt, and both my cardigans.  By having all my tops and bottoms match each other I’ve got multiple different outfits, with the minimal number of pieces.

My usual packing staples

As always, I’m taking a thermal top for days when I need extra warmth without the bulk. I’m also taking my trench coat (although I may not need it every day), some scarves, warm gloves and wooly hat (in case it gets seriously cold). I normally ‘pack’ my hat and gloves in my trench coat pockets, so I’ve always got them on hand. Add in some costume jewellery to change up outfits and go from day to night and I’m good to go.

And one trench to finish!

And one trench to finish!

Regular readers will note I’m not packing a dress this time – with the unpredictability of the weather I’ve decided to give it a miss, and just make sure everything I’m packing goes with everything else, so I’ve got plenty of outfits I can make with just a group of separates.


Just two pairs of course. I’m retiring my old ankle boots, and have upgraded to a smart pair that can also be worn with my skirts for maximum versatility. Then a pair of flats that also go with everything else.

Add in 3 sets of underwear, two pairs of tights, and two pairs of socks (one thin, one pair in cashmere), my reading matter, toilet bag, electronics etc, and I’m good to go!

Men can easily adjust this packing list by swapping the long sleeved tees for long sleeved casual shirts/long sleeved men’s tees, or even light cotton rugby style jerseys.

How do you pack trans seasonally?  What tips do you have for packing for very different destinations?

Related posts:

My generic packing list

Man’s packing list

3-1-1 packing



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21 Comments on “Real life one bag travel: trans seasonal packing list for Europe”

  1. B 01/10/2013 at 11:06 pm #

    I never (usually) take a dress (breaking that one this time but it’ll cost me a lot of packing space – post coming later tonight!), but instead go for skirts and tops in the same colours (often black). A black skirt with a black top (same shade black) looks just like a black dress. Sub in brighter colours according to style, but you get the idea!

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 02/10/2013 at 7:10 am #

      I do! Exactly what I’m doing this time round. I do try and avoid all black, just cos its a bit boring, but it just seemed to work best with a bit more black this time

  2. Humble Walker 01/10/2013 at 11:06 pm #

    Excellent packing list. Enjoy your trip to Europe. I’ve just returned from Paris and the weather was lovely and warm even at night.

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 02/10/2013 at 7:11 am #

      Thank you. Yes, I’ve been following the weather, hence the need for a packing rethink!

  3. FoundTravel 02/10/2013 at 12:22 am #

    You are going to three of my favorite spots! Make sure to stop in Bestheim in the Alsace to try some Klevener wine… one of the few places that bottles this great wine! And Istanbul… HIGHLY recommend the back alley food tour! Great way to get to know Istanbul like a local and to learn about the food!

  4. Femme Francophile 02/10/2013 at 4:12 am #

    i returned yesterday 2 months in France, 10 days in in the Greek Islands.and some time in the Alps so I understand the problems. Would you please post a photo of the boots? I am interested to hear in how you go with your selection. Enjoy your trip.

  5. Pretraveller 02/10/2013 at 5:43 am #

    Jo, I am always impressed by how much thought you put into your travelling wardrobe!
    I suggest that you take a selfie for each day and outfit combination you wear and put it all together when you get back as a post, it will be interesting to see if you use everything that you have packed.

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 02/10/2013 at 7:17 am #

      If you do the sums, I should be able to get 48 combinations, not including shoe, scarf and jewellery variations. This time round I think the weather will determine whether everything gets worn.

  6. holidayaddict 02/10/2013 at 7:01 am #

    I’m in the process of packing right now – and although I know I’ll travel light for Dublin, I still have a ton of stuff currently hanging on the bedroom curtain rail while I try to streamline. One thing’s for sure though, there will only be one pair of boots coming with me. And they’ll be the ones on my feet!

  7. Carol 10/10/2013 at 3:07 am #

    Excellent post as usual! That is a gorgeous trench.

  8. Carolyn @ Holidays to Europe 21/10/2013 at 10:10 pm #

    Wow, Jo! You make it all sound so simple. Unfortunately I’m still one of those ‘just in case’ packers. Hopefully next time I travel I can put your tips in practice. 48 combinations from those few pieces is fantastic and I bet you will look super stylish whilst wearing comfortable, practical outfits. You’ve definitely set me a goal. Happy travels – and yes, please post a photo of the boots.

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 22/10/2013 at 11:10 am #

      Thanks Carolyn. There will be a follow up post on the Transeasonal packing list, and due to popular demand I will post a picture of the boots!

  9. budgettraveltalk 11/10/2014 at 10:26 am #

    Inspiring as usual Jo. Our next trip will be Italy and Croatia in Spring 🙂

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 11/10/2014 at 10:35 am #

      Perfect for this list Jan. I often travel in Europe during spring, and this list does just as well in spring as autumn

  10. Susan Heiligman 12/10/2014 at 4:39 am #

    Thanks for the tips….also traveling to Europe soon…Wiesbaden/Rhine and Paris, may stop in Colmar…have my cashmere tops and down jacket ready! Can’t wait!


  1. Real life one bag travel – My Packing List | frugalfirstclasstravel - 16/11/2013

    […] Transeasonal packing list […]

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