What I’m Packing for Italy

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Good morning! Wow, we are half-way through July. That’s crazytown. Sorry to be Captain Obvious, but sometimes I just have to say it out loud.

Life is funny. You can spend so much time and energy anticipating big events, major milestones, personal accomplishments, etc. And then when you get to the other side, it’s like, how did that happen so fast? Where does the time go?

Ever since we started planning this trip to Italy, I was looking ahead to July and wondering how on earth I was going to juggle everything I had going on in May and June and the first half of this month, and if we would ever actually go. And here we are!

I spent a large part of yesterday finalizing my packing list and figuring out how to fit everything I want to bring to Italy for 10 days into my Away Carry-On and Away Everywhere Bag. I was shocked that I actually did it without sacrificing anything major.

If I wanted to carry the Away Medium, I would certainly love to add a few more shoe and bag options and the dual voltage travel hairdryer I purchased for this trip, but I doubt I’ll need or want them once I get there. We’re visiting three cities in 10 days, and it will be much easier with all carry-on size suitcases. That’s still a lot of luggage, when you consider there are five of us, and some of us (ahem) have a rather large personal bag as well.

The bigger issue is getting my girls on board, so that’s our next task. Paul and I are both about 9/10 of the way packed and ready to go, but we need to help them get their stuff together.

I’ve never packed this far in advance of a trip before, but I can see the value in it! It gives me time to get feedback, rethink my packing strategy, and double and triple check my packing list to be sure we have everything we need. I still have to decide what I’m going to do about a hat and a reusable water bottle. (I think I’m just going to grab one of my favorite Swell 17 oz. bottles — unless I should carry something that’s lighter weight.)

Does anyone have something else they recommend? This one looks cool, but I’m not sure I need the collapsable feature, so maybe more trouble than it’s worth? I mean, neither is going to fit in my crossbody. I’ll either carry it or stash it in my husband’s backpack.

Okay, I need to get a move on here. It’s a rainy day, and hard to get motivated to get dressed and out the door, but I don’t want to miss church today. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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59 Responses

  1. If you need a water bottle recommendation, Vapur roll-up bottles are only about $10 each on Amazon and work really well for travel.

  2. Your packing list is helpful for those of us with an upcoming trip. (I can’t get the links to work though.) Thanks for posting it!

      1. Very helpful list! We are going to Italy the end of August. I can open your links to amazon but not to other vendors.

  3. The only things I would add to your list is a small lightweight travel umbrella (sometimes a poncho doesn’t cut it), and a light sweater/shawl/jacket, for cooler evenings, air conditioning, and even on the plane.

    Good list! Have a great trip. Italy is amazing.

    1. Yeah, I have a sweater for on the plane, but it isn’t really something I want to wear with dresses when I”m in Italy. I have an organic cotton travel scarf, but I was afraid it would be too warm so I was going to leave it home. It’s going to be over 100 when we are there, so I didn’t figure I needed a topper. Is their A/C that cold? I was under the impression it isn’t as cold as we are used to.

      1. Good points. You can always buy something while you’re there if you need it (and you’ll have a great memento).

      2. Hi Jo-Lynne, Your right. My dad lives in Italy and some places don’t even have AC and if they do I doubt it will turned on as high as we do in the states.
        Enjoy your trip!

  4. I’m interested to hear your thoughts on the compression bags once you return from Italy. It certainly helps you pack more into carry on but will everything be so terribly wrinkled and who wants to take the time to iron on vacation.
    I have a packing list that I keep in Notes on my phone and just adjust for different vacations/trips. It keeps me on track and so far 🤞🏼I have not left anything important behind. Like you, I always take paper copies of itinerary, passport, flights, etc. as a back up.
    You are going to have a wonderful time!

  5. We take nicer plastic disposable water bottles and just keep refilling them. That way when we sit it down somewhere and forget it, it’s not a huge loss.

  6. Wow. Great packing list. I’m sure it’s been alot to get ready for this trip for you all. You not only have yourself, but all the others to check. It’s going to be great once you get there. As for the water bottle, I too have been wanting a better travel one. I like my swell for just day trips ok, but it’s hard to carry. I want one with a strap or even loop to link my finger into. I think you need this too as the swell will be to hard to carry all day. You’d need Paul to carry in his pack for sure. Are you leaving this week? Can’t wait to see pictures, but remember it’s ok to take posting days off. This is a vacation and you need to unwind from your job and enjoy and be present with your family. It really is a blessing to be able to take a trip like this and have all your kids at their ages, available and able to go with you. Enjoy your day. I’m off to get ready for church too. It’s going to be a busy week. I am helping with VBS. Those young kids keep me young. 🙂

    1. I think your point about the water bottle having a strap is a good one. I just ordered one of the collapsable ones someone recommended.

      I have no intention of posting daily while we are gone, but I will update some if I have downtime, and I have a few things scheduled to keep the blog active.

  7. My family of five (kids 15, 12 and 4) traveled to europed – greece and italy last summer for almost rhree weeks, We DID not come close to carry on only!!! BUT … we all had the collapasble water bottle you have linked and we LOVED having them! SO easy to tote, fill, emly roll and tote. Highly recommend, it is BEYOND hot and grimp in Italy in the summer … you can fill your water bottle in so many spots (fountains in rome!) these are really great!
    HAve a wonderful trip!!

  8. Hi,

    A few years ago on a trip,to Italy, we did carry on, but I was able to use an under seat bag and a tote bag, total of three items. Last fall, on a trip to Europe, we were only able to carry on one bag and one personal item, total of two items. Are you going to pack a tote bag?

    We also did a 3 city tour of Italy and absolutely LOVED it. Would go back in a heartbeat.
    Safe travels, Julie

    1. I am bringing a tote in my carry-on bag, to use when I’m there and/or on the way home for purchases. I think we are only allowed 2 items on the plane – carry on and personal item.

  9. I hate drinking out of store-bought plastic bottles, so I bought this for my last trip: joypur Water Filter Bottle, BPA Free Water Purifier with 4-Stage Intergrated Filter Straw for Camping, Hiking, Travel Abroad, Emergency, Backpacking, Survival with Replaceable Filter (from Amazon). It does take up some room in your bag, but it doesn’t leak and you can fill it with plain old tap water from anywhere – well worth it, IMO.

  10. Great lists… thanks for posting. 🙂
    My only comment would be to not waste space on your washcloths… they will never dry out in that heat and will be hard to pack wet. I appreciate not wanting to get makeup on hotel linens tho, and I always take a package of makeup remover disposable wipes. They are great and by the time you come home, you’ll have a bit more room for a shopping “ find “. Have a great trip…you will adore Italy.
    Maybe look for some small handheld fans. Will be a lifesaver as you wait in the line in the killer heat ( I live in Arizona..I know killer heat!).

  11. I’d just buy a throwaway bottle of water there and refill. Toss it when you are done. Also I’d get a larger crossbody or a backpack. You will really need the space for in the go snacks and lunch, water bottle, sunglasses, scarf/throw, ear pods, phone battery backup and charger, blister pads, hand sanitizer , napkins, money passports etc. your purse is small.

    1. I hear you, but that bag is bigger than it looks. I’ve carried it at Disney with room to spare, but my husband has a backpack for overflow. Plus, I can always use the Longchamp if I need something bigger.

  12. We always use a money belt. We carry passports, credit cards, cash etc. under our clothes, NEVER in a purse or backpack no matter how secure they claim to be. Pickpockets know all of the tricks. There are bra wallets for women that would work well when wearing dresses as well as around the neck types. For easy access during the day you can use a zippered and/or inside pocket to carry cash and maybe one credit card.

  13. For my recent trip to Europe we experienced temps near 90 degrees. We just refilled our disposable water bottles with the filtered and fizzy water the hotel provided each morning. Drinking from plastic bottles isn’t ideal, but it’s only for a few days and made things easy. You can even pick up a few bottles each day at a local market.

  14. Jo-Lynne, I am so excited that your trip to Italy is near! I’ve been to Italy twice and will go back in a heartbeat! You will be so happy that you travelled carry-on only once you experience cobblestones. My first time to Italy I took a large suitcase and my hotel was at the top of a steep incline. With the extreme heat (think 40 degrees Celsius, not counting the humidity factor) and the cobblestones, I honestly didn’t think that I would make it up the hill. Have fun and be sure to take the time off from your blog to enjoy everything that Italy has to offer.

  15. We just got back from a cruise to Iceland and we had collapsible water bottles. At first I was skeptical about them but I ended up loving it. It didn’t add much weight beyond the weight of the water and I could shove it in my bag when I finished my water where it took up less space in my bag. When it had water in it, it held it’s shape so I could set it down one a table.

  16. I would love to see pictures of how you packed everything in the carry on. When I went to Israel for 10 days, I took a carry-on and checked in a suitcase. There was no way I could pack everything in a carry-on and personal bag. Are you having the hotel do your laundry? Since it’s going to be very hot you may not be able to wear your clothes more than once. I can get by in the winter but in summer if I’m walking outside I definitely cannot wear tops twice . I just want to know how you’re doing for future reference in case I travel ever travel abroad.

    1. Hi Terri, , do you follow Jo-Lynne on Instagram? She showed her whole carryon suitcase and how she packed everything in Instagram stories maybe yesterday or the day before.

  17. Jo-Lynne, the dual-voltage hair dryer link went to the Away page. I’m traveling in a few months and will need one. Curious what you ordered…and if you like it.

  18. My husband and I used roll-up bottles 4 years ago for a trip to Alaska. Although they take up less space when rolled, we did not like the taste that the roll-up bottles imparted to the water. I tried multiple things to get rid of the taste before our trip: baking soda, lemon juice, lime juice, setting the bottles in the sun. The taste was lessened by these things, but did not go away. We used Mio drops to flavor the water to cover up the taste. I don’t know if the taste issue has been resolved for that type of bottle since then. Last year we each used a Hydro Flask 20 oz. bottle on a trip to the western U.S. We used the flex sip lids, which have a carrying handle that can be used with a carabiner to attach the bottle to a backpack or suitcase. We were much happier with the Hydro Flask bottles than with the roll-up style, although these are heavier and take up more space.

  19. I’m so proud of you for going carry on only, especially for a longer trip! If you want an insulated water bottle with a loop to carry (or to attach to a bag via carabiner), check out Swig. Very similar to swell but with built in loops. Hope y’all have an amazing trip! Can’t wait to hear all about it!

  20. I know you are so excited about this trip! I didn’t see your packing list but don’t forget your extra contacts and prescription meds lol!
    Hope all of you have a safe and enjoyable trip together!

    1. Got those, thank you! So important. I am also keeping a list on my phone of last minute things we need to add in the day we leave… things we use all the time and can’t pack ahead. Those are on there, for sure. 🙂

  21. I struggled with the water bottle issue too when I traveled to Italy last year. I ended up just buying a bottle of water at a cafe and refilling that bottle when needed. That way if I got tired of carrying it around in my bag any particular day, I could throw it out and just buy a new one when needed. The swell and similar bottles seem too cumbersome to me when you are doing as much walking as you will be doing. Have fun!

    1. Yeah, we may just do that. Sometimes I think I forget I’m going to a fully developed country, haha! Plus, we are in a hotel, not AirBNB, so it may cost more to buy water there, but we won’t be without.

  22. Sorry if this was already mentioned, take pics on your phone of all the cards in your wallet as well as license and passport. And make sure your girls know they can’t wear shorts to certain sites (ie The Vatican).

  23. Since a friend of mine introduced me to travel cubes I now travel with nothing but a carry on
    Love not having to go to check luggage and to my luggage want get lost

  24. Hi Jolynne!

    I know you’re getting so excited for your trip and I have some last minute suggestions…one is the water bottle dilemma. I think I shared this link a while back, but I absolutely ADORE this water bottle that I toted all around Italy and Switzerland last summer…it’s flat so it fits like a dream in a crossbody. I refilled it every time we were in a hotel room with either a hotel water bottle or water bottles we bought ourselves. Doesn’t leak, gets lighter as you drink (obviously), and has a strap, plus it’s super cute and chic.


    If you hand wash things in your hotel room at night, you’ll want them to dry fast, so a portable clothes line and clips are super handy.


    Lastly, hotel rooms never have enough hooks…these weigh next to nothing and are super helpful!


    Most importantly, enjoy your trip! 🙂

  25. When do you leave, JoLynne? Also, can you share your pic of your carry on? I think I missed it on IG. Thanks!

  26. I loved a collapsible water bottle in Italy! I used a carabiner to attach to my purse when empty. In Rome they have fountains throughout the city where you can refill. They are hard to clean, though.

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