Returning to England on a fairly regular basis is something I love to do. It’s where I was born and my roots lie deep and strong in the old country’s green and pleasant land – despite my new love for Australia, particularly Western Australia which I now call home.
But it doesn’t matter how many times I go back to England, I always get in a dither about what to take. Generally, I’m travelling back to see my family so there shouldn’t be much stressing about the whole packing thing because they don’t want to see my clothes, they only want to see me.
Vanity though is only one step behind me, so yes, there’s a bit of pressure when I pack for a trip to Europe – and I like to add one or two colourful standout items, and of course some presents too.
Dressing for different weather and occasions
In Europe you need to be suitably dressed for different occasions and also prepared for the variable weather conditions, which for me means that my suitcase always ends up being quite heavy. Before I go, there’s the normal fracas of chucking things out of the suitcase after the frantic scene of myself, the bathroom scales and a bemused husband who has no idea why I need to take so much with me!
If you’re planning a trip to Europe anytime soon, or during spring or summer then I hope you’ll find these packing tips helpful. NB: This list doesn’t include packing for deepest darkest winter – heaven help you then because your suitcase is sure to tip the scales 😉
What to pack
I’d definitely pack the poppy or tan jacket below (1). The poppy for a nice pop of colour and the tan to go with everything. They are available at W.Lane and priced at $89.99 .
3. The hat above is from Sabotage and is priced at $90. Can you see yourself wearing this for a bit of effect on a summer’s day? | 4. If I packed a tote bag it would need to be bright and colourful like this one from Sabotage at $55 | 5. Shoes need to be comfortable and I’m a fan of the Airflex range at Betts Shoes. | 6. These fantastic wedges from Betts Shoes might make it into my suitcase as special going out shoes, if there was a bit of extra space.
- Two pairs of cut off or capri pants – I like to take a white pair and a darker pair
- One pair of shorts suitable for active walking (If you have room, take another more tailored pair for sightseeing, or perhaps leave out one pair of the cut-offs/Capri pants instead)
- Two short sleeved t-shirts that can be worn with shorts or cut-offs
- One long sleeved t-shirt
- One pair of jeans and one pair of long black pants
- Two casual lightweight, non-crease blouses that you can wear with the cut offs and jeans
- One white blouse that you can dress up to go with the black pants to go out in, or dress down to wear with jeans.
- One non-crease little black dress or a cocktail-type dress for night-time. Pack accessories to either dress this up for night-time or play it down for more formal day-time wear
- One fun and flirty day dress that’s cool and comfortable
- One short cardigan/shrug that will match both dresses
- One lightweight jacket that will match one of the dresses and go with either your jeans or long pants
- One longer cardigan, possibly a waterfall cardigan that would be flattering with your black pants, jeans and the night-time dress
- One sweatshirt
- One cap or sun hat
- One lightweight rain jacket or poncho
- One go-anywhere handbag
- One small night-time clutch
- Underwear – sports bra that’s comfy for the long plane flights, and if you intend to go walking. A good fitting white bra, and a black bra. One strapless bra (you never know what other clothes you might buy in Europe so be prepared)
- Two pairs of socks and shoes. One pair of each: trainers, flip flops, sandals in nude or tan that are comfortable to walk in, and one pair of fancy shoes that are comfortable to go out in
- Makeup and accessories
7 top tips
- Going out to restaurants at night can often require quite fairly formal attire.
- Pubs provide good (and cheaper) lunch and dinner options, and dress code is casual.
- Despite rumours to the contrary, summer in Europe and sometimes England isn’t always rainy and can be hot, so don’t forget to pack sun tan lotion (or if you don’t favour a particular brand then buy some when you get there).
- When you’re packing shoes remember that in Europe you may be walking around more than at home; catching trains and buses and sightseeing. So the emphasis is on comfortable go-with-anything rather than go-with-one-thing-tart’s-trotters (I know, we do love them so) that is unless you actually have room to spare for a super-doopa pair of evening shoes that you may or may not wear.
- I’d recommend (unless you absolutely must have certain brands) buying face wash, soap, hair shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste when you arrive. If you’re arriving at an ungodly hour then perhaps take an emergency kit of hotel-sized toiletries to keep you going.
- You will probably find clothes that you want to buy in Europe, and on the last two trips back to England I’ve found that the type of clothes I would wear are less expensive than in Australia. This obviously depends a lot on the exchange rate too.
- Stores and brands that I really like – I have no commercial allegiance to any of them – are: Next, Monsoon, Per Una and Twiggy at Marks and Spencer, New Look, M & Co.
I thought it would be fun to put together a few mix and match separates to show what you could expect if you went shopping for clothes when you arrived in England.
All prices are shown in British Pounds. I included the River Ink Shirt from Primark in both collages, because it’s great value for money and I think could be mixed and matched to good effect.
1. River Ink Shirt – Primark £12 | 2. Gallery Print Dress – Dunnes Stores £45.00 | 3. Super Soft Skinny Scarlet trousers – Marks and Spencer £29.50
Jo Castro is a veteran travel writer turned blogger who lives in Western Australia. You can find her at Lifestyle Fifty (where she writes for fun feisty women over fifty) and at ZigaZag (her Western Australian travel blog). If you’d like to connect on Twitter she’d love to follow you too: @johannaAcastro