In a strange twist of events, I found the cheapest path to Barcelona from where we’re staying in Texas was: Houston – New Orleans – New York City – Norway – Barcelona, over the course of about a week. So we’re definitely going to be in some areas where it’s much colder and people dress a little more formally than the t-shirt, flip-flops, beach shorts look we’ve been rocking for the past year in Mexico.
Also, I feel like I need a wardrobe upgrade. I don’t want to wear sneakers in Europe, I just feel like a bum. Plus we all need winter jackets. None of us have any sweaters, long sleeve shirts or pants. Basically we need a new set of clothes and one that fits everything — for all four of us — in a single suitcase.
I ended up going to the Goodwill and donating our old clothes, while picking up new outfits for everyone. I did the entire thing for $144, about $36 per person, which I think is great considering it includes new winter jackets.
We got her a new winter jacket (that has fleece layer underneath that can be worn on its own), a sweater and two new outfits. Combined with her fuzzy pjs and a few t-shirts and leggings that she already has, this is enough to get by — especially since the sweater can go over any outfit and keep her warm.
Cole (4 years old)
We got him a winter jacket, a heavy sweater, two new outfits plus a new pair of shoes. He’s keeping two pairs of super hero pjs and his Spiderman hoodie, plus a few t-shirts but this is about it. The sweater can be put over any t-shirt so he looks more dressed up if needed.
Drew (my husband)
Drew’s ditching his sneakers in favor of leather shoes, because honestly there is nothing that says, “Tourist!” more than white running shoes in Europe. I found him two light sweaters and two pairs of grey pants. The jacket is a little light, but he has a heavy grey fleece he plans on wearing under it. I tried to keep the colors neutral. He has a few t-shirts and button-down shirts he’s bringing as well — all greys and blacks.
Okay, so you must have boots in Spain. That’s my new rule. I switched things up with a wool dress, jeans, a sweater wrap and a short trench-style coat. I also got a matching scarf and bracelet, because if I’m just going to have two main outfits, I should at least have something to dress them up with. I also am bringing a pair of black pants, a blouse, a tank top and two light sweater wraps that I already have. I will probably pick up a pair of ballerina flats along the way for when I don’t want to wear the boots, but I really like being able to dress a little nicer in Europe, even if that means I have fewer options.
So how did we do?
I packed everything up, excluding the outfits we’re going to wear the day we leave, and it fit. Just barely. With my toiletries and medical bags, it’s tight. I only have 20 kg luggage allowance for this suitcase, so we have to be careful.
We have a second, smaller suitcase that is carry-on sized. It’s filled with my notebooks, research and language books for the book project I’m working on, and I don’t dare ship them to Barcelona because I would be so utterly screwed if something happened to these things.
So that’s it. One medium-sized suitcase, one carry-on, a backpack, a three person tent, a small camera bag and my son’s backpack with his toys in it. We’ll probably pick up one more bag before we go for baby bottles and snacks.
This is literally as small as I can get our life. That’s it. I can not pack any smaller than this. But with Drew and I, we can carry all of this stuff around for a day, no problem, so if we can’t check our bags somewhere, it’s still doable. So off we go… next week! I can’t wait to eat my way through New Orleans, NYC, Norway and Barcelona while looking somewhat respectable. I might even break out the lip gloss. I know, there goes all my backpacker cred.