How to Pack for A Trip to Europe and Africa

It’s often a big tripper’s dilema – what to pack for many places on a big trip in something we carry on our backs? What goes in that pack has to accomodate a large variety of places in terms of weather, activities, and culture. Tomorrow, I’m going on my fourth big trip and today I just finished packing. However, the act of packing was the only thing that happened in a day.  I’ve been considering this dilema and my list for several weeks now as I shopped and planned my trip for two weeks in Italy and two weeks in Africa – one week for a cultural tour in Ethiopia and a week of safari in Kenya.  I really wanted all of what I was buying to fit in carry-on luggage too, which limits me to a small bag no more than 22 inches in length.

In Italy, I’m going to be in Milan and Florence – two very fashionable cities. Then, I am visiting Tuscany and staying at an working farm agriturismo and finally hitting up the beach in Sardinia. This means I need clothes that are comfortable and look a little on the chicer side. In Africa, I’m visiting the cities of Addis Abba and Nairobi, going on walks through mountains and bush, and visiting religious archeological sites.  I need rugged and durable clothing that covers the majority of my body and can be layered. The weather in both places for May range from moderate (50/60s F) to warm (70s/80s F) but not jungle-hot or monsoon-rainy. I’m also a bit of a klutz so need to bring my big bad hiking shoes, which are about half my suitcase in size.  Packing felt like quite the challenge.

The Pack

I decided on an Osprey Porter 46L  pack because it’s a carry on size, is a neat line – meaning not a lot of straps all over the place, and very light (3lbs).


The Packing List

Here’s my packing list, I did a dry run with everything to make sure it fit, and used  3 Eagle Creek packing cubes to fit all in. I’m also bringing my regular purse, which is a medium-sized purse that can fit my iPad and books for the plane. I did the majority of my  shopping at Old Navy, REI, and Macy’s.


Clothing & Shoes

  • Two lightweight, long sleeve button down shirts – one Old Navy brand and one REI’s Larch shirt (unfortunate name, but great shirt!)
  • Four short sleeve shirts – mix of brands, but all cotton
  • 2 tank tops – mix of brands, but all cotton
  • 2 dresses that don’t wrinkle (Italy)
  • 1 lightweight waterproof, windproof jacket with fleece lining from REI
  • 2 pairs hiking pants – one from Northface and one from REI
  • 1 pair cotton leggings
  • 8 pairs of underwear, 3 bras
  • 3 pairs of socks, mix of cotton and marino wool
  • 1 pair Merrel hiking shoes
  • 1 pair comfortable and stylish walking shoes (am giving these Arcopedico’s a try)
  • 1 pair Chacos flip-flops
  • 1 pair stylish wedges (they take up so much space, but are so cute and go with the dressses)
  • 1 light swimsuit cover up
  • 1 sarong and 1 swimsuit


  • iPad + Logitech keyboard + case
  • Canon 110s Point and Shoot camer + case
  • iPhone to be used as iPod and only when there’s wifi
  • Nikon D5000 DSLR camera
  • Amazon Kindle- Paperwhite + cover
  • All chargers and two converters
  • 1 DK Florence and Tuscany Guidebook (this is the only book!)


  • Travel wallet by Sherpani
  • Secure wallet by Rick Steves
  • Headlamp
  • Flashlight
  • Bandana (with first-aid instructions compliments of my Dad)
  • World map and postcards of California
  • Toiletries (too many to list, but it’s all around daily care and then first aid). Definitely getting bug spray with deet for Africa.
  • Hat and sunglasses

How it will go? We shall see. I’ve traveled with more for weekend trips. The good news, I can (and do!) always buy stuff in country and I can ship souvenirs home. Either way, I’ve packed a pack full of items that will work for two types of trips in one jaunt and that I can carry and possibly run to catch a train with. We’ll see on that last one, but here’s hoping.

How did it go?

  • For the gear: It was perfect! I did ship home the nice shoes and dress from Italy because they were not needed in Africa. The jeans and black REI pants were perfect.
  • For the pack: read my review on Her Packing List – a summary. The bag was not ergonomically designed to carry all of this. 

Free Shipping at eBags

Tags: , , , ,

2 Responses to “How to Pack for A Trip to Europe and Africa”

  1. Erin
    May 8, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    I learned long ago clothes are overrated while traveling…41 countries and my travel clothes have been to many. You don’t need much! Pack and then take out half at least. Of course this might explain why my pics all look like I am in the same outfit:) Now a travel medical kit you should not go without…

    • Kristin
      May 13, 2013 at 1:04 am #

      Erin – you are so right! I sent home my Italy clothes (the cute shoes and dress) and still feel I have too much! Stuff = weight and time!

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge