Sometimes life sneaks up on you and takes a giant bite out of your time. When this happens the first thing that seems to get cut for me is my writing; so I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving/last couple of weeks and I’ll try to get back to some more regular posting. One of the things I did do during my time was take a one week trip to France, with a few days in Paris and a few more in a small northern town called Arras.
It was an awesome, but busy trip. We tried to pack in all of the main tourist highlights, which I guess you have to do on your first trip to Paris. See the Arc de Triomphe, walk down the Champs Elyesses, go to the Louvre – see the Mona Lisa, Eiffel Tower, Mussee D’Orsay, Notre Dame, etc, etc, etc… While all of these sites are amazing, packing it all in can be absolutely exhausting.
Although this trip was much more of an urban adventure than I usually write about, you can still apply a lot of the same principles of packing a backpack when you’re packing your suitcase. Bringing the right clothes can make your travel more comfortable, enjoyable, and careful packing can minimize the extra weight you’ll be lugging around.
Dress in Layers
- Start with a base layer – a cotton or maybe even a merino wool t-shirt keeps your other layers fresher so you can wear them more than once.
- Throw on a button-up or button-down – oxford cloth button down collars are great for casual wear throughout the day. Dress shirts can work more casually too, just give the sleeves a roll.
- Sweater-up – I pack a couple sweaters, v-neck or crews, throw them over your button up shirts and you’re ready for dinner. Toss on a tie and now you’re looking really spiffy. Cold? Put on a sweater. Really cold? Put on two.
Wear comfortable shoes
You’re going to be doing a lot of walking, the museums are huge, Versailles is massive, everything is just close enough to walk, but still far enough that you’re feet will be unhappy if they’re not taken care of.
But, consider leaving the hiking boots at home. Paris is the fashion capital of the world and they tend to have a more formal standard of dress than us North Americans. I wore Clarks Bushacre Boots, they look dressier than runners and they were very comfortable. The rubber soles on these will probably do better in the rain than the Clark’s Originals crepe soles.
Socks and Undies
Avoid cotton socks as they soak up moisture, keeping your feet clammy which can help create blisters. Instead give some synthetic or wool socks a try. I’m impartial to Smartwool’s PhD line of socks. They have extra cushioning where it counts and ventilated mesh sections to help with breathability.
This trip to France gave me more opportunities to test boxer-briefs for my Ultimate Hiking Underwear Comparison. I brought along merino wool and synthetic pairs. While I prefer the merino wool comfort wise, the ExOfficio boxer briefs triumphed when it came to doing some sink laundry (you can get ‘em on Amazonhere). When I hung both to line dry overnight the Smartwool underwear was still damp and unwearable.
If you’re limited by space or on a longer trip then I would definitely pick the ExOfficio Give-N-Go’s as they are more convenient for washing and drying while travelling. Their motto is “17 countries. 6 weeks. One pair of underwear.”; although I prefer having a few more pairs on hand.
Take Time to Enjoy Yourself
One of the challenges I had was taking time to relax. There was so much to see and do that I just wanted to go-go-go. But, some of the best memories I have from France are of sipping espresso’s in cafes or enjoying a great bottle of wine in the afternoon.
Plan what you want to do, but don’t stress too much about trying to see everything, instead take the time to relax and take in the experience. I still need more practice at this, so hopefully the future holds more international travel adventures.