My Smart Guide to Packing For Big Cities

Here’s the thing about packing: we pack the wrong things, and forget to pack the important things. Don’t act this doesn’t happen to you. Ladies are almost always guilty of this because we prefer to pack 18 extra outfits just in case, and then we’re dumbfounded when we realize we wore the same jeans nearly every day. It happens. Just love us the way we are, okay?!

In all seriousness, packing for a vacation can sometimes be a nightmare. Often times I find that people pack the wrong things and forget about the smaller important items that can really be a lifesaver. So let’s just jump right in to some stuff you can toss from your suitcase right away.

Note: I really try to make these guides very unique in a way that you can’t go to any other website and get the same insight. These guides are all from my heart and experience, and are completely exclusive to Coat + Coffee. I put everything in to these because I want you to have the best travel experience possible!


The Sh*t You’re Packing That You Don’t Really Need

Running Shoes/Workout Gear

I know some of you have high aspirations for your health on your vacation (I am not one of these people), but very rarely do we ever end up going for a run or working out. Any time I have ever packed a pair of running shoes they have completely gone to waste. This is a big one too since shoes take up a ton of room in your suitcase! Really think about the trip you are taking and if you’re going to want to prioritize working out. Most often you’ll be walking all day sightseeing, from 7am to 7pm, and by the time you get back to your hotel, all you can think about are catching some z’s. Think about this one reeaalll good. Real good…

Those Extra Pair of Cute Heels

A theme is developing. I cannot stress enough to be cautious about your shoe choices. And this one gets me every damn time I travel, except for the last few times (pro status now). Heels are really impractical for traveling because we usually end up having no use for them. Ever gotten back from a long day of exploring and then decided it sounded amazing to get all dressed up and hit up a club? Most likely not. I think every trip I plan a few interesting club/bar spots and I have yet to ever try one of them. Save your feet and your suitcase. A better option? Purchase a designer pair of heels while you’re on vacation as your ‘splurge’. After all, you have the room now.

Huge Makeup Palettes

Okay I love a good makeup palette as much as the next girl, but these can get quite bulky in your suitcase and especially if you’re bringing more than one. I promise you don’t need your 58 shade Mac warm neutral eye palette. My advice is to stick to colours that you know compliment you in any outfit, and that you can wear day to day and day to night. This means only bringing a few eye shadows tops (I chose about three that I know compliment each other so I can blend, and that I know will also work well on their own). Another option is to get a multi use palette that’s also compact like the Tart Energy Noir Palette which features multiple eye shadows, a blush, and a highlighter. I love this one because it’s so tiny too!

Curling Iron and Hair Dryer

If you’re traveling with a friend or another person, which we most always are, split up the load! Have a friend pack the straightener and you pack the curling iron. Such an easy way to save room in your suitcase. But what if you’re traveling solo? My suggestion is to only bring your straightener. You can use your straighten to both straighten and curl your hair. Honestly looking up a YouTube video of how it’s done has been a lifesaver. I almost always only bring my straightener when I’m traveling solo now. Check out some tutorials on YouTube if you’re not sure how it’s done! As for the hair dryer, call ahead and ask your hotel or Airbnb if they have one available for use. They almost always do. 2016 has got yo back.

Bulky Travel Books

Shouldn’t you have read your book on Italy BEFORE you went on vacation there? Most people bring travel books with them because they list things to do and places to eat. Instead, be prepared before hand and make a list of things you’d like to do and good places to eat that are listed in your book. Then use the GPS on your phone to look them up again when you’re actually there. This can save you a ton of room in your suitcase as travel books can get quite bulky.

A Ton of Cash

This obviously doesn’t take up a huge amount of room anywhere, but I find so many travelers make the mistake of taking out a ton of cash for their trip before they go. I would highly recommend not packing or taking a ton of cash with you. You can get pick pocketed anywhere now a days, and it actually happened to me in Paris. I was so grateful I wasn’t carrying a ton of cash like tourists often do. I think I had five euros on me at the time. Believe me it is so much easier to call your card company and report fraudulent charges, than lose a ton of cash you’re probably never going to get back. My advice? Use your cards if all possible. If you need cash, take cash out little by little for every new day. This means taking out ten or twenty euros a day only and carrying that with you. It’s the safest way to travel.

More Than Three Pairs Of Jeans

I do it too. I tend to over pack because I like to have choices when I travel. However, I’d rather have new purchases that will actually fit in to my bag on the way home, than extra pairs of jeans I never even wore. It’s the worst! To avoid this I like to pack three pairs of jeans that all have a different wash. I pack black, dark blue, and light blue. These jeans can go with any outift and you can wear them multiple times before you need to wash them. If you’re really concerned about washing your jeans, check out this tutorial on sink washing. Or be sure to book an Airbnb with a washer/dryer.


Sh*t You Should Be Packing (that you’re probably not)

Pocket-Size Phrase Book

Because unless you’re a genius (if you are that’s awesome!), you probably only know a handful of phrases of a few other languages. A phrase book will come in handy much more than a travel book, and as well as any app you can download. I know there is an app for everything these days, but you also need to consider that most language apps pull from the internet. So if you don’t have wifi, you won’t be able to order those trdelniks. A phrase book is quick, light weight, and always available. Consider purchasing one to pack.


Packing band-aids is an absolute life saver! Okay, maybe it will just save your ankles. This is one of those things you almost always need for big city traveling, but almost always indeed forget or don’t think about packing. Any new shoes you choose to travel with will most likely give you blisters the first time. I personally like purchasing the waterproof ones because I tend to find they last all day long. Save your feet and an emergency trip to the store, and pack these in your bag.

Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen

Another thing you probably wouldn’t think to pack. This one you might even want to store in your carry on because nothing is worse than a 12 hour flight with a sore back or throbbing headache. I’ve been sick in other countries before, and it’s no fun. Literally the least amount of fun you can have is going pharmacy to pharmacy trying to make out what everything means, and what drug does what. Also, give your charades game a go at the pharmacy lady, that should totally end well (I’ve tried and it doesn’t). I personally like bringing both ibuprofen and acetaminophen with me as they do slightly different things. Some common ones to also bring are allergy medicine and DayQuil.


Ohhh those pesky European outlets. It was a warm English day in the year 2004, when I began to smell something burning… And that was the last time I tried to jam an American plug in to a British outlet. Adapters are on of those items you always forget to pack, that you’ll pay an arm and a leg for in the airport. Definitely invest in a good set of adapters before you travel.

Laundry Bag

I also call this ‘the bags they put my groceries in’. It’s always a good idea to pack a few extra bags in to your suitcase for dirty clothes. I honestly find plastic grocery bags work just fine. Nothing is more off putting than having your dirty clothes roll around and get mixed in with your clean ones. Especially if you are traveling to more than one place where you’ll be consistently packing and unpacking. Grocery bags can also be of great use to keep your shoes from scuffing each other in your suitcase. Always pack a few extra bags (or at least one) for dirty laundry.

Scarf, Umbrella, and Hat

I figured these three kind of went together. A scarf is always a good thing to bring because not only does it keep you warm and fashionable, but some places will requite a more modest wardrobe for entry. A scarf can come in handy from using it to just cover your bare shoulders, all the way to using it as a hijab depending on what country you are in. Even some Roman Catholic churches will require you to be modestly dressed, meaning a tank top won’t pass. An umbrella is pretty self explanatory. Check the weather before you go, but always be prepared (one word: London). Lastly, a hat can be a life saver on those days you are too lazy to do your hair (think airport days, train days, active days, rainy days, etc). I personally like packing a simple baseball cap I can throw on and go.

An Open Mind

Just because this one isn’t physical, doesn’t mean it won’t count when the time comes! Always be an open minded traveler. Try new things, see new things, talk to people, experience a different culture, learn the language, etc. Never let other people’s stories and experiences completely change the way you approach situations. You might make a new friend, or try a new food you love. Have fun, challenge yourself, and don’t take anything too seriously. Great ways to keep a good attitude.

And there you have it. Hopefully you will pack the right sh*t on your next trip.

So, what’s one thing you always forget to pack? Are you guilty of packing stuff you don’t end up using? Let me know by leaving a comment below! Would love to get your opinions.


  1. “Here’s the thing about packing: we pack the wrong things, and forget to pack the important things.” Yep, you said it all. But I really love this post, and I think you’re right: you won’t find a lot of these great tips on other sites out there. So bravo! Also, I couldn’t agree more with you about not packing running shoes and workout clothes. I travel to EAT. Not to exercise! Great post! 🙂

    1. Thanks Maddy! The best part of traveling is eating! Not as obsessed with working out as I once was, that’s for sure.

    1. Yes! I’ve done that before too. I was also going to say cutting down on electronics can be a lifesaver too. I never bring my iPad cause I feel like my iPhone can do the same stuff. And I always bring my mac. So cutting out unnecessary stuff really helps.

  2. This is actually a wonderful packing guide! I almost never bring heels on my trip (unless I know i’ll be going to a fancy event or dinner). Instead I bring a couple of pairs of my comfiest shoes — since I do so much walking when I travel. I also like you tip about bringing an open mind. That is very important and something that most tourists forget. Have a great Sunday 🙂

  3. Girl, you had me screaming amen to all of these. Especially the heels— just leave them! And remembering an open mind. You seem like you’d be a great travel buddy…

    xx Lauren

    1. Thanks Corina! Shoes are the biggest space wasters too! I always end up leaving a pair behind after I really consider if I’ll wear them. 🙂

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