How to pack for a trip to Europe in the fall

What to pack for a trip to Europe in the fall? This question bounced around my mind for months leading up to my Eurotrip2016 with my mom. I like to consider the clothing to pack with me months in advance so it gives me time to mentally prepare outfits and coordinated accessories. In October, I went to six European countries within two weeks with nothing but a carry-on bag and a personal item.

I knew I wanted a neutral color palette so that my outfits could mix-and-match easily. Since Southern California is pretty mild all year round, I needed some jackets to keep me warm during European fall.

Plus size packing 101 – Europe in October

Plus size packing in a carry-on suitcase

Packing for a two week trip in nothing but a standard carry-on suitcase is a challenge. Now, imagine having the same challenge of packing for two weeks overseas when all of your clothes take up twice the space. I use the rolling tactic to make the most space available in my suitcase. The real tip for a successful carry-on bag when you are plus size, is making sure you plan your outfit combinations ahead of time. Make sure your tops go with your outerwear and can be mixed with several bottoms.

plus size packing europe fall

The 6 countries I visited during my October Eurotrip2016:

The two largest items I packed were of course my plus size outerwear. Europe is freaking cold! October in Dubrovnik was much warmer than October in Amsterdam. Layering is the key to making your wardrobe work in Europe.

What I packed for my two-week European fall adventure:

  1. One white linen blouse
  2. One denim chambray
  3. One green-ish frocket tee
  4. One plain t-shirt
  5. One sleeveless blouse
  6. One long sleeved frocket
  7. One long sleeved army green shirt
  8. One long sleeved striped dress
  9. One pair of plain black leggings
  10. One pair of dark skinny jeans
  11. One plum pleather skater skirt
  12. One plus size cape
  13. One plus size military jacket
  14. One mens black hoodie
  15. One red flannel blanket scarf
  16. One pair of comfortable athletic shoes
  17. One pair of maroon heels
  18. One pair of black flats
  19. One pair of brown booties
  20. Bras & Underwear
  21. Toiletry & makeup bag

plus size military jacket europe

Downsizing from an American roller bag to a European suitcase

My first stop on our Euro trip did not start off well. I actually broke my suitcase getting off the London underground on the way to our hotel in Paddington. I avoided having to buy a new suitcase because I really thought I could fix it. My silver carry-on roller bag was a gift to myself on my 21st birthday before my trip to Singapore. It had lasted me 5 whole years before falling to its demise in London.

As a last minute desperate attempt to get a new suitcase without having to pay an arm and a leg for a Tumi at the cost of the British Pound exchange rate, I haggled. There is a slew of tourist goods shops outside of the Paddington Underground. Before closing up that night I went to each one of them to see who could give me the best price for a one of their “high quality” carry-on bags. Each started at the 50 pound mark, by the time I got to the last shop owner I got them to reduce the price down to 30 pounds!

That was my first successful haggling attempt. Before that I only ever succeeded in getting a flea market stand to give me $2 off a fake MAC pallet. This haggling practice proved necessary for our next stop: Dubrovnik.

My new European suitcase was much smaller than my American carry-on. I successfully got all of my clothes inside, plus made room for more!

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Final notes about packing for Europe

  1. Unless you are big on night life and clubbing, forget packing the heels. I didn’t wear them once and they just wasted space through the whole trip. Call it wishful thinking.
  2. Save space in your suitcase by wearing your heaviest things on the plane. Have a designated plane outfit so you always know how much space you have available in your suitcase.

13 comments

  1. OMGGGG I did the same sort of trip with my mom and sister! This was back in 2012 I think…We backpacked and did 5-6 countries in two weeks. We were wiped out! I say 5-6 because one was Scotland (Edinburgh and Loch Ness), and the other England(London). We also went to Oslo, Berlin, Amsterdam, Antwerp and Bruges.

    At the time leggings weren’t very in yet, at least not for size 12 me, so I wore skinny jeans, linen pants, long sleeve blouses, a fleece sweater, and a windbreaker jacket. It was about 55F the entire trip, with some rainy periods. My outfits were not all that stylish, but they did pack up well! I found that my carry on, a special back pack from MEC, worked well but ended up being heavy on the back here and there. My mom and sister both had rolling carry ons, which were sometimes easier to handle, sometimes not.

    Our trip was a big adventure, we weren’t always in the greatest mood because there was so much going on on the fly and we were stressed out, but all in all it was a good experience.

    If you go back, where would you visit again? Where would you visit for the first time?

    1. BOSNIA for both of those questions. We almost didn’t bother visiting Bosnia but the travel group gave us such a good deal we would be a fool to not go. The landscape looked a lot like Montenegro but the smell and lush greenery was so fresh and unlike California. It was beautiful. It rained the whole day we were in Montenegro and Bosnia so it was kind of miserable in the sopping-wet sense. Plus the driver had the AC on when it was like 50 degrees out. If it wasn’t for leggings I probably would have been pretty uncomfortable since my pants were wet like 70% of the trip. Any trip with family has tension at some point 🤣 ours was at Barcelona. Where my mom was legitimately complaining that the trees outside of la padrera was ruining her photos.

    1. Lol I really just got lucky. Realistically, a rain jacket would have come in handy and maybe some boots. Too bad both of those things take up a lot of space in a luggage.

    1. I want to go back. I didn’t have nearly as much time as I would have liked to explore the other sides of Croatia. Like the organ stair case that plays music with the waves. Ugh, so sad I had to miss out on that.

  2. I love your green jacket! It’s a lovely colour! Plus just perfect for fall (or spring) in Europe, since it can get somewhat cold at night!

    1. It was a life saver. The jacket is pretty light so it was great for layering hoodies under or even just a jumper.

  3. Love this! I always struggle with carrying way too much and still not having a single thing to wear 🙁 Also love your blog, I’m inspired to visit Montenegro and Bosnia after reading your posts. X

    Following your adventures around the world now.

    1. Bosnia was my favorite out of the two! But a lot of other travel bloggers who did a similar Euro trip seemed to like Montenegro more, but that might have been due to the season. Bosnia really shined with all the rain.

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