Packing 101: City Break Packing List

written by shaylusive September 20, 2016
Packing 101: City Break Packing List

I really enjoy European city break weekend escapes. The flight path is convenient from the UK, the flight rates are reasonable, and with so many packages available via various travel agencies, there is really no excuse not to enjoy a weekend getaway.

One of the most important things to consider when traveling to a European city, for a long weekend, is your packing. You can almost guarantee a great fare rate on a budget airline and visit some of the coolest cities in Europe, but theres one problem; budget airlines = expensive baggage allowance fares. By the time you add on all the ‘extras’ (seat allocation, priority boarding etc) you will be left paying close to what you would have paid on a normal non budget airline.

My solution, if your smart like me, is to forget your suitcase completely. You will find a way to fit all your necessities into your hand luggage, thus, avoiding some ‘extra fees’. And by necessities I don’t just mean one outfit, and some hair accessories. No no no, I mean a different day outfit for each day, accessories, shoes, evening outfits, makeup and toiletries. You can definitely fit in enough stuff for a city break in your hand luggage, it just needs some careful planning, and packing.


  1. A carry on suitcase. I own a fabulous little carry-on suitcase which my mum got me years ago from Tesco. It came as part of a full collection (large, medium, and small). It is definitely smaller than the largest size that is allowed on most budget airlines, however, I seem to be able to fit a heck of a lot of things inside it, due to the design. Its basically an open shell, with a flap in the middle. So unlike most larger carry-on suitcases, which seem to take up most of the room with the large wheels/padding, my carry-on has 4 little wheels, a hard yet moveable shell, with the perfect amount of space for a 3-4 day city trip. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on this case, but make sure it’s of decent quality.

  2. A makeup bag. It’s usually best to get flat-shaped ones because they are more easily packed. I use the Liz Earle bag which comes free with the introductory kit. It’s waterproof and has a zip compartment which is good for holding liquids. If you plan your makeup kit accordingly then you really don’t need to take too much with you.

  3. A toiletry bag. I can actually fit my face wash and moisturiser in my makeup bag. I decant the face wash in a travel size bottle and I have travel size moisturisers as well. I don’t pack any other toiletries as UK security control states that you must put all liquids in a clear plastic bag, so I really can’t fit anything else. Having said that, depending on what type of hotel you have booked, they will almost always have shampoo/shower gel available. If not, you can always pop to a local corner store to get any necessities.

  4. A bag for first aid. Again, hotels will have first aid equipment if you need it, but its prudent to pack a few items of your own such as blister plasters (if you plan on doing a lot of walking), paracetamol capsules (if you can’t swallow tablets like me, and need to decant the powder onto a spoon) etc.

  5. A shopper/tote/bowling style handbag. Don’t forget to add this to your ‘extras’ as most budget airlines charge for carrying a handbag. Perfect for holding additional bits which won’t fit in your case. Cheaper than paying ‘extra’ for a suitcase. Make sure the bag you want to travel with is the same bag you intend on using while your away. My go-to handbag of choice is the Louis Vuitton Speedy 30. It has the cross body strap which is perfect for sight seeing.


  1. Passport – the most important thing you’ll pack. Put this in the zip compartment of your handbag.

  2. Documents – flight ticket/boarding pass, hotel reservation and car rental documents. It’s likely you will be able to use your mobile to show these in most places, but it’s always good to have a hard copy too.

  3. Purse/Wallet – work out how much cash you need prior to entering the airport and use a competitive bureau exchange to get the best rate.

  4. Credit card – there are ATM’s wherever you go. Use for emergency only as your bank will not give you the best transfer rate. Keep your credit card in a separate compartment to your cash, just in case one or the other gets stolen.

  5. Book – to keep you occupied during long train or coach journeys, or to pass time in the airport.

  6. Journal/Notebook/Pen – to take down any ideas, or things you really want to remember about your trip. Especially useful if you make travel journals or plan to write a blog post about it later.

  7. iPhone – obviously! Whatever smart phone you use, see if there are any apps you can download to make the most of your trip, like offline guides to the city, currency converters and dictionaries.

  8. Chargers/Earphones – research what sort of electrical sockets are used in the country you’re travelling to and buy an adaptor if needed.

  9. Camera – I haven’t listed this at the top because most phones now double up as high quality cameras, but if you have an SLR or similar that toy’d rather use, don’t forget to pack it, with an extra battery back.


You want to make sure you’re comfortable when you’re travelling, but remember if you layer up on the flight, you’ll be able to take more clothes with you without packing them in your case. Here’s the way I do it:

  1. Jeans – versailte, durable, comfortable. These can be worn a couple of times with different top half choices to create different outfit choices. Jeans are pretty heavy, which is why I like traveling in them so they don’t weigh down my carry-on. I usually travel in a ‘day pair’ and then pack a second pair of trousers for night time.

  2. Neutral colour vest – you can wear this under most outfits if the weather gets cold.

  3. Sweater / Jumper – this can be doubled up for another day outfit.

  4. Jacket / Coat – Wear the heaviest/largest one you intend on bringing. You don’t have to wear it in the airport; you can drape it over your arm and it doesn’t count as hand luggage. By doing this, you can actually pack ANOTHER jacket/coat in your carry-on. That is, if you want a second look for your #ootd.

  5. Boots – I take a few pairs of shoes with me when I travel so I tend to wear the bulkiest pair for the flight. Usually my Isabelle Marant trainer wedges, Timberland boots, or biker boots. Do you see where I’m going with the space saving technique in my carry-on?

  6. Scarf – keeps you warm and stylish.

  7. Jewellery – I wear all the jewellery I plan on taking with me during the flight. I don’t wear too much – a couple of rings, necklace, bangles and a pair of earrings. Keep them in a safe pouch in the zip compartment of your handbag before security control to save time taking them off.

  8. Sunglasses – I keep these in my handbag as I don’t want to be THAT girl walking around the airport with shades on.


This is really specific for the type of city you are visiting. However, below are a couple essentials that can work with any European city:

  1. LBD – perfect to experience the nightlife of the city, and because black dresses look amazing.

  2. T-shirts / Sweaters – remember to roll instead of folding as it keeps them from getting creased and saves on space.

  3. Underwear – nude coloured t-shirt bras work with everything and don’t flash back like white does. Pack a separate bra if need be as you will most likely be traveling in your comfortable t-shirt bra.

  4. Socks / Tights – store these INSIDE your shoes.

  5. Heels / Flat Pumps / Trainers.



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