Paris Packing Tips (from an Obsessive-Compulsive Packer)
What to pack (and not to pack)—and how to pack it
Packing for a trip to Paris, whether long or short, can create stress for some (okay, me). You want to be sure you’ll have everything you might need and look fashionable—but you don’t want to overpack. As an Obsessive-Compulsive Packer (OCP) and part-time Parisian, I’ve got mad packing skills to share that will bring inner peace to OCPs and help the Underpacker be more prepared (and stop mooching off the OCP. You know who you are).
In this article:
To Do Now (Tickets! Money! Passport!)
How to Make Your Long Flight More Bearable
Planning Your Outfits
A Wrinkle-Free Packing How-To
TO DO NOW
Get 100 euros cash. It’s good to have some cash on hand, though you will mostly be able to use your bank card (but confirm fees with your bank and let them know in advance that you’re traveling). NOTE: You may need to order euros in advance from your bank, so do so ASAP.
Make a copy of your passport’s photo page. In case your passport goes missing, this will be helpful if you need a new one. Pack this separately from your passport.
Check the most recent entry paperwork requirements. Things change with Covid so be sure you know your country’s status (green, orange, etc.) and what paperwork/proof you need in order to enter France.
Turn on international roaming or order a local SIM card. Bouygues Telecom’s my European SIM is a 39.90€ plan that gives you 20G for 30 days and is available either as a physical or electronic SIM. It’s available for use throughout Europe but can only be activated when you land. Pick up the physical version from kiosks at Charles de Gaulle airport or (or you can have it delivered anywhere in the world—though the costs can add up) or have the eSIM delivered via email within minutes.
OCP TIP TO MAKE A LONG FLIGHT BEARABLE
I put together a “plane bag” for under the seat that contains everything I might need:
- Aspirin (take 1 hour before to prevent clots)
- Extra face masks (you need to change a mask every 4 hours for effectiveness and comfort)
- Earplanes® for reducing pressure of take-off and landing
- Moisturizer and lip balm (apply often!)
- Boroleum® ointment for dry nasal passages—critical when wearing a mask for 8 hours. Can also help keep out germs.
- Facial cleansing cloths like Olay Daily Facials
- Small toothpaste/brush
- Blow-up neck pillow and comfy socks
- Eye mask and earplugs for sleeping
- Small collapsible cup; sleeping pills
- Noise-reducing headphones
- Immune boost powder
- Any Px meds you need for the flight
- Bottled water (buy after security, obviously)
For other great in-flight comfort ideas and gadgets, visit magellans.com
There are plenty of little things most people forget, but not the OCP! Here’s a list of things that can make all the difference. Do you really want to waste time buying incidentals you forgot? That’s macaron-eating time!
Face Masks: Bring a supply with you since they are still needed for transportation and in certain venues. The situation in Paris is in flux so anything could change at any time.
Covid Home Test: These are available in Paris pharmacies but having one handy means earlier detection, and that makes all the difference.
First Aid Kit: Seems obvious, right? Granted, you can get many wonderful things in local pharmacies—provided they are open. Keep a few things handy just in case:
- Bandaids® and Neosporin® (bandages are horrible in France—don’t know why— and antibiotic creams are by prescription only)
- OTC meds: paid relievers, flu medicine, diarrhea meds like Imodium, allergy remedies (Paris has a lot of pollution, so Claritin is helpful)
- Rx meds/supplements: Anything you take regularly or even periodically (make sure all prescriptions are clearly marked for customs)
- Melatonin to combat jet lag (no more than 5mg)
- Eye drops (jet lag eyes/pollution)
Liquid Hand Sanitizer:I probably don’t need to mention this one. Bring a small size for your handbag. We’ll have a big bottle at the hotel in case you need to refill.
Voltage Converter/Adapter/Portable Back-up Battery: Again, obvious, but you’d be amazed how often it is forgotten. Travel Smart makes a value pack with every voltage type known to modern man, as well as a universal converter. (Not for heating elements like curling irons.)
Tissue Pocket Packs: I bring at least 6. When you’re out all day, you need them for more than blowing your nose. Café toilets are notorious for running out of toilet paper.
Fiber Pills: Between the cheeses and the time change, well, you do the math.
Foot Soak: Trust me, after a long day of walking—it’s heaven. Of course, you need a tub. I like Johnson’s Foot Soap with borax, iodide, and bran. Or you could fill a resealable bag with Epsom salts and make your own.
Safety Pins: In various sizes. Do you really feel like sewing with that teeny sewing kit? Or bring travel-sized duct tape. Repairs tears in clothes and baggage!
Fold-Up Tote Bag: I have one from Travel Smart that folds to the size of a small wallet and opens to a standard tote. It’s great to take on the go when you shop so you can consolidate your purchases.
Gallon- and Quart-Sized Ziploc® Bags: Ziploc® bags are a packer’s best friend. Use them for everything: makeup, medicines, even shoes. I throw in plenty of extras, not only for dirty undies and wet bathing suits but for packing up goodies I buy. Throw in some sheets of bubble wrap to wrap up any breakables before putting them in the Ziploc. Never had a spillage catastrophe in 20 years. I reuse mine until they fall apart.
SpaceBag® Space Saver Travel Bags:
I love these. They’ll squish a sweater up smaller than your head. I throw in extras in case I need to make room for my purchases.
NOTE: WHAT NOT TO BRING
If you’re coming from the U.S. or Canada, don’t bring any heating element like a blowdryer (hotel has), curling iron or flat iron, etc. France uses 230 volts (vs. U.S: 110v). You’ll need a specialized (read: bulky) high-powered converter for electronics that create heat, and even then, there is no guarantee you won’t blow a fuse. In Paris, that could put the whole hotel into darkness for several hours. Sacré bleu! Don’t fuss over your hair in Paris. Parisian women love the bedhead look!
If you’re coming from Australia or the U.K., they also use 230V, so you just need an adapter.
Or you can pick up a dual-voltage iron that also just needs an adapter.
Here’s a handy list of plug, socket, and voltage by country.
June in Paris? Could be hot and humid. Could be seasonably pleasant and sunny. Could be cold and rainy. And that’s just Monday. Being prepared is a must but you don’t want to overpack. So here are some key tips:
Photocredit: Courtesy of L’Amour de Paris
“Map” out your outfits: Check out our itinerary and plan around those activities—but be flexible because: weather. Plan outfits with layers in case it starts out chilly then warms up. (Afternoons tend to be the hottest time of the day, FYI.) My rule: One outfit for each day and one for each night, plus an alternate, in case you change your mind (or is that just me?). Shoes are always tricky; you can find reasons to pack 12 pairs, but be strong! Something for warm weather; something if it’s cold or rainy; something comfortable for walking around town; something for your fancy outfit.
Think Garanimals: Mix and match. The formula: one pair of pants or skirt with two or three tops. To prevent over-packing, lay your outfits on your bed (with accessories!) to make sure you don’t have duplicates (or haven’t missed anything).
Get extra mileage with accessories: Sunglasses and an umbrella, for starters. A silk scarf—so Parisians!—will not only keep your neck warm in the morning or evening chill but it can change an outfit. Belts are another great way to mix things up. Accessories can help you double-up on your wardrobe and keep you looking put-together. Don’t forget a small dress purse if you want to travel light at night (not a bad idea).
OCP’s #1 Rule—Prepare for possible lost luggage: If you must check your luggage, make sure to pack at least one day’s change of clothes, undies, and toiletries in your carry-on. (Medication and valuables should already be in there.) This way if your luggage is lost, you can get by for a day until your bags arrive. If you’re an Underpacker who always carries on your bag, you’re in luck here.
A PRO AN OCP
I am known for packing a lot of items into a tiny bag. I once repacked a friend’s bag and consolidated two large suitcases into half of one. Amazing you say? How does she do it? Read on…
Stop folding! (Do you have any idea how much space you waste?) Lay items flat, spreading out and pressing as you go. Put tissue in between to prevent wrinkles. Very OCP. Start with large, heavy items like jeans, then dresses, skirts (or shorts), then tops. Keep like items together if you can; it makes unpacking a breeze. If you must fold, use as few folds as possible and fold along a seam like at the top of the sleeve.
Roll it up! Rolling is another great space-saving technique. Lay your garments flat on the bed starting with the largest item. Stagger clothes to prevent lumps. Lay items that wrinkle the least on top. Roll the clothes up like a jellyroll creating a squatty (rather than round) roll. You’ll be amazed how much space you’ll create, leaving a large area for shoes and other bulky items. When you unroll the clothes, they will be virtually wrinkle-free. Stick the roll in a SpaceBag and you’re good to go.
Compact and contain it! As I mentioned, SpaceBag® Space Saver Travel Bags are genius. They make space and protect clothes. The travel version works without a vacuum. Great for bulky items, I once squished a spare raincoat down to the size of a magazine. I don’t recommend them for wrinkle-prone clothing as the rolling process required to squeeze out the air causes terrible wrinkles. And those Ziploc® bags are great for containing makeup, toiletries, medications, cotton balls, underwear, belts, shoes—the list is long!