Dana’s Packing Light for Italy

Six months ago when James told me we were only taking carry-on luggage for a month in Italy, I thought it was impossible; and when he showed me the size of my tiny little bag, I knew it was impossible. I’ve thought and re-thought this packing situation many times over the past few months, and after I let it simmer in my head a bit, it became somewhat of a challenge. Today was the day for me to put it all together and fit it into my bag.  And guess what…mission accomplished. The bag is totally packed. The size and weight limits are met, and I have enough clothes to mix and match for a month in Italy.  Of course, I will have to wash and dry a few items every 4-5 days, but I have that figured out, too. I’m bringing thin, quick dry fabrics that will be cool to wear and easy to wash and made of materials that have minimum wrinkling.

The packing list:

  • 4 pants: 2 capris, 2 long (1 pair I’m wearing on the plane)
  • 1 dress
  • 4 shirts
  • 6 tanks
  • 2 short sleeve thin jacket cover
  • 1 swim suit with cover up pant
  • 4 pairs of no-show black socks (the kind that keep moisture off your feet)
  • 2 bras
  • 6 pairs of panties
  • 2 scarves
  • 1 belt
  • 2 pairs of shoes + 1 pair I’m wearing on the plane
  • 1 rain jacket (I’m wearing it on the plane to block the a/c James always points on me) I may take a light long sleeve sweater, too. I’ll just cram that in my personal bag)

The bag:

luggageluggage insideThe dimensions of this bag:  13 1/2″ x  17 1/2″ x 9″ (height)

This is what I’m taking. It is mostly neutrals with splashes of color in the tanks, scarves, and accessories. I’m planning on creating many outfits from these colors.  And look over the quality of these pictures because I’m not in to this kind of photography…I just threw it all together on my bed with no lighting or special care. Sorry, but you’ll get the idea…

dress and pants

I chose to pack three pair of pants and I’ll wear one pair on the plane that will also be part of my ensemble.  I stuck with the basics. The dress is a black dress that doesn’t show wrinkles. It’s thin, cool, and so comfortable. It can be shortened with a belt, worn long with no belt, and add a tank, a scarf, and it looks like a skirt.  It’s made by Hornytoad, and the tag says if you don’t get a compliment within three wearings, send it back for a full refund. I will never be able to do that because I absolutely love it even if nobody else thinks I deserve a compliment!  It’s just so cute and versatile.


I packed four shirts that are extremely thin, cool, and easy to wash and dry.  They are all neutral colors: black, white, tan, and lighter cream. They can be worn over these tanks to change up the outfit totally. Add a different scarf or a belt, and you can hardly tell its the same shirt. The tanks are also thin and made of breathable fast drying material. shoes and accessaryI am packing two pairs of Naot shoes, and I am wearing another pair on the plane. That will give me three pairs of comfortable shoes.  I was told I needed a closed-toe pair for some churches and cobblestone streets, and a good walking sandal for other less casual occasions. We plan on doing a lot of walking so I chose a the Kirei as my close-toe shoe.  It had over 500 hundred reviews with a 5-star rating for the most comfort. I chose the Naot Kayla sandal in a bone color for my less formal occasions. It will go great with all the neutrals, and it’s also a top-rated walker. I chose the Noat Betty in a metallic slide-on sandal to wear with my dress and dressier occasions such when I go to dinner or if I’m lucky, to an opera. It’s so pretty, and it’s also a really comfortable shoe.

I packed three light summer scarves (one not shown in picture…oops).  I packed two belts: one silk and one thin leather (or plastic).  I also included a dressy silver necklace,  another more casual necklace, and an assortment of costume bracelets that pull together all the colors. All of these are cheap, and I wouldn’t shed a tear if the pic pockets stole them all in one snatch!  I’d just have to find more junk in Italy.

Here is a small sampling of how I put these things together to create different looks:

same shirt black and orangeCream shirt, orange tank, black pants, and cover Jacket with a little bracelet thing

same shirt tan and orangeSame cream shirt and orange tank, tan pants, and white cover jacket with a contrasting necklace

same shirt pink and white w scarfSame cream top, different tank: pink one.  The scarf that I forgot to put in pictures earlier and a little bracelet combination.

tan shirt all neutralsThis is a different shirt, and the look I am going for is a soft neutral with a hint of ocean green.

tan shirt w blueHere it is again with blue. This shirt is really casual, but it is the most comfortable shirt I have. I’m all into comfort these days.

tan shirt w purplesI took my same comfy shirt and tried to dress it up with my purple accessories.

lace white and black pantsNew shirt: the white lace shirt. I put a white tank underneath, black pants, and a green scarf.

lace white w pink tan pantsWith the pink tank, it changes the whole look of the shirt. I chose to put no accessories on with this shirt because its intricate, delicate lace design really pops with the color underneath.

Look what it does with black underneath:

black dress with white lace top overThis it the black dress underneath, and it gives it such a nice formal look for evening wear. There are many more ways to use this lacy top, but I’m going to stop and show you some of my black dress outfits.

black dress w fancy necklaceThis is the basic look with a fancy crystal necklace. In the picture the dress looks a little wide; it must have been the angle I was shooting. I told you…I’m much better at food photography than I am with fashion photography. This dress is more fitted than it looks, but not so tight that you feel your every lump shows. Also notice the crinkles in the material. Those crinkles are perfect for travel because you don’t have to worry about an iron.  I took that into consideration for most of my travel clothing.

black dress with beltThe less dressy version with the purple, geometric design, silk belt.

black dress used as skirt This is what it looks like when you put a tank over the dress.   It makes the dress look like a skirt. Then, add  scarf as a belt and a little jacket cover-up and you will have another complete outfit.

That’s enough…I’m sure you get the idea of how I plan to mix and match neutrals with pops of color to get an assortment of fashion combinations. There are so many more that I put together today. I didn’t have time to continue with the photography session…darn, I’m trying to get ready to go to Italy so stay tuned and check me out in all the photos we plan to post. You may be surprised by what I’m wearing.

Now, I’m ready to put it all in that credit-card-sized luggage of mine.  Even though most of my clothes will not wrinkle easily, I rolled them to make sure because this compression bag will increase chances of wrinkles.

compression bag readyI need to squeeze all the air out and put it in my luggage.

compressed and in bagIt all fit perfectly!  And…with room to spare.  I guess I’ll need to buy something in Florence to add to it.

zipped bag w compressionThe bag is zipped, and I am so happy James found these compression bags at Marshall’s.  My stuff did fit without them, but it expanded the height of my luggage about 1/2″ taller, and I’m already close to the maximum luggage height for international flight carry-ons. With these little babies, I have about 4″ to spare on the inside and the outside size doesn’t increase.  Don’t worry,  I plan to have those inches taken up before I arrive back in the states on July 9th.




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5 thoughts on “Dana’s Packing Light for Italy

  1. Hello Dana & James. It is nearly a year since we met you in Sicily and wish we were going to meet up with you both in Crete next week. I have packed our luggage with the help of your Pack Light List. We enjoy following your blog and are definitely going to make your Advocado salad.
    Very best wishes Alan & Susan

    1. Somehow I missed this post, but it is so great to hear from you. I hope you had a wonderful time in Crete. We plan to go there next summer. I am glad I was able to assist you in your packing.

      Keep in Touch!

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