Travel Q&A, Part 2

I’m back with the second part of the Travel Q&A (you can read Part 1 here). Writing these Travel Tip posts were a doozy, so I decided to split them up. Today I’m addressing the questions I received most….packing!

7) How do you pack all those outfits? How do you plan what to take? Help me pack!

When hopping on and off trains, going up and down stairs, and hauling your luggage from city to city, you certainly don’t want anything large and cumbersome. And since we travel budget (i.e. no one is hauling it for us), we travel light. Which means we take one small rolling suitcase each, plus I carry a small cross-body purse and Mr. Sugarplum has a small backpack. The backpack serves as our carry-on during the flight, then becomes a day pack once we arrive.

Yep, this is all we each bring!

As far as deciding what to pack, I make sure each item can be mixed with at least two others to create multiple looks. Here’s what I packed for our latest 9-day trip:

top collage

a: Tops
1 sleeveless, 1 short sleeve, 1 long sleeve
b: Layering Tops
1 tshirt, 1 white tank, 1 black tank

We had a big fluctuation in temperatures, so layering is key! The day bicycled in the Belgian countryside was really chilly, so I wore a tank, a tee, a long sleeve and a jacket. And a scarf wrapped around my face and head. Cute. But much more efficient than hauling a large coat I would have only worn once. (Of course if you’re traveling in the dead of winter, or to Alaska, you need a coat. But carry it on the plane instead of using valuable space in your suitcase.)


c: Filler Pieces
1 skirt, 1 sundress

b: Bottoms
1 black yoga pant, 1 full length jean, 1 cropped jean, 1 white jean


e: Jackets
1 black fitted, 1 lightweight all-weather

f: Cardigans
1 gray chunky, 1 feather weight pink

Another part of budget traveling means we don’t go out for fancy dinners, so I didn’t have to consider ‘evening’ clothes. I just threw on a fitted jacket, big earrings and a scarf for a more pulled together look.


g: Shoes
1 flat boot, 1 flat sandal, 1 sporty shoe (gel inserts are genius!)

h: Accessories
assorted scarves, coordinating statement jewelry

Along with toiletries, everything packed down to a tidy 2-foot by 1-foot pile! Undergarments and the sandals are tucked into the boots, and I wear the bulkiest shoes and sweater on the plane.


You know you’ve packed well when you wear everything in your suitcase twice, and you feel like burning it all when you get home!

Travel Tip: Layer dryer sheets throughout your suitcase to keep things smelling fresh.

7) What do you like to wear and take on the airplane?

Well, since we certainly aren’t flying First Class, it’s up to us to make ourselves as comfortable as possible. I wear black yoga pants and a white tee for the long plane rides, but I add a cozy cardigan and bright scarf to give it more style. The cardigan can be removed if the cabin gets too warm, and the scarf acts as a pillow or to shield your face when attempting to sleep. I also change into extra plush slipper-socks so I can curl up easier.

plane outfit

In the carry-on backpack: Comfy socks, chapstick, gum, ear plugs, ipod, hand sanitizer, moisturizer, magazines, comb

Travel Tip: Order at least two waters every time the flight attendants are passing out drinks. Dehydration is not cute, and doesn’t help with jet-lag either.

8) How do you deal with jet-lag?

Most European flights leave the US in the evening and arrive early the next morning, when your body thinks it’s 2am. Awesome. As soon as dinner service is complete, I change into my comfy socks, put in my ear plugs and try to get some sleep. We’ve tried Ambian on one flight, but let’s just say neither of us remembers the connecting flight in London. I took half of a melatonin this last time and that was a little easier to manage.

It seems right when I finally fall asleep, it’s time for breakfast. Guzzle water, pop some minty gum, slap moisturizer on your face and hands and comb your hair so you don’t feel like you were just drug out of bed….and don’t think ‘Wow, it’s really the middle of the night for me!’ From that point on, you are in the new time zone. What works best for us is to head straight for the hotel and pray your room is ready. Then take a two hour nap, shower and head out. The rest of the trip we keep to their clock. Same goes for coming home, switch back to the local time zone, regardless of what your body tells you. If you sleep all day, you’re only prolonging the inevitable crash.


Travel Tip: Small afternoon cat naps during your trip can make a world of difference, and give you the boost you need.

9) Did you eat a ton of pain au chocolats?

Yes! And crepes and waffles and fries and wine. All of it. It’s vacation! I can have salad at home, so I don’t think twice about indulging in all the local cuisines. Food is part of the whole experience for us. I just deal with the gut aftermath when I get back home.


10) How many nights did you stay in each city?

Paris – 2 nights; Brugges – 3 nights; Brussels – 2 nights. Anything less than 2 nights isn’t worth the effort and expense of getting there. See this post for the full itinerary.

12) Can I come with you next time?

I’d like to say yes, but for now, our trips without the kids are like Prozac for our marriage. It is our time to be completely selfish, drop the f-bomb as many times as possible, and pretend we’re the only people in the world. I highly recommend it! Our kids will grow up and leave us someday, I’d like to still know and enjoy Mr. Sugarplum at that point.

france-belgium 334
Whew! I think I’ve addressed all the questions, and I hope this has been helpful and inspiring for you. Saving for trips is even more motivation for me to DIY on a budget!

Leave a Comment


  1. you are too cute! i indulge a little more on vacation as well, and yes, deal with it when i get home— ugh!

    Posted 7.13.11 Reply
  2. Natalie wrote:

    Loved this post Cassie! Can you please come pack for me? I always overpack in fact I am visiting my rents right now for 3 days and packed enough for a week plus! You are such a savvy packer and traveler. Love the comment about Prozac ain't that the truth we need the time away from our kids for our sanity and I do love to drop the f bomb alot:)

    Posted 7.13.11 Reply
  3. Kelly wrote:

    I am saving this post for when we go to Paris and Rome this thanksgiving! I always over pack and I do not want to be lugging it around!

    Posted 7.13.11 Reply
  4. Thanks, Cassie. I really enjoy your travel posts.

    Posted 7.13.11 Reply
  5. Oh, I love it. We feel the same about our trips . . total prozac for the marriage. Nothing better. I just love the last photo. And your nap photo gets me every time.

    Posted 7.13.11 Reply
  6. Great travel tips. I loved what you said about prozac for your marriage. The hubby and i love to travel, but we don't have any kids yet. I hope that when we do, we will do the same for our marriage.

    Posted 7.13.11 Reply
  7. That photo of you sleeping at the museum just cracks me up!!

    Great post, I'm getting better and better at packing light but YOU are an inspiration!!

    Posted 7.13.11 Reply
  8. I live in Scotland, so traveling between countries is super cheap (my last flight to Paris was only 4 pence. NO extra taxes or anything. That's it.) But there are tricks to keep it that cheap. Like only bringing a carry on. No checked baggage. We have gotten really good at packing whatever we need for the week in only one carry on. No purse. You aren't allowed one!

    We have also found that when our friends come to visit we make them stay up as long as possible, no nap. We take them out and keep them busy that first day. Then we head home for an early dinner and early bedtime. Then they sleep hard and long. Waking up on our time zone. Not having any problems the rest of their stay 🙂

    Posted 7.13.11 Reply
  9. Love this post! We tried to be super light packers for our two week trip to Italy last year and all the planning and removing extras was totally worth it. So much to move around without worrying about so much stuff.

    Posted 7.13.11 Reply
  10. My absolute favorite part of the post: that your kiddos will still know you like Mr. Sugarplum when they are gone! Such an adorable (and HIGHLY important) sentiment (c:

    Posted 7.13.11 Reply
  11. a' la mode wrote:

    How about I'm so lazy that Id be lucky to GET packed, much less have a business plan for it, love you for it dollface!! xoxo shel

    Posted 7.14.11 Reply
  12. Posted 7.14.11 Reply
  13. Haley wrote:

    All I can say is WOW! So much style in so little luggage! You've got mad skills, I wish I didn't try to pack everything but the kitchen sink when I travel!

    Posted 7.14.11 Reply
  14. I sooo overpacked for our 1st trip last year to Europe. First, we did a 7-day cruise and then 5-days in Rome. I checked a monster bag that weighed a wopping 62 pounds – never EVER again. My other half had a heavy bag as well. We definitely know differently what we will do for next time. And I must that I really like this post and reading all about your trip. Thanks so much for sharing. Also, did you fit it all into the tiny bag your hubby had? I would assume yes?

    Posted 7.14.11 Reply
  15. I am bookmarking this post for my next trip to Europe. My fiance and I spent two weeks in Europe earlier this year and I WAY overpacked…granted it was March and the weather was all over the place…but I love your logic in this post. Thanks for sharing!

    Posted 7.14.11 Reply
  16. Loved these posts! Can't wait for when my lil ones are older and we can escape. So much great info in these posts, and not only are you a killer designer but an amazing fashionable mama.

    Posted 7.14.11 Reply
  17. Lili wrote:

    amazing tips!~ i always wear leggings for plane rides. so much more comfortable than wearing jeans!

    love this post!

    Posted 7.14.11 Reply
  18. You are definitely right about wanting to enjoy your mate after the kiddos have left the nest! I cannot believe that's all you packed for your trip- I am seriously taking notes. The biggest space waster is my hairdryer that I always take b/c I like mine the best- I need to start using the hotel hairdryer!

    Posted 7.14.11 Reply
  19. Natalie wrote:

    oooo i love this guide to packing! i'm following it for my next trip!

    Posted 7.14.11 Reply
  20. Great post! While I've become really great at packing light, my guy on the other hand has not quite mastered it (and he's a guy!!) Too many shoes, won't wear anything twice – sheesh!
    And I agree about indulging in the cuisine – that's what vacations are all about. I don't want to travel and constantly be on a diet – I can do that at home! 🙂

    Posted 7.14.11 Reply
  21. alright, i think we've already established this but let me just say it out loud- will you be my life coach? amazing tips, cassie!

    Posted 7.14.11 Reply
  22. Hi Cassie! What do you do about sleepwear? thanks for the tips!

    Posted 7.14.11 Reply
  23. great tips. i was just in france and italy too and an abundance of carbs and chocolate is a must!

    Posted 7.14.11 Reply
  24. omg! yes I said OMG!! how on earth did you pack sooo little!!

    Posted 7.15.11 Reply
  25. Love this post. I'm in the middle of "after the vacay" laundry right now. Ugh! Missed you.

    Posted 7.17.11 Reply
  26. I have and love that Jcrew cardigan, a random clearance section find. I pray every year that they do another version of it so that I can buy it in 5 more colors! Great packing tips Cassie, I still struggle every time we go somewhere.

    Posted 7.17.11 Reply
  27. I'm amazed you can fit all of that into a tiny suitcase. You are a traveling genius!

    Posted 7.18.11 Reply
  28. What? You fit all of that in a carryon? What did you do about souvenirs?

    Posted 7.19.11 Reply
  29. emily wrote:

    Keeping this post handy for our upcoming trip! My husband is strongly encouraging me to just bring a carry-on, and I about fell out of my chair when he mentioned it. Maybe it is possible . . .

    Posted 7.20.11 Reply
  30. I LOVE those little owl make-up cases on top of your clothes (in the shot of everything all folded and ready to put in your suitcase – mind telling me where you got those/what brand they are?? Thanks!

    Posted 8.2.11 Reply
  31. Anonymous wrote:

    Hello, I hope your still checking these?! Anyways, Luv the ideas you have put together, but could you give examples of what outfits you had put together? I will be visiting Orlando, Fl in Dec and found your site very useful!

    Posted 3.6.12 Reply
  32. Jenny wrote:

    Wanted you to know I used these tips for my trip to Europe last fall. I was actually able to do 2 weeks in Europe with just a carry-on! Thankfully my husband could care less if I wear the same pair of pants three days straight:)
    I came across your blog because of Heather M. I actually used to watch your son in the 3-yr-old class at Bethel years ago. He was always one of my faves:) -Jenny

    Posted 5.21.12 Reply
  33. Truly amazing! I never knew such selections can fit on a 2×1 pile! I still can’t seem to fathom that this is possible. On the other hand, I will definitely try this and will make sure I go by the combinations. Thanks a lot for sharing a piece of your awesome wardrobe, for this will be helpful for those who are planning to travel or move (with the help of movers Nebraska for instance). Hope to see more!

    Posted 1.28.13 Reply