Update April 24, 2012: After spending a week in Paris in April, I stand by everything on this list. Take layers and I strongly, strongly recommend taking a mini-umbrella. You’ll end up buying one anyway.

It’s been a long winter, so when my friend M suggested a trip away was required, I was pretty easy to convince. A week in Paris in April, what could be better? Nothing, that’s why we’re going.

Packing light and traveling on a budget provide some interesting challenges when you are going to the most fashionable city on Earth. Not insurmountable ones, just ones that require creative problem-solving approaches. So, I consulted my list of travel essentials and dug out the ol’ packing list for a week in the City of Lights.

My only rule of travel packing is the old adage “take half as much stuff and twice as much money.” Follow it, and you’ll be glad you did when climbing up six flights of stairs [Edit: For this trip, it was four flights, but you get my point]. For a one-week trip, I use a 30-litre convertible backpack and have a smaller squishy carry-on bag.

Official stuff

  • Passport
  • Plane ticket
  • Bank cards, credit cards, currency
  • Booking confirmations for hotels, trains, and any pre-booked activities

Clothing

Basic rule: keep it simple. I take three days’ worth of outfits for shorter trips, five to six days for longer trips, and do sink laundry. Keep an eye on the weather to anticipate your outerwear needs. For this trip, it’s supposed to rain almost every day.

Default outfit, the funky quilt is staying home
  • Sleepwear, sleep mask, ear plugs
  • Socks and underwear x 3, light and dark bras
  • Tops: 2 x t-shirt, 1 x long-sleep t-shirt, 1 x sweater
  • Bottoms: 2 x pants (no jeans, they weigh a ton!), plus a skirt if you’re feeling fancy
  • Scarves x 2 (it’s Paris)
  • Jewelry
  • Outerwear: light jacket, umbrella, hat
  • Shoes: 2 pairs, walking-friendly

Beautification

  • Antibacterial hand gel, baby wipes, tissues
  • Bar soap, body lotion, deodorant, razor
  • Glasses and case, contact lenses, case, solution
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss
  • Shampoo, condition, hair product, pins and elastic, wide-toothed comb
  • Lip balm and hand lotion (a must for the flights)
  • Makeup and brushes (usually 1 palette), cotton swabs, emery board and nail clippers
  • Sunblock – under 100 mL (weather optimism in a bottle)

Amenities

  • Money belt
  • Plug adaptor
  • First aid: bandages, Imodium, ibuprofen, allergy pills, Foot Petals Strappy Strips
  • Melatonin
  • Camera, memory cards, Gorillapod flexible tripod, batteries, charger
  • Battery-free mini flashlight
  • iPod, charger and plug, ear buds
  • Guide, map, reading material (I tear out magazine articles and save them up)
  • Journal, pens, notebook
  • Luggage lock
  • Sunglasses (eternal optimism)
  • Silk sleep sheet
  • Water bottle
  • Ziploc bags

All of this stuff fits in a small enough bag that I’ll out the airport, on the train, and sipping café in a few short hours. See you in Paris!

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