Becca Jane St Clair

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Packing for Autumn in Austria

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Whenever I plan a trip, I immediately start making pakcking lists. Things I know I’ll need, things I might need, and things I need to buy. If I’ve already made my itinerary, I try to match up my outfits to what I’m doing. So for example, if I have a trip to a beach planned, I know that autumatically means a bathing suit and sunblock need to go on my packing list. I also check to see if we will have access to a washing machine (this time, we wouldn’t) and plan appropriately. If there is no washing machine, I think about what clothing we have that could be sink washed and we plan on wearing one shirt for two days, and trousers or skirts for 3-4 days. I also bring Febreeze along on all trips in a small spray bottle to help keep clothing refreshed.

I also immediately start scouring the internet for suggested packing lists for the area I’m visiting to get ideas….and the one blank spot in many websites and travel blogs seem to be visiting Austria in the Autumn. Plenty of packing lists for going in the Winter, plenty of packing lists specific to visiting Vienna, too….but nothing for visiting in the Autumn.

I checked the long-range weather forecasts and saw that the weather was predicted to be chilly and slightly damp, with not many warm days. This immediately indicated to me that I needed to think in terms of layers. Things that could easily be taken on or off (either in public or by visiting a toilet), and easily packed into whatever I was carrying for the day, as well as packed into my main luggage.

Before I go any further, let’s go over luggage. My luggage consisted of my LL Bean deluxe Bookbag (I’ve had it since I was 15 and this was its third trip to Austria!), a borrowed cabin sized bag wheeled suitcase, and my camera bag (Tim had an LL Bean bag and a camera bag). We decided to share the single checked bag for on the way to Austria, and I packed a folding ‘weekender’ bag which we decided to pre-pay for to use as a second bag for the trip home (GOOD idea). The weight limit on Ryanair for both checked and carry-on luggage is 15kg per bag, so I didn’t want to use a bigger bag for fear that it would soon get overweight. Ryanair does now allow TWO carryon bags, but one has to fit under the seat in front of you (my canmera bag) and one in the overhead. They also let you carry on a single carrier bag from the duty free shops in addition to your two carry ons.

Ok, so now that we know how much space we’re working with, we need to think about what we’re packing.


Toiletries for both of us immediately went on the list. I chose to buy pre-packaged travel sized versions of most things because I wouldn’t feel bad tossing them at the end of the trip to save space, but Poundland does a decent fillable set for £1 if you’d rather fill with your own products. I did also need a refillable pump with my armpit wash (prescription), and I filled a very small container with some aftershave for Tim. As you can see, nearly everything we needed fit into those two clear bags. I also had a separate bag that held both our razors and a small make-up bag that had everything non-liquid in it. I decided to put the toiletries in the checked bag, so I had an additional plastic baggie which I put in the things I wanted in my carry on (my liquid medicines, squash, and hand sanitizer). I packed minimal toiletries – Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, prescription armpit wash, face wash, deodorant, small body spray, toothpaste, face moisturizer, and pimple cream. My non-liquids included vaseline, a Clinique palate (blush, eyeshadow, mascara), a No7 face powder compact, a folding brush, nail clipper, tweezers, travel toothbrushes, and cotton pads. I went on the principle that Austria is not a third world country, and if there was anything we needed we could easily pick it up either at the Boots in the airport or once we were in Austria. Which we did do as I needed muscle rub, a sewing kit, and Tim needed bodywash partway through as I accidentally packed a 50ml bottle for him. Yes. I forgot my sewing kit. DON’T forget one, or if you need one you will be stuck for days wandering into shops using your German dictionary to ask for a sewing kit. Other than needing body wash for Tim, we managed to make 100ml of everything else last until the last day. If I was going for longer than 10 days, I would probably try to either pack extras of everything, pack bigger containers, or plan on purchasing things once I arrived.

Tim’s toiletries were just shampoo, body wash, deodorant, after shave, toothpaste, and shave gel. I also added a bottle of Dr Bronner’s All In One and a spray bottle of Febreeze to his bag.

The other thing I find incredibly useful day-to-day as well as for travelling is a pill container I picked up in Poundland. It folds over itself and one side has four large compartments (originally labelled Morning-Afternoon-Evening-Bed) and six smaller compartments on the other side. It’s supposed to be a weekly pill organizer, but I used Tim’s dymamo labeller and changed the labels on i onlit so I can keep with me paracetamol, ibruprofin, naproxin, pepto, kwells, antihisimine, and a few Metformin.

So now that I’ve waffled on about toiletries….let’s move on to outerwear, including shoes. You might have noticed from my pictures that I mostly wore a pink fleece body warmer (gilet). I deliberately chose this because I like having mobility in my arms and I knew it would fit over multiple layers and even if I purchased a fleece (I almost did, but stopped myself in the end), I knew the gilet would have zipped over that too. I packed the pink one only because I couldn’t find my black one the day before we left, but in the end, the pink matched most of my clothing anyway.

I also packed a black cardigan, black opera length wrist warmers/fingerless gloves, a headband earmuff thing, leg warmers, and a scarf. I always pack a scarf when I travel even in the Summer because it winds up being useful as a blanket or folded up as a pillow. I have loads of scarfs, but for this trip I took the pashmina I bought in a Vienna market in 2010. I bought one of those tube things (Tuk?) that can be worn multiple ways and a bandana as souvenirs. Both those items will be going into my regular travel rotation as I found them both very useful. You might be laughing at the leg warmers, but I wear a lot of skirts/dresses and a cheapie pair from Primark has kept my legs warm on more than one occasion.

Shoe-wise, I only had the hiking boots I wore most of the trip, and a pair of ankle boots. I hardly wore the ankle boots, but they were nice for my one dress-up day (my day in Salzburg) and they fit in the bottom of my rucksack. Because for the first four days we were staying halfway up a mountain, I was quite glad for my hiking boots. They were comfortable, dry, and generally warm. I paired my boots most times with wooly knee socks. Not particularly fashionable, but again, they kept my legs warm and I felt cute in them. Plus because they were wool I was able to wash them in the sink at our apartment and get multiple days use out of them, so I only packed 4 pairs of knee socks. I also packed 4 pairs of ankle socks for wearing with tights or leggings. I packed 3 pairs of cheap (Primark again) weather sensing tights, 3 pairs of footless tights, and one pair of thicker leggings. And while not strictly outerwear, I also had along a pair of bicycle shorts and a pair of knee-length leggings (to prevent chafing and to protect my modesty!). I only wore tights one day and I only needed leggings for two as my knee socks kept my pretty warm, but I always kept a pair in my bag (except for the day I forgot!) in case I needed them. They don’t take up a lot of room, so it wasn’t really a big deal.

I packed in layers on top. Most of my tops were hiking/exercise tops that also claimed to be “quick dry” (They weren’t and only dried because I had a radiator to hang them on!). My favourite top was a new top I picked up at TK Maxx for a tenner (Retail price was £55!) a week before we left. It was a Reebok brand long-sleeved top with built-in thumb holes to make the sleeves into wrist warmers. My other long-sleeved tops were a Nike top I bought on a trip to the US at a deep discount (mint green with shoulder vents), and a cheap Primark pink long-sleeved shirt. I also packed along a M&S short-sleeved work out top, a black primark T-shirt (didn’t wear it), and 2 camisoles (one black, one nude). I also had a pink dress (worn for travel) and a grey and black striped dress. For my bottom half, I only brought along two hiking skirts – a Columbia skirt I’ve had for years, a grey skirt from H&M that has bright pink shorts under it, and a pair of grey lounge pants/pajama pants. I did wish I had packed one more skirt simply because I got tired of the two I had, but it was manageable. I also wished I had added extra camisoles, as they didn’t take up much space. I also packed slipper socks (well, they looked more like booties) because they took up less space than slippers, 11 pairs of knickers, and 3 bras (black, white, nude). I also wished I had packed another bra, but I was able to wash one in the sink.

Tim’s wardrobe consisted of his hiking boots, 2 long-sleeved hiking shirts, 2 polo shirts, 1 short sleeved hiking shirt, 1 t-shirt, zip off trousers, walking trousers, and cargo trousers. He was supposed to also have a rugby top, but I wound up grabbing a dirty one so he wore his work shirt (button down) for travel instead. He also had 10 pairs of socks, 10 pairs of boxers, sleep shorts, and slipper socks. I think Tim probably wished he had an extra shirt or two by the end and possibly pajama trousers instead of shorts. For outerwear, he had a fleece pullover, fleece jacket, hat, fingerless gloves, and a neck warmer. He didn’t wear the neck warmer at all, but made use of the gloves and hat.

We also each had a kag in a bag and I had an umbrella. They weren’t needed, but we don’t travel without them!

As far as electronics go, we both packed our 10 inch laptops (didn’t pull them out for anything other than watching cartoons), DSLR cameras (with lenses), tablets, and mobile phones. We also brought the camcorder (barely used it), my ipod (didn’t use at all), and a tripod (also didn’t use at all). For charging our mobile devices, I picked up 4-port USB plugs that came with 4 changeable plugs for the UK, US, EU, and AU before our trip to the US. These plugs come in handy around the house too as they only need one plug to charge up to 4 devices. We also packed some emergency chargers, which can be picked up for as little as £5 to as much as £30, depending on capacity. I have three small lipstick sized chargers and Tim has a larger one. Since they also need to be charge via USB, having the multi port plugs was a big help. These chargers came in handy as we took lots of pictures on our phones for instant sharing and used our phone for internet access. Since our laptops and camera battery chargers didn’t have EU plugs, we also took along a two-plug converter. Out of all the electronics, we only used my laptop twice (once to watch cartoons and once to look up something that we could have looked up on the tablet), and I don’t think Tim used his laptop at all. We had planned on using the laptops to remove pictures from our cameras and possibly even post them while we were away, but a lack of wifi at most places prevented this and we didn’t take as many pictures as we had thought we would. Would we take the laptops again? Possibly. Only because knowing we had the capability to back up photos and clear off memory cards meant we weren’t afraid to click away, and loading my laptop with some silly cartoons (in English) meant we had a small amount of comic relief to wind down to in the evenings if we wanted it. Plus the laptops are so small they don’t take up much space. Tim’s fit into his camera bag, and mine was in my rucksack. We also had a small electronic luggage scale, which comes in handy for making sure all your bags meet weight requirements!

We took along a railway atlas (because…..train geeks.) and maps of the area as well as a German dictionary and phrasebook. The dictionary came in handier than the phrasebook did as I do speak German, but we occasionally needed to look up either an unfamiliar German word or how to say something specific in German (like sewing kit!). Yes, my phone had Google Translate installed, but that requires having signal and we couldn’t count on that. (I did later discover I could download an offline German dictionary to Google Translate, but I’m not sure how good it is). I also had a small notebook about the size of an airline ticket, though we never needed it. I organized all our tickets and itinerary in an A5 display folder from Paperchase (£2.50). This wasn’t entirely needed, but it gave us an easy place to keep track of train schedules and tickets and a place to pop in brochures we wanted to keep. We also brought along baggies of teabags because we remembered how horrendous Austrian tea was, and knew we would need the pick me up first thing in the morning.

I did not take a handbag along, instead I have a camera bag that functions as a handbag. I used a small Cath Kidston travel wallet for my money, debit card, credit card, and driver’s license. All other cards stayed at home in my regular purse. I used a wristlet from Cath Kidston that I usually used for makeup as my purse and kept my passports, travel wallet, and travel cards all in one place. It also gave me a small purse for the evenings we went out without our cameras. I did wish I had brought along a cross body bag for these evenings though, as my small wristlet wasn’t big enough for everything I wanted to take.

We also each had a folding shopping bag and folding rucksacks. I had been wanting to get us folding rucksacks for a while as we tend to take our large bags with us on holiday but then find they are too big to use as a daypack (like a day out at an amusement park), but the cost of some of them (£21 for a Sea to Summit) always put me off. I found some on clearance at trespass for £6 so I picked them up, assuming with the trespass name on it they would be good quality. They were…..ok. Mine seemed to have a factory defect on it with one strap not attached to the bag (hence needing the sewing kit!) and Tim had a strap start to go on his. But I was able to rig them back together with some duct tape (I always carry a little!) and safety pins until I was able to get my hands on a sewing kit.

The only other thing in my bag was a selfie stick (used to take “selvsies” as Tim called them), Bagpuss (I made sure I had room for him, but could have left him at home) and Hamish, the scottish rubber duck. We both had 750ml water bottles attached to a carabeaner on our bags. We took them empty through airport security, then filled them and used one of those Robinsons Squash’d to flavour them.

Looks like a lot, doesn’t it? I started looking on YouTube for packing tutorials and found lots of tips and tricks, but the one that appealed to me the most was an Army Roll/Ranger Roll as demonstrated in this video:

I used this technique on everything except for my knickers (too small and slippery as they were all microfiber) and bras (yeah, there is no way of folding bras. haha!). It WORKED. We really did fit nearly all of our clothing in the two rucksacks, and I think with a couple of better choices (less bulky clothing items) or a better rucksack (on designed for travel/backpacking and not one designed for schoolbooks) we might have been able to manage without the extra suitcase, but we were glad we had it for the trip home as there was plenty of room for lots of chocolate! I also used zipper top bags to compress things further. You can buy space bags for travel, but the zipper top bags work just as well and are easier to replace if they rip.

Things I wish we had packed:

-A sewing kit (mentioned above)
-Extra plastic zipper top bags for snacks OR plastic containers.
-Additional camisoles (also mentioned above)
-Hair elastics
-Dry shampoo
-fleece pullover for myself
-pajama trousers for Tim

Things we didn’t or barely use:

-black t-shirt

Everything I wish we had taken are all things that are small enough to add to a bag in the future, and all the things we didn’t use could either be left at home or didn’t take up much space to begin with.

For the return we decided to check an additional bag, and we needed it! Even after abandoning some of the clothing (all Primark buys – socks, my shirt and cardigan, tights, and a few pairs of underwear for each of us), we needed the space for the 3KG of chocolate we purchased! Plus since we had the room, we were able to put some of the heavier books into the checked bag to take some of the pressure off of our shoulders.

I know I wrote a lot, but I hope this helps you plan your packing for your next adventure!

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2 Comments so far

  1. Elizabeth Hicks October 9th, 2015 14:48

    Very useful information. I am doing the same things.I research! This way I feel calm and safe that I could predict what could happen. Thank you for sharing your post. Greetings!

  2. […] know I previously posted about packing toiletries in my Packing for Autumn in Austria blog post, but I decided to expand on it because I’ve been watching a lot of travel videos on […]

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