packing with Rick Steves

E has pointed me to the Rick Steves travel tips page for advice on packing. I know she's done this as I have announced that we are (in my nest) each allowed to bring three outfits. The cars we've rented will not allow for a lot of luggage, you see.
I like Rick Steves, I think he has a good, if suspicious, attitude (he devotes manymany pages to how to avoid being robbed in foreign countries) but I guess he knows his readers.

So, I've had a look at Rick's suggestions and, as you can imagine, I need to comment. In red.

If you're not going to wear it more than three times, don't pack it! Every piece of clothing you bring should complement every other item or have at least two uses (e.g., sandals double as slippers, a scarf as a shoulder wrap). Well, fine, but I don't wear sandals. Or slippers.
Shop selectively: It's worth splurging a little to get just the right clothes for your trip. For durable, lightweight travel clothes, consider Ex Officio (, tel. 800-644-7303), TravelSmith (tel. 800-770-3387),Tilley Endurables (tel. 800-363-8737), and REI (tel. 800-426-4840). In general, the color black dresses up easily and can be extremely versatile. I do agree that these purveyors have the best travel clothing. I don't wear travel clothing.
Tops: Bring two or three T-shirts (or buy overseas), one or two short-sleeved blouses, and one or two long-sleeved shirts. Long-sleeved shirts with sleeves that roll up can double as short-sleeved shirts. Look for a wrinkle-camouflaging pattern or blended fabrics that show a minimum of wrinkles. Poly-blend fabric (such as Coolmax) will often dry overnight. Washable silk also dries quickly and is lightweight. Not bad ideas per se. I don't own anything poly-blend and I don't suppose I will.
Pants and shorts: Dark-colored pants don't show dirt or wrinkles. Get a pair with a loose-fitting waistband that accommodates a money belt (and big Italian meals). Try the pants with the zip-off legs that convert to shorts. These are especially functional in Italy, allowing you to cover up inside churches and beat the heat outside. Waitaminutewaitaminutewaitaminute. Dark pants are fine but I will not "get a pair with a loose-fitting waistband for my money belt...with zip-off legs? For god's sake, what does Rick take me for? The last time I was in a church in Italy I was wearing a skirt and no one asked me to cover my legs!
If you bring shorts, one pair is probably enough, ideal for staying cool in a resort town or your hotel room. Few European women wear shorts. To avoid stares, consider bringing a pair of Capri pants instead.
I don't own shorts. If you do, that's fine, but I do not approve of wearing shorts in a foreign country. It strikes me as disrespectful - unless you are on the back of a camel or some such. Walking around in Bruges? No shorts.
Skirts: Some women bring one or two skirts because they're as cool and breathable as shorts, but dressier. And skirts make life easier than pants when you're faced with a squat toilet! I like to make a point of not traveling where there are squat toilets, thank you.
A lightweight skirt made with a blended fabric will pack compactly. Make sure it has a comfy waistband or drawstring. Tilley (listed above) makes expensive but great skirts (and other items) from blended fabric that feels like cotton. Skirts go with everything, and can easily be dressed up or down. I had planned on bringing a skirt, okay?
Shoes: Bring one pair of comfortable walking shoes. Mephisto, Ecco, and Rieker look dressier and more European than sneakers but are still comfortable. For a second pair, consider sandals or Tevas in summer, or dark leather flats in winter (can be worn with opaque hose and a skirt to dress up). Before you leave home, walk several miles in any footwear you'll be taking to be sure they're broken in. I'll be bringing my Palladium shoes and my little black boots. I've walked two miles a day in each of them so that'll do. I'm not fond of sandals in a city but I'm pleased Rick hasn't suggested running shoes. I cringe every time I see tourists in running shoes.
Socks, underwear, pajamas, and swimsuit: Cotton/nylon-blend socks dry faster than 100-percent cotton, which loses its softness when air-dried. Try silk, microfiber, or stretch lace underwear, which dry faster than all-cotton, but breathe more than nylon. Bring at least two bras (what if you leave one hanging over your shower rail by accident?). A sports bra can double as a hiking/sunning top. Shorts or lightweight pajama bottoms with a T-shirt will get you modestly to the bathroom down the hall. You don't need a bikini to try sunbathing topless on European beaches — local women with one-piece bathing suits just roll down the top.
So much to say here! I'm not buying special socks or underwear for my trip and never have. What do Rick's readers do? Hike all day in the mountains? That's a different vacation.
FYI: local women don't wear one-piece bathing suits. That's a wonderful lesson I learned in Positano. Travelers to the Amalfi coast rarely wore one-piece bathing suits as far as I could tell and I was thrilled to never wear one again. And, of all the things Rick suggest you try (scooting down the hall to the squat loo in your pajama bottoms, wearing "walking" shoes, the money belt) this is the thing you should go for.
Unfortunately, this isn't a summer vacation, though we will be on a beach from time to time.
I do so love writing bossy posts like this.
I suppose, as we've had a meeting regarding the itinerary, that I'll have to brief the boys on packing. Who knows, one of them may own pants with legs that zip off.


alice c said…
You need MissM. She has strong views on capsule wardrobes and she can pack for two weeks in a carry-on bag. There is nothing that she cannot tell you about accessorizing.

(I probably brought the wrong baby back from the hospital because she did not learn these things from me.)
Grandma Cebe said…
How to spot a Rick Steves tourist in Europe? They're wearing pants with zip off legs, a money belt, poly blend clothing and running shoes. I did a two and a half week trip in Europe/London with just a 21" carry on. Some how I made it without zip off pant legs and poly blend clothing.
Jan said…
You cn avoid the whole 'being robbed' thing by simply traveling to Japan. Though you would likely have to deal with the occasional squat toilet there.
Have a great trip, bb! The Netherlands are definitely high on my travel list.
Anonymous said…
I have this vivid image in my head of the poor tourist--with her poly-blend Tencel skirt (elastic waisted, of course) bulging over her money belt, worn atop her rolled-down one-piece swim suit, topped with a vest and brown Ecco walking shoes. Good grief!
I truly think you'll manage just fine, BB.
Amy A. said…
I hope you will do a "Mighty Girl" post on what you wore. I love those. She puts together fabulous outfits, like you do.
Gill said…
Hmmm...and we wonder why it's so easy to spot a tourist? Those polyester easy care skirts and tencel shirts are a dead giveaway.
Surely the best travel wardrobe is the one you feel most comfortable wearing - in other words, your favourite, everyday clothes? I think you could do better than Rick any day, BB.

Oh, and there will be few bathers of any kind on the North Sea coast in April - brrrr.

Have a great time!
Crazy Mom! said…
I wonder if the boys have silk underwear to bring....
Jen on the Edge said…
I am suddenly reminded of the Anne Tyler book "The Accidental Tourist" (also a movie) about a guy who writes travel guides for people who want to feel like they're at home.

I understand Rick's desire to help out clueless Americans, but I think I'll still with my own packing plan -- no zip-off pants, no poly fabrics, and so on.
Anonymous said…
I don't know, those zip-off pants always looked kind of practcal to me. And if you equate all sneakers with running shoes, then I may be in big trouble.
KPB said…
this man is exactly why America tourists are the easiest to spot of ALL the tourists from ALL the world.

1. Pants with zip off anything are a travesty to the whole notion of clothing. Fashion is in the corner rocking and crying.

2. Silk! It's all about the silk and polyblend. I have no idea what that is and the last time I looked silk anything was outrageously expensive, did not come in real woman sizes and looks way better on hookers than your standard operational female body.

3. A sports bra works as a hiking/sunning top? Bwhahahaha, only if you want people to stop and stare. And maybe point. And even laugh.

Dear GOD I am glad you are in charge of this packing caper. I somehow know the Birds are the epitomy of style when travelling.
Anonymous said…
Okay, Rick Steves may err on the goofy/conservative/hello, I'm a tourist style on his packing list suggestions, but he does advocate legalizing marijuana, which I just love about him. He's very vocal about it around here. I don't think it's that he's a pothead, but it's more that he wants to see it decriminalized.

And I am laughing, remembering how much I OVER-packed on my first/only (thus far) trip to Paris several years ago. I brought heels, boots, coats, soo many pants and tops and sweaters and skirts, and my husband packed his SUIT...we had so many bags it wasn't even funny. But I wanted options. And I wanted to not look like a tourist. I'm sure I did, but I pretended I didn't.

jo said…
I would expect all of the suggestions from Mr Steeves. I can also picture the traveler he is speaking to, you are definitely NOT that traveler.
However I do have to say that I encountered squat toilets in Italy, Florence specifically, so I guess you never know.
The Coffee Lady said…
"Dark-colored pants don't show dirt or wrinkles."

That is such rubbish. It really all depends what you spill down them.
Paola said…
So I don't know this Rick guy but after I read jbhat's comment it all made sense.