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What to Bring

What to pack for your French trip depends literally on which region and when you will visit. Our advice is to pack light, pack well! A general rule of thumb is DO NOT take any more than you personally can carry. Dragging oversized and/or huge suitcases around is a major hassle and even though we will transport your luggage, space is limited and a light bag can make the difference between a pleasant or unpleasant experience.


For flights to/from the North America, most airlines operate on a ‘two piece’ system, for which you can have two pieces of luggage checked, each weighing up to about 70 lbs (30 kgs) and some carriers now charge by weight and piece. We suggest one suitcase per person plus your carry-on your personal items (see below for a definition). If you are coming from the UK, you will already be familiar with luggage limitations.

For your checked bag a 24″ is recommended with a 26” the maximum. The reason is simple, a 26″ Samsonite, soft-sided suitcase filled with mainly clothes, a couple of pairs of shoes, underwear etc weighs about 65lbs! And wheels or no, you still have to get the luggage through the airport, on a train, into a taxi or navigate stairs somewhere. A 28” suitcase is worse and unless you are a very large man, lifting either a 26” or 28” suitcase fully loaded is difficult if not downright impossible for most people.

Carry-on has limits as well. European maximum for your carry-on generally is 56x45x25 cm (22x17x9 inches). 56 cm is just about 22 inches exactly, but most 22 inch rolling bags have handles and wheels that extend the length further, so a safe maximum size is 45 inches in total – a 22x14x9 inch bag. Some airlines allow up to as much as 55 inches, but most do not. For your own convenience, we recommend you consider bringing the smallest carry-on you truly need rather than the largest carry-on you can!

The standard allowance typically provides for a bag of up to a certain size plus one or more ‘personal items’.

Personal items on the Plane

Some airlines give examples, and suggest that a personal item may be:

  • Briefcase
  • Camera
  • Handbag/Purse
  • Laptop (in carry bag)
  • Reading Matter
  • Small book-bag style backpack
  • Umbrella
  • Other items not exceeding 36″ in total dimension

We suggest you bring a small collapsible duffel bag to fold up and cram into your main bag. You are going to buy something in France, so having an extra lightweight duffle bag will allow you to add one manageable bag to your luggage without breaking your back.


The Inside Traveller

An Essentials Packing List

Here is a modified list of potential things you might pack from Kelby Hartson at

She suggests that you add or cross out things you will or will not need items, and then keep the list by your suitcase to check necessities off as you pack.

The Essentials

  • Airline Tickets
  • Passport
  • Wallet
  • Picture ID
  • Cash (in euros)
  • Traveller’s checks
  • Copies of hotel, rental car, etc. confirmations
  • Emergency phone numbers
  • Contact numbers to report credit cards or traveller’s checks lost
  • Prescription and OTC medications
  • French/English dictionary
  • Guidebooks
  • Maps (including point-to-point directions to lodging)
  • Currency converter
  • Plug adaptor(s)
  • Telephone charger

Self-Care items

  • Travel alarm clock
  • Umbrella
  • Books and magazines
  • Addresses and pens
  • Glasses, sunglasses and contacts
  • Tampons
  • Birth control etc.
  • Anti-bacterial hand gel or wipes
  • Hand lotion
  • Small first-aid kit
  • Travel pillow
  • Earplugs
  • Non-perishable snacks

Security Items

  • Luggage locks
  • Hidden money pack
  • Travel security alarm
  • Luggage name tags
  • Clothing care to pack
  • Travel-sized Woolite
  • Sewing kit
  • Clothes line
  • Sink stopper (as some French sinks lack one)
  • Wrinkle-free spray
  • Compression clothing bags
  • Oversized Ziploc bags with cardboard to pack clothes flat to avoid wrinkles

Packing for Women

  • Bras
  • Underpants
  • Skirt
  • Slacks & casual pants
  • Pair of jeans
  • Tights or stockings, socks
  • Jacket
  • Sweater
  • Shorts (in spring)
  • Pyjamas
  • Shirts
  • Hat (look for a crushable travel hat)
  • Gloves, scarf, knit hat and coat (in winter)
  • Bathing suit and cover up(for pools & spas)

Packing for Men

  • Briefs or boxer shorts, undershirts (if you where them)
  • Socks
  • Shirts (long-sleeved, short-sleeved, casual and dressy)
  • Dress slacks
  • Pair of jeans & casual pants
  • Jacket, blazer or cardigan
  • Sweater
  • Shorts (in spring)
  • Pyjamas
  • Hat (look for a crushable travel hat)
  • Gloves, scarf, knit hat and coat (in winter)
  • Bathing suit and cover up(for pools & spas)


  • Small bottles (for toiletries)
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Toiletries bag
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Small brush or comb
  • Cosmetics
  • Soap
  • Razor(s)& shaving cream or shaver
  • Sun block
  • Deodorant
  • Currency convertible blow dryer

Planning ahead for souvenirs and memories

  • Empty collapsible bag for souvenirs
  • Camera
  • Backup batteries
  • Extra film or memory card
  • Journal and pen
  • Addresses (you can ship some gifts duty-free)