Five years ago when I was packing for a 6 week trip abroad to Italy, Croatia, Montenegro and Malta (click here for my 5 favorite vacation spots), I found myself buying a lot of navy filler items. You know those accessories like hats and purses that you need to round out your vacation wardrobe and help pull everything together. For example, I bought an Anjou Goyard GM Totebag in “sky blue” because the color was striking, the bag was roomy and I figured it would go well with a lot of what I was packing.
Now, I admit it, I’ve always been partial to chambray, but little by little I found myself gravitating towards the color blue and ultimately navy. I know, the New Yorker in me wanted to be shocked and appalled, but navy is a sophisticated color. I dare say almost more sophisticated than black. Everyone can wear black and look good. Navy? You gotta have that certain je ne sais quoit to pull off navy.
The trip started in Sardinia to spend time with one of my besties and her family in their vacation spot of choice. Sardinia is an island in the Mediterranean Sea immediately to the south of Corsica (which is a French island). To those who know and love Sardinia, it’s also called The Costa Smeralda (Emerald Coast). Sardinia’s beautiful white sandy beaches, crystal clear water and well-stocked marinas make it a top destination for the jet-set. So, I knew I had to come correct!
I had a navy romper from JMcLaughlin (pictured below) that worked well for both day or night, plus I’d purchased a great navy and white dress from Le Sireneuse when they did a collab with JCrew eons ago. When I started packing for the trip, I found this beauty in my vacation clothes bin (yes, very few New Yorkers have the luxury of storing their clothes in a closet much less on hangers but that’s another post!) and she fit right in.
Next up was my all time favorite, the Isle of Capri where my rainbow of blues fit right in with the beautiful scenery. The shopping on this tiny isle is amazing! I had a pair of sandals made and I bought a pair of navy ballet flats from Jackie O’s cobbler. Originally, I walked out of the store with an Hermes orange pair. Got half way down the street and decided to go back to exchange them for the navy pair. I LOVED the orange, but they weren’t subtle. Could I have made them work? Yes, of course. But, the navy ballet flats just seemed more sophisticated and European if you get my drift.
One of my goals while traveling abroad is never to look like the gauche American tourist. I pack with the intention of looking like a well-dressed internationalist. Of course there are days when I look every bit of the tourist – for one, as an African-American in some of these cities and countries I stand out like a sore thumb. And let’s be honest, on sight seeing days, sometimes it just is what it is. But, for my cafe sitting days? I’m going full international jetsetter on you! To me, the color navy evokes international jetsetter.
I’d like to say that I stumbled onto the color navy all on my own, but it’s one of my husband’s favorite colors and I think he’s rubbed off on me. We never plan to coordinate, but both gravitate towards the same color palettes. And for travel abroad that’s international jetsetter!
The Amalifi Coast
From Capri we traveled by ferry up and down the Amalfi Coast stopping for stays in Ischia and Prochida. As you can see, I had blues in all hues with navy leading the charge. For the next four weeks, I intertwined navy with everything and was pleasantly surprised at how well the color worked for me. In New York, I often feel like I must have on black … in Europe, it’s navy for me.
How To Pack For A Six Week Trip?
Such a good question. I wasn’t quite sure myself, so I did a lot of googling and read blog posts. But, then I did what I always do – I reached out to a good friend who spends two months in Europe every Summer. She suggested I decide on a color palette. Navy and shades of blue were already beginning to pile up on my couch so that was easy. Next she advised that I figure out what the weather was going to be in each city or island we were traveling to. Then once you know what the weather is going to be, you can begin to think about clothing combos. She starts with a basic packing list and then adds a few special items in.
I started packing about three weeks in advance so that I could think through everything. My packing hack is a two part one: (1) I pack per city/island/place on the itinerary and (2) I always try everything on and every outfit combo. This does two things: confirms that everything fits and it means that I don’t have to plan out every outfit, but once I’m done, I have a sense of what will work well together.
Sample Packing List For A Summer European Vacation
- A pair of jeans – white or blue;
- At least one long sleeved t-shirt;
- At least one long sleeved shirt;
- A few nice tank tops, I’m partial to the ones from Uniqlo and (DE I HAVE TO GET THE NAME);
- A nice weight sweater for plane and train rides or cool evenings;
- A shawl or pashmina that can do double duty as a scarf or wrap;
- A sarong;
- A pair of heels;
- A pair of wedges;
- Water shoes or flip flops;
- At least one pair of flat sandals;
- Sneakers to walk around in and for the occasional workout;
- Workout clothes;
- A sweatshirt;
- A lounge outfit (something comfy for a day you hang out in the hotel or villa);
- Bathing suits (how many you bring depends on how many you have and what kind you’ll need);
- A sun hat and a baseball hat;
- 3 or 4 dresses that can be dressed up or down;
- 1 to 2 nice dresses for dinners out;
- A good totebag that can do double duty as a beach bag;
- A smaller foldable beach bag;
- 2-3 caftans;
- 2-4 pairs of shorts;
- A crossbody bag;
- An evening bag or small purse;
- A 36 x 36 inch silk scarf
What Kind of Luggage Works Best for A Long Trip?
People have different opinions on the best kind of bag to use for long haul trips. My friend Sarah Graves-Gabbedon, the travel expert, is all about a trunk bag. I myself am partial to a more duffle like suitcase. Whatever you choose, you want something durable that can withstand a lot of abuse from airlines and wheels that will roll smoothly on cobblestone streets if you’re traveling in Europe. My go-to for years has been a Tumi wheeled duffle case. These bad boys are not cheap, but I bought mine 11 years ago for a 2.5 week trip to Asia and it’s held up quite well. For a long trip like this one, I also travel with a carry-on rollerbag. I got a new one a few years ago, click here for details.
The One Thing I Never Travel Without
Whatever it is you do or don’t feel about Apple, run out and buy yourself a set of Air Tags! Yes, the US airlines have gotten pretty good about sending you notifications when your bags are loaded on the plane, but there’s nothing like being able to track the exact location of your bag. And when you travel by ferry and have to leave your bags with everyone else’s, it’s nice to be able to keep track of where they are when they’re not with you. I have two Air Tags – one that goes in my Tumi duffle and one that goes in my carry-on bag. I never take them out of the bags, there’s no need to. This way, I don’t leave home without them; it’s peace of mind for me. It will be for you too.
Is Navy The New Black?
I’m not sure if navy is everyone’s new black, but it is for me. I think this was solidified when a few years after this trip, I needed a new winter coat and I ended up with a navy fur-lined quilted coat. And yes, this beauty gets worn all over NYC.
I’ll always be partial to the color black, but navy is running a very close second! Navy may not be for you, I get it. It wasn’t for me until it was. Nevertheless, I hope you find the packing list helpful for your next long trip!
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