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  • Writer's pictureParisian Niche

Packing for Paris... and Other Life Decisions

Packing for Paris really can seem like a major life decision and it is no doubt one of the more stressful and laborious things you will take on before your actual departure. And it's true, there is a lot to consider. But, that's the fun of it! So, this blog may be a bit wordy, but we have a lot to "unpack" here (I'll see my self out)...

We all hear about (and see via social media) the chic fashion the men and women of Paris wear on a day to day basis. And you too, may wish to step up your fashion game for this trip. No short shorts, overt logos, tee shirts with profanities, gyms sneakers, sports gear, or yoga pants whilst out and about. That said, should you try to pack and dress like an Instagram Travel Influencer to "blend in" with the locals? The answer may surprise you.

Eva Chen, Instagram’s Vice President for Fashion & Shopping Partnerships, was recently quoted by the New York Times on the topic. She said, "I travel a fair amount, and I follow nearly 1,500 accounts on Instagram. And I am here to tell you that you should not feel like you should travel like those influencers or live up to any standard of travel fashion other than your own." To read the full NYT article, click here.

Unless you are booking a professional photo shoot (and we'll address this in a separate post, so do make sure to subscribe and come check back into the Parisian Niche), please pack and dress as comfortably and within reason as possible.

What kind of bag to pack?

There are many schools of thought and all of them have pros and cons. I tend to check a bag in as I always bring home French brand shampoos, body washes, food, and wine, which need to be checked. As far as carry-ons, I tend to also bring a smaller wheelie-bag or sometimes just a really large tote handbag. Each trip is different according to needs.

Many travelers do carry backpacks, but in my eyes, that is a sure sign of a tourist as that is my first thought when I see a backpack on the New York City Streets. To clarify - there is nothing wrong with being a tourist! It does seem, however, that pickpockets seem to try to single out a tourist look for their sneaky deeds.


In a non-sponsored highlight, my mom (hi mom!) recently got me this really cool bag - the best part is - it collapses for super easy storage - at around 2 inches thick.

It's called the Flex Vega and is sold by Rollink - it can be found here.

It comes in various sizes and colors, from bags that are carry-on eligible to larger, check in size bags.

Studio (and Paris rental) apartment dwellers, rejoice, we finally can store our luggage out of sight - until ready to fill them back up with Parisian goodies and souvenirs - travel chic, P'Nichers!

Image: Air France

We will repeat this in future posts, and as of blog posting time, the Air France international carry on luggage allowance maximum size measures in at: a single item, no taller than 21.7 inches, no wider than 13.8 inches, and no deeper than 9 inches. This measurement includes all hardware, pockets, and wheels. It should weigh no more than 26 pounds. You will still be able to bring a handbag in addition to this bag for some extra space.

It goes without saying that various airlines may have other specifications, so best to check with your carrier before packing.

For those checking bags, make sure your ticket includes this in the fare. Not all tickets allow for checked in baggage, so do know before you go. For those checking, your measurements can measure a total of 62 inches (and this includes height + width + depth of bag, including all wheels, hardware, and pockets.) The total weight should not exceed 50 pounds (economy class ticket).

If your bag is larger or heavier at the airport, in either direction, you will face additional fees, depending on how much you exceed your allowance. Many swear by a small luggage scale for this reason.

Many people also pack a carry-on WITHIN a checked bag for Paris shopping and getting purchases back home - genius!

What to Pack?!

Packing for Paris is unique. You might need a sweater and scarf in the morning and be down to a tee by lunch. It's wise to bring a little bit of everything in a capsule wardrobe, meaning packing fewer items to mix and match in various ways - more looks with less baggage (and more room for shopping in Paris!)

Throw it in the (carry-on) bag...

While we will examine capsule wardrobes for both ladies and gentlemen in the next post, here is a list of what I call the "Everyday Essentials" for your (not checked) carry-on...

"Everyday Essentials" for Carry On / Handbag

· Passport and another photo ID (drivers license, etc.)

· Face Mask (by personal choice, city mandate, or by airline requirement)

· Electronics (cell phone, camera, computer, adaptors, gimble)

· Don't forget the adapter and plug /wires for cell phone, camera etc.!

· Wallet with all your basics

· International currency plus some of your home currency in case of emergency

· Credit cards, ATM cards

· Student card (if applicable) for some great discounts

· Toiletries and Medications (see below)

· "Lipstick" charger

· Mini umbrella

· Extra passport pix for Navigo Pass etc.

· Reusable water bottle (watch for a post about Paris’ many Wallace water fountains!)

· Headphones / ear buds / noise cancelling headphones

· Eye mask and/or ear plugs for sleeping ease

· Printed itinerary/ hotel and flight confirmations and travel insurance card

I always bring a copy as I've had Wi-Fi issues in the past

· Glasses / Contact Lenses, Case and Solutions / Sunglasses

· Essential Toiletries and Medications - see notes below

· One change of clothing (including underwear)

· Reading material (keep it light weight, or even better, electric or audio based)

· Lip balm

· Antibacterial wipes or sanitizing lotion

· Scarf and extra sweater or fleece

· Pen for official documents, crosswords on airplane, or journaling at a Paris café

· Nausea Medication (ex Dramamine) if needed - keep it handy and accessible

· House and Car Keys - seems so basic, but they've been forgotten in "vacation mode"

· A canvas or reusable shopping bag. Markets do not hand these out (by law) even with purchases, so you'll want to be best prepared.

· Sense of wonder, excitement, and patience!

*It's worth noting that P'Niche keeps all valuable items (phone, passport, wallet, meds, etc.) in my handbag, with me at all times and never in the overhead compartment.*

Some "Non Essentials"

IF you find yourself with some extra space, I always try and toss these into my bag:

· Bubble Wrap

I line my suitcase in this and have used it many times to transport food and fragile items from Paris flea markets home - it's been a real game changer!

· Hangers left over from the dry cleaners

Often hotels and apartments don't have enough or any at all. These pack so easily and can be left behind and have made many trips easier.

· Safety Pins / Sewing Kit (voilà, Parisian fashion emergencies happen...)

· Journal for capturing memories and making people watching from cafes even better!

· Dryer Sheets. I toss a few loose sheets in to ensure my clothes arrive as fresh as daisies. As a bonus here, the sheets reduce any static cling.

Bonus Packing Tip if you've got the space: For travelers who long to bring back French wines or other spirits (and who wouldn't), a lovely P'Nicher, Angie, turned us on to this very specific invention.

It's a travel bottle protector. You can buy your wines, champagnes, and spirits in comfort that they will make the journey home safely. If the worst happened and the bottle broke, the packaging should be able to keep the liquid inside so as not to damage the items in your suitcase. It's Genius! In a non-sponsored link, you can purchase these here.

Ok, back to packing our "Everyday Essentials..."

Toiletries & Medications

· Toothbrush and Toothpaste

· Hairbrush / Comb

· Body Wash

· Facial Cream

· Body Cream

· Shampoo / Conditioner

· Disposable Wash Cloths

· Bandages for booboos and blisters

· Antiperspirant / Deodorant

· Sunscreen

· Feminine Sanitary Products

· Shaving Supplies

· Cosmetics

· Retainer

· Any Medications Needed - see below about packing your medications

Packing Your Medications

Many people use "daily" pill and capsule dividers and that is great, if it suits your purposes. Personally, I prefer to use less space in my luggage and use zip bags.

To do that, I line up my daily pills and place them on top of their original bottle (prescription or brand name).

I then take a picture with my phone of what is what (example to the left) and add a little note (for example, if need to take with food or certain times per day).

This achieves two goals: It saves valuable space in my luggage. Also, if stopped by TSA, (not likely, but better safe than sorry), I can provide this photo for reference.

Things to Leave at Home

· Neck Pillows for the airplane

· Blanket for the airplane

· Hair Dryer / Flat Iron / Curling Iron (you'll blow out the Paris circuits - ask me how I know!)

· Clothing Iron / Clothing Steamer (see just above) :)

· Towels / Linens (unless specified that needed at rental)

· Thick, Heavy Books, Guide Books

· Expensive jewels and/or accessories

· Food (a few snacks for plane are ok)

· Not-broken-in shoes

· Overhyped Plans / Expectations A few fun words: "travel happens!"

We will examine capsule wardrobes in our next post, so we'll be delighted to see you back in the Parisian Niche. Looking forward to sharing some "personal look books" to help ease your Parisian packing predicaments... à bientôt!


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Jun 03, 2023

What a thoroughly, well thought out, comprehensive, totally delightful post on an utterly "put off as long as possible "task. Merci!


May 31, 2022

Lovely post with super-helpful information. Thank you!

May 31, 2022
Replying to

Thank you so much, I am glad you enjoyed!

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