Italy packing challenge! 17 days in Europe out of a 20L bag!!

Man-o-mine and I are going to be getting married in August and so along with everything else on my plate (working full time and being a full time college student) I’ve also been working on wedding planning AND honeymoon planning.

We will be going to Italy in September for 17 days, which is not exactly peak season but pretty close, so tickets were a bit more expensive than this thrifty girl was hoping for. I ended up purchasing tickets through This is my first time using their service and I cant say i’m particularly thrilled with it. (my own fault for not purchasing direct from the airline) Well, I made a mistake in our tickets, which are non-refundable (which is what happens when you buy the cheap tickets). I read the size allowances for baggage and assumed the dimensions were in inches. Ya, No. They were in cm.

We travel all the time and are pretty good at packing light so that we don’t have to deal with lots of luggage. So only being able to bring one item onto the plane didn’t seem like such a big deal and after looking at the dimensions (which i thought were in inches) i figured we would bring our small wheely suitcases. Unfortunately, that is not the case. We are limited to one personal item and one personal item only.

Ryanair personal item dimensions


Ya thats right, thats 15.7 x 9.9 x 7.9in, or aprox 20litres Even my current laptop backpack is too big!


With the alternative solutions including $225 check bag fees or potentially more to ship a box to Italy, we’re just going to have to limit ourselves.


So here is our, 17 days in Europe out of a 20L bag


  • Comfort:
    • We are going to have several very long flights, and several long driving days.
    • We will be going at the end of summer, beginning of fall with day temps up to 80F and nightly lows at 40F.
    • We are going to be doing ALOT of walking.
  • Blending:
    • I doubt its possible that we will be able to pass as Italians but the less we look like tourists the better. We dont want to have a huge ROB ME sign on our backs.
    • We plan on visiting a lot of holy and/or religious sites that have specific dress code, no knees, no shoulders showing.
  • School: The way our dates ended up, We will be in Italy for the first week and a half of Fall term. First week is always easy but there’s always a few things that must happen.
  • Space: (the big one) limited space means clothes that are mulit-function, and pack small.

The Process 5-4-3-2-1

This is a great little set of rules to go by if you need to pack minimally. Its references how many of each item you should be taking.

5 tops- 2 t-shirts or tank tops, 1 long sleeve, 1 nice shirt, 1 sweater. (of course alter this for the weather where you are going)

4 bottoms- two pairs of pants or shorts, two skirts

3 dresses- at least one fancier

3 shoes- a pair of nice shoes, a pair of walking shoes, a pair of sandals

2 bathing suits- one bikini, one one-piece

1 accessories- only one of each accessory ie 1 belt, 1 coverup, 1 hat, 1 pair of sunglasses

My Wardrobe (finally!)


Other than the dresses, where I wanted to add some color, all the tops pair with every bottom, meaning (if I exclude the shorts as they will only be worn for hiking) I can make at least 23 different outfits with this wardrobe.


5- Many take 5 tops to include a jacket which I don’t agree with I include the jacket in the 1’s as an accessory. I am taking two body suits from Lulu’s, one white tank top style and 1 black off the shoulder t-shirt style. I will also be taking a standard black t-shirt that is a bit flowey and very light. Next is a white shirt that is technically a bathing suit cover-up but that looks very classy with a pair of pants. Lastly, is a tan button-up shirt/dress. It has a bit of waist shaping and can be worn loose as a blouse, a dress, or tied up at the waist.

4- I am bringing one pair of Betabrand pin striped yoga dress pants, one pair of Levi’s skinny jeans and two skirts, one in black and one Pendelton floral.

3- Three dresses from Lulu’s all of which can be worn casually or dressed up.

2- I am only bringing two pairs of shoes (frankly I don’t know how I would be able to fit another pair if I wanted to) one pair of nice looking black naturalizer flats, good for looking dressy or walking around. one pair of chacos sandals, for hiking and walking.

2- I cant see a reason why I would need two bathing suits so i’m just bringing my one-piece suit and substituting a pair of shorts for the other suit. The shorts will be for hot hiking days when we wont be going somewhere with a dress code.

1- I will be bringing one hair scarf, 1 light weight cover-up (to cover the shoulders when i’m not wearing sleeves or to just keep the sun off my skin). I’ll also be bringing my Encircled Chrysalis Cardi, a piece of multi purpose clothing used as a dress, a blanket, a cardigan or scarf.

Not shown is my rollable (for easy packing) sun hat, the leather jacket I’ll be bringing, my Arden Cove mini cross-body bag, and my sunglasses. Also not shown is my underwear (3 pair of wool panties) and bras (1 sports, 1 bralett and 1 demi)

Along with clothes I’ll also have a small baggie of toiletries. Instead of bringing my laptop I’m going to get a foldable keyboard and do the limited schoolwork I get the first week, on my phone.

Fingers crossed, I’ll hopefully have room for my Canon Camera!

All of this will be packed in my nordace siena 20l backpacknordace

Coming soon…. Video of packing all of this into a 20L bag, and Man-o-mine’s 20L wardrobe.