Travel Essentials That Balance Comfort and Style

Packing has never been my strong suit. I remember walking through Paris on my first backpacking trip, feeling bad about myself because I stood out in my super Canadian attire (bright coloured tank top, jeans shorts, and flip flops). I spent that afternoon shopping to try and fit in. If you have done this, I’m sure you have come home with tons of stuff that doesn’t actually fit your style.

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When I moved to Ireland for school, I packed a reasonably sized suitcase with what I thought was a better blend of functional pieces and stylish items. As it turns out, I still hadn’t quite figured it out. After a few days of power walking around Paris in my Hunter Rain Boots, I hurt my knee. I thought it would heal on its own, but when my leg started to randomly collapse I went to the chiropractor immediately. I was then banished to a knee sleeve and runners right before our three week trip for spring break. Not worth it.

When I went to Europe this past summer, I finally felt like I found a balance between comfort and style. Here are a few travel essentials that helped me get there. Some of these items aren't in season, but I have provided links to shop when possible! 

Carry-On Sized 4-Wheeled Suitcase

Backpackers may disagree with me on this one, but I swear by travelling with a wheeled suitcase. The back aches (and back sweat) are not worth it to me. If you pack light, your bag should be easy to carry in areas where you can’t roll it. Travelling with a large backpack usually means you will have to check your bag, risk losing your luggage, and pay over-priced baggage fees. It’s also much easier to fit a small suitcase onto a crowded train and keep an eye on your belongings.

My bag is made by a company called Tripp, which only ships within Europe, but similar bags can be found in this article from Skyscanner: 5 carry-ons that fit in the cabin of every airline. There’s even one from Ikea!

Birkenstock Cork Footbed Insoles

These have saved my feet so many times. They were recommended by my chiropractor as a great temporary solution for arch support (until I get orthotics). They are easy to get in and out of your shoe and fit into most closed footwear. These are great for days when I want to wear Keds (my fave travel shoe) but still want to take care of my feet.

Basic Sneakers

The last thing you want to pack is a pair shoes that are hard to match with your clothes. I brought these White Champion Leather Keds on my most recent trip to Europe. They are easy to clean and match just about anything. I also have a pair in Black Canvas Keds that I like to travel with.

Comfortable Sandals You Can Dress Up

I bought these sandals before a trip to Las Vegas three years ago. I swear the soles adapt to your feet and they are the only pair of sandals that I can wear for hours without getting blisters. I originally purchased these at The Shoe Company. They aren’t currently available for sale on EuroSoft’s website, but The Bay and Designer Shoe Warehouse usually carry them so check back in the summer!

Pieces You Can Mix and Match

I went with a primarily black and white wardrobe for this trip, with a few coloured items that were easy to mix and match. These floral pants were great to have a little pop of colour, and the burgundy tank top on the right matches the colours in the pants perfectly.

Shorts Purchased from Superstore - $20  View Other Styles .

Shorts Purchased from Superstore - $20
View Other Styles.

I also love pieces that I can just throw on and go like my black and white striped t-shirt dress and my linen shorts that match just about everything. 

Dual Voltage Straightener

I never brought my hair straightener on a trip until this summer. I heard so many stories of straighteners breaking in Europe that I didn’t want to risk it. I have very fine wavy hair and I find that it is much easier to work with when it is straight. It’s also the easiest way to get away with washing it every other day. You just need to make sure yours is dual voltage (220-240V). I checked my CHI Original 1” Flat Iron and it is dual voltage (110-240V) and I had no issues with it! The voltage is listed in raised text beside the on/off switch.

Long Raincoat

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Bring a raincoat that covers your bum and has a big enough hood that you don’t need an umbrella. If you are travelling to rainy countries like Ireland, Scotland, and England, it's not a rare occurrence to see a sad broken umbrella turned inside out and abandoned on the side of the street from the wind.  

My “right as rain” coat from Lululemon was one of the best investments I made before moving to Ireland. With a coat that covers your bum you don’t have to be afraid to sit down on a bench outside, and with a large hood you don’t have to carry an umbrella unless you want to stay extra dry. 

I hope this post will help you pack for your next trip. I'll be sharing another post soon with other travel essentials that I can't live without. Stay tuned!