Travel Packing Hacks: What I Should Have Brought to Paris & What I Should Have Left Behind

As you may know from THIS post about my super budget trip to Paris, I just returned from a 7-day trip to France. And if you remember from THIS packing list, I was EXTREMELY meticulous about what I would pack and wear.

Well, as with everything in life, hindsight is 20/20. I’m back now and there are a few things I wish I would have brought and a few others I wasted space on. I’m sharing those travel packing hacks and tidbits below:

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Things that I DIDN’T pack that I should have:

1. External Phone Battery / Power Bank

an external phone battery or power bank

We had so much phone drama.

The way we had it planned was that my phone would be designated for photos (because priorities) and the other girls’ phones would be for directions.

Well, they have older androids and their phone charge would decrease before they were even used! We would be out from morning until evening and by the end of the day, everyones phone had run out of battery or was very close to it.

As the trip went on, we started bringing our chargers and charging the phones at restaurants to prevent getting stuck somewhere.

I wish we would have just brought an external battery or power bank like THIS one they cost just a few bucks and would have saved us a ton of stress and drama.

2. Plug Adapter

a picture of a plug adapter type - a travel packing hack is to remember to pack the e/f type for your trip to France

Such a rookie move but I forgot to pack a plug adapter.

Luckily, my sister was able to buy one from a nearby store for about five euros.

I recommend that you buy one before you go because THIS one comes as a three pack for a cheaper price than we found it there.

Also, it’s best to be prepared as you might need it right when you land and may not have a store closeby like we did. (Also check out this adapter with 2 USB ports!)

***PRO TIP FROM A READER (thanks Kay!)***

#2.5. A Power Strip / Extension Cord
Plug in multiple things using one adapter/converter and never hunt for outlets again!

3. Hand Warmers

A picture of HotHands Hand Warmers because a travel hack is to pack hand warmers to get warm when its cold outside and you're sightseeing

Even though we were in the middle of the sub-zero “polar vortex” at home, I was much colder in Paris than at home.


Well, on a regular basis, I’m not usually walking around outside sightseeing and taking public transportation. Paris was in the 30s and 40s and the wind made it even colder.

The cold built up the longer we were outside and I remember trying to take in the Eiffel Tower and wishing I would have brought Hand Warmers to stuff into my gloves or Toe Warmers to stuff into my boots.

I could have appreciated the sights a bit better if I wasn’t looking for somewhere to warm up all the time.

You May Also Enjoy:
Take Remarkable Travel Photos w/ this Smartphone Clip-on
– How I Did 7 Days in Paris (Flight, Room, Food, Activities & More) for Less than $1000
The Ultimate Paris Packing List

4. Wool Socks

Technically, I didn’t make this mistake; my sister did.

She brought regular socks and had numb toes on more than one occasion (even when she layered them). If you’re traveling in the winter, bring wool or fleece socks to stay warm all day.

5. Euros

a picture of euros because a travel packing hack is to convert some money before landing

I didn’t remember to convert any dollars into euros before boarding, but luckily, I remembered to do so before leaving the airport. One of the ladies didn’t and it was a pain for us to find a place to change her money.

Luckily, most (but not all) places take credit. We eventually found money changing places near the more touristy areas.

6. MORE Knowledge of the French Language

I had a REALLY tough time with the language (covers face in shame).

Has anyone else noticed how many silent letters there are in the French language!?

I also never realized how four years of high school Spanish would make me want to say gracias (instead of merci) to everyone.

Thank God for the bilingual superheroes that helped us. A few things that I should have learned how to say beforehand are:

  • Where is the metro?
  • May I have water?
  • How much is this?

Things that I BROUGHT that I could have done without

1. Clothes

We ALL brought more clothes than we needed and ended up with outfits we didn’t even wear.

I recommend editing your clothes down to the necessities. You can always switch up your outfits with accessories.

2. Hat

Check out my Paris packing list to see what I’m referring to.

It just took up room and was really annoying to lug around. Also, I ended up buying a beret, so the hat could have definitely stayed home!

All in all, I had a great trip and very few regrets.

If you want to read about the one thing I AM glad I bought for Paris, check out THIS post on phone photography!

I’m interested to hear all your travel packing hacks. Comment below- what did you learn to pack or not to pack from experience?

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  • Deema

    Hand warmers is genius! I will never forget how my first time visiting Paris ( I was 19 and studying abroad) we didn’t realize the trains stop running at 2 am and found ourselves stranded in the middle of Paris in January! The taxis refused to go where our hotel was located lol!

      • Deze

        YES! Pics are super important because memories are everything.
        I’m so excited for you. The charger will make your life easier for sure. Have a great trip!

  • Jean

    1. Don’t bring toiletries. Enjoy the Monoprix or Pharmacy.
    2. Practise some phrases in francaise. It will give you a more friendly treatment. Just basics will do. They like you approaching them in french.
    3. Bring emergency medicine like anti histamine amd something for colds. Paris air is kind of bad if you are a first-timer.
    4. Bring capsule wardrobe that will make you blend in. Blacks and grays would be great.
    5. Bring your map- reading skills. You’ll need a lot of it

    Enjoy your trip …

  • Pat

    We are on our last day in France and spent only one day in Paris the rest in the Normandy area.
    I’d say a short power strip with the converter on that one end. Just 2 of us and one multi converter that never had enough time or power.
    Also I learned Parle vous anglais? (Spelling wrong I’m sure) and that helped so much, we were in the countryside and I always found someone. We also used google translate, we had so many wonderful conversations with the locals. Amazing that an 80 yr old man in the pub wanted to tell us about when he was a child of 5 he remembers that the Nazis killed his cousins who were in the resistance and he wanted to that us!! He has never talked to Americans before but he wanted to thank what we did for his country! Yes Parisians are a bit more fast paced but there are so many wonderful welcoming French.

  • Sky

    The French are very nice but formal. You will get very far if you start *every* conversation with “Bonjour Madame/Monsieur , s’il vous plaît . . . “
    Most of the time in Paris, people replied to me “would you prefer if I spoke English.” Not so often in the countryside. It’s good to learn a few general expressions in French. They really like it if you try and don’t just assume they will know English.
    Although one nearly always only wears half the clothes one packs, you don’t know which half it will be until the end of the trip. That’s a good idea to take neutrals, but the main thing is not to get hung up on wearing something different each day. No one cares except you, and you are seeing different people/places all the time. If you are in a group, don’t let their presence pressure you into thinking you need to have lots of changes. Scarves are good for making an outfit look different.

    • Deze

      That’s a very good (and true) tip Sky. “No one cares except you”.
      Thank you so much for the insight and for commenting!

      • Laurie

        3 suggestions:

        ATM anytime you need cash. The biggest bank in Paris is BNP Paribas.

        Instead of taking taxis/Uber from the airport, use the Airtrain metro plus city metro.

        I believe there are also weekly metro cards in addition to the 10 trip cards you mentioned in your other blog.

  • Janja

    I found it helpful to put all the clothes I plan to take with me on bed and see what goes well with what. And when I have everything in front of me it is a lot easier to decide what I do need and what I should just leave at home. I always take more tops than bottoms, especially in winter. Great post!

  • Anette

    Don’t ever exchange USD in Paris! Just use your debit card to withdraw cash from an ATM—you get a much better exchange rate. Use your credit card for most purchases.

  • Joana Baker

    Do not change $ into € before you travel. The banks will charge you an outrageous exchange fee. Do not change $ at money changers. They do the same. DO use ATMs. There are several in the airports anywhere in France. Use your debit card and know your PIN. Use a credit card for most purchases, but keep abput 100€ in cash for small purchases and drinks, taxis, etc

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