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 totally wasted space on.
I’m sharing those travel packing hacks and tidbits right below:
Things that I DIDN’T pack that I should have:
1. External Phone Battery / 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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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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All very helpful tips! The hand warmers are really a great suggestion; it can get so cold during the winters!!
The Wayfaring Redhead says
Exchanging money ahead of time is something I always do so I don’t have to worry when I land about having local currency. Also a great tip to learn a little of the language.
Chanel Alaire says
Excellent tips! Thank you for sharing. I will be thinking twice before bringing my hat with me.
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!
Helpful tips! I’m going to France in June and I will definitely carry an external phone charger, because pics are important!
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!
I never thought about bringing hand warmers, but thinking back to my last visit to Paris, they would have been perfect!!
I brought probiotics. Very useful when you are eating things outside of your normal diet, and usual eating times.
Excellent advice! Thanks Maria!
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 …
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.
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.
That’s a very good (and true) tip Sky. “No one cares except you”.
Thank you so much for the insight and for commenting!
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.
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!
Use your Apple Watch for paying, maps..esp. metro. The French word for ticket, is Carnet. Put your hotel name and address in your phone to show to confused taxi drivers. A pharmacy..for sickness advice. They are extremely helpful, like talking to a doc assistant! They will translate o.t.c. Drugs into French, like Ibuprofen and Tylenol. My advice is to avoid ice in drinks! Drink wine for heaven sake. Hostels are great money savers and you meet nice fellow travelers. Always, always greet folks..Bon jour, etc. the French are not social talkers, so leave “how are you today?”, back home! Instead of feigning interest in Mona Lisa, check out Gericault’s, Raft Of The Medusa” and Michelangelo’ s “The Slave” at the Louvre. Marvel instead at “The Venus de Milo. Take a selfie with the “Nike Of Samothrace. Make memories in Paris, and enjoy!
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 says
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
Make sure you inform your bank that you are going to be in Paris. I failed to do this and could not use ATMs. My clever spouse did so and we always had cash.
Angela Murphy says
We visit Paris often and have found that credit cards are much preferred over euros. I think it has been a covid precaution that probably will not change. If cash is your preference, don’t purchase in the US or at the airport. Do the exchange in the city and compare rates.
Arriving with a few euro to get you started is nice, but when you’re there always go to a bank ATM and use your debt card to get cash. Even better is to go to the bank when they are open if possible in case your card gets eaten by the machine. Money changing places are a rip off. This applies to everywhere in Europe, not just Paris.
Carol wood says
I did not find this to be true with exception of phone chargers/adapters. I was there in Feb & it was 55 degrees. most important thing to remember is French love when you you at least attempt to say key phrases in their language . Bon jour daily in every encounter is a must along with merci. Pack a smile & enjoy paradise!
You are so correct in all categories. Clothes can be reworn over and over. Most people don’t even notice plus just mix it up. If there for more than a week they do have washers and dryers. Europe is NOT a third world country. Always take stuff that is wrinkle free and easy to fold and you can layer. Same for travel in USA.
If traveling around only take a book bag and small carry on. Less luggage is good on your travel. You can also leave at your next stop while exploring. They have places to store
Always meet locals, learn the culture, enjoy new foods and enjoy the scenery
We were in Italy first, then Paris. I brought all you mentioned except hand warmers. Great idea, even tho we weren’t there during cold weather. Will add those to my list.
I wish I had brought Epsom salt for soaking our weary feet.
Or source some local epsom salt and enjoy that experience! 🙂
Pack familiar medications: pain relievers- decongestants- bug spray or lotion etc. I was attacked by mosquitos, tasty me, and trying to encipher French,Italian, and Spanish about did me in.First woke up with itchies in middle of night, then trying to find a pharmacy, finally getting to a market that had things with enough items and some person’s knowledgeable in English after another 10 hours of misery we found what was necessary for reliefI I managed to sit quietly on a bench and recover. Take whatever you need with you!!!