2017-Spain+ (Dublin-Madrid-Barcelona-Valencia) · Travel

Spain: What I Packed/What I Wore

Especially with timing & the connections we wanted to make early in the trip — Dublin, Madrid, Barcelona — the goal was to pack for a week abroad in ONE CARRY-ON SUITCASE + ONE PERSONAL ITEM (allowances of the airline). A new personal best!!


I used a hard-sided suitcase that fit the measurement requirements (21.5 x 15.5 x 9.5 inches) and a large imitation leather tote. The tote had both hand/shoulder straps and a cross-body strap — I need options with a bag like that! It had one large zip pocket on one side, which was perfect for my wallet, and two smaller zip pockets on the other side, one of which worked well for my glasses case, and the other… keys & things that I needed to have with me but wouldn't be using while away.

Knowing that I wouldn't be able to carry that large tote everywhere/everyday, I packed my new Baggallini Medium Avenue Tote inside the suitcase. It folded nice & flat and took up practically no space at all. The only downside to this (and mostly because of our nuts-o itinerary) was that I kept having to switching stuff between bags, which wasn't difficult, just a lot of back & forth sometimes.

I had also ordered a Baggallini Everywhere Bagg, but ended up returning it; even though I really loved the idea of the zipper that allows the bag to be slipped over the handle of a suitcase, I did not love the bag itself. I do, however, LOVE the Medium Avenue Tote and have since ordered the larger version (which has that luggage zipper thing) and think the two will make a great travel combo in the future. I've actually been using the Medium Avenue Tote as my regular purse since we returned.

Inside the carry-on tote:

  • A couple of small knitting projects (never used)
  • A tablet & headset (never used)
  • Cell phone, earbuds, charger
  • Wallet
  • Sunglasses
  • Travel dossier
  • Liquids
  • Ibuprofen, kleenex, hairbands
  • Shawl

Travel duds:


I knew comfort & layers would be important. The shirt is one of my favorites, a lightweight, long (& longer in the back) knit top that I've had for a year or so. Scratchy tags drive me nuts, so I have no idea who made it. The pants are a heavy-weight knit from J. Jill that I've also had for a while; they are longer than they look — about ankle length — they hold up well and keep their shape. The long sweater is also from J. Jill, purchased earlier this year when we went to Florida; it is a lightweight knit with pockets and a hood. I don't usually like hoods, but this is so lightweight that it's barely there — and, it came in handy to pull that extra fabric up around my neck (airplanes can be cold!) (I used the shawl, too!).



The other "bottoms" in my suitcase were a pair of J. Jill medium-weight knit capris, a pair of Eileen Fisher knit capris, and an Eileen Fisher skirt. I have quite a few pairs of the J. Jill capris and consider them my go-to at home/work in the summertime. They were a little heavy for the weather we experienced, as they don't really breathe very well. The Eileen Fisher pieces were definitely purchased on sale, and have been in my closet for at least a year or two. I never actually wore those EF capris out of the house before, but I loved them on this trip and wore them most; they were the lightest weight of all (though not "lightweight") — and it was HOT in Spain!! The EF skirt is made of the same material as the capris, and has a little shape to it at the bottom; I wore it once, with my new Alabama Chanin tunic.

What is definitely on my wish list for my next warm-weather trip are some lightweight "hiking" pants/capris!

A note here about PACKING CUBES!

Maddy raved about packing cubes last summer, as she was perfecting her "packing for 9 months in a backpack" technique, and I immediately ordered an Amazon Basics 4-Piece Set for myself. I've used them a few times now and pack socks & unders in the small one; layer & roll up 2-3 items at a time — tops/sweaters & pants/skirts/dresses — in the medium sizes; and have not actually used the largest one yet (it is pretty big). Rolling instead of folding allows SO much more to be packed and, I think, reduces wrinkles by quite a lot. The packing cubes keep like items together and a bit more organized. I even used them for our quick weekend at the Flowage; stuff doesn't end up in a jumble!

Dress up:


I brought one dress. This was a fairly recent purchase from J. Jill, and it added some color to my otherwise (you may have noticed) very black wardrobe! I wore this dress once, on Saturday/Beach Day with (at times) the long hooded sweater; I love this dress. I brought a couple pairs of "slip shorts" along, my favorite being this pair by Maidenform (not really "shapewear" at all), as I find it makes wearing a dress/skirt much more comfortable — especially in the heat.

Tops I wore:





Top to bottom:

  • Eileen Fisher Knit Boatneck
  • J. Jill Tencil Top
  • J. Jill Short Sleeve (worn with a black knit cami, not shown)
  • Target/Merona Knit V-Neck (still black/neutral, but pattern!)
  • Alabama Chanin A-line Magdalena Tunic
  • J. Jill Cotton 3/4-sleeve Mesh-knit Sweater

Except for the sweater, which I wore a few times, and the AC tunic, which I wore twice, I think I wore each of these once. I'm glad I brought a mix of sleeveless & short sleeves and different necklines, as there was a lot of time in the sun and it was nice to be able to cover up a bit.

Tops I brought but didn't wear:


Top to bottom:

  • J. Jill Linen Tunic
  • Alabama Chanin-esque Polka-dot Boatneck
  • Old Navy V-Neck

I really wanted to wear that tunic, and even put it on one morning, but I already had a sunburn and it was too rough against my skin! I love the other two tops, but realize that I prefer to wear them with more structured (woven) pants or jeans, which I did not have. I'd also packed a white knit cami… but why? White with all this black? Needless to say, I never wore that either.


I wore my tennies while traveling, as they were the bulkiest; I also brought along two three pairs of sandals. Footwear is tough, especially since I have a tendency to swell when flying. We walked so much, and I definitely wore the tennies most; I wasn't able to wear one pair of sandals due to swelling, was happy to have the other two to switch between.


I stripped my toiletries case to the bare minimum for travel, and so it remains! It "helped" to have a separate bag for the liquids & pastes, and the rest of it fit into a regular size makeup bag.

In addition to everything else, don't forget that I had a box of graham crackers and a box of cheez-its in my suitcase! That actually left a nice space, when we returned, to pack the few items I bought.


I have a few of these Brazilian Canga towels — they are very lightweight and fold/wad up nicely. I brought this one along and it came in very handy at the beach, both for sitting upon and as a sun block.

Ann & Brian had a washer at their apartment and the girls & I did a collective load of laundry there. That wasn't absolutely necessary, but it was nice. As mentioned, it was HOT, and it was nice to freshen things up a bit!

I briefly considered bringing my big camera, but ended up leaving it at home… and I'm so glad I did. While there were some pretty amazing photo ops, it's just too big and heavy to lug around on a trip like this. Thankfully, my phone does a decent job (Samsung Galaxy S7).

That's it, I think! I hope that helps those of you who are interested and have baggage-limited trips of your own coming up! I'm happy to elaborate or clarify or answer any questions you might have.

Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit.
–Frank Borman

11 thoughts on “Spain: What I Packed/What I Wore

  1. I know who to consult if I ever travel very far from home! The number of items you fit into the carry-on is a testament to your good packing skills. If not told, one would never know all the pictures were taken with your phone. As fast as you were moving your big camera would have been a huge drain.

  2. I love it! Traveling light is always my goal, but you know, comfortably. There’s usually one thing I don’t wear on the trip, but I seldom wish I had brought more.
    Just one little thing you skipped over… what shawl did you take? I mean, knitting blog?!

  3. You are a packing pro and I will definitely use some of your tips the next time I travel! It’s taken me almost 4 years of trips to visit Ryan in CO to pare down my carry on and backpack/purse to contain only the items I actually wear and use (and that’s “easy packing” because I have access to a washing machine and The Loopy Ewe for knitting emergencies!) I think I might need to take a look at J.Jill; thanks for sharing your expertise!

  4. Oh, thank you, thank you! I have much of my clothes from the same retailers (or are Me-Made) so I totally related. I will have to keep you posted on my success – and look for those packing cubes! Enjoy Auntie Camp coming up!

  5. Thank you for sharing all of this – you did an excellent job packing and I’m going to order some of those cubes! (also, love that there’s a Goulet pen’s ad at the bottom of the post … I’m tempted to order pen #4 🙂

  6. Your packing skills are admirable. I bought a Baggallini small purse just this year and am thinking about those travel totes.
    Your Alabama Chanin clothes — they look so good!
    I also buy and do wear J.Jill items, they seem to fit just right, wear well, and wash well. I have to admit I do shorten/hem some of the tops.

  7. You did a great job of packing and organizing! I’m impressed that all of those items fit in your suitcase! My issue with just a carry on isn’t so much clothing for a week it’s the hair products I don’t want to do without and they aren’t allowed in a carry on.

  8. I have a hard time imagining all those clothes in your suitcase! Apparently packing cubes are magical 😉 A monochrome wardrobe is genius for traveling; everything goes with everything else. Great job!

  9. This is great! I want to look for those packing cubes now. I used to buy a ton of stuff from J Jill, but I haven’t in years – will have to give them another look. The biggest thing I’ve learned over the years is paring down the cosmetics.

  10. Packing cubes! Wow, that is a great idea! And, you certainly made the most out of a few great pieces! I am not sure I could do the same!

  11. Thanks for all the ideas- I’ve been thinking of getting cubes but wasn’t sure if it would help- I take 1 month trips north twice a year and think this will work well for me.

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