stack of four red suitcases

How to Pack Smartly for Your Italian Vacation

We know that arranging for a vacation across the ocean can be daunting, and that’s why we offer easily accessed assistance to help you with your plans. But once you get to the week before your vacation, and the ominous task of preparing your suitcase looms ever closer, you begin to panic, and the thought of hiring a personal assistant for the day – just to take care of the luggage – crosses your mind. Don’t dial that number quite yet, however, because we have some suggestions to get you off on the right start and efficiently pack for your upcoming trip.

stack of four red suitcases

Packing your suitcase doesn’t have to be so terrifying!

First thing’s first. Grab your pen (or if you’re like me, your pencil) and a piece of paper and the all-important packing list, an undertaking that with our method is quick and easy. The key? Categorize and prioritize! Begin by making four columns: essentials, toiletries, clothing, and other. Then start listing what you’d want to bring in each (get ideas below). Use this to prioritize and that frightening empty suitcase will not only look friendlier, but also fill up with just what you need!

The Essentials

List first that which you cannot travel without: your passport/identification and copies of both, boarding passes, museum and tour tickets, reservation confirmations, wallet, cash/credit/ATM cards, medical/travel insurance, emergency contact information, and list of medications. Then, write other non-negotiable objects that you also have to make an appearance: your camera, one general guidebook, cell phone, voltage adapters, and memory cards. Lastly list that which you could probably live without or buy for cheap in Italy: umbrella, other specific guidebooks, city maps, or travel journal. Put them in your suitcase in that order.


Tube of crest toothpaste with toothpaste coming out

Can’t part with your own toothpaste? Leave the large tube at home and go for travel-sized.

Write down that which you don’t think you can get (or will not like the brand) in Italy: contact lenses, saline solution, makeup/remover, brush/comb, deodorant, shaving products, and medications. (As you will probably not use all pills in the family-sized medicine bottle, leave the containers and take a few of each of the following in a plastic bag: bandages, pain relievers, stomach/digestive medicine, and antihistamines for those affected by the change in weather.) Italy is a fully functioning country, and you will be able to buy most other toiletries there. If you are not keen on that idea don’t even try packing large containers unless you are traveling in a large group that is all going to share the same shampoo. Save the space and buy travel size: shampoo/conditioner, moisturizer, soap, hair styling products, sunscreen, and shaving supplies.


woman's feet with loafers

Choose lightweight, comfortable shoes that will still allow you to travel in style.

Let one phrase be your starting point: vestirsi a cipolla, “dress like an onion.” The weather may and will change between cities as well as day and night. With this in mind, make your list: pants or dresses (pick neutral pants, such as jeans, that can be re-worn, and bring a nice pair for dinners out), shirts (some under, some over – always ones you can layer), underwear, sleepwear, socks, and two pairs of shoes (one for traveling and touring, and one to match those nice pants). Limit yourself only one jacket and one set of hat/gloves/scarf if it is wintertime, and try to remember that a changing jewelry daily with a matching shawl is not necessary, nor is a belt for every pair of pants. However, be prepared for the fact that in the summertime, knees and shoulders must be covered to enter churches, and that Italians feel that to fare la bella figura, or to make a good impression, is very important, so opting for nicer dress is usually the best choice.

More Items

What else might you want? These should generally be second priority, after all the necessities of the above are snug and ready to go in your luggage. These include items such as chewing gum, computer/iPad/videos/MP3 players, reading materials, eye mask, earplugs, and the like.

What packing tips do you have for your fellow travelers?

About the Author: Martina

An Italian American who is proud of my heritage, I love all things Italy and can't get enough of learning about and sharing the food, culture, history and people - especially the food and wine! I have lived and researched in multiple Italian cities and traveled up and down the Boot, but my heart belongs to Rome and I am fairly certain that I was meant to have been born Roman. At Select Italy I work as the Food and Wine Specialist. Follow me on Twitter @MartiZuc

8 thoughts on “How to Pack Smartly for Your Italian Vacation

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