Here’s a few tips for what to pack for a spring city break. Typically, it’s going to be warm-ish in the day and bloody cold at night and RyanAir somehow expect you to cope with this MADNESS within 15kg. I don’t normally do packing guides but I was just pondering what a faff packing is in changeable spring weather.
You know that thing when it’s the week before you go away and you empty the entire contents of your wardrobe all over your bed yet still you have NOTHING to wear? So you end up chucking all sorts of mismatched crap into your suitcase? And then you get to where you’re going and nothing is right?
That’s something you don’t need to do. I promise. Sort of. To be honest, I still find packing hard in spring (or autumn, TBH). But we always tend to do a city break in April/May so I’ve learned some things over the years. If this helps anyone with packing, I’ll feel I’ve done some kind of heroic good deed for the world.
Right. Here are my tips…
1. Have some staple light jackets/coats at the ready
By this, I mean trench coats, leather jackets, denim jackets and waterproof macs (more on the latter in #2). Obviously you might not need not all of them in one trip, but if you roll them up and shove them in following some kind of expert packing guide to maximise space in your suitcase, you’re sorted.
Spring isn’t usually no-jacket weather, so you’re going to see a lot of your coat/jacket. And very little of what you have under it. So why not just stay in your pyjamas underneath? No but really, the jacket is going to be up in your grill every day and you don’t want to get sick of it or find that it’s too warm/cold/uncomfortable. So choose it wisely. Make sure it fits right and goes with everything you’re taking.
A good basic trench coat is perfect. A denim jacket is also really handy. And you can’t go wrong with a trusty faux-leather jacket – they’re good for going for drinks in the evening too, if a denim one feels a bit daytime-y.
Top tip: If you’re off to Scandinavia, you’ll look like an alien if you don’t wear a leather-look jacket. People emerge from the womb in them there.
2. Make sure one of those jackets/coats is a waterproof
It’s spring. Drip drip drop little April showers and all that.
As much as you don’t want it to, you know that it’ll rain if you don’t shove a waterproof jacket in. They weigh barely anything so you may as well take one and then if it doesn’t rain, it’s not like it’s been a waste of luggage allowance. Lots of them roll up so you can lug them around in your bag all day too if you’re out and about with a chance of precipitation.
I wore a denim jacket non-stop in Malta in April and layered a yellow waterproof jacket over it when it rained, which was most of the days to be honest. That worked out quite well temperature-wise and the style of the waterproof was acceptable enough for me not to feel like someone about to go and hike up a mountain at any second.
Note: if anyone not from the UK is reading this and planning a city break here, invest in a waterproof. You’re going to need it.
3. Find shoes that you can walk all day in, like ankle boots, brogues or Converse-style things
If it’s a chilly or wet spring day, it’s all about the ankle boots for me. A Chelsea boot will go with most things. They’re comfortable and will look after your trotters. You can often find them with a really sturdy heel that will absorb all that pounding of cobbled city streets you’re going to do. Hopefully without blisters.
On warmer spring days, I go for brogues. They’re a total game changer because they look good with skirts and dresses as well as jeans/trousers. And they don’t weigh much, so you can stick a few pairs in. Because they lace up, they’re a much more comfortable alternative to slip-on flats and will support your feet all day. Depending on the warmth levels, you can opt for normal ones or those suedette-type ones that have little holes all over.
In any weather, Converse are my friend. They don’t have to be the real deal but you know the kind of shoe I mean – canvas things. The only thing is, they look terrible on me with a skirt/dress (see Lily Allen circa 2006) so I only use them for jeans/trouser outfits, which can be a bit limiting.
4. Layers are your friend: cardigans, camisoles and tops under dresses
No matter what the weather, layers are here to save us.
On a cool wet spring day, you could be freezing your arse off outside and then you go into a cafe or museum and have a total meltdown when the heating hits you. This is like being in a changing room in H&M and is scientifically proven to be the closest most people come to murdering everyone around them. Off come the layers and everyone is happy again.
The same goes for a warm spring day. You’re happily swanning about in a blouse in the day and then dying from the Arctic chill when the sun goes down. No number of cocktails can stop you turning into a walking goosebump. Whipping out another layer sneakily rolled up in your bag at 5pm will be an emotional experience, leaving you smugly basking in its warmth.
But the main thing I’ve learned about layering is the joy of the stretchy vest top (for US readers, I know you call a waistcoat a vest: this is something else, sorry). It just gives you a surprising extra layer of warmth without being noticeable under your outfit.
Also, I’d recommend investing in a pinafore dress. You can mix and match different thinner or thicker tops/jumpers under it and wear it a few times in one week. Voila, several nice outfits for the luggage weight of one, and the layering options mean you can make it work with varying spring temperatures. You could even add a vest under it AS WELL. Imagine! I think I need to sit down.
5. Get a large cross-body bag that fastens properly (to carry your extra layers in)
As mentioned above, you’re going to need a bag to smugly carry around that rolled-up cardigan you’ll be unveiling for the evening. And unless you’re off to somewhere exceptionally safe (shout out to Japan and Scandinavia), it’s probably best to have a bag that properly does up with a secure buckle or zip. Even the safest places have the odd pickpocket.
Little backpacks are really popular, especially those lovely Fjallraven Kanken jobs everyone has at the moment. But I’ve never felt safe with one. If you’re on a crowded bus, you’re never going to see or feel someone behind you getting in it.
A satchel with a long strap is great so you can wear it over your shoulder or across your body if you’re in a crowded area. Much easier to keep an eye on.
Also, if you have a big heavy camera like me, make sure the bag is actually big enough for it as well as all your other rubbish. Otherwise, you end up with it round your neck all the time looking like a tourist.
6. If in doubt, jeans jeans jeans
Blue jeans, black jeans, grey jeans, ripped jeans, skinny jeans, colourful jeans. Jeans.
I never used to wear jeans and lived in dresses, but since discovering Topshop’s high-waisted Jamie jeans, I’m finally comfy in them.
They may be predictable but they’re a bloody life saver. They go with all the t-shirts and scarves and cardigans and jackets and sunglasses and god knows what else you’ll end up having to pack in spring.
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