The Ultimate Mediterranean Europe Packing Guide for Fall: What you NEED and What to SKIP
Packing for a Fall Vacation in Mediterranean Europe (Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania and Greece to name some of the most popular) can be a tricky scenario, especially if you're trying to pack in only a carry-on bag (highly recommended!). With airline prices skyrocketing for checked luggage, figuring out how to create a small capsule wardrobe for your trip will significantly reduce your travel expenses. With the weather still around the mid 20s°C (68° Fahrenheit) right now at its peak but going down to under 10°C (50° Fahrenheit) at night and in the morning this means packing smart! Fall is also one of the rainier times of the year for specific countries, so that means being prepared for inclement weather as well.
My capsule dressing advice here can be adapted to a multitude of different styles. What I've done is create a very neutral base palette, which will work for almost everyone's fashion sense. Most of the items I've included here are pieces everyone has in their closet already. This way you won't need to go out and buy a whole bunch of new things. There are already plenty of more subdued examples of fall dressing online. But I wanted to create a capsule with a significant amount of colour pops throughout, styled towards the autumnal season. I wanted to include some more alternative items but feel free to adapt these examples to your own style. If you don't like such bright colours, you can always use a similar hue in a different tone. Hopefully, you find something that works for you!
Check the Weather Before You Leave
Before we dive into the individual wardrobe times, here are some of my favourite general tips for packing for the Fall season. While this seems obvious, many people do a quick google months before they go and don't really delve into the details the day before. If you're expecting a colossal rainstorm, you might want to swap out a pair of cute ankle boots with a pair of sturdy rain booties. And despite the list below of average temperatures, you never know when there's gonna be a polar vortex or hurricane which can alter the weather drastically. Check the forecast a few days before leaving to ensure you've got all the right things packed away and won’t be too surprised by the daily forecast.
Average Fall Temperatures in Mediterranean Europe:September 26°c / 20°c with Average Precipitation 14mm
October 23°c / 17°c with Average Precipitation 53mm
November 18°c / 12°c with Average Precipitation 58mm
Try NOT to Look Like a Tourist
When you're travelling, you want to be comfortable, of course! But being comfy shouldn’t look like you just woke up and rolled out of bed. Travelling for most people is perhaps when they take the most photos and you want to be looking your best in them! We've all done it, threw on a pair of leggings and tunic just to avoid the idea of getting dressed when you’re jet lagged. But when you see those photos afterwards, you look back and really see how much you stand out as a tourist. Many Mediterranean cities in Europe have some of the chicest fashion sense and its nice to feel like you fit in. Looking like you stick out, also means you might not be such an easy target for pickpockets or other such kinds of theft.
Things NOT to wear:
- Baseball caps (just not a European thing)
- Athletic wear
- Dirty clothes
- High heels (yees they look cute but they're hard to walk in and aren't great for any old city with cobblestones)
- A cheap windbreaker (If you're expecting inclement weather bring a beautiful weatherproof coat which is still fashionable. Plastic windbreakers are a dead giveaway you're a tourist)
Don't Dress for Summer
If you're visiting from a colder climate, it's easy to want to throw on your summer clothes when it's 28 degrees in Barcelona but 8 degrees back home. While I get this inclination, it will make you look like a tourist right away. The minute the temp starts to drop, even a little, Barcelona's residents begin to put away their shorts and start to dress for fall. Fall is perhaps the chicest season, and you don't want to miss out on these stylish outfits.
Pre-Plan Your Outfit
Take pictures on your phone before you leave of your pre-planned outfits. Especially if you're tired or jetlagged, sometimes you don't have time to think about your ensemble. So just popping on your phone and looking at your pre-plan outfits is an easy way to get effortlessly dressed for the day. I find this trick works insanely well and it’s become one of my favourite tricks to look super well put together with basically no effort.
Know Your Rough Itinerary
To plan outfits appropriately it’s an excellent idea to have a rough itinerary of your trip. While you don't need to know hour by hour what you're up to its a good idea to see if you will be going hiking in which case you would have to bring a pair of hiking boots. Or if you’re planning on going to a really fancy dinner restaurant, you might want to ensure you have an exquisite dress packed. If you'll just be having home-cooked meals at the hostel you also want to make sure you don't overpack those dressy items which won't get used and take up much needed waste in your carry on.
Lean Towards Darker Colour Scheme
Choosing dark colours over light for the majority of your items sets you up for success. Darker tones are much more versatile. A LBD can quickly be dressed up compared to a white one with some cute boots and fun jewellery. Also, if you have a smaller capsule, you'll be re-wearing items multiples times. Darker colours will help mask any dirt you might pick up along the way and won’t need to be laundered as much.
Choose the Right Fabrics
During the fall, it's essential to wear the right materials. These are fabrics which are breathable but also warm. Wool, or any wool blend, is a great choice. Wool keeps the heat in when its cooler out but will also remain breathable, so you're not just sweating inside a sauna as it begins to warm up. Wrinkles are a dead giveaway that you're living out of a suitcase. Choosing fabrics like jersey are great to pack since they won't wrinkle. There are also lots of companies which make wrinkle-resistant fabrics which are a great choice.
Don't Bring your Most Expensive Jewellery
Wearing expensive clothing or jewellery anywhere in the world can make you a target for pickpockets. This is a sign to them that you might have money to steal so I always find that travelling isn't a time to bring those expensive pieces. Plus, when you're jetlagged, you also don't have the same kind of wits about you. I've found I've lost a few pair of earrings just with all the hustle and bustle of travelling and thankfully they were all super cheap!
Try to Keep your Hair Simple
If you can get away without bringing a hair straightener or blow dryer with you, you'll save a ton of space in your luggage. For someone people, this might mean keeping their hair up while travelling for ease so I would make this a fun dressing exercise instead of a downer. I have fallen in love with these simple headbands for the fall, which can really dress up any outfit. Velvet scrunchies or ribbons will also make a simple up-do a little fancier, and these take up almost no room in your suitcase.
The coat you choose to bring might be one of the most important decisions you make. I have three options for you here, but depending on the weather you can pick out just two.
Faux Leather Moto Jacket: A sleek, faux leather black jacket is one of the most elegant items for your wardrobe. They look so dressy when paired with dark jeans or a dress but can look super street style when added on top of a more casual outfit.
Jean Jacket: A jean jacket is my ultimate travel must-have. They are so comfortable and yet also are such workhorses for any weather. They are adaptable and look as casual as they do chic.
Packable Puffer Jacket: This coat is SUPER lightweight and was honestly one of the best purchases I've ever made. It comes in a wide variety of colours and can be compressed into such a tiny, ball. It's the BEST for putting on in the morning and then stashing away in your bag when it warms up. I cannot express how lightweight it feels, but how much warmth it manages to keep in! SCIENCE! If you're expecting torrential rain, this might not be the best but with am umbrella it should be suitable for most rainy days as it’s rain-resistant (not proof).
Long Sleeve Dress: This yellow lace dress is a statement piece. Colourful dresses are great to bring since they are perfect for those more upscale evenings. This looser fit style is comfy enough to wear all day without feeling constricted. Since it's still all one colour, it can easily be dressed up or down and pairs well with many different items in the capsule.
Jersey Dress: Jersey dresses, especially those with pockets, are the perfect travel item. Light, wrinkle-free and easily layerable. I picked one with long sleeves for the fall since it means on slightly less chilly days you can wear it out without a coat.
Cashmere Sweater: A cashmere sweater is one of those investment pieces which is ideal for travelling. It's lightweight and breathable. And while it looks super lux, it feels so cosy and comfortable. The best of both worlds.
Deep V-Neck: A lightweight, deep v-neck is a simple but stylish look to throw on in the morning. There is just something about a v-neck which makes your entire outfit look smart. Pair that with a thin gold pendant, and you're ready to hear out the door. This one is made from jersey which is super easy for travelling as it doesn't take up much room but is still full sleeves and won't wrinkle.
Striped Shirt: A striped top feels like the perfect piece for your travel wardrobe no matter what the season but in fall I think it just pops! I love this one from ModCloth with a tiny fox in the top right which adds just a bit of fun to the simple, striped shirt!
Cardigan: Cardigans are a great thing to pack with you since they can easily be layered on top of a shirt or dress and then removed if it gets too hot. Or if it's extra cold, you can always add a jacket on top. This luxurious, wool cardigan, in a bright burgundy, is an excellent addition to the fall hues in the mix.
Camisole: A simple camisole is great for layering. This one has a bit of lace added in there which just makes it that much more spiffy! It just looks a bit more thought out than a plain version. These come in all different colours so you can choose the best one for your wardrobe.
Typographic Tee: I adore a typographic shirt for travelling. When the words on the shirt seem to embody something about your travels, it just feels like the perfect thing to wear for some killer photos. These are the little things which can make a big difference in how you feel about your travel wardrobe. Don't wake up and feel like you don't like anything you brought. Wake up and be excited to wear what you did bring!
Blouse: This mustard coloured blouse takes up practically no room in your suitcases. I love how bright it is, definitely a statement piece for photos! The little touch of a half turtle neck and flared cap sleeves is one of those details that makes a big difference.
High-Waisted Skinny Jeans: Dark wash jeans, in a skinny, high waisted style are another great piece as they seem to go with everything. Jeans are one of those items which can withstands weeks without washing and still maintain that fresh look! This is why all my bottoms I picked are made of denim.
Denim Skirt: A denim skirt is just one of those items which I feel like belongs to Autumn like nothing else. I picked a light wash denim for this item to provide a spectrum of tones for the bottoms.
Grey or Black Jeans: Dark wash denim or black jeans look super chic, and almost everyone already as one pair in their closet. If you have a pair which is dark enough they can sometimes even look like blank slacks but without the need for ironing.
Flats: Pack yourself a pair of sophisticated flats. Easy to pack, lightweight and super cute. Leopard adds a bit of interest and texture to your shoes making it look a bit more upscale. I went for a pair with the tiniest hint of a heel so they remain extremely comfortable but they also provide that elegant look you want if you’re wearing them out to a fancy dinner.
Ankle Boots: These are the most versatile shoes for fall. They can look so sophistocated when paired with a dress but with bootcut jeans, they are super casual. Stick to ones with no big heel and the right insole for the most comfort when walking all day.
The Modern Sneaker: Sneakers are often thought of to be leisurewear wear but these days there are so many styles available which look extremely dapper. Stick to a low profile sneaker, they look more dressy and less casual. They can be worn with skirts and dresses easily. Choose a sneaker with one or two colours. For me, I to find something bright and colourful. But I also love these simple white keds as they go with EVERYTHING and (when they're clean) they look so modern.
Infinity Scarf: An infinity scarf is an essential piece for fall and winter in Europe. You can wrap these around your neck but also sometimes around your arms in case you're caught in the rain or the temperatures drop suddenly. It’s almost like a mini blanket!
Wool Hat: Even in the Fall, the sun is still out, and these wool hats are almost all you need to wear to suddenly turn an outfit from ordinary to super-stylish! Anyone who thinks they don’t look good in hats needs to try this one out because I truly feel like it suits everyone!
The Modern Back pack: Backpacks get a bad reputation as being something which makes you look like a tourist. But over the past year, I’ve seen more and more people wearing backpacks are high fashion. Chanel, Gucci and Dior have all come out with their own line of backpacks since people have finally realized they are so comfortable and easy to use but can also look amazingly chic! This piece here from Modcloth is perfect for travelling since it’s extra secure. Not only does it have two belt loops to open and close it, but it also has some additional inside zippers to put your extra secure items. I think people go a little overboard when it comes to security and most of those theft-proof bags are super ugly. This one works great and is just fiddly enough to keep out thieves but also be usable.
Sunglasses: There is still plenty of sun and sunglasses are a fun accessory to bring that really brings out your personality. Choose which ever one is your favourite from your closet!
An umbrella (optional): If you can see a ton of rain in the forecast and you have a sturdy and yet compact one at home bring it along. If the forecast is pretty sketchy, I would leave this out. You can always buy one on the street, there are plenty of street vendors selling them during the storms. Or just jump into a department store where you can generally find them for sale pretty cheap.
One of the hottest trends this year is fashionable sleepwear which can be transitioned into daywear. One of the most popular companies doing this is Sleeper who creates some aw-worthy nightdresses and pyjamas which look like high fashion womenswear. Having an outfit like this means you don't need to pack pyjamas since you can wear just what you went to bed in out to dinner the next night. While Sleeper might be a bit lux for some people Target and even Zara have also begun to come out with similar styles of night-into-day sleepwear. But the Atlanta Sleeper dress with the long sleeves is PERFECT for fall dressing.
Additional Packing Items:
- 2 bras
- one pair of underwear per day
- one pair of socks per day
- one pair of tights (great to layer if it's extra chilly)
- Toiletry Bag
- External battery charger
- notebook and pen (I always keep travel notes, great way to reflect on your day)
- a book to read
- additional electorincs (kobo or other edreader, chargers etc.)
Below of some outfit ideas I put together so you can get a taste of just how many looks you can put together from such a small capsule!
To download the checklist of all the items described in this post click here!
Let me know what you’re favourite travel item for Fall is and how you style your wardrobe when travelling throughout the seasons!