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  • Writer's pictureDonna Gerard

Italy, Here I Come!


Photo credit: Dan Novac on Unsplash



We’re leaving for Italy soon. This is the trip we were supposed to take in October 2020 after I retired. Then the world shut down. We’re finally (almost) on our way. I’m excited, yet overwhelmed.


Why am I overwhelmed? The preparations are killing me! Here are a few of my concerns:

  1. The luggage weight limit is 50 pounds. I bought a pair of rain boots because I read that autumn is the rainy season. Those boots were heavy and probably would have accounted for 10% of my allowance. I returned them for something very light and comfortable. Now I’m worried that they’re not waterproof enough. I’ll be bringing hiking boots, black sneakers, and white sneakers in addition to the new black boots. But I still have that weight limit. If I can go lighter, I will. It will be a heavy bag to handle, and I’m not getting any younger.

1 1/2. I just got a new worry. We’re staying with family for a week. What if they don’t want people wearing shoes in their house? I don’t like being without shoes. I’d better pack my slippers. Oh yeah, and flip-flops. There’s a pool in a couple of our hotels later in the trip.


2. I’ve been studying travel capsule wardrobes. A capsule wardrobe is a small collection of clothes that can be mixed and matched. It may consist of 2–3 pairs of pants, 2–3 pairs of shoes, maybe 5 shirts, a cardigan, and a jacket. The thought of relying on that small wardrobe for three weeks in variable weather in an unknown environment causes night terrors.


I have a twice-that-size capsule wardrobe assembled and waiting for me in a blue bin marked “Italy.” I think I’m good with pants, unless I eat too much and get bloated, or eat way too much and gain weight, or spill something, or get caught in a downpour, or…okay. I have six pairs of pants for three weeks, and we will definitely be able to do laundry after week one. I have plenty of cardigans. Which one (or two?) should I pack? I have tee shirts. I need more winter shirts. I’ve got to go out shopping. Now.


3. I’m back from shopping. As I was wandering through the store I thought of all the capsule wardrobes I saw on Pinterest in the past three months. Some of them are for young cuties who can throw on anything and look great. For me, that ship has sailed. But I also looked at capsules for older women. They tend to drift toward “timeless classic” pieces in neutrals like beige and black, loafers, nicer sneakers, blouses, and sweaters. These clothing arrangements are very classy-looking and appropriate for everywhere I will be going. Here’s the thing. I’m not a classy kind of person. I live in jeans and sweats (now called joggers!), and I’ll pick a sweatshirt over a sweater any day of the week. I wear sneakers or flat boots because that’s what my body requires. I just came home with a black and white vertically striped sweater, a black mock turtleneck, and a peasanty-type green top that will go with blue jeans, black pants, or even brown. I think I’m set.


4. Once I have all this stuff in my suitcase, how will I live with all this on the road? We will be touring for two weeks. Here’s my idea: I’m going to make three weeks' worth of outfits and take pictures of myself. I’ll pick an outfit for the next day and just pull out the pieces I need. I’ll organize my bag into separate sections for pants, tops, outerwear, and undergarments. I’ll keep the shoes around the rim and maybe stuff my socks inside. As I read back what I’ve just written, I think I sound like I have confidence in my system. Reader, don’t be fooled.


5. I’m afraid of theft and lost luggage. We will, of course, make copies of our passports and credit card numbers to stash nowhere near the passports or credit cards. We will split the cash in different places. We will utilize zippered pockets in our jackets, especially the inside pockets. I will not be carrying a purse.


Now here’s something I read last week that bears repeating because it’s brilliant. Everyone is afraid of their luggage getting lost in transit. Instead of packing our clothes in our own individual suitcases, we will be sharing both of them. If one bag gets misrouted, we will both have half of our stuff. How did I never think of this??

Needless to say, we will each be carrying a change of clothes and all our medications on the airplane.


6. Here’s another issue, and I know I’m giving my age away: we have already made sure we have all the prescription medications we need along with a supply of over-the-counter products. I’ve been having knee issues, and I scheduled a cortisone shot for the week before we leave. Then I am resting my knees for two days. I hope it works at least as well as other times. But I’m going on this trip with the expectation of doing everything I can do. With that said, I know I have health limitations and I’m not going to risk ruining the trip by pushing myself too much. I can honor my body just as well in Italy as I can at home. I don’t know how much of Lake Como I can hike around, but I can absolutely sit myself next to it and enjoy the beauty.


So here I am about to embark on the biggest trip of my life so far. I’m going to keep worrying, researching, shopping, and packing until I’m in that airport. From then on, I plan to enjoy the adventure.


But if anyone has any additional travel tips, I’ll gratefully read them!

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