packing for ireland

Packing Essentials for a Week in Ireland

My husband Chris and I just returned from a dream of a visit to Ireland. Our first week long trip sans kids since our honeymoon 13 years ago, and our first time leaving the country in ages, this voyage was for us a very big deal. After years of heavy work schedules, babies, parenting, saving, to just unplug and take off for a week overseas was like a transfusion of peace.

I cannot wait to share the wonderful places we visited, from historic sites to off-the-beaten-path discoveries, and of course restaurants and hotels.

But first, I thought I would share what I packed. I spent more time than usual planning and paring down, and it paid off.

This packing list falls squarely between backpacker minimalism and fancy lady finery. It contains a week’s worth of interchangeable, practical pieces that all fit in a carry-on spinner. These items worked well for our travel mode of walking for hours and miles each day. We also knew we would be walking enough each day to skip the gym and so left workout gear at home. We are not extreme hikers nor had we planned any outdoor adventures with special gear required. We were not concerned with eating in restaurants where jacket-required attire were necessary, so no suits or dresses were packed. The items we wore were simple and easy.

Bags

American Tourister Ilite Xtreme Spinner 21 – Carry On Luggage  $69 – According to George Clooney’s character in Up in the Air, checking luggage adds an average of 35 minutes to your travel time. And it can always get lost, which when you are at the beginning of your trip to a foreign country would royally blow. This magical little carry-on holds everything for a week or more.

Flybag TSA Compliant Clear Cosmetic Case with Refillables $16 – Hotel shampoo ruins hair color! Bring squirts of your color-safe shampoo and other products from home in a clear case that will keep you out of the secondary bag check area.

Cole Haan Coated Canvas Tote $85 – This waterproof shoulder bag is perfect for holding your personal items in-flight. I like that it is not leather so I do not worry about it getting scratched or worn when shoved under the seat in front for me or up in the bin. It can accommodate a laptop, but for a couples-only trip leaving the MacBook at home is the law! This bag is also great for using on days on your trip that you plan on doing shopping. A large Longchamp tote would also be great.

Marc by Marc Jacobs Classic Q Hillier Hobo $278 – This roomy handbag was a gift and always makes me happy. It is also very practical for travel. It can hold my camera as well as my wallet, phone, guide book, umbrella and other essentials. Its straps allow for wearing cross-body style or over the shoulder and has a secure closure at the top for security when in crowds.

Jackets

Via Spiga Women’s Single-Breasted Belted Trench Coat with Hood $120 – A waterproof top layer is important for climates with daily drizzles. I love that this one has a removable hood.

Calvin Klein Women’s Faux Leather Bomber $160 – This bomber is similar to the VINCE jacket I received as an extravagant birthday gift. On its own the leather jacket made for a smart topper when going out to dinner, and on cold days I wore it beneath my trench and together they created a lined parka.

Jeans

Levi’s 524 Straight Leg Jeans $30 – I took about 20 pairs of jeans into the dressing room this spring in search of the perfect straight leg, not skinny jean but not boot cut and not mom butt, vintage-look blue jean. These fit like the straight leg 501’s I used to love in college, but have a slightly more modern rise (but still have a bit of a nod to the ’90s.) After seasons of denim skin tight against our knees and ankles, these were a dream to wear. I found these in the juniors section but I wore the same size I would wear in premium denim like J. Brand.

Joe’s Jeans Black Skinny $50 – Amazon has these perfect skinny black jeans for way less than I paid! These looked casual when trekking around the Irish countryside and then chic when out to dinner. All the Irish women were still wearing tight denim, nary a boyfriend jean in sight, so these helped me fit in when out at night.

Tops

Three Dot Boatneck Tee $30 – So flattering and last forever. I brought four in different neutral colors.

Equipment Brett Silk Blouse $208 – A luxe silk blouse was great for dressing up in the evenings.

James Perse White Tee $65 – That price is high.  I find these at my local TJ Maxx in the $19 range. They fit and travel so well. This looked perfect beneath my leather jacket for evening. 

Travel tip: Unless stained beyond bathroom sink scrubbing, I totally rewear those tops that look fine after a day’s wear. But I always save a completely clean one for the flight home. I find that tailwind-less flight more bearable in a completely fresh top. 

Skirts 

7 for All Mankind Button-Up Denim Skirt $110 – I bought the 2005 version of this knee-length skirt and it looks great 10 years later. It is as comfy as denim shorts but looks more polished. Tip I learned from a stylist ages ago: A zipper-fly skirt visually adds bulk to your belly, but a button-fly front slims.

Three Dot A-Line Knit Skirt $38 – As airy and comfy as your favorite PJs but looks super sweet.

Shoes

Someday I will buy traditional, practical “walking shoes” for travel. Today is not that day.

Vans Women’s Classic Slip-On Sneakers, Black Perforated Leather $58 – In addition to being very on-trend, these are more supportive than Chuck’s, waterproof and give you the ease of sneakers without looking too touristy.

Black Suede Booties $20 – These look similar to the Rockport booties I have (but could not find on their site or elsewhere) that are easy on the feet and miraculously work with both pants and bare legs+skirts without making me look too fashion victim.

Aerosoles Gladiator Thong Sandals $40 – Confession: Aerosoles sandals that are flat with a padded footbed, have a between-the-toe-thong and ankle straps are the most comfortable sandals I have ever found. I can walk in them all day! There are various colors and designs and I believe that once on your feet, covering the offending old-lady logo, they look great. Some women have multiple Louboutins, I am a dork with multiple Aerosoles sandals.

Accessories

Leather Passport Holder $22 – My former passport looked like it had been dropped in a youth hostel toilet. Oh wait, it had. This one I want to keep slightly nicer. It has room for cash and cards, so it doubles as a travel wallet.

Chevron Infinity Scarf $2.50 – That price is not a typo! And it is such a great scarf, comes in every color!

Alex and Ani Clover and Celtic Knot Bangles ($28-38) – I know. I am a nerd. But wearing these in Ireland with my other Alex and Ani bracelets — given to me by my dear friends Amy, Stacey and Sandie — made me so happy.

Fossil Women’s Classic Jean Belt $40 – As your jeans stretch after several days of wear, you are going to want to have a belt in your bag to say no to crack.

Batiste Dry Shampoo, Travel Size $5 and Not Your Mother’s Whip It Up Styling Foam, Travel Size $2 – After having my big cans confiscated too many times by TSA, I now remember minis for travel.

Travel umbrella $15 – If you bring it, you won’t need it. 

Tech 

Nikon 3300 DSLR $496 – I debated whether to bring my “big camera” (it’s actually pretty compact, as proper cameras go) and am so glad I brought it. I love the clarity of the pictures and how easy it is to capture the beauty of surroundings. The shots look so much better than ones I took with my iPhone camera.

Nikon WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter for Nikon Digital SLRs $39 – Although my Nikon took much better pics than my iPhone, I adored using this little guy for sending the DSLR shots to my iPhone for social sharing! Since I did not want to bring a laptop, this was key. It is tiny but comes with a case that attaches to your camera strap to keep it close and secure. This works in tandem with the free Nikon Wireless Mobile Utility App.

US to UK Power Adapter $8 – Most outlets in Irish hotels use the UK style of plug prongs.

The Wirecutter USB Charger $22 – Having an external charger with two ports is great when phones are in the red, or when the Euro power adapter is in use by your travel buddy.

Data roaming on my iPhone with Sprint $0 – Just before our trip Sprint expanded free international data roaming to Ireland  as well as Colombia, Denmark, Honduras, Italy, Paraguay and Sweden. It was such a blessing not to have to unlock phones or purchase an international burner to stay in contact with the kids.

Mispacks: Items I brought but did not use much

Favorite Coach pumps, which although relatively comfy were just not worn.

Costume jewelry. Other than the two bangles mentioned above and my wedding rings and the small stud earrings I wear all the time, I wore no extra jewelry. I brought statement earrings, a necklace and different bracelets in my travel jewelry roll and never unrolled it.

Boyfriend jeans. Two pairs were plenty.

Selfie stick. I won this at a social media event and thought it would be fun to have on vacation. Never used once. 

***

Typing it all out, it seems like so much stuff (and that doesn’t even include underwear!) But it turned out to be the perfect amount for a 1 week tour of Ireland in spring for me, fitting with my carry on only goal.

I hope someone out there finds this packing guide helpful. It is sponsored by no companies, just the hopes that other couples take off for the Emerald Isle, too!

I received the Nikon 3300 and wireless adaptor at a 2014 press event at Walt Disney World, the American Tourister suitcase in a #DisneySide party host pack and the Wirecutter charger for review. All other items purchased by me or were gifts from family/friends. Amazon affiliate links are used.

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