This will make up the lion's share of your packing, odds are, so it requires the most attention. There are several things you can do to lighten this load:
- Search for thin, synthetic fabrics. They not only take up less space, but they dry quickly if you need to hand-wash them in a hotel room. There is no need to spend loads of cash on "travel" clothes. I have many pieces that are virtually wrinkle-free and fast-drying that were cheap and were not self-proclaimed travel wear. Look for polyester or rayon blends. At home, pay attention to which clothes come out of the spin cycle nearly dry. Bring some travel-sized Woolite with you or, in a pinch, use the hotel's shampoo.
- Invest in clothes compression bags, which run for about $20-25 USD at travel stores and outdoor shops. They won't make your clothes lighter (dang!) but they do make them much, much smaller. Just be sure you don't pack to tightly that you bump your bag over airline weight limits.
- Determine what you REALLY need to take. I would suggest setting aside all the clothes you think you need to pack. Then live just on those clothes for the number of days you will be in France. Do not do any laundry, but if you want to rewear something enough, hand wash it. You will probably be surprised at how many items you never wore during that period. Axe those pieces off your list.
- I know this might sound appalling to some of you, but invest in one pair of shoes to wear and NO MORE. If you go to a comfort shoe store, you can probably find a pair that will be comfortable for loads of walking but look nice enough to wear for dressed-up dining. You will spend more, but it will be worth it. And you won't have stinky, very bulky shoes to pack. Find some versatile travel walking shoes for women or travel walking shoes for men.
- Pack clothes all along a similar color scheme so you can mix and match. Why have three full shirt-skirt-jacket combos when you can have a couple shirts, one skirt, one pair of pants and one cardigan, for instance.
- Eliminate nearly all bulky, heavy items. Don't pack more than one pair of jeans or heavy sweater. For one thing, you can probably re-wear some of the heavier items. For another, you will take up the space and weight of several lighter items.
- Find some old clothing or cheap underwear that you won't mind leaving behind as you wear it. That will clear some space as you go along.
Next: Packing Toiletries