7 things I learnt packing for "spring" in Europe

This article first appeared on Go Away's 7 Things I Learnt Packing For “Spring” In Europe

I returned from a 12-day vacation to the Netherlands and Belgium last week and all I can say is … I feel cheated.

Cheated by the promise of mild spring weather with temperatures ranging from 14 to 18 degrees Celsius, where I could be free to wear my cute "cool weather" ensembles for #OOTD posts on Instagram without looking like a polar bear, where I could roam the streets for hours on end without worrying about frostbite …

Unfortunately, that was not meant to be. The weather gods had other plans in mind. And here's what I learnt about travelling to Europe in early Spring.

1. Just because it says "16 degrees Celsius" the week before you leave doesn't mean that's the weather you're going to get when you're there.

It all started off well and good when we landed in Amsterdam. The weather was fair, not too cold, and I could get away with wearing two layers.

Two days later, when we landed in Bruges, we found ourselves semi-sprinting from the bus stop to our apartment as big fat drops of rain threatened to turn into a proper downpour. This was the weather we got for almost the whole week we were there.

2. Don't even bother packing flipflops.

You have a better chance of scoring a date with Chris Hemsworth than wearing your Havaianas when it's under 15 degrees in Europe.

In fact, just bring one really good pair of high-top sneakers cos that's what you'll be living in for the duration of your trip. And they should be high-top because the last thing you want is for the cold to be nipping your ankles.

Also, you really only need one pair. A pair of heels might seem like a good idea just in case you do end up visiting that 3 Michelin-starred restaurant, but trust me … even the most stylish of Europeans know better than to navigate those cobblestone streets in 4-inch stilettos.

3. A windbreaker can be a lifesaver.

Cold weather in itself can be rather invigorating. But it turns unpleasant quite quickly when it gets windy.

Not sure why wind operates differently in Europe, but I can be wearing four layers of clothes, and the moment the wind blows, it still feels like my organs are being primed for a transplant. I lived to regret not investing in a proper windbreaker.

4. "Let's go running in Europe's beautiful parks!" is not going to happen as many times as you think.

So, really, you probably only need one workout outfit (I brought, like, four). Trust me, when it's dreary, cold and rainy, suddenly watching re-runs of Keeping Up With the Kardashians with the heating turned up will seem like the best idea ever.

5. Layer, layer, layer.

Luckily, this is something I already learnt on a previous winter sojourn to Belgium (where it didn't feel that different from the fake spring I just experienced). What I did was wear a Uniqlo Heattech top, a regular top over it, and then a trench coat. That's for warmer days.

On colder days, I'd add another pullover before the trench. A scarf is a must-have cos I'm assuming you don't do turtlenecks.

6. Make like an auntie and collect all the travel-sized beauty samples you can before you fly.

With all those warm clothing taking up precious luggage space, the last thing you need is for beauty products to further weigh you down.Even for a two-week trip, you would probably use a lot less product than you previously estimated so leave those huge, heavy full-sized bottles at home.

I'd much rather save the luggage space and weight for all the chocolate and beer I'd be lugging home. And, you didn't hear this from me, but Korean beauty brands seem to be the most generous in giving out samples at their stores …

7. Prepare for the cold … and enjoy it while you can.

Cos a hot, sticky 35 degrees awaits you when you return.

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