Travel Tips: Packing for Ireland

I’m always a bit overly organized when it comes to packing lists for trips. I always make one. I always sort it by outfit. I always check it off while I actually pack. But, I also typically have a pretty good idea of what I’m getting into and what I need. My trips this month totally threw me off, however. First there was Vegas, then there was Ireland. I was at a total loss for what to bring to both decidedly different destinations.


Ireland seems easy enough to prepare for. Lots of sweaters and layers, right? While that’s true, I was thrown off by a few factors. First, the weather forecast put it in the 40’s and raining every single day. At the end of March. If it is 42 and rainy in DC, I’m wearing my puffy parka just to be on the safe side, but I absolutely did not want to pack a heavy duty coat that I might not end up wearing. Second, I expected that we would probably be doing some sort of active hike at some point each day, yet I didn’t want to spend the whole trip in athleisure. Lastly, I had read that Ireland in the evening is actually a bit dressier than you’d imagine.

With all three of these factors in mind, I was starting at a blank page beyond “Bean boots.” While I went in early spring, I’ve heard that the weather never strays too far from cool to mild with frequent rain, so my experience should be relevant most of the year.




With everything I just discussed in mind, I broke down our trip by day and activity to figure out how many outfits I thought I’d need. I decided to go in with the assumption that I would want outfits that could multi task from active to strolling around town to dressed up with an accessories swap for a dinner out. I brought layers that could work with multiple pieces to create different looks – really embracing the capsule wardrobe concept here. This was definitely not the trip for statement pieces.

I brought just two coats – a Barbour jacket and a trench coat – and a versatile quilted vest for outerwear. The rest of my warmth relied on layers. Some of the all star pieces I brought were a chambray shirt, which you can layer over a striped shirt, a solid shirt, a turtleneck, and a gray wrap cardigan with fringe detail that could be worn on its own buttoned up or layered over any of the pieces above. I also only brought two pairs of shoes – Bean boots and cowboy boots. I chose these two because, obviously, Bean boots were the right decision for all the rain, mud, and hiking, and the cowboy boots because I wanted a dressier option that I could still wear warm socks with and that could stand up to a bit of bad weather.

An example of how I used these multi tasking pieces, I was able to create two totally different outfits by doing the following with the same two base pieces – a heather gray wrap back shirt and black leggings:

  • Outfit one for a hike at the Gap of Dunloe (see this outfit above!): Chambray shirt, heather gray wrap back shirt, quilted vest, black leggings, Bean boots, Barbour jacket
  • Outfit two for an evening out in Killarney: heather gray wrap back shirt, black leggings, cowboy boots, statement earrings, trench coat

By using workhorse pieces that could be worn again and again, I was able to layer, stay warm, and dress for whatever occasion came our way.


Okay, so you have a basic idea of what was in my one carry on suitcase for a Sunday through Sunday trip, but here’s the actual rundown of every item that I brought with me. There wasn’t a single piece of clothing that I didn’t wear, but I never felt like I was at a loss for outfits.


Don’t expect to dry and straighten your hair at any point during your time in Ireland. The wind and drizzly rain mean you’ll end up throwing it up in a ponytail every day anyway. I perfected my french braid bun and just embraced it.

Bring more wool socks than you think you’ll need! I ran out in the last two days and was washing socks in the sink by the end of the trip.

Also, wear leggings when you’re doing something active. I made the mistake of biking all over the Aran Islands in my rag + bone jeans. Let’s just say those jeans are no longer with us unless a tailor can do some sort of miracle on the hole I ripped in the crotch.


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