back to our roots--i need your help!


This week we're getting ready for an adventure of a lifetime.
We're packing our bags and saying "Farvel!""Auf Wiedersehen!" and "Ciao!" to the States, making our way across the sea and meeting up with all the Nielson's in Denmark.
Ma & Pa Nielson are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and it was Pa's dream to be back on the Danish Island, Bornholm, where his favorite ancestor came, and he wanted to be there with all his children. Obviously, we were all in MAJOR support of his dream and since we were all the way across the pond, Marcus and I decided it would be best to stay a little longer and make our way down to Germany & Austria (where Marcus served his mission).....and since we were already on the way, I insisted on a few stops in Italy as well.
It's going to be an insane few weeks--we did all of our bookings through Airbnb, so we'll be staying in people's homes--which I'm a big believer in, I don't think you can every truly experience a culture until you've lived with someone from it. I can hardly wait!
So...what I'd love to hear from you is any suggestions for a long trip--what to pack? what not to pack? what to see while we're in those countries? what to eat? etc.
I will love you forever for your suggestions!


6ftinheels said...

I've been to Europe 4 times (ranging from 2 weeks to a month) and have brought a tiny Burton 25L backpack each time. I'm majorly into fashion and DO NOT pack any zip-off pants, which always impresses people. I've only gone in June-August, so my packing list caters to hot weather but it's generally:
- 3 dresses that can all be dressed up if need be(1 maxi, 1 black sundress, 1 "fun" dress)
- 2 pairs of shorts
- 2 tank tops
- 1 t-shirt
- 1 skirt
- 1 bathing suit (you never know!)
- 1 pair of thin pants or leggings (DO NOT BRING JEANS. They weigh a tonne!)
- 1 cardigan
- 1 pair of walking sandals and 1 pair of TOMS (these are my european secret! Buy a cheap pair before you go and throw them out before you come home! I find them insanely comfy to walk on cobblestone in)
- the key to this small list is making sure that everything matches each other. And that doesn't mean it all has to be neutrals! This summer I brought a black and gold ikat print skirt, bright blue tank top, white tank top, bright coral t-shirt, olive shorts and grey shorts and black cardigan and they all went together!

General tips:
- leave the accessories and cosmetics at home! They are useless and you are so preoccupied
with seeing sights that I find I end up not bothering wearing them. My makeup routine every single day in Portugal and Spain last year was eyeliner, mascara, concealer and pressed powder. And I brought 2 lipsticks. In all honesty, I wore sunglasses in most pictures anyways!
- DO NOT BRING ROLLING LUGGAGE. It is an absolute nightmare in Europe. Invest in a good backpack for each of you. I'm traveling to China for a month this summer and just bought a Kelty Redwing 40L on Amazon for $50. I wouldn't go bigger than 40L.
- For your daybag, get a zippered crossbody bag that fits your daytime essentials. I like the Lugg Sidekick ( because it fits my iPad, wallet and everything else I need to sightsee for the day!

I'm sure I will think of more as time goes on...if you want to email me ( please feel free to do so! I love love LOVE chatting about traveling :)

anni said...

what an exciting trip you will have i'm sure! hopefully you'll share pieces of it here as well :)

i would say that the most important thing is to pack good shoes. you're going to walk a lot, or at least that's what i assume since you're visiting so many different places so nothing is worse than your feet hurting when you really wanna concentrate on the things surrounding you and not your hurting feet. i mean i know sneakers for example aren't the most fashionable thing (tho they are kinda in right now so even better ;) and don't look that great with everything, but your feet will thank you after long day. i've been resenting them for years, but finally gave in and bought a pair for my recent travels and i can say that i will never ever wear balle flats as cute as they are, when exploring a new city by walking. (blister band-aids are also never a bad idea)

also since you're going to need adapter while in Europe, you might wanna bring a short extension cord, so that you can charge your phones, camera batteries, laptops etc. all at the same time.

ps. pretty sure you can get those vintage glasses (Iittala Made in Finland) that your parents gave you from either Denmark or Germany if you'd still be interested in getting some more :)

Mel said...

Oh how exciting!!!!!! Where in Germany are you going to be? in case you are anywhere near me (Würzburg or Dortmund), I'd really love to meet you guys for a quick ice cream or something and show you around :) been reading your blog for so would just be awesome.

On what to only two simple tips would be: bring as little clothes as possible!...a few basic things that you can match and switch easy will absolutely be enough! AND definitely only VERY COMFORTABLE shoes :)
I'd leave all the fancy accessories at home. You absolutely will not need them.

I always try to bring as little extra weight as possible when traveling. You will always gain luggage while on your trip no matter how hard you try not too ;) and it's just not worth the hassle to bring 5 pants when 2 would be totally enough ;)
(Many camping vacations in foreign countries made me a very light packer ;)

Wish you the BEST of trips!!!! :)

Irene said...

pack basic items you can combine and transform into formal/informal styles. It will be coulder in the north and warmer in Italy, so bear that in mind. I think I can not give a lot of advice on those countries, I only know Italy a bit and from a European's perspective. Try to eat in places off the track, not the typical spot because it's more expensive and it might not be real local food (or actually good). Enjoy!

A+J said...

You are my style icon. Honestly. Also your trip is going to be so fun. I had never heard of that traveling website before...But now I want to travel everywhere and stay with a million cute little families.

Kimberlee said...

Best advice I ever received for packing light and looking polished(and it has worked every time!): pack in all one color scheme, i.e. blue and white or black, with the exception of one bright and breezy dress. So, so easy. And no jeans!

Carrie Gray said...

You have to go on The Sound Of Music Tour in Salzburg!!! You won't be disappointed! We didn't take one the big hyped tourist companies. We found a mini van taxi guy that took us to all the places, let us stay as long as we wanted. He took us to his favorite lunch spot (yum!) and then summer bobsleds. Such a great memory and it was cheaper than the tour bus company.

Megs said...

Since you are staying at other people's houses, I would suggest a pair of house slippers. Most Europeans use them in their homes. No one wants to be the American who traipses in dirt!

I also echo the little as possible sentiment!

Teresa said...

I spent last summer in Italy, and it was hands down the best experience of my life! I lived in Sorrento for 6 weeks, so if you get the chance, visit the Amalfi Coast! It is considered the most beautiful place in the world. Legend has it that the waters of Sorrento housed the sirens that tried to lure Odysseus.

If you visit the Amalfi Coast, stay in Sorrento. It's the easiest place to travel to and from around the coast, and it is THE sweetest town. It's easy to walk around, and the views are breathtaking, and there are endless places to shop and eat. Be sure to take day trips to Positano, though - Positano is drop-deap, unbelievably gorgeous. Also, Pompeii is only a train ride away from Sorrento, and it is simply incredible.

Rome is, of course, a must, and my best advice there is to simply find a hotel located somewhat centrally, and then just walk! I had five days to take in all the sights, but in one day, we walked from our hotel to the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, and the Colosseum! Everything is ridiculously close together.
(We stayed at Hotel Antica Roma and it was PERFECT. The room was adorable, the hotel itself isn't too large, and it has a great free breakfast on the top floor.

If you want to go in the Colosseum, I suggest joining one of the 45 minute audio tours. They're a little more expensive than the regular tickets, but you skip a HUGE line, and have plenty of time to explore. Also, you get to meet interesting people - the audio tour is where my sister met her Australian fiancé.
The same thing goes for the Vatican: if you want to go inside the museums, St. Peter's Cathedral, the Sistine Chapel, &c., get a tour. There is SO much to see, and it's impossible to understand it all without a tour guide. Try to get a tour after lunch, because it's practically empty then. As empty as Rome gets, anyway.

Little-known tip: go to the absolute top of the Victor Emmanuel building. The building is located pretty centrally and is rather unmistakable, and if you go all the way up to the roof and buy a ticket to take the elevator to the top, you get an amazing 360 view of Rome!

(The Victor Emmanuel is also a short walk from the Bocca della Verità, if you're a fan of Roman Holiday. It's free to get in and stick your hand in the Mouth of Truth!)

Lastly, when I wandered to and from sites in Rome, I used my iPhone GPS. I simply located the street where my hotel was, and then used the GPS to see where I was. Using this, I was able to explore many different streets and places on my way to and from the hotel, and I never got lost! It's a great way to maximize your exploration without ever fearing you'll get lost.

Andrea said...

Oh I am so excited for you!!! What a trip! I'm not a highly-experienced European traveler, I've only done Switzerland as far as European travel goes (it's totally awesome and I highly recommend it!) Definitely pack light -obviously. You may even want to leave extra room in your bag for souvenirs. And make sure all shoes you bring are already broken in or are very comfy -you'll be on your feet a ton:) And it's a good idea to get your money converted through your bank before going across the pond (much cheaper).

Oh my goodness you guys are going to have a blast:)

Jessica Wilson said...

Hey Ash! So, I went to London and Paris last summer and can I just say that Europe is one of the most beautiful places ever conceived??? Be prepared to spend a LOT of money, it's going to happen. Also, it might appear to be summer, but it can get pretty chilly. Bring a nice jacket. Take pictures of EVERY LAST THING, you don't want to miss one moment. But, I don't think that will be a problem for you! Good luck!

ilene @ muchloveilly said...

have soooo much fun! sounds like one fabulous adventure, ashley. :) my advice? just have fun! soak in the moment and don't freak out over the little things. and yes, take lots of pictures!

Julie Herbert said...

Perhaps we will cross paths in Germany or Austria!

Have fun, be safe, be smart, bring a small journal and write everything down, I like to collect things from each country...things from man and nature (I got a leaf from each country and saved them in their journal entry...kinda silly but it's things like that that I will cherish the most) Bring an extra small tote for putting souvenirs in on the way back, Don't forget to pack warm, don't forget the converter for the plugs, or your cameras charger. Or your camera :) HAVE FUN!

Tschüs said...

I'm LOVING 6ftinheels packing list. I think it's bang on! I disagree with the "no jeans" comments though, this was one thing I wish I had brought with me when I backpacked in europe for 2 months. Everyone always told me to pack light (ie. pack, then remove half of what you have laid out!!!)...but I do wish I had brought a few more fashionable pieces because I found that I still wanted to look cute and trendy.

ITALY! Jealous. This country was my fave. I could talk for hours about it. Real quick because I feel like you will appreciate their magic:

1. Cinque Terre (stay in any of the towns and do the hike...OR just do the hike in a day if you can!)

2. Venice. Pure magic. That's all.

3. Eat as much Gelato as possible. I'm serious. Twice a day is completely acceptable. Yogurt flavor with any fruit flavor (raspberry is my all time) will change your life.

Have so much fun!

Irene said...

I remembered I had this pin on my pinterest so I wanted to share it with you. It says packing for honeymoon, bu t really, packing for any trip could be like this! it's a good idea to save some space in your suitcase.

Deveny said...

I got back a few weeks ago from a 2-week trip around Germany and Paris. Honestly, I wore one pair of pants. Maxi skirts were the way to go. I only needed my serious walking shoes and sandals (even then it was colder last month then planned).
A nice neck pillow, eye mask and ear plugs saved me on the flights. I was prescribed Ambien but never used it. We walked so many miles every day I was wiped at the end. :)

Deveny said...

Oh, and bring Moleskin for your feet. They SAVED my feet from blisters the entire trip.

Grace King said...

I studied abroad in Vienna! You'll love Austria, it is so beautiful and full of history. Your hubby probably knows his way around, but the BEST gelato place is called Tichy's. it's only open in the spring/summer months, but it's the best. I recommend the chocolate, coconut, and pistachio gelato. Whatcha do is take the U1 line (it's the red one) all the way to Reumenplatz and just follow the crowd up the stairs and you'll see it. You won't regret it, I promise! Also, the Albertina was my favorite art museum there. Have so much fun!

T-rudy said...

Oh man! I have no advice because I've never been...but that's super exciting! Have a great trip... excited for you! :)

Sonja said...

If you're spending any time in Copenhagen you HAVE to go to Tivoli! And the Church of our Lady - where the original Christus statue is!

Have fun!!!!

Laura said...

Amazing! Do you plan a trip to Slovenia (next to Italy and Austria) as well?

Ashley Nielson said...

you guys are so awesome! thank you for all the advice, i tried to take it all, except, i had to bring a pair of jeans! haha can't wait to see it all!

House of Tong said...

So so excited for you!! I can't wait to see pictures from your trip!! xo

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