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(Anne Banas)

What I Packed: Miami – Cuba – Eastern Europe

I traveled to Miami for a travel editors conference, and then onto Cuba with a shortened version of smarTours’ People-to-People program. From there, I headed across the Atlantic to join a Passage to Eastern Europe Danube cruise (from Bucharest, Romania, to Budapest, Hungary) with Viking River Cruises.

Where: Miami, Florida; Havana, Cuba; Bucharest, Romania; Veliko Tarnovo, Arbanasi, Vidin, and Belogradchik, Bulgaria; Belgrade, Serbia; Osijek, Croatia; and Kalocsa and Budapest, Hungary.

When: April 23-May 12.

Packing Challenge: My biggest packing challenge was preparing for two different types of climates (tropical and temperate). I also had to pack several kinds of attire: casual for touring, business for the conference, and more formal for special ship dinners. To solve the problem, I stuck to a color palate of mostly white, yellow, and blue so that everything could be mixed and matched, and then layered for different temperatures or for dressing up or down.

Weather: Every destination I visited experienced unseasonably warm weather, except for Miami. Miami was predictably hot and sunny and in the 80s. Cuba hit the 90s (temperatures the country usually only sees in July and August), and the Balkans reached temperatures between 75 and 85 degrees during the day (about 10 to 15 degrees higher than is usual for springtime).

Type of Trip: The Miami portion was a business trip with indoor meetings and one day of walking tours. Cuba was a guided tour, and Eastern Europe was a river cruise with daily shore excursions involving a good amount of walking and sightseeing.

How Long: 17 days on the ground; three days in the air

Mouse over the photos below for detailed explanations of the items I packed. Any time you see the Thinglink icon on a photo (bottom right), you can mouse over it to interact with the image.

'""''""'What I Should Have Left Behind: Given the unpredictability of spring, I planned for rain and fluctuating temperatures, especially for the European portion of the trip. However, it only rained twice (a short downpour in Havana and one misty evening in Bucharest) and stayed consistently warm throughout my travels despite the range of destinations I visited. I really didn’t need the coats, umbrella, and pair of rain shoes.

Additionally, because Miami wound up being more casual overall given the heat and laidback vibe, I could have also done away with the sport coat and closed-toe heels, which I packed specifically for the conference. I wore my only pair of shorts once (on the hottest day in Cuba), but got kicked out of a cathedral. I quickly learned that lesson and didn’t attempt to wear them again. Next time, they’ll stay home and I’ll pack an extra skirt instead.

What I Should Have Packed: I wish I had packed a few more short-sleeved t-shirts and more sunscreen. I wound up wearing a lot of tank tops because of the heat, and had to slather on SPF nearly every day—and eventually I ran out. Another casual skirt would have also gone a long way in helping me stay appropriately comfortable.

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