How a Travel Expert Packs for a European Vacation
Meghan Donovan has built her business around perfecting the European vacation. Here’s a look inside her suitcase.
Having a truly great vacation isn’t just about unplugging and finding the right beach read. In fact, the lead-up to a trip usually involves quite a bit of planning—from big things, like finding reasonably priced yet centrally located accommodations, to small things, like researching which boulangerie has the best croissant according to locals. And in 2019, blogger Meghan Donovan noticed that many of her followers were seeking out her travel advice for one of her favorite places in the world: Paris.
“I have a long history with Paris—I’ve been going often since I was young—and I post about my experiences there on my blog,” she explains. “I was getting more and more DMs, like, ‘What’s your favorite croissant?’ ‘Which café do you love the most?’ ‘Where do you recommend staying in Paris?’ It got to the point where I couldn’t really keep up, and I knew there had to be a better way to individually curate recommendations for people.”
In response, she founded Paris, Perfected, a service with one very specific purpose: Help people have the best Parisian vacation possible. Paris is one of the top tourist destinations in the world, attracting millions of visitors every year. And in Meghan’s experience, many of those visitors end up doing, seeing, and eating the same things—despite their varied preferences and priorities. “There’s so much more to Paris than what most tourists see,” she says. “I wanted to create bespoke recommendations for people that would allow them to have the very best trip for them.”
Meghan’s line of work involves a lot of travel—so naturally, she has her packing list down to a science. “It’s all about sticking to a color palette that allows for mixing and matching, especially with accessories,” she says. “Don’t bring a different bag and pair of shoes for every outfit—you want to be able to maximize what’s in your luggage. Before I go on a trip, I’ll actually write out my outfits on my iPhone notes app, divided up by daytime and nighttime looks. Typically, if something in my suitcase can’t be worn multiple ways, I don’t bring it.”
Ready to turn your wanderlust into overdrive? Read on for five outfits Meghan wore during her recent trips to Paris and London—including a visit to the set of Bridgerton.
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“My favorite way to start the day in Paris is to sit at a café and have a noisette—a little bit of espresso and steamed milk—and a traditional petit déjeuner, which usually comes with a little bit of baguette, some orange juice, and a croissant.
The fringed Krista skirt is just so Parisian, and the Tyler sweatshirt is an ideal travel piece. I was able to style it in multiple ways throughout the trip. I always recommend that people bring layers like this to Paris. In addition to wearing it as a top, you could also drape it over your shoulders or tie it around your waist.”
“I love the Fatima dress so much. I’m a very low-maintenance traveler, and I never iron—I just use Downy Wrinkle Release and call it a day. After being rolled in my suitcase and spritzed, this dress was ready to go.
I actually wore it both ways, with and without the sash. Because it doesn’t have belt loops, it doesn’t look incomplete without the sash, so it’s like two outfits in one, which is ideal when you’re traveling and have limited suitcase space. The style itself is also really versatile, and I’ve worn it with heeled sandals, espadrilles, and sneakers. And the fact that it has pockets? We love.
Not all sneakers are created equal, and you can often spot U.S. tourists in Paris because of the sneakers they’re wearing. I recommend getting a pair of sleek, comfortable white sneakers that work with everything from dresses and skirts to pants.”
“The Edith is one of those dresses where I wasn’t sure how it was going to look on me. Frankly, when I unpacked it, I didn’t think it was going to work. And then I put it on, and I was like, ‘Is this a magic dress?!’ It’s hard to explain, but the way it fits just makes it effortless to wear. The neckline is gorgeous, and you can wear a normal bra with it—it made me feel like a million bucks.
I was initially also concerned about how the pleats would travel, but I pulled it out of my suitcase, and it looked perfect—I didn’t have to do anything to it. I got stopped multiple times in Paris by people asking, ‘Where did you get that dress?’ I’m a big fan of pairing feminine pieces with edgier styles, so I’ve worn this layered with denim jackets and leather jackets. This dress is going to be one of the things that I pull out time and time again, because wearing it just made me feel really, really good.
I always tell people, ‘Do not bring stilettos to Paris—there are a lot of cobblestones!’ When I’m in Paris, I’m walking an average of 30,000 steps a day, so I need to be really comfortable.”
“London has an annual event in late May called Chelsea in Bloom, where the entire neighborhood of Chelsea is covered in floral installations. Everyone dresses up, and the moment I saw the DiemMy dress, I knew it would be the perfect thing to wear. What I love about this dress is that the skirt sits really nicely, and as soon as you start walking, it has this beautiful movement to it. It was a really fun dress to wear.”
“While in London, we took a day trip to visit Bath, where they filmed parts of Bridgerton—this is Lady Danbury’s house, which is actually a museum in real life. I love the color stories in that show, and when I saw the Gali dress, my first thought was, ‘This looks like Bridgerton colors!’
I never want to be overheated when I travel, so I love that this dress has such a lightweight, lived-in fabric—meaning the moment you unroll it from your suitcase, you can wear it without steaming or ironing. Plus, I’m someone who has to wear a regular bra, so the fact that this dress has lingerie snaps is huge for me.”