Going abroad is all fun and games until you have to pack. You can actually feel the excitement draining out of you when you realize the only thing standing between you and another country is your empty suitcase, and messy closet. Beyond the physical labor of actually packing clothes into your suitcase is the mental battle of trying to anticipate your every wardrobe need and pack accordingly. And don´t forget those amazing weight limits imposed by the airline.
That leads to my first step pro packing tip; find out how much your luggage can weigh. Most U.S based airlines have a standard weight limit, but if you´re flying with an international airline the weight requirements may be different and they will most likely be in kilograms. With the knowledge in mind of you much your checked luggage can weigh, you can proceed to figuring out what you need to take.
I packed for a summer internship so my packing needs were a little different from someone studying abroad, but I used widely applicable rules and methods to make sure I was taking the right items. And after being here a full month and having to live with my packing decisions I'm pretty confident in them.
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Because they can take up so much space, shoes can be very difficult to pack. It´s a good idea to limit yourself to one or at the very most two pairs of really bulky shoes, like tennis shoes. I chose to only bring my Adidas, and to wear them while I traveled to avoid having to put them in my suitcase at all. For work and going out I brought a few pairs of LOW heels, and for every day I brought a pair of slip on canvas shoes, and a pair of sandals. Sandals and slips ons are great because they do not take up a lot of space and can go with a variety of outfits.
I ended up bringing more pairs of jeans than anyone should really be wearing during the summer, because I knew I´d need them for work. Outside of that, jeans during the summer should be a sin. I also brought two pairs of denim shorts, two skirts, and two pairs of leggings.
Sundresses are the best thing to take for travel. Dresses in general make for very quick outfits. Sundresses are generally made of light material and thus take up almost no space in a suitcase, on top of being breathable and great for hot weather. These can be worn for work, class, or just going out and exploring. I actually own quite a few sundresses so this is where pro packing tip #2 comes in:
When you have a lot of anything to choose from, pick out all the ones you want to bring..and then cut that in half. It´s a hard process but it is so necessary.
I´m using the word ¨tops¨loosely since I live predominately in bodysuits. Either way, these should be chosen very strategically. I brought several tops that could be easily switched between occasions and outfits. You´ll notice that my assortment of shirts is pretty monochromatic. But is there anything you cant pair a black or white top with? And the same top I can pair with a jacket and pants to wear to work, I can pair with shorts to wear shopping, and a skirt to wear to dinner.
Jackets are still very necessary in the summer. The hotter it gets outside, the colder it gets inside. A light sweater is a good packing choice. I also have a heavy cardigan I used for travel as airports are pretty cold too, and a blazer for dressier work days.
For me, T-shirts didn´t require any strategic thinking, I just grabbed five that I liked and called it a day.
I can´t think of the last time I owned an actual set of matching pajamas. In my wardrobe, sleepwear, lounge wear and athletic wear are all interchangeable. For this reason I packed three pairs of running shorts, a couple of tank tops, the aforementioned T-shirts and leggings, and two pairs of sleep shorts [read: men´s boxers].
In my opinion, accessories require no strategy to be packed. They are usually small enough that they don´t take up enough space to be a bother. I threw all my rings and earrings into a small pouch and tossed it into the fray. I only wear one necklace and it´s usually on my person. But if you have a lot of necklaces to travel with, lay them flat on a T-shirt and roll them up. Just don´t forget which t-shirt they´re in.
I´ve seen a lot of rules of thumb when it comes to packing underwear. The one that makes the most sense to me is to pack enough for two weeks. That´s the perfect time frame in case you can´t get around to doing laundry every week. And anything over two weeks worth would be excessive.
This is possibly the most difficult thing to pack. Mostly because it´s hard to think of, at once, every product you need to use over the next 2-3 months. My advice is to leave anything you can repurchase at a reasonable price. Body washes, scrubs, lotions, and face washes will most likely be readily available wherever you´re going.
(I have a more detailed post coming on the best makeup products to travel with. Stay Tuned)
I was advised to leave my hot tools at home and repurchase those over seas as well. Which is ridiculous. WHO wants to spend $100+ on items they already own. And what would I do with two flat irons when I get back to the states, one of which I wouldn´t even be able to plug in? My advice? Buy an outlet adapter and go on your merry way.
Things you´ll need that you are likely to forget you need
1. Nail maintenance (nail clippers, nail file, ONE nail polish)
2. Outlet Adapter - Oh yeah, other countries have different outlets
3. Extension cord - This way you won´t have to buy multiple adapters
4. Any product that you need, and cannot be replaced overseas. Buy enough for the duration of your stay
So after four weeks I can safely say that I did a pretty good job anticipating what I would need and not over packing. Even after a month, I´m still going ¨Oh, I forgot I packed this¨, so I definitely haven´t run out of unique outfits yet. Also..let´s be honest I´ve been shopping. (insert emoji of the girl with her hands up like¨oh well¨) And that leads me to my third and final pro packing tip: Try to get all of your items into your checked baggage and try to keep your carry on relatively empty. This will be great for when you accumulate new stuff on the road, and for when you undoubtedly remember something you forgot to pack and your suitcase is already at capacity.
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