Happy Tuesday, Dreamers!
I am officially approaching three-weeks tomorrow on my study abroad journey, which is hard to comprehend. In some ways, it feels like I’ve already been here for months because I’ve made so many quick friendships. In other ways, I can’t believe it has been that long already, which means I need to be careful not to lose track of time in order to fit in all the places I want to see, as well as, updating you along the way before packing it back to the States this summer.
Speaking of packing . . . that’s what I’m going to focus on today! I know, I know, smooth transition skills, am I right? Anyway, I will be the very first one to admit, that I have not traveled on a large enough scale to be considered a professional packer. I also, at this point, have not scaled down my wardrobe at home enough to be considered a minimalist, so I can’t say light-packing is my forte. However, I can share some of the tips that were given to me before packing, as well as, some of the things that I learned in the process.
Also, for those who don’t already know, I’m obsessed with hats—while I was not able to bring ALL of them (namely the beautiful fedoras or bowler hat), I did manage to find room for . . . wait for it . . . SEVEN! #priorities—it’s all in the packing techniques haha.
So, for anyone planning a longer trip, or a study abroad journey, here are some general tips:
- It may seem obvious, but I highly recommend checking the weather for the time frame in which you are traveling. I was warned about the lovely, Welsh rain enough times to make sure I had water resistant items and an umbrella on my To-Bring List.
- For anyone specifically studying in Wales, I found Marah Hager’s book Study Abroad in Wales very informative and she also includes helpful lists for packing with items that I may not have thought to bring otherwise. For example, bringing a towel/wash cloth for the on-campus accommodations so that you are equipped to shower the first couple days before getting to hit the store is very nice info to have on hand.
- Check your airline’s weight limits for carry on baggage and what free bags are included before getting to the airport and getting stuck with crazy, expensive fees. For my airline, I was allowed 1 personal item (purse, backpack, etc.) in the seat with me, 1 carry on bag, and 1 free checked bag with a 50lb. weight limit. (This seems to be pretty standard for most airlines, but you never know if you have a smaller plane or a really discounted flight, so it’s worth checking).
- In the spirit of staying under the weight limit and still bringing important items, my well-travelled friend, Bergan, gave me the advice of wearing my heaviest layers onto my flight to avoid having to pack bulky items:In this photo, I am wearing a cami, a quarter-sleeved blouse, a long-sleeved sweater, my Northbend Church sweatshirt, and my water-resistant coat, along with, my hiking boots, which are the heaviest pair of shoes that I brought with me. This plan was genius for getting more items in my checked baggage with a lighter weight; however, I am hot-natured, and it made for a rather miserable, hour-long wait in the crowded border-patrol line at the London airport once arriving—so, just bare in mind, maybe wear a couple heavier items but NOT your entire winter wardrobe hahaha.
- Double check that you have all your important documents with your passport. (Ex. Short term visa letter or actual visa if applicable, proof from the university of enrollment, etc.)
- Make sure you have a full outfit option (shoes/undies included) in your carryon bag, just in case there is a delay with your checked luggage. I also recommend bringing the allowed amount of “travel-sized” liquids in your carry on to have on hand for your backpacking trips within Europe. You can always pack your full-sized shampoos and things in your checked baggage to use on the day-to-day basis.
- Coming from the known over-packer in past family road trips (mostly because of the shoes) I was very proud to have narrowed it down to 6 pairs total for 4 months. I know some people could get it down even more, but I ended up bringing 1 pair of flats, 2 pairs of boots (1 for hiking, 1 for regular/water-resistant town wear), 1 pair of heeled booties (for dressy shoes), 1 pair of tennis shoes, 1 pair of flip flops (or “shower shoes” for hostels).
- Don’t forget to plan for electronic adapters, as you will need different ones for different countries. I luckily had a friend that let me borrow one for my journey, but you can always purchase one on Amazon for your trip ahead of time!
- Clothing wise, I tried to plan my outfits with mostly neutrals and just a few pops of color to make the items easy for layering in different ways. I wanted to have items that could be layered for warmth, but also paired down on their own in the spring time. I also tried to plan for enough undergarments and socks for a 2-week time period because I wasn’t sure how easy doing laundry would be throughout all of my stay.
Things I Wish I Would Have Done Differently:
- NUMBER ONE: I DIDN’T BRING RANCH DRESSING!!! Ya’ll, I’m from Ohio, and we eat Ranch Dressing on EVERYTHING . . . pizza, cheese fries, anything fried, salad, etc. Knowing that ranch is not a huge thing here, I actually bought a big bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch to bring, but in my attempt to make my carry-on weight limit, I left it behind. In hind sight, I should have left the shampoo and conditioner behind because it is much easier to find that at the local Tesco than it is to find good Ranch.
- I wanted to bring a few printed photos of family and friends to hang in my room, but alas, I forgot them. I would recommend just a couple of small mementos from home so that your campus walls feel less barren and unfamiliar.
- I’m typically a bare-footing it kind of gal around the house, so I didn’t bring any slippers. However, in a more dorm-like setting, it is better to have something that can be easily slipped on for 2AM fire-drills or just wearing around in shared spaces or cold-tile floors. So, if you bring slippers from home, you won’t have to buy them once you get here . . . although, I do love these fuzzy, pink wonders that I found. 😊
Alright, you savvy travelers—did I miss anything important?
Drop a comment with your best tricks of the trade for those of us who are still new to this whole country hopping thing!