Packing. I have always loved packing. To me, there is just something about pulling out everything you want to bring on an adventure with you (and consequently making your room a mess) and then packing it all into a bag you will essentially be living out of. But packing for 4-5 months abroad has been quite the adventure all on its own. I had decided to get a jump start on packing and start about a week before I left, but… I still found myself packing the night before.
So, to all you future travelers, here are some tips and tricks I have learned throughout previous travels, and while packing for study abroad.
1. The Basics
Before you get started, it’s a great idea to look into the baggage and weight allowance for the airlines you will be flying with. The last thing you want to do is have everything packed and ready to go and as you check in at the airport be told you
have too many bags or they weigh too much.
2. Make a List
I cannot stress this enough. I am a list-maker by nature anyways, but without my packing list I think I would’ve lost my way and ended up drowning in the piles of clothes, shoes, and other items I was packing. Start by making a list of what you absolutely need to bring. Make sure to research the weather and even search for packing lists from others who have gone to the same destination you are heading to. Then build your list from there: what do you want to bring? Be realistic, you can’t pack your whole bedroom and you can’t bring you beloved dog either. But you can pack pictures from home and bring a favorite blanket or decoration for your new home away from home.
3. Check it Twice
Okay, so neither of us are Santa but he’s definitely onto something with checking his list twice. Go through your list again and make sure you have what you need and have something that you want. It’s a bonus when those items overlap—less weight to pack! I found it to be incredibly helpful to lay out everything I was bringing so I could see it all. I also suggest pairing all the clothing you are brining into outfits; if something doesn’t fit into the outfits you’ve laid out—leave it. This is also helpful when you get to the end of packing if you have to take a few items out due to weight you can easily eliminate an article of clothing based on how many outfits it goes with—the less items it matches the easier the decision to leave it at home.
4. Pack it!
Once you know everything you are going to bring start packing! I am so glad I started packing a week before I left. I started by making the list and laying it all out—then I packed it. I left everything I was going to pack laying out for a few days just to see it and think about what I was packing. Was there anything I could go without? Was there anything I didn’t initially pack but realized I wanted to bring? Go ahead and start packing your stuff as soon as you figure out what you’re bringing. This will help you gauge where you are in terms of space and weight.
5. Roll with it… Literally
You may feel a bit ridiculous at first, but after you pack all your luggage, roll around your house with it. You want to make sure you can handle it by yourself. The last thing you want to do is be rolling around on cobblestone streets, up staircases, and through the woods (hopefully not literally) with bags that you can barely manage by yourself. You want to handle your bags—don’t let your bags handle you.
6. Check that Bag! (or in my case—Czech that bag!)
You did it! You’re packed and ready to jet-off to have an amazing semester in a land far, far away. But keep in mind at some point you have to come home and you’ll probably have more stuff to bring back with you from all your travels so make sure to leave space and weight to bring home souvenirs.
Happy Travels (and studies)!