Are you a compulsive over-packer? Packing procrastinator? Inherently disorganized? All types of individuals are welcome here, and there will be no judgment – I personally fall into all three categories. So, given my unfortunate tendencies, I had to take some preventative actions. Here are some tips that I have found very helpful over the years. This is how I packed for my semester abroad here in Barcelona, but it can be applied to shorter trips as well.
To begin, do some research.
What is the weather going to be like?
I know you are most likely hoping that it will be 70 degrees (fahrenheit) and sunny, but do not dress for the weather you want. If you are staying for an extended period of time, where the weather will be changing, pack clothes that can be layered. For example, I packed a few tank tops, but they can easily be worn with a sweater and a jacket. If you are bringing dresses, bring some dark panty hose that can be worn underneath – a fashion staple here in Europe.
Look up the fashion trends in the area you are visiting!
Some fashion is universal, but there are certain things that can mark you as a tourist. Look into it. What I discovered in Barcelona is that most everyone wears layers, scarves, dark + neutral colors, jeans and some sort of boot / bootie. There is no “work-out” fashion culture here like in the USA – you do not see young women donning LuluLemon leggings and multicolored sports bras. You do not need to go out and buy a completely new wardrobe – work with what you have. Buy a few choice pieces if necessary. Here are a few looks that I found before traveling to Barcelona, that I can confirm are currently trending here (found on Pinterest).
The first round of packing is like a rough draft of an essay.
You are going to have some editing, rephrasing and a bit of deleting. For me, it’s always difficult to narrow down what I bring. But I follow these strict rules:
- Make a packing list – it can be easy to forget things like underwear and socks.
- If you can only wear it one time, do not bring it. Or, if you really need it, limit yourself to only packing a single one-time-wear.
- Bring items that can be layered and re-worn easily, preferably ones that are easy to wash.
- After you’re done, have someone else assess what you’ve narrowed down. I always have my mom look over my “final” decision – and she ends up removing multiple things from the pile.
Fill the empty space is in your suitcase!
ROLL your clothing instead of folding it. Smaller things like tanks, socks and underwear can be stuffed inside your shoes.
Rules For Your Carry-On
- Bring a scarf / blanket / sweatshirt to keep you warm on the flight
- Pack a little change of clothes + a few toiletries incase you find yourself facing an unanticipated overnight stay
- Pack some sleeping aids, or whatever you need to get you through the flight. For me, my go-to flight relaxer is wine.
- Bring a good book! Maybe, even, a book about the city you are traveling to!
Leave Room In Your Suitcase / Backpack!
There is a BIG chance you’re going to find something you’ll want to take home – clothes, shoes, a bag, some sort of souvenir. Make sure that there is room in your bag, so you can take it home with you. Shipping something overseas can get very expensive.
Also, if at all possible, I’d recommend bringing a backpack instead of a suitcase. Or, if you are staying for a long period of time, bring a backpack along with your suitcase, for weekend travel. Backpacks are much easier to store on planes, and you can typically check it for free. If you have a suitcase, most airlines charge you an extra $25 or so. Also, backpacks are a lot easier to get around with you as you are trying to get to your destination. Europe is full of beautiful, disaster-prone cobblestone streets, that love to trap the wheels of your suitcase.
With love + hope for improved packing,