Packing for Life Abroad

Hey everyone!

It turns out that packing for a 9 month stay in a foreign country can turn out to be a pretty daunting task. An empty suitcase does not look very frightening by itself, but once you start piling in the clothes, toiletries, and whatever else you decided to bring, it can get a bit intimidating. At times it can even seem impossible, especially if you are worried about keeping it under a certain weight. However, we have some tips that will hopefully make packing, regardless of the length of stay, a bit better.

Mark’s packed suit-case & carry-on

First, the timing has to be just right to guarantee the best packing experience. Some people try to start packing little by little, a month or more away from their departure date. This allows the stress of packing to loom about in your mind. If you are leaving your home country for 9 months, you should be worrying about other things during that time, like spending time with family and friends. We would suggest starting a pile of things you want to bring and adding to it every once in a while, so you are able to keep track of what you need to get. Just leave the suitcases in the attic until you are ready to bang out the packing with full focus about 1-2 weeks from leaving.

Amanda’s pile of clothes/shoes to be packed

Next tip, roll-roll-roll-roll all your clothes! You may have heard this tip before and we just want to reiterate. This technique is especially good for lightweight clothes such as tee shirts (even rolled jeans will help conserve space.) However, there are some things you do not want to roll, such as jackets and heavier sweatshirts. It’s better to fold this and get them as flat as possible because they take up more room when rolled. Another suggestion is to wear your larger coat or sweater during your flight to save space in your suitcase. 

Amanda’s carry-on

In the final stage of packing there is the elimination phase. This comes when you can’t close your suitcase or it’s overweight. Aside from getting motivated to pack, this might be the hardest part of the process. In the end, if your luggage is still over the weight limit, you may have to say goodbye to some of your clothing. How do you know which items to discard? We like to make sure that our most versatile clothing stays in our suitcases. If there is something that can only be used in 1 or 2 outfits it is safe to leave it at home. Also, if there is something in your suitcase that you think has a decent chance of going unused, leave it.

If you are going long-term overseas, don’t forget that you can buy things such as shampoo, deodorant, razors, etc. Those items will just weigh down your suitcase. We suggest bringing a travel size of each in your suitcase. Also, if you are worried about your bag being overweight, we suggest packing heavy items, such as pants and shoes in your carry-on. In the end, it’s better to have the things you want and like with you overseas, but be aware of airline prices for overweight or extra baggage ahead of time! You do not want to show up to the airport and get hit with a $100 fee for an overweight bag… We’re speaking from some personal experience and it’s not fun.

To end this post, we’d like to leave you with some important things you SHOULD pack with you when traveling abroad!

  • Watch
  • Tums
  • Allergy medicine
  • A side bag or backpack
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Rain Jacket
  • Locks for luggage

Packing is always hard, but if you take the time, it’ll work out in the end! Stay tuned for our upcoming posts about Barcelona, Sevilla and more!

-Mark & Amanda

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