An Over-Packer's Attempt at Minimalism - Preparing for Italy

Andrea Zelen
August 19, 2018

To be clear, my use of the term minimalist is quite loose. I've always been an overly cautious traveler, preparing for the possibility of bitter cold in July and scorching heat in January, so the idea of getting three months worth of clothing and supplies into a suitcase was daunting and seemed impossible.

My first plan of action was to look at suggested packing lists, but I quickly realized that they were going to be almost no help. They all seemed unrealistic in either having an incredible amount of stuff (packing 100+ items of clothing will have me prepared, but I'd also need to drag three suitcases through the cobblestone streets of Siena alone) or nothing at all (there is no way I can limit myself of two pairs of pants for four months).

So instead, I did something more time consuming, but in the end incredibly helpful. First, I made my own list of what I deemed as necessary items for the season -- sweaters, jackets, jeans, dresses, shorts, workout clothes, and a few other things -- as well as how many pieces of each item seemed reasonable to bring. I then pulled out all of the clothes I would want to take with me to Italy, things that I felt would help me dress like a local while still being comfortable. Then I did a second round of picking stuff out from that pile, matching the items on my list to what I had selected, and getting feedback from my little sister (who has no problem telling me what she likes and doesn't like). This narrowed down my pile significantly, and I was left with a useful and manageable selection.

As for the toiletries I packed, my strategy was to keep it incredibly simple.  I decided to skip out on bringing most of my products to Italy, except for essential makeup, skincare, and travel sized items, as well as some tried-and-true cold medicine. It seemed much more convenient to buy the items that I'll be using up quickly in Italy, rather than lugging them over from the States.

With the start date of the program in just under a week, having things ready is making the realization of what I'm about to do set in. I'm already in Europe, visiting family in Serbia before heading out on my grand adventure in Italy for the semester. But in a few days, I'll be starting my solo journey to Italy, and I can't wait to see what is in store for me.

Andrea Zelen

<p>I am a senior at the University of Illinois at Chicago, studying Communications and Business Administration. I was born in Serbia but grew up on the north side of Chicago, so I have a&nbsp;major love for the city. I have a passion for food, art, and adventure. I’m always ready to try something new and to see where life takes me, and this semester is my time to try out everything. I’m excited to share my study abroad story and see what excitement&nbsp;awaits me.</p>

2018 Fall
Home University:
University of Illinois at Chicago
Chicago, IL
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