Packing, Unpacking, then Packing Again

Katrina Matthews-Mcgann
December 20, 2016

I’m going to argue that one of the greatest parts about studying abroad and traveling around to different places is the souvenirs. Not only are you in this awesome country and having a great time, but there are also mementos available for purchase so you can always look back and remember that great time when your eye catches that city-themed shot glass in your cabinet. And of course, there are all the souvenirs and gifts you have to get for your family and friends back at home. Seriously, souvenirs are the greatest.

The only problem with buying all those great keepsakes is the amount of space they take up in your luggage. Now, if you’re a savvy traveler who knows what they’re doing when they go abroad you probably made sure you had some extra space in your luggage before leaving the United States to account for the extra items you’ll be bringing back with you. If you’re like me, then you did not do this thing and are currently trying to figure out how you’re going to fit all your clothes (both the ones you brought and the new ones you purchased abroad) and all of your souvenirs (both big and small) into the one suitcase/carryon you brought with you.

As I have been struggling to pack and repack my luggage for two days now, I thought it would be a good idea to share some of the space saving techniques I’ve had to employ:

1.     Get rid of some stuff. This one is kind of obvious. If you don’t have room in your luggage you really need to reevaluate what it is you’re trying to bring back home. If you have a few ratty t-shirts or jeans that just don’t fit you anymore, go ahead and toss them out. Toiletries you can definitely leave behind as they can sometimes weigh down your bag and are readily available to you at the nearest Wal-Mart when you get back.

2.     Put stuff into other stuff. You know that one piece of advice that you’ve definitely heard before but never thought about applying it to your own life? Well that advice for me was putting small things in your shoes in your luggage. For some reason, my brain decided this wasn’t a thing I needed to seriously consider. But after the struggle of packing to leave, I discovered the glory of extra space in my shoes. Those little items that are really awkward to fit in your suitcase on their own? Put them in your shoe. Have a toiletry bag with a little extra space? Through some of your socks in there to save room somewhere else. You really won’t appreciate the magic of putting things into other things until you try it for yourself.

3.     Space bags to the rescue. If you read my first blog, you know that I’m a huge fan of space bags. They’re so convenient. Seriously, you need to trust me on this. Space bags do this crazy thing of… wait for it… saving space. That pile of clothes you have that you can’t make fit in your suitcase could easily be shrunk to about a third of its original size by putting it into a space bag. I really love these things. If you didn’t bring any with you when you started your study abroad journey, go to a local supermarket, or better yet, as your host mom (if you have one) where you can find one. Trust me. She knows.

Now, if worse comes to worse, you might have to shell out some money, buy another suitcase, and pay that extra baggage fee at the airport. But hey, think of it this way, you’re paying maybe $150 extra more dollars to not only make your family and friends happy with the gifts you have, but also your future-self happy because you took the time to invest in a) luggage you can use again later and b) space to make sure those extra fragile mementos stay safe.

I sincerely hope this helps whoever happened to stumble upon this blog today and wish you all the best as you pack and then unpack and then repack all the great things you have as you start the long journey back home.  

Katrina Matthews-Mcgann

<p>I&#39;m a third year college student excited about seeing everything this amazing planet has to offer. Originally from Oregon, I&#39;ve slowly been finding my place in the world through travels throughout North America, China, and now Europe! I hope this blog offers advice, inspiration, and a bit of humor for any current and future travelers.</p>

Destination:
Term:
2016 Fall
Home university:
Pomona College
Major:
International Relations
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