So you've got your scholarships and loans together; you've bought your plane ticket; you're all ready to go except one thing. You still haven't packed! Well, never fear. Here is the last in the series of everything you need to know before you go and we're talking about one of the most important parts - what you bring with you.
When it comes down to it, packing is one of those things that inevitably stresses people out, whether it's the anticipation of going or the fear of forgetting something or anything else. Whatever is stressing you out, here's a list of some of my favorite tips to make packing just a little less overwhelming.
- Check the weather of where you're going in one tab and pull up the weather of where you're at now in another to compare what's comfortable clothing-wise with what you've been wearing.
- Dress like the locals as much as you can. Not only will this make you a much less obvious target as a tourist for pickpocketing and tourist traps, but you'll have a better chance of making friends with locals. Pickpockets tend to recognize tourists based on the obvious differences in clothing and are more likely to target them since tourists tend to carry more money and are also stereotyped to be either confused, gullible, or distracted by the scenery.
- You'll rarely see a European man with his socks showing over his shoes. Baseball caps, cargo shorts, work jeans, athletic shoes and clothing, "dad sandals," graphic tees, beach clothing and loungewear will also tend to give you away in any country.
- As for women, tight jean shorts, athletic clothing and flipflops, bright colors, North Face style jackets, Uggs, and other typically "American" clothing will do the same.
- Research the specific customs of the country you're visiting as well. Some countries are far more conservative than the U.S. In others, it's fully typical for women to go topless to the beach. Some countries require dress codes inside cathedrals and other religious establishments. When it comes down to it, research is the best way to make sure that you're on the right path clothing-wise.
- Invest in a new purse/wallet (chain) with either anti-theft attributes or simply one that would be more difficult to pickpocket than your typical over-the-shoulder bag or back-pocket-wallet habit.
- Pack small soap/shampoo/conditioner that'll get you by for a week or so and invest in full sized bottles when you arrive. The price will be similar and this way you have more space in your suitcase and less risk of spillage.
- Bring an adaptor! Other countries have different outlets than we have in the U.S. so if you want a charged laptop and phone for your trip make sure to pack an adaptor for your chargers.
- Don't pack small appliances like hair dryers, electric razors, flat irons, curling wands, etc. if you can avoid it. Not only do these require an adaptor, but they're also manufactured to run on different electrical currents than the ones in your host country and will require a converter as well. However, there's always the chance that they'll end up frying anyway. If you absolutely need appliances like this, Target sells a converter that should work for most small appliances for $49.99.
- Pack with outfits in mind while you're deciding on what clothing to bring. Sure, you might absolutely love that leopard print leather skirt and want to bring it with you, but if you can't imagine at least two situations (or one absolutely guaranteed sitution) in which you'll actually wear it and what you'll wear it with, leave it at home.
- Basics are your new best friend. Try to bring clothing that you can easily restyle and rewear as much as possible. Think layers, mixing and matching, and clothing that can transcend specific situations. This way you can get more for each article of clothing you bring.
- Put priorities in your carry-on. If you can't go a week without it, keep it with you on the plane. The terrifying truth of the matter is that sometimes luggage gets lost along the way, so always pack an outfit or two, some spare socks and underwear, your laptop and chargers, makeup, towel, classroom necessities, and a swimsuit in your carry-on, so if worst comes to worst you're not stranded without your daily needs.
- Stock up on any medicine you need before you go. Whether it's prescription medication or if you're a frequent user of Tylenol, Apirin, Midol, or any other brand make sure you bring enough for the whole trip. You won't have access to your prescription while abroad and other countries generally have different brands than you're used to or in some cases no close equivalent. If you're bringing a prescription drug, make sure to keep it in its original bottle and keep your prescription on hand just in case!
- Make sure to talk to your physician and insurance company about obtaining an extended prescription if needed.
- Make a list earlier than you need to, before you'd ever really consider packing for your trip. This way, you can have time to add and subtract from it over time as you think of items you forgot, discover new outfits, and realize what you could easily live without.
- Once you have your list perfected, bring it with you on your trip so you can check off everything you brought with when you're repacking. This will help you stay organized and keep you from accidentally leaving something halfway around the world (which would be arguably worse than leaving it at home).
- Tag your luggage with all your information, but also with something (like a bright bandana or scarf) that will make it more easily identifiable when it comes around the carousel at the end of your flight.
- Stow your heaviest items at the bottom of your suitcase (when it's stood upright) to keep it better balanced while you're rolling it through crowds and between terminals.
Hopefully now you're pretty set to take off for your trip! Between all the paperwork and loans and the flight information, packing and planning and just the general nerves of traveling for an extended period of time, the whole experience can feel overwhelming. But, no matter how crazy it gets, remember that you're about to embark on a journey that you'll remember for the rest of your life. You're going to experience things that you would never experience otherwise and that's pretty awesome. I know I'm excited.
Until next time,
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<p>I’m a twenty year old student living in Indianapolis, born and raised in Kokomo, IN. All my life I’ve watched the Food Network and the Travel Channel and movies about people pursuing passions outside the norm and experiencing life first and foremost. I love new experiences. I love new foods, new people, new perspectives, learning at all times from everything around me. I’ll try anything once (at least), whether its skydiving or swimming with sharks or the kind of food only Andrew Zimmerman would enjoy. When I’m not studying for school or working, I like to stay busy. I’m a writer, a traveler, a reader, a cook, an adventurer, a student long after I graduate. In everything that I do, I look to do it with the kind of enthusiasm that comes with experiencing new things and appreciating every opportunity that I am granted.</p>