How to Pack from the World's Worst Packer

Headshot of Tatyana Masters.
Tatyana Masters
January 16, 2023
Image of a hand holding up an orange guidebook titled Italy with a maroon suitcase in the background.

Vado a Roma! This spring, I’ll be living and studying in the beautiful country of Italy; cozying up in family-owned restaurants, stumbling through my shaky Italian, meeting new people, along with studying journalism, and the world around us. Italy has inspired some of the greatest artists, thinkers, and prolific figures for centuries, and as famous opera composer Giuseppe Verdi said, “You may have the world, if I may have Italy.”

To prepare for this trip, I’ve read dozens of blogs, watched a plethora of YouTube videos and TikToks, and spoken with people who have graced the cobblestone paths of the Italian countryside, to seek advice on what exactly I need for this new adventure. As one of the worst packers to have ever traveled (I famously brought just 3 pairs of running shorts and 2 t-shirts for a month-long trip to Illinois in December), I am planning far in advance. Spero che posso vive la dolce vita!

  1. A capsule wardrobe is a MUST.

Bringing suitcase after suitcase on an airplane across the world gets pricey and cumbersome quickly. A capsule wardrobe consists of a limited number of staple pieces that easily complement each other. The pieces are typically neutral colors and higher quality, so they don’t have to be replaced or mended as quickly as cheaper pieces and can complement each other easily.

Investing in just 2-3 pieces higher quality pieces will make putting together a simple, clean-looking outfit significantly easier. This type of wardrobe makes it far easier to create different outfits with a smaller collection of clothing.

  1. Items to document your time abroad

This could include a camera, a journal, a scrapbook, or whatever medium you prefer, to remember your time in this new chapter of your life. I love to take photos, so my film and DSLR camera will be taking the journey with me. I also really enjoy journaling and like to include ticket stubs, images, flower petals, or various souvenirs within the pages of my writing to remember those small moments I might have otherwise forgotten.

  1. Practical items are SO important!

Shocker: the brands you use at home might not be available abroad. Packing extra toiletries, medications, and makeup that have specific formulations you feel strongly about is really important. It will make you feel much more comfortable knowing you have plenty of the products you love and not feel like you have to worry about hunting them down abroad.

Do some research! Find what products are available in the country you are traveling to and see how readily you could get them if needed. Again, this will ease any worries you have about getting these and help you create a plan to get these necessities.

  1. Technology needs

Different countries have different outlets, adapters, etc., so do ample research ahead of time and make sure you have all the necessary chargers and adapters for your phones, computers, tablets, cameras, etc., to accommodate those changes.

As an avid reader, I am also investing in an e-reader. I burn through books like nobody’s business and purchasing dozens of books as I read them will ultimately be very difficult to transport back after studying abroad.

  1. Safety first!

I’ve lived in big cities my entire life as a female, meaning, I’m constantly on alert in public spaces. Traveling abroad, while exciting and fun, can also be met with tricky situations. Often airlines confiscate things like pepper spray or other self-defense weapons, but luckily, there are other options available.

A simple Amazon or Etsy search will bring up dozens of keychain protection items including small alarms that make increasingly loud screeching sounds and flash bright lights if you pull the bottom when in danger. You can also find keychains with 2 holes in it for your fingers. The edges are sharp so if needed, you can throw someone off by jabbing them in the side. (I am not trained in ANY of this nor sponsored by any product, so please do your own research, and find what works best for you!)

It's also important to have a passport protector or cover so you keep your student visa and identification safe from any wear and tear or theft. It would be really difficult if you lost your identification abroad and add unnecessary frustrations to a trip that is supposed to be informative and exciting.

I am so excited to get to Italy and begin my journey in Rome. I have always dreamed of living in Italy and now I finally have the opportunity to do so, while studying my favorite things: a dream come true. Soon I’ll be sipping cappuccinos and eating gelato in Italy with new friends, new adventures, and a fully packed suitcase by my side.

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Headshot of Tatyana Masters.

Tatyana Masters

My name is Tatyana Masters and I'm from Washington D.C. I can often be found with a book to read and camera on hand, looking for a new adventure or stranger to meet. I go to school in New York City, so in my free time, I like to ride the subway to different areas of the city and interview interesting people I meet for stories!

2023 Spring
Home University:
Fordham University
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