There’s a fine line between over-packing and under-packing that no Collegiette wants to cross. If you over-pack, you’re that frantic person who sweats as she tries to squeeze her overstuffed carry-on bag in the tiny metal cage next to airport security. “See? It fits!” Yes, but at what cost? You just crushed your sunglasses. But then if you under-pack, you’re that girl who has to hang her “shower washed” knickers all over the bathroom. No one wants to share a hotel room with that girl. So snap out of this hypothetical nightmare and pack smartly. I was that person one too many times, but eventually I learned how to pack for every sort of trip. Here’s what I’ve learned:
1. Clothes: Clothes take up a lot of room in your bag so you need to be careful. First of all, you should consider where you’re going and what the weather will be like. I suggest staying as up-to-date on the weather as possible and checking multiple times in the days leading up to your trip. With summer coming up you probably want to pack light, breathable clothes. I vouch from experience; you do not want to be stuck wearing black leggings under the Roman sun in July. Secondly, you need to see what type of activities you’ll be doing on your trip. If you plan on visiting the Vatican, for example, there’s actually a dress code you need to adhere to. Third thing, you need to count the days and nights you’ll be there then plan outfits accordingly. Don’t just pack your favorite magenta jersey shirt and favorite plaid skirt. Although those are your favorites, you’ll be stuck with two peas that don’t make a pod. Pack black bandage skirts, white pants, tan skater skirts—things that will match with the majority of your tops. Last of all, if you’re going on a two week-long trip or more: don’t pack 28 outfits. Chances are you’ll have access to a washing machine, Laundromat, or laundry service, depending on where you go and where you stay, so washing your clothes can happen. Also, pack clothing you can get more than one wear out of, like jeans. Disclaimer: this excludes any and all underwear, please. Last but not least, bring workout clothes only if you think you’re going to use them. The same goes for beachwear!
2. Shoes: Pack comfortable shoes! In other words, don’t bring those-super-cute-Jeffrey-Campbell-shoes-that-I-love-so-much-but-they-kill-my-feet-in-just-one-wear. Despite how much you love those shoes: you’re going to give yourself a blister that won’t go away the entire trip. Either you’ll have to wear them the entire trip or buy a new pair of shoes (which I’m not exactly complaining about). Then pack one pair of heels (neutral color), comfortable flats, and sneakers. I also suggest breaking in a pair of shoes before you bring them; nothing worse then finding out how uncomfortable a pair of shoes are without alternatives.
3. Toiletries: This is the most crucial part of your packing process because some of your toiletries are not available everywhere. You should consider products you use on a daily basis that you will need, such as: makeup wipes, contact lenses, eye drops, makeup, medicine, moisturizer, deodorant, shampoo, hairbrush, prescription glasses, conditioner, feminine products (yes, I just said that), razor, perfume and body wash. Your hotel might provide shower items like shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, but it depends. If you know your hotel is the kind that sells preservatifs (condoms) in a vending machine next to the concierge, you may need to plan accordingly in terms of shower items. Sometimes it’s easier to buy shampoo at your at a pharmacy nearby your hotel, so you don’t have to lug it in your bag. Liquids weigh down your bag and they run the risk of exploding all over your precious clothes. (If you do carry liquids, I suggest packing them in large Ziploc bag before placing them in suitcase). Finally, it’s always a good idea to pack a few Advil or Ibuprofen capsules. You never know when you may need it.
4. Four P’s: Phone, Passport (ID), Papers (documents, tickets), and Payment (money). At all times you should either have the four P’s with you or know of their whereabouts. You should have these four with you while you’re travelling. If you want to leave them at the hotel during the day, only do so if you have access to a safe. If not, you may want to get one of those sexy money belts you wear underneath your shirt. Yes, just like the guy from Eurotrip.
5. Accessories: If you’re going somewhere with a lot of pickpockets, like train stations in Europe, you want to be smart about your purse. I usually bring messenger bags (bags that go across your chest) because they are hard to pickpocket and you don’t have to carry them around all day. Make sure you have a purse for the day, for the night, and one for the beach (if you’re going somewhere with a beach). Boss status: find a purse that works for day trips and nightclubs. Next, bring a pair of sunglasses because there’s nothing more unpleasant than squinting in the sun for two hours because you forgot to bring sunglasses. Finally, pack one or two statement earrings, necklaces, and/or scarves. Don’t bring too many, as not to weigh down your bag, but bring some to dress up your outfit.
The most important part of the packing process is to know where you’re going. In other words, make sure you do your research before you pack because you don’t want to bring only shorts and tank tops if you’re going to Argentina in August. Why? Because when it’s summer in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s winter in the Southern Hemisphere. Another reason to research is to make sure your wardrobe will be “respected” by the culture and not make you look so obviously/obnoxiously American. Also, make sure you pack a light jacket if you’re going to Paris in June. Why? Summers in France can be oddly cold, especially at night. And if you’re going somewhere with a lot of crime you don’t want to bring flashy jewelry or clothes. Once you’re planned packing is done, all that’s left to do is enjoy your vacation! Bon voyage Collegiettes!