The Study Abroad Student’s Guide to Packing for Weekend Trips

Being able to easily visit and explore different countries is one of the best perks of studying abroad in Europe. Because of classes, most of this adventuring takes place in 2-3 day intervals, which leads to constant packing and repacking of duffels and backpacks. Packing for such a small amount of time may seem easy, but ensuring you have everything you need isn't always that simple. As you travel more and more, you quickly learn what works and what doesn't. After about five trips to places like Barcelona and Dublin, I learned a thing or two about what and how to pack for these super fun, quick trips - let's get you ready to go!

Keep All Liquids on the Top of Your Bag

If you're traveling by plane, it's always good to keep in mind that there are strict regulations regarding the amount of liquid you can take in your carry-on. Most airlines ask you to fit your liquid containers (all under 100ml/3.4oz) in a quart sized plastic bag. To be better prepared, TSA approved clear plastic bags can be purchased on Amazon, a sure way to avoid having to repack or give up your liquid products at the security counter. Once that's ready to go, remember to pack it last. This way, if you do need to get it out of your bag, you won't hold up the line behind you digging through your entire suitcase.

Use a Duffel or Backpack

If you're traveling only for the weekend, ditch the suitcase - it's only going to make it easier to overpack, plus those extra luggage fees can add up pretty quickly. Airlines do not charge for a single cabin bag, so long as it fits under the seat in front of you, you're good to go. All airlines will have their desired measurements readily available on their website, but most backpacks and duffels are safely within range. Some airlines, such as RyanAir, will often allow you to carry a small handbag in addition to your one cabin bag. Other airlines, such as EasyJet, are more strict with their regulations, so make sure you leave room to stuff your cross body bag into your duffel if you need to. Pack light and put that money towards all of that Belgian chocolate you've been dreaming of.

Account for Souvenirs

No matter how hard you try, the packing process to return home always proves more difficult than the initial packing process. You always leave yourself wondering, “How did I fit this all in the first place?” Especially when catching a 6:00am flight after a night out drinking in Berlin, you often cannot be bothered to Marie Kondo fold your clothes perfectly. This simple solution to this is to not pack your luggage to the brim. This always seems difficult in practice, but you will be thanking yourself in the long run. It also accounts for the souvenirs you inevitably buy while traveling because you just know that your mother would love a ring holder from La Sagrada Familia and simply cannot say no.

Don’t Be Afraid to Rewear Outfits

I know it sounds scary, but it is totally okay to only pack one pair or jeans or one pair of shoes when going away for three days. I promise your Instagram followers will not notice the repetitive black jeans on your feed. Opt for different tops or a dress or skirt one day to break up the wearing of the jean you brought. If you can rewear the same pair of jeans to class for three days in a row, you can do the same thing in Rome. No one will notice (except the people you travel with, so make sure you choose the right, non-judgemental people). Vacations too often can often feel like a fashion as you try to snap the right photo to share with friends in family. Nonetheless, remember that you can always crop out your shoes in your picture so no one will know that all you wore in Prague was the same pair of Stan Smiths.

Do Not Be Afraid of Leaving Things Behind

In reality, everywhere you travel in Europe will have a drug store or bodega that will have toothpaste, tampons, or Advil if you forget it. Thus, it is okay to leave certain emergency based essentials behind. It leaves room in your luggage for clothes and other personal items that cannot be bought at convenience stores. Being prepared for anything is important, but who could have predicted that you would get food poisoning in Greece? No worries. There is a pharmacy down the street from your AirBnB. As long as you have everything you need to keep yourself clothed and comfortable, you are ready to face a three day excursion. Anything else you could possibly need will most likely be readily available to you wherever you go. 

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