Pointers on Packing

So I am sure many of you are worried about what to bring with you to another country for a four-month-long trip, and how you will fit it all into your limited luggage. Well, I have to tell you – you probably don’t need to bring as much as you think.  Luckily, a girl who had gone on the trip before me had made a great packing list for the new group of travelers to reference.  I will be using items from her list and supplementing with what I brought for myself, what I should have brought, and what I probably could have left at home. I will provide the packing list towards the bottom, but first a few tips on packing.


As you can see here and from my About Me page, I took a purple luggage set with me to Italy: a large suitcase, a small carry-on suitcase, and an accessory laptop bag. Both the carry-on and accessory came with me on the plane, while the large suitcase was put below (check your own airline for luggage requirements). In my case, flying with AirFrance, my large suitcase was allowed to weigh 50 pounds, the carry-on was 25 pounds, and the accessory laptop bag did not get weighed.

Wait, what? The accessory you take doesn’t get weighed? That’s right! So fill that baby up with your heavy stuff! I put my Italian tour book in there, my Italian language textbook, all of my important papers and documents, my purse/money, my phone and charger, a scarf – really anything I could fit in there – oh, yeah, and my actual laptop. It’s the best place to keep your important stuff, where it is easily accessible and securely on your person.


While filling my large suitcase, I filled up some make-up bags that my luggage set came with. It’s a great idea to also secure liquid items in ziplock bags. They were great for organizing my things and keeping them locked up tight. One was designated for medicine, the other was for hair/makeup/shower/other supplies.  I was lucky I used these bags because when I opened my beauty bag in Italy, one of my nail polishes had exploded! It was easy to get off my bottles of shampoo and things, but it would have been much worse all over my clothes!

When packing clothes, think of items that you can mix and match and comfortably wear again and again. Make sure you check the average weather reports for wherever you are visiting and for what time of year you will be there. A lot of students who came to Italy definitely overpacked on summer clothes and under packed warmer clothes for the fall season.

folding shirt

A space-saver when packing clothes is to roll them instead of fold them. Trust me, my former-Girl-Scout-grandmother taught me this years ago and it works like a charm!

Also, as strange as it may sound, bring clothes that you won’t mind throwing away in four months. As often as you wear them, they will get worn out, and this will also leave you space for the new things you buy to bring home!

Another thing to consider is bringing an empty suitcase if you plan to shop a lot abroad (or to buy one there to fill up). It costs extra, but it might end up being worth it to save your stuff. Coming home, most students had to pay for overweight charges on their luggage and even throw some of their things out at the airport. It is easy to get carried away and buy tons of souvenirs, but make sure you have room for them all!

Finally, here is the basic packing list! Check out Rick Steve’s packing list and Traveller’s Point packing list too!

Packing List
• A couple pairs of jeans
• Sundresses
• Sweaters (it does get chilly! Don’t pack only for summer weather!)
• Shorts
• Socks (I took probably ten pairs since I lived with four other girls and had to wait my turn to do laundry)
• Underwear (10-15)/bras (my nude strapless bra was priceless there for everything I could wear it with)
• Nice dress/skirt (to go out in)
• Nice tops/skirts (something for events such as formal dinners or an opera/show/etc.)
• PJ’s/comfy clothes (pajamas can easily be re-worn at night, so don’t waste much space on these)
• Tennis Shoes and workout clothes if you want
• Flats (comfortable ones that are okay to get beat up from the cobblestone street!)
• Walking shoes other than Tennis shoes (I took an awesome pair of Sperry’s that held up wonderfully. I still wear them!)
• House Shoes (flip flops – the apartment floors will turn your feet black!)
• A warm jacket! I did not take one and had to buy one, which was nice if you want to spend the money, but they can be pricey so pack one if you want to save some cash

• Passport/Visa COPIES (put one in every piece of luggage/bag/purse that you take)
• Empty water bottle (reusable bottle saves tons of money)
• Box of plastic baggies (snack size/ sandwich size is fine)
• 2 boxes of tampons/and or pads
• Small bottles of shampoo, soap, mouthwash, toothpaste
• Face wash
• Makeup remover
• Makeup
• Nail polish (3)
• Hairbrush
• Toothbrush/toothpaste
• Straightener/hairdryer (my straightener did not work in Italy, and they can be ruined by the power outlets. I bought my own hair dryer there for about ten dollars)
• Medicine/supplies (cold/flu, Tylenol, Motrin, cough drops, antibacterial cream, band-aids, pain killers… etc)
• Beach towel for first week
• European ADAPTER (make sure the voltage is appropriate for laptops, phones, straighteners/hair dryers… etc) find one at Radio Shack
• Laptop/phone/camera – all with chargers
• Money holder/wallet/purse
• Money for the first couple days (I started by transferring 500 dollars into euro at my bank)
• Planner for school, folders, pens, pencils, and school books (school supplies can look slightly different from ours abroad)
• Masking tape/double sided tape
• Photos from home to put in your room

What items would you add to the list that you can’t live without?


2 thoughts on “Pointers on Packing

  1. Nice article! Something I found helpful when packing for my trip was actually laying all of my clothes flat (unfolded) on the bottom of my suitcase and then keep stacking. I fit an UNBELIEVABLE amount of clothes in my bag that way! Also, on the way over, I packed a suitcase and then placed in inside of another suitcase. This way I did not pay for it on the way there (just the way back), and I had an extra bag coming home! I love that photos from home are on your list. I feel like a lot of people overlook that, but it was really nice having those photos while abroad. I think the only thing I would add to the list would be deodorant- maybe it was just me, but deodorant in Europe was odd.

    1. Thanks for the great feedback! What a wonderful idea to pack a suitcase inside of a suitcase. And I guess I forgot to mention I brought my own deodorant as well! I didn’t even use European deodorant, but I will take your word for it 🙂

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