Coming up I have a 15 day study aboard trip where I will be going to Spain and France. One of the biggest stresses of going abroad can be packing for your trip. However, this is my 6th time going abroad so I have picked up some tips & tricks to make it as easy as possible!
Since I am only going to be going for 15 days, I am bringing a large suitcase to check, my Vera Bradley Weekender for my carry-on, and my Longchamp bag for my personal item to keep under the seat ahead of me. Depending on how long you are going, you might be able to get by with a little less or you might have to bring another suitcase. I definitely could get by with bringing a smaller suitcase to check. However, I want to make sure I have room to buy things while I am abroad.
When it comes to purchasing a suitcase, I encourage you to buy one in person so you can “test it out” and see if you like it. When buying a suitcase, make sure you have an idea of the size you are looking for. This is especially important if you are buying a carry-on suitcase since there are size restrictions. I got mine at TJ Maxx and it’s a Swiss Gear suitcase. TJ Maxx is a great place to get a suitcase because they have some great brands at a discounted price. I don’t think it’s worth it to get expensive suitcases when it comes to checked bags since sometimes they can get beat up when getting loaded/unloaded.
When it comes to what style of bag you get, it’s up to you! I like the fabric suitcases over hard cases because I feel like I can’t fit as much into the hard cases. I also prefer the four wheel suitcases. I think it makes it easier to get around the airport with them. Make sure when you are looking at suitcases to check out the wheel and see if they all roll properly.
Important Must Haves
When you decide to go abroad make sure the first thing you do is GET A PASSPORT! If you already have a passport make sure you check the expiration date to see if it will be good throughout your trip. While abroad you will usually have your passport on you at all times. Because of this, I like to have a cute passport holder. I use to have a cheap one from Target but just upgraded to a Kate Spade one thanks to my mom! You don’t have to get a passport holder. I just think it makes it easier to keep track of your passport by adding some color to it.
Another important thing to know when going abroad is what type of currency do they use. Since I am going to Spain and France I had to get Euros to bring along. I suggest getting some before you leave at a bank. However you can also exchange money to the correct currency when you get there. Make sure to call your debit/credit card company before leaving and let them know how long you will be gone, along with what countries you are planning on going to. If you don’t do this the debit/credit card company might think that your card is stolen and shut off your card making it so you can’t use it. It is also suggested to bring a copy of your passport with you in case you lose yours to help with the process of getting a new one abroad. I also think it doesn’t hurt to leave one back home with someone as well. I also like to bring with me a copy of my itinerary if you have one, along with all of the hotels you are staying at with phone numbers and addresses.
When it comes to technology I usually bring quite a bit. I bring my IPhone since I can use IMessage while abroad and don’t have to worry about an international plan. I also bring my IPad and Kindle. I usually try to avoid bringing a laptop unless absolutely necessary since it can weigh things down. I can get by with my IPad most of the time though. I am also bringing my Fitbit Flex with me since you usually do a lot of walking when abroad and I’m interested to see exactly how many steps I will get. When I’m on the plane or on the bus traveling between locations, I like to listen to music. I suggest getting noise canceling headphones to bring along. It’s also important to buy adapters and converters to bring with since you can’t just plug in your device to outlets when abroad. Before buying, look up what type you need for the area/areas you are going. Lastly don’t forget to bring all your chargers for the technology you bring! I like to keep mine all in a large zip lock bag so I can keep track of everything.
Makeup & Toiletries
First I want to start off by saying I strongly suggest that you invest in a travel makeup case like this.
I got mine at Vera Bradley. It makes life easier when it comes to organizing and keeping track of all your stuff. In my travel makeup case I usually pack: my makeup, face wash, shampoo/conditioner, lotion, make-up removing wipes, razor, shaving cream, toothbrush/paste, makeup setting spray, moisturizer, hairspray, dry shampoo, deodorant, tweezers, q-tips, ponytails, bobby pins, heat protectant, and body wash. I know that is a long list and a lot to fit into a little space. However to make sure I can fit it all, I buy items that are travel size or pour my products into travel sized containers. Some of these items you can get by without, but I like to stick to my usual products as much as possible. For example, your hotel most likely will come with shampoo and conditioner but I like the current products I’m using. Other items that I bring that I pack separately are: perfume, headbands, , straightener, brush, and comb. Keep in mind while packing that if you are bringing just a carry-on and not checking a bag you have restrictions for how many liquids you can bring with you. There might be other items that you need to bring with you based on your everyday getting ready routine.
Clothing & Accessories
When it comes to clothing and accessories to bring, it definitely depends on where you are going, when you are going, how long you are going for, and what you are doing once you get there. As I mentioned I am going to Spain and France in June for 15 days. The weather should be 70s-80s while I am there. On my trip I am going to be doing things that will need me to be in outfits varying from less dressy to dressy. This is what I am packing to bring with me for clothing and accessories.
1 Pair of Dressy Shorts & 3 Tops to Match
3 Casual Tank Tops
1 Pair of Athletics Shorts, Yoga Pants, and Cropped Yoga Pants
5 Pairs of Shoes
Other Items To Bring
- Hand Sanitizer
- Wet Wipes
- Medicine (Advil, Cold Medicine, Etc.)
- First Aid Kit
- Sunscreen & Bug Spray
- Sleep Mask
- Neck Pillow
- Travel Blanket
- Trash bag (for dirty clothes)
Properly Packing Everything
When it comes to getting everything to actually fit into your suitcase and carry-on bag it can sometimes be a struggle. I learned a few tricks to help things take up less space and stay organized.
The first thing I use is packing cubes. You can buy packing cubes in various sizes depending on what you want to fit into them. For this trip I am bring three packing cubes. The first one I used to put my under garments in, along with layering tanks and my PJs. My second one I used to fit my causal tank tops, athletic bottoms, dressy shorts, and matching tops. To get as much to fit in the packing cubes as possible I rolled all my items I put in them. I also am bringing a third packing cube in case I buy clothing while abroad.
The second thing I suggest using is a Pack-It Folder. You can use this to nicely fold various items and keep them wrinkle-free. I usually over pack mine so some of my clothes get a little wrinkled but not as bad as they would be if I didn’t use this. I was able to fit all my rompers & dresses into this pack-it folder.
This is what it looks like after I have everything nicely packed into my suitcase!
I hope this post can help you with any future traveling you might be doing! What are your favorite tips and tricks for traveling? Let me know in the comments below!