I have some big news. I’m going to Europe in two weeks! My mother has some work in Athens, and invited me to tag along. So obviously I said yes. It’s been a little bit of a last minute trip, so that means pulling a lot of things together very quickly. Last night, I literally woke up multiple times because I was having nightmares about packing. There are definitely worse things, but I’d like to not loose any more sleep over it. So I thought I’d share some of my travel wisdom at the same time that I put together my packing list.
What to wear?
The first thing you need to do is research what kind of weather you can expect in the location you’re visiting. If it’s going to be hot, then you’re going to want light breathable fabrics and sandals. If it’s a colder climate, then a coat and boots need to go on your list. When it comes to Europe, it’s always a good idea to plan for both extremes. I did a week and a half trip with some friends visiting Prague and Vienna. The three days we were in Prague were blazing hot and humid. But as soon as we got to Vienna, the weather had changed and I was wearing a scarf and jacket the whole time. This was the beginning of July. So never assume, do your research, and plan for contingencies.
For instance, I’ll be in Athens for almost a week where it’ll be sunny, hot, and have little rain. But then we’re stopping in London for several days on the way home where it’ll be about 20 degrees cooler and most likely rain a few times while we’re there. I have to pack for both climates. I need short sleeved shirts and skirts and shorts. But I also need a rain coat and cardigans.
The Right Shoes
If you miscalculate the clothing you pack for a trip, the worst case scenario is that you end up buying something there. Hopefully it’s something you like and it’ll always remind you of the city you bought it in. But shoes are another matter. Visiting Europe means a lot of walking and you don’t want to be breaking in a new pair while sightseeing. Pick a pair or two that you’re going to take on the trip and then wear them any chance you get for the weeks leading up to your vacation. Having retired my favorite pair of sandals at the end of last summer, I went out and bought a few pairs to try this year. The first two were really uncomfortable after walking around in them for a couple hours. So I went out and got a third. Keeping your feet happy is worth the investment.
Also, always have at least one pair of shoes that can handle rain. One of my friends only packed TOMS for our Prague/Vienna trip and sorely regretted it when it started raining. Though comfy and breathable, they don’t dry fast and she spent three or four days with perpetually wet feet.
A week or two before you leave, you should do an inventory of the items you use during your regular morning routine. Toothpaste, face wash, make up, blow dryer. Everything. Write it down. Cross off anything that you can live without for a week or two. Then make a plan for how you’ll have access to everything once you’re across the pond.
If you’re like me, you’re only bringing a carry-on and so you have to comply with liquid requirements by airlines. Figure out what is worth buying specialized bottles for and what you’ll just buy once you arrive. Personally, if I’m going to be somewhere for a few months or if I’m traveling with multiple people, I tend to buy a lot of the essentials there.
If you’re using a blow dryer, straightener, curling iron, or electric razor, you’ll need to bring an adapter and a converter. They have different voltages in different countries. If you’re going to be there for several months, it’s probably better to just buy something cheap once you arrive. Most of the girls with American electronics on my study abroad blew them out even though they were using adapters.
This becomes even more important when you’re dealing with a phone or laptop. You don’t want to fry your machine, so do your research and buy what you need before you go.
This is a very important part of the packing list. I’ve been pondering for a week or so now what books to bring on this trip. Everyone’s different in their readings tastes. I have friends who take Tolstoy on the plane with them which I personally cannot do. I need something a little lighter when I’m traveling. Something I can come and enjoy when I need a distraction from the long customs line, but that I can put down when it’s time to go explore a new place. Also, I always bring at least 2 so that I can see what I’m in the mood for once I get there.