Packing for a Month Abroad

I don’t have a massive wardrobe, nor do I have a great sense of fashion. You would think, then, that I would have no trouble throwing a few things into a bag before I embark for my journey this Saturday morning. Despite this, packing has proven more of a challenge than I thought.

Thankfully, my dad is kind of a Tetris master when it comes to packing and can make most everything fit into a bag. That isn’t really the difficult part for me. For me, the difficult part is figuring out what to bring to maximize outfit options while minimizing the amount of space required to pack.

For reference, I am bringing a 4-wheeled suitcase to check under the plane (a beautiful and highly useful Christmas gift from my awesome aunt and uncle who were just in Ireland last summer), a small backpack as my carry-on item, and a purse as my personal item.

For one thing, I don’t know exactly what the weather is going to be like during my five weeks abroad. I know Ireland is usually cold and rainy despite it being the summer up there. I checked the extended forecast, and I know the high will not be over 70 degrees Fahrenheit and the low would be in the 40s and 50s. Despite this, I’m always finding myself to be overly warm.

To deal with the uncertainty of temperature, I decided to pack a variety of options that can be worn in layers, to be added upon or removed as necessary. I have cardigans, sweaters, sweatshirts, jackets, leggings, jeans, shorts, capris, camis, T-shirts, and other items. They don’t take up a lot of space and can be worn multiple times and on top of one another based on the temperature.

The next thing I had to take into consideration is the fact that I arrive a few hours before I am able to check into a hotel and therefore need to pack light in order to be able to haul my luggage around for a while. I will also need to dress in layers on the plane. My hometown of St. Louis has been about a million degrees and humid this week, while the airplane and Dublin will be much chillier. In addition to this, because I will be walking around a new place fresh off a plane with nowhere to go freshen up until much later, I need to make sure I look decent and can be comfortable regardless of where I am in my journey overseas.

I also had to decide whether or not I was going to listen to our pre-departure orientation tips and just purchase toiletries and rain boots while over there to avoid needing to pack them, but considering I have most of my toiletries here, and buying full-sized items at a drugstore in Dublin seems silly, I decided to pack a toiletry bag with just enough to last me through the month so I can throw out the empty bottles and not have to bring them back home when I’m trying to bring back souvenirs and other things. I’m not so worried about forgetting things, mostly because it’s not like I’m going anywhere that I wouldn’t be able to find and purchase necessary toiletries.

Packing my carry on was also a bit of a challenge, as I realized I would want at least three changes of clothes with me at all times on the terrible chance my luggage would be lost during my connection through Newark (knowing my luck, this is to be expected–I’d be more surprised to see my luggage sitting on the carousel than I would to hear it’s missing). I packed a few versatile things in the bottom of my backpack along with my immigration documents, flight information, and other important papers for ease of access. My carry-on bag is a small backpack set to house my laptop, pens, medicine, and a few other necessities, so it was difficult to fit everything, but it’s packed and I’m not messing with it anymore.

I did invest in a bag lock this time. I’ve never used one in all my years of traveling domestically, but I think it’s important given the world climate these days and the fact that I’m on my own this time to keep my belongings secure.

Below you can see a list of the things I’ve chosen to bring with me and where they will be packed; feel free to use this as a basis for your own packing needs. And of course, if I’m missing anything, please let me know in the comments (preferably before I depart).

Checked bag

  • Small, foldable clothes hamper (for the laundrette in my apartment)
  • Cross-body purse
  • Toiletries
  • Towels (not supplied by the university)
  • Washcloths
  • Cosmetics
  • Leggings (cropped and long)
  • Jeans
  • Skirt
  • Dress
  • Tops (5-6)
  • Sweaters/sweatshirts
  • Cardigan
  • Leather jacket
  • Camis/layering T-shirts
  • Undergarments
  • Rain/riding boots
  • Flip flops/shower shoes
  • High tops
  • Accessories (3-4 pieces)
  • Umbrella

Carry-on baggage

  • Changes of clothes (3)
  • Book (I’m finishing The Princess Bride on this trip)
  • Pens
  • Travel journal
  • Laptop
  • Adapters
  • Chargers
  • Copies of documents (I’ve put all the most important ones into a binder for myself)
  • Passport and wallet
  • Itinerary/tickets
  • Medication and prescription info
  • First Aid kit
  • Rain jacket
  • Gum
  • Chapstick
  • Liquids bag (3 quart ziplock with just the necessities I can’t be without)
  • Glasses case

Packing day is today now that most everything has been gathered. It’s finally becoming real with each item I remind myself to gather.


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