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How To Pack For International Travel

Last February, some of my Spanish class and a few teachers went on a week long trip to Europe, Spain specifically. I learned a lot about packing from that trip. I used to have the tendency to overpack, but when you have a weight limit to fly and have to carry around your luggage from your source of transportation to your hotel, less becomes more. If you're going overseas (from my perspective, it would be America to Europe, Asia, etc…), chances are you're going to go sight-seeing. This means a lot of walking and, at least for me, climbing on whatever I possibly could.

(Photo of me climbing on the colonnade around the monument of King Alfonso XII in Retiro Park in Madrid, Spain)

There are definitely things that you should bring, and there are others than aren't exactly necessities. Some good things to pack would be:
  1. Your passport. I feel like this should be a given, but you will not be able to fly internationally without one of these. Never, ever forget this. I checked at least ten times to make sure I had it before we left from one hotel to go to another.
  2. A comfortable pair of walking shoes. I opted for a pair of Sperry's because I have this thing where I hate wearing sneakers unless I'm working out. A pair of standard running shoes, Keds, sensible boots, or loafers would suffice. As long as they are weather appropriate and will not make your feet sore.
  3. A comfortable jacket. I wore a black puffer jacket the entire because it was comfortable for the international flight, kept me warm enough, and packed up nicely in my suitcase if I needed it to. This always depends on the weather as well, but it's better to be safe than sorry.
  4. A small cross body bag with a zipper closure. Crossbody bags are a lifesaver when you are walking around for long periods of time. They are completely hands off, and the zipper closure can ensure the safety of the bag's contents.
  5. Electronic converter. This is not just a good thing to pack, it is an absolute necessity. The plugs you use in the United States DO NOT match the plugs that you use in European countries. They won't even fit in to the outlets, and even if they did, your electronics would not work. They would probably just explode.
  6. A small camera. You're going to want to take pictures! I actually didn't bring a real camera because my iPhone's photos sufficed enough for me. If you have a phone that takes brilliant pictures already, the small camera might not even be necessary! But, if your phone is not the best, the smaller the camera, the better.
Along the lines of clothes and beauty items, this will depend on the weather where you are going. My recommendations is to pack for the exact number of days you will be there because I did a ton of shopping when I was in Spain. I spent over 600 (approximately $824, though I think I spent closer to $900) on new clothes and ended up having to purge my magazines and some other items so I could make room for my new clothes. Some clothing and beauty item tips would be:
  1. Pack a few pairs of pants. I packed one pair of jeans and 3 pairs of leggings for an 8 day trip. As long as you don't spill anything on yourself or get wet, you will be just fine with this amount. And if you have access to laundry facilities, it definitely will not matter in the slightest.
  2. Basics are the way to go. Plain shirts can be reworn without any problem. Plus, they typically pack well.
  3. One nice outfit. My school was a Catholic school, so one thing on our agenda was going to a Cathedral in Seville. We were instructed to dress nicely that day. We also all got dressed up for the Flamenco show, but some of us shopped for those outfits so you may end up only needed one.
  4. Your absolutely necessary beauty products. For me, I needed face wash, moisturizer, foundation, powder, mascara, and a simple eye primer that would get rid of the veins on my eyelid. I never wore eyeshadow on that trip and didn't need to take up space in my suitcase with a separate bag for my makeup. I combined it with my bag of toiletries. My roommates on the trip and I all coordinated on who was to bring what. One of us brought shampoo, one conditioner, one body wash, and the other (me) brought dry shampoo. It took up less space in our bags and none of us would have used an entire bottle of each during a week's time.
What is most important is that you feel that you're not forgetting anything. If you have prescriptions or your favorite necklace, then bring those! You just want to be sure not to overpack. Make a checklist of all of the things that you would possibly need, or find one on Pinterest!

What are your packing necessities or tricks? I learned (from my Spain trip, actually!) to roll my clothes instead of folding them. And I always bring my iPod and a book on every trip I take. You never know when you're going to have some free time. We had a lot of long bus rides from city to city and I was always so jazzed before I went to bed that I had to read to mellow myself out.


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