Eight hours in an Airplane?

Eight hours in an Airplane?

What do you wear on an airplane?

So, you just realized that you have NO IDEA what you want to wear while traveling. First thought, VS Pink yoga pants, a hoodie and some flippity floppies obviously. I mean, that is what you wore every year throughout college when you flew to PCB for spring break, right? Keywords here: college & spring break. You are not on your way to spring break nor are you still in college (you might still be, I don’t know). Either way, you are probably old and shouldn’t be in public wearing yogis and a hoodie. Especially on a transatlantic flight. What if you sit next to a beautiful foreign man and you look like a bum? He definitely will scratch his romantic “go to” Spanish first date from the list of things he wants to talk to you about. So that romantic “go to” Spanish first date of a stroll through the Reitro and then a picnic of napolitanas de jamón y queso is totally out of the question for you Miss. VS yogis, a hoodie and flip flops. Just sayin’. 

Now that we have decided yogis, a hoodie and flip flips are out of the question, what am I allowed to wear? What is this? Prison? No dear, this is real life where you have to wear real people clothes while in public. Shucks. It’s okay though because I am here to give you some reasonable options for airplane attire! For me, simple dresses are the way to go.

Things you want to think about when choosing an outfit:

1. Comfortable?
2. Practical?
3. Will my outfit get REALLY wrinkled?
4. Can I layer? (AIRPLANES ARE SO COLD!)

Things you want to think about when choosing your shoes:

1. Comfortable?
2. Easy off/on?

Mariclare of Sunflowers in Spain found a fabulous summer outfit for her viaje a Sevilla and it meets all of the criteria, check it out:
Cute shirt


So, you love Mariclare’s outfit but you are thinking, hey, a dress could work too. BUT, what kind of dress do I wear on an airplane? A maxi dress? A sun dress? There are SO many options and the criteria for choosing a dress is a bit different than the criteria for choosing a pants and shirt combo. So, let’s think about this whole wearing a dress thing. This isn’t like, la di da, I am just gonna wear that maxi dress that I wore to Lalapalooza because I looked cute in a hippie sort of way and I was super comfy, plus, in that maxi dress you totally couldn’t see my beer belly even after the whole case was gone! #winning. False. Maxi dress is not the look you are going for, again, you aren’t flying to Florida. So, a summer dress? Nope. Sorry. Summer dresses show off a lot of leg and usually cleavage too. Really, anything with spaghetti straps is out of the question because with spaghetti straps comes cleavage! So now I just killed your hopes and dreams and you really have to resort to your yogis and a hoodie. Let’s try a little harder when considering dresses.

Things you want to think about if choosing a dress:

1. Can someone see my vagina if I bend over?
2. Can someone see my nipples if I bend over?
3. Too much cleavage?
4. Do you have to accessorize?
5. Does it wrinkle?

Summer Airplane Dress:

So, all things considered. Here is the dress I am wearing. It has a belt made of fabric that I won’t have to take off at security. It is comfy and there is no cleavage. It is about 3 inches from my knee, so I think it’s a pretty good length, I wouldn’t hate it if I had a longer dress but it’s fine. One thing about my dress is that I am anticipating wrinkles! It seems to be the same material as the dress I wore before so the wrinkling shouldn’t be too bad but I will let you know! I also threw in a pair of COMFORTABLE (a.k.a NOT TOTALLY FLAT TO THE GROUND) sandals and a pair of earrings. (Most earrings don’t have to come off through security and I love earrings so, why not?)
Cardigan (not pictured, in carry-on)


Winter Airplane Dress:

I flew out in December, which meant that it was COLD in Chicago and in Madrid. This dress was great for layering, meaning that I definitely added a cardigan, winter coat and leggings. Then, since I only brought a carry-on, I didn’t feel guilty about the fact that I would only be wearing this dress on Christmas and in the airplane. The one picture I have where you can see the outfit from head to toe is on Thanksgiving. Here it is. Woah, wait, did she just say she had a picture from Thanksgiving wearing that outfit? BUT she wore the dress on Christmas in Spain? Wearing the same outfit for Thanksgiving and Christmas, fashion faux pas. Oops. Get at me fashion police! 

Plane outfit
Katelan (L) & Courtney (R)

Dress (Keep it SIMPLE, ex. you don’t want a belt that you will have to remove when going through security!)
Winter coat (not pictured)

Final thoughts

Dress for comfort and cold! I will also have whatever I put in my carry-on bag to throw over me to keep me warm in the plane. No matter how warm I dress, I ALWAYS am in need of a spare sweater (even if it is just to be used as a make shift pillow!). I hope this helps and buen viaje!



The unfashionable girl’s guide to packing for Europe

The unfashionable girl’s guide to packing for Europe

A somewhat practical guide to packing your checked bag

My ideal luggage

If I could, that is what my suitcase would have in it. My favorite blanket, my bike, my pillows, my kitten, lots of cute high heel options, my extra winter coats (you never know which one will match the outfit you are wearing), etc. All of these things are great, but they will not fit into my ONE checked bag!

Goal: Fit everything I want (NEED) into ONE checked bag that is under 50 pounds! Plus I will have my carry-on.

As a general rule, I like to be practical. As another general rule, I am very irrational. So sometimes my conflicting ideas cause personal problems. For example, I really want to bring all of my sports bras because I love them (irrational), however, my practical side knows that I will probably only work out three times a week (if that) and that I really do not need to bring fifteen sports bras. So, my practical side won that battle and many more to come. Let’s compare packing to arguing with your siblings. The truth is, no one ever wins. Plus, then you have to give her back the shirt that you borrowed that she said you could have but now wants back just to be mean. So, now she has the shirt but she never wears it, and if she never wears it then no one ever wears so no one wins. The thing about packing…


You think you are really good at packing? Be my friend and teach me your ways.

So basically, what I am trying to do here is give you a general idea as to what types of clothes to bring and how many of each type of clothing. This assumes that you will be doing the laundry at least once every week and a half. It also assumes that you will be in Europe for an extended period of time (multiple seasons). Now, for those of you who may be confused, I am NOT by any means instructing on specific styles of clothing to bring. Let’s not get these things mixed up. I am not fashionable (I mean, I try). All I am here to tell you about is what types of clothes should be in your bag, not the specific items of clothing. For those of you who don’t see me in real life, let me enlighten you as to my everyday appearance.

Every day
Every day and not socially acceptable, oops!

Oops, yup. That’s me. Pony tail, t-shirts, cats, really any outfit you can wear in a gym is something I would wear on a daily basis (cats at the gym? what?). Anyways, that sort of thing is my natural state and I don’t try to fight it (most days). No, no, it does not take any time for me to get that beautiful. If you want my look, you can just roll out of bed and begin your day. Make an appearance at Wal-Mart? You will fit right in. Want to go to the gym? You are set! Maybe spend a day on the boat? Sure thing, you got it. Go to work? I do, but my co-workers think I am the smelly kid. Anyways, this fool proof method of being “socially acceptable” needs to go (because it’s not fool proof). I am going to have to dress in a “socially acceptable” manner while living in Madrid. Why people don’t dress like college students in Europe is beyond me, but I am going to have to move past my “I just rolled out of bed” phase and actually try to look normal. So, when I try to be socially acceptable I like to accessorize (earrings and scarf), brush my hair, put on make up, smile awkwardly and sometimes pose pretending to smell flowers. These are all the looks I am going to go for when living in Europe. Especially the flower one and lots of awkwardness just because I can’t really help it.

Trying to be normal.
Trying to be normal.

So, what I am trying to say is, I am going to try. If I can try, so can you. I don’t have many clothes that I wear when I am not wearing workout clothes, so for me, when packing things like that, it’s not really a challenge because I am probably going to bring everything. When it comes to workout clothes, that is where my problem comes in. Anyways, I am now officially going to begin breaking down what needs to be in your checked bag.

1. Every-day shirts (shirts that are “socially acceptable”)

Bring at least 7, I am going to have to buy some! Because it’s just not practical to cycle through 7 shirts each week for a year…they will get ruined really fast (that’s my excuse to buy things and attempt to be fashionable)…see what I did there?Shirts

2. Every-day bottoms (wear these in public too)

Jeans, shorts, skirts (I don’t have skirts that’s why they aren’t pictured!) & leggings. I would say a couple of each! I wish I had more skirts/shorts because it’s going to be hot for a while!


3. Work-out/PJ shirts (these aren’t allowed in public, not even sure if they are fine at the gym…)

A couple work-out tanks, at least four shirts for sleeping in! I use t-shirts for working out and for sleeping, so I am bringing six!


4. Work-out pants/PJ pants (again, wear workout pants at the gym only. So weird.)

I brought 2 long workout, 2 capri and 2 shorts for working out. Then I brought two PJ shorts and one sweatpants. (I love comfy lounging clothes!)


5. Under-things (don’t leave the house without these!)

Bras of all types, socks of all types, tights, underwear, camis & bikinis (not sure which section bikinis goes in).

Some numbers: 5 sports bras, 5 regular bras, 2 tights, 3+ camis, 2ish bikinis, LOTS of underwear, LOTS of socks (warm and athletic). Again, let’s focus on how you are going to be washing things every week and re-wearing them over and over. So, if you have more, they won’t get worn out as fast. These things can all be bought in Spain if yours wear out. However, if you have them already and they fit in your bag, no sense in leaving them at home.


6. Outer-things (Clearly I am lost for category titles)

ONE winter coat, work-out windbreaker, warm running thing, cardigans, hoodies, scarves, mittens, belt, flats, boots, running shoes, sandals, SLIPPERS, heels, (hats?) & anything else that you may need to wear over your under-things!Outer

7. Special things

These things are things that you definitely don’t need but they will keep you happy. For me I am bringing a couple hoodies to cuddle up in, my pillow (with extra pillow case) and my reusable farmers market bag because they all remind me of home.


8. Toiletries & prescriptions that you couldn’t leave home without.

So, I am going to bring my prescriptions, contacts, some tissue, face wash, girlie products and medicine that keep females happy. Just being honest. I am sure there is stuff like this in Europe but since I had it already, I packed it. Also, to demonstrate my practicality, I fought the urge to go buy 100 boxes of NyQuil  for fear that I won’t find an equivalent in Spain. I am all out of NyQuil but since I don’t already have it at home, I am not going to go buy it before I leave. Will I regret this decision? I suppose I will find out the hard way!


9. Bags/purses

You need to have somewhere to store your euros!Purses

In the end your bag should look something like this…and weigh under 50 pounds. Mine is 48. Remember, heavy stuff in your carry-on if you can!IMG_4913

So, that is that! This is essentially anything and everything you may need! One thing I did not pack that I might want are rain boots (I don’t have any).  Don’t forget to pack the things that you won’t be able to get in Europe! If there is anything you think I may need that I have forgotten, feel free to let me know! Otherwise, these things are the things that I am bringing with! I will let you know what items that ended up being unnecessary and what items I wished I had more of!


carry-on packing list

carry-on packing list

What goes in my carry-on?

One time it took me 48 hours to get to Illinois from Spain. It was only supposed to be about 21 total hours of travel time from Granada-Madrid-Amsterdam-Chicago-Rockford (a 27 hour layover was NOT part of the plan). Thus, I was missing some essentials while RELAXING (stressing, panicking, fearing for my life) at the airport in Amsterdam and since then I have packed my carry-on bag a bit differently. You could say that I am always prepping to be stranded in Amsterdam (but never again will I fly through Amsterdam in December). This isn’t to say that you will be stranded, but your luggage could get misplaced, lost, taken by someone else by mistake…or on purpose (don’t get black luggage!). Not to mention, valuable things could be stolen out of your bag (keep your valuables in your carry-on!). I have heard my fair share of horror stories. So this is why I pack my carry-on the way I do. Feel free to pack like me, slightly like me, or avoid my advice all together. 

Where to start? An empty carry-on!

You can take a look at my beginners guide to packing to get a general sense as to where to begin with the whole mess of stuff that supposedly needs to make it with you to Europe! Here are some basics of carry-on specific packing:

Start with a carry-on suitcase.
Mine is a Ricardo Beverly Hills Montecito Micro-Light 20″ spinner (that’s a mouthful).
Dimensions: 19.5″ x 14″ x 8″/Weight: 5 lbs, 14 oz.carryon_dexter

Ok ok…like this:IMG_4758

What goes inside?

  1. Essentials (Passport, itinerary, etc)
  2. Electronics or ANYTHING of value (sentimental or monetary)
  3. Toiletries
  4. Clothes/Other

Let me break down my categories for you…

Photos: Left (contents), Right (How I stored the contents)

  1. Essentials (These go in your purse. Your purse can be put in your carry-on or wear it!):
    U.S.A Passport (ABSOLUTELY!…I hope it has your visa inside!),
    Driver’s License
    Credit/Debit cards
    $$$ and €€€
    Cell phone (not pictured)
    Itinerary info (not pictured, SCREEN SHOT IT ON YOUR CELL PHONE!…Most airlines DON’T require a print out…check with your airline though before getting to the airport!)
    *If you are a guy and don’t have a purse, I am going to assume all of these things are in your large guy-sized pockets.
  2. Electronics
    Laptop + case + charger

    Cell phone (will be in my purse!) + charger
    Camera + charger (*if your camera is expensive then carry it with, mine isn’t expensive so more than likely mine will be checked!*)
    **Converters/adapters (USA & EU!!…think…stranded and need to charge your phone, you have the chargers but NO converter/adapter (AWFUL!). Bring these or for  US, EU & THE COUNTRY IN WHICH YOU HAVE A LAYOVER**
    Headphones (I only bring these in my carry-on just in case, I usually sleep on the plane. HOWEVER, I know most people listen to music on the plane, so put yours somewhere accessible (pocket or purse!!)
  3. Toiletries (3-1-1 Rule!) (TOP bag: non-liquid toiletries *BOTTOM bag: Has liquids & has to follow 3-1-1 rule*)
    *=Items that have to be combined to ONE quart sized bag to follow the TSA 3-1-1 rule!
    *Body Wash
    *Lotion (Body & Face)
    *Contact Solution
    *Deodorant (not sure if this REALLY needs to go in the liquids bag…)
    Spare Contacts
    Feminine products
    Glasses Case
    Aquaphor Chapstick
  4. Clothing/Other
    Valuables (expensive jewelry, I don’t have valuable stuff besides electronics/money)
    Hand Towel
    2 Extra underwear
    2 Socks (1 warm, 1 normal)
    1 Sports bra (I hate wearing real bras for extended periods of time/I hate sweating in real bras too)
    1 Sweater
    1 Jeans
    1 Scarf (doubles as a pillow!)
    1 Shirt
    1 Cami
    Winter coat (in a space bag! It’s heavy so I want it out of my checked bag).
    Pair of boots (Again, these are heavy and I want to save space in my checked bag)
    Hydroflask Water Bottle (I get so thirsty when I am flying!)
    A bag (If I want to take things out to put under my seat)
    Prescriptions (for some people missing a pill may not matter, for others it will, this item is easily forgotten)When you are done, your bag should look something like thisClothes_ContentsCONGRATULATIONS! YOU FINISHED PACKING YOUR CARRY-ON!! When you are done, your bag should look something like the picture below! Mine weighs 25.5 pounds (there is no weight restriction). Please note that my LAPTOP and QUART SIZE BAG OF LIQUIDS are both on top. These will have to come out when you go through security! My sweater and water bottle are also on top for easy access!


If you haven’t finished packing and are overwhelmed by this list, please enlist your kitten to help you pack.IMG_4770_

I hope this list helped you! Did I forget anything? What do you bring in your carry-on? Hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know if you want to hear more things like this!


soggy feet are unpleasant feet

soggy feet are unpleasant feet

Oh, the joy of footwear

Have you ever tried to pack your stuff up into one suitcase and one carry-on to live away from home for a year? What is important? What isn’t? Do you really need to bring all the scarves Santa has brought you over the past few years? I still  do not know everything that is important and I always catch myself packing things that I know I won’t need, but who am I to argue with myself? Besides all of this, I found out the hard way that great footwear is not an option, it is ESSENTIAL to smart packing!

I am going to take a moment to reflect back on my trip to Paris during the semester I spent abroad. Throughout that semester, I did a lot of traveling, I made a lot of rookie mistakes and now, a few short years later I am back at it. I am hoping for less rookie mistakes and more…I don’t know what I want more of, I will tell you when I figure that out. The goal is to have less mistakes. At this moment I am going to discuss a trip where my rookie mistakes truly made an impact on my trip.

Rookie mistake #1: AWFUL FOOTWEAR

Paris, France. Cold Feet. Oct 2010.

Please, take note of that lovely picture (on the right) of me in Paris in early October, 2010. Ah, what a happy tourist I seemingly am, “look I can touch the top of the Eiffel Tower”, so clever, so so clever. FALSE. FALSE. FALSE. I am not clever. No way. You did not look at my feet. If you didn’t, look now. Oh, cute black flats you say? More like flats that were born like an Orc in Lord of the Rings. These awful creatures still give me nightmares. Ladies and gentlemen, the center of France does NOT have the same climate as the South of Spain. This little naïve tourist was not prepared for the impending colder climate nor the rain. Oh, the rain. The rain that resulted in continuously soggy and cold feet for a long, long weekend. Reflecting back, I could have bought some different shoes or some socks. Again, I was a rookie, these things did not even cross my mind. Probably because I was flying Ryan Air and I didn’t want to make my bag any bigger than it was for fear that I would have to check it and then pay the extra fee! If I ever go to Paris again, I promise you, that my shoes will be comfy and I will be able to wear big warm socks with them. That brings me to my second mistake which goes hand in hand with the first.

Rookie mistake #2: Forgotten socks

Socks, didn’t even cross my mind when packing my bag to fit just right to Ryan Air standards. (It can’t be too big or you have to check it!) Somehow, we made it to the airport in Malaga, who even knows now how we got there, but anyways, we arrived at some random hour of the early morning and that meant that we had a few hours of nap time before take off. While napping in the freezing cold airport that is located in the lovely city of Malaga, Spain. I noticed the impending cold creeping up my body that began at my toes. I searched my bag, nothing, no socks, nothing really warm. Oh no!! This is where my friend lent me his hoodie and gave me his black socks. I think he intended that I borrow them. I gave back the hoodie but I ended up wearing the socks for four days (Blaack socks they never get dirty the longer you wear them the thicker they get…anyone?) Needless to say, he didn’t want his socks back and these socks were great but still did not help in the big scheme of things.

Malaga Airport, Oct 2010.

The facts were that I still had crappy shoes and one pair of socks really doesn’t stay dry THAT long when wearing small flats while traipsing through puddles in search of Metros, tourist destinations and the lovely blue door that led to our sleeping quarters. (The bed was like heaven, this could be because the mattress that I slept on at my homestay was awful or because my feet were killing me and I just wanted to lay down, either way, it was amazing). We didn’t spend much time at the apartment though because we had four short days and lots of touristy things to do! Thus, my socks, even while on the heater while we were at the apartment, never truly dried. I was grumpy. Don’t get me wrong. I had an amazing time and I did a lot of fun things! However, no one wants to be grumpy with cold/soggy feet in Paris for a weekend, right?

So with every mistake comes…learning from your mistake…? Something like that.

Lesson learned: Happy feet are never out of fashion.

It probably wasn’t obvious that we were tourists.
Fondue dinner in Paris? Yes, please.

Happy feet=happy person=positive experiences. Now, reflecting back, I still had many positive experiences, even without proper footwear (It is even documented in the photos above!). However, I would have thrown away my black flats and brought with some boots and wool socks, had I known what to expect. Then what would I say to Paris in early October? I would say, BRING ON THE RAIN & COLD! Puddles? No problem. Cold feet? No way. I’ve got boots and warm socks. I am ready for anything! Except when it comes down to finding a bathroom. Why is it so hard to find a bathroom in Paris? That’s a whole different story.

Whats the moral of the story, you ask? 

Black socks truly never get dirty and comfy, broken-in shoes are never out of style.

I think I walked more in one semester living abroad than I ever had in my entire life. I imagine that living abroad for a year I will set new personal records, weather I want to or not! However,  this time I am prepared with comfortable shoes. Here are three pairs of shoes that I would never dream of leaving for Spain without.

  1. A pair of black leather boots: Franco Sarto, TJ Maxx: circa 2010. They have survived three midwestern winters, I get compliments on them ALL the time, I think because people can’t see how beat up they are! (I melted a little part of one side with a straightener). I still love these boots and they are perfectly broken in and oh-so comfy! I put a leather treatment on them each year at the beginning of the season and when I think they really need it (to make them last FOREVER! haha). Anyways, If they have gotten me this far, they will be perfect for a Spanish winter!
  2. A pair of brown leather boots: Ralph Lauren, Macy’s: Feb 2013 (Orig $200, bought for $60 #winning). These are perfect and practical. I broke them in this past Spring because we all know Spring in the Midwest might as well still be winter. Again, perfect and practical.
  3. Neutral flats: Nine West, Nine West Factory outlet: Spring 2013.  Nine west has really comfortable shoes. I wear these a lot! They are officially broken in and my feet LOVE them!


Hope this helps when you are choosing what shoes you want to bring! Best of luck!


I really can’t get THAT in Europe?

I really can’t get THAT in Europe?

things to stockpile to bring to Europe #hoardersanyone

Right now I am going to take a look things that I want or need to get in the USA to take with to Europe. After living there myself and discussing with others what they think is important, I took some time to compile this list. Some how it turns out that there are A LOT of different products that I use on an everyday basis that I need to bring with me (in excess!) for my long stay in Spain. This may be just because I have bad vision and great coupons for American products, but there are just some things that I wouldn’t want to spend the extra money on or that I just cannot get in Europe. I just recently began looking at all of my crap, and yes I will be honest, most of it is crap and realized that I am going to need a stockpile of certain things to bring with! I am all for leaving behind large bottles of shampoo and buying whatever I need when I arrive, however, there are some things that I simply cannot get once I arrive! Here is a list of things that I am going to bring with that I probably won’t be able to get in Europe (not very easily or not at decent prices).

1. Glasses/Contacts  

Can we talk about how Opti-Free (the big size) is 16 euros?! OMG. Anyways, I don’t know ANYTHING about how eye doctors work in Spain. All I know is that I have an annual appointment here in the states and that’s the way I want to keep it! Before leaving the states for a year, you should make sure that your glasses/contacts prescription is up to date and that you have enough contacts to last your whole stay! I have an assortment of daily and 2-week contacts to get me through my time in Europe. In addition, I am bringing a pair of good glasses and my old glasses as a spare.

2. Prescriptions

Again, this is something that I don’t even want to have to worry about while I am in Spain, so I am going to get a supply to last me the whole length of time that I am there. ADVICE: DON’T PAY FULL PRICE JUST BECAUSE YOU WANT A YEARS SUPPLY IN ADVANCE. Talk to your insurance company and the doctors office and they should work with you because you will be leaving the states for an extended period of time. I got an extra eleven sample packs of my prescription (FOR FREE!) from my doctor because I explained to them my situation and how I wouldn’t be in the states to get my prescription renewed, plus I will be gone next year at the time of my annual appointment, etc., etc. So with those sample packs basically my whole time I am gone will be covered by free meds #winning.

3. Cheap (relatively) Make-up

So, the VAT in Spain is 21%! Which means that make-up prices are out of this world in Spain, at least compared to the states. So, whatever you need to beautify yourself, that is something you definitely should try to bring over (and bring enough to last you for your whole stay!!).

4. Facial Cleanser/Moisturizer

I use Murad Redness Therapy facial cleanser and moisturizer from Sephora or I wake up looking like I spent the night in the Sahara Desert (Actually when I was in the Sahara, I looked as normal as I could without having showered and having to use the bathroom extensively…*cringe*) Okay, what I mean is my face gets pretty red and really dried out (I still can’t figure it out and I am 23…you’d think I would have control by now)…so, I need to use this cleanser/moisturizer combo to look normal because I have tried thousands upon thousands of combinations and I finally found what works for me! I won’t need a spare cleanser because that bottle lasts FOREVER, but my moisturizer will last about 7 months so I will bring an extra one of those! 

5. Deodorant

“AXE BODY SPRAY FOR EVERYONE!!!!!!” #saidnooneever…oh wait, some Spanish person must have said it. They do have some stick deodorant but hardly what I would consider a good selection.

6. Chargers/Converters

PUT THESE IN  YOUR CARRY-ON TO AND FROM EUROPE!! All I have to say is THANK-GOD I decided to bring my converter/chargers in my carry-on when I flew home from study abroad. I was stranded in Amsterdam for 27 hours!  I wouldn’t have been able to charge my computer to contact my family to keep them updated, not to mention, paying €20 for unlimited WIFI is the best way I think I ever spent €20. So, convenient chargers/converters means unlimited Skyping and Facebook. p.s. NEVER, EVER use a payphone in an airport in Europe…well you can, but it will cost you big bucks!

7. Peanut Butter

I am a peanut butter addict (I think everyone says that…) and I am sorry to announce that I have heard that no one besides Americans really gives a shit that PB&J’s are not a staple to every elementary school children’s diets outside of the U.S., this is an outrage! How can this be? What a versatile meal, have a PB&J on toast for breakfast, throw it in for lunch with some apples and even for dinner…just have two, what a great great thing and no one outside of the U.S. truly appreciates it. I am saddened. Actually, nah, it’s totally cool, really, I love bocadillos de jamón y queso and I suppose the amount of peanut butter I eat is probably unhealthy so getting away from it for a year won’t hurt…I guess…However, if you truly need some PB with your J then you better bring at least one family size Jif.

8. Hot Cheetos (Snacks we love)

An ENTIRE COUNTRY without hot cheetos. That’s not the point. Spain is missing some other great snacks, too. However, they do have salt & vinegar chips, lots of pipas & corn nuts, pringles, chucherias and aquarius. Not to mention jamón flavored Lays.  I suppose a girl can’t complain too much.

9. Baking supplies!

IMG_0353_finalIt was so difficult to get everything I needed to make scotch cookie bars for christmas when I was in Spain last year. Had to use Vanilla bean instead of extract, couldn’t find stick butter and had to use white sugar instead of brown. The results were really fluffy and not as tasty Christmas treats. Can’t forget, Thanksgiving is something I truly missed when I studied in Spain. So, anything to get you through the holiday time, might be of big help. However, a 15 pound turkey probably won’t fit into a Spanish oven, so don’t even try that.

10. Paperwork/Copies of paperwork

Okay, make your copies of everything you used to get your Spanish Visa. DO NOT forget your original FBI background check nor your medical statement both with Apostille’s of Hague! Plus your CARTA DE NOMBRAMIENTO. These are essential when applying for an NIE!

11. Comfy shoes (Click for my post about shoes!)


Shoes. Is it possible to buy shoes that are already broken in? Europe has shoes. Cute shoes, comfy shoes, GREAT SHOES! But, can you truly buy a pair of shoes and wear them all day the first time you wear them? I think not. The first few days you will be traveling, you will be walking, a lot. More than you are used to. Yes, yes, I know you go to the gym 3 times a week and you enjoy running 5k’s in your free time. This is different, not to mention you won’t be wearing your nice running shoes while wandering your city to get acquainted with it. Extensive walking is something most people aren’t used to. Think of your American routine: wake up, get dressed, drive to work, at work, drive home from work, drive to gym, at gym, drive home from gym, watch Netflix. Let’s turn that into a European routine: wake up, get dressed (look normal, at least brush your hair), walk to work, at work, walk home from work, walk to gym, at gym, walk home from gym, cry (because there is no Netflix in Europe) So, please, your feet beg you to go with cute & practical shoes. Click here or the link above for some more reasons as to why I think good footwear is of great importance!

Thanks for reading and did I emphasize enough that these are things you should stockpile and bring with a million of each of these things? If not for yourself, then for the other Americans who left their venus razor refills behind. You are going to be so popular!

More about shipping things over when you simply can’t fit everything:

If you can’t fit everything, BRING LESS THINGS! There’s that time when many people think, “Oh, I really really need all of these things, so I will just have someone ship (insert item here) to me from the states so that I can save money”. *BEEEEEEEP* WRONG ANSWER! Depending on the size of the package, it will cost a decent amount for someone to ship a box to you from the states, THEN it will cost you money to get it from Correos, that is ASSUMING the package ever makes it to Spain! I had many friends who got things shipped to them when we studied abroad and I always heard stories of lost packages (Depending on the company, many items cannot be tracked after leaving the US.) or €50+ euro retrieval fee for a box containing items that didn’t even cost that much to begin with. If you really CANNOT fit your winter coat in your checked bag, just buy a new one in Europe, it will save your sanity plus your time, money and then you will have a new coat! Sometimes things have to be shipped (prescriptions that you cannot get in advance, etc. ) so, when there is no other option please be smart about it, save your euros my friends, the economy is awful!!

Thanks for reading and happy packing!


A beginner’s guide to packing

A beginner’s guide to packing

Don’t be this guy(The man who abandoned 7 suitcases to avoid the $1,400 worth of fees.)

Now, lets do what we can to avoid being “that guy”…the person who has too many over-packed and over weight suitcases. When moving to Europe for a year, there are many things to consider. Choosing what you like the most (and what is essential) from your entire wardrobe is actually VERY difficult! Not to mention, most people forget that there are the same (or very similar) products in Europe as there are in the U.S.

Alright, I have already talked about some American items that MANY of us will end up bringing with. Some things are 100% necessary, I don’t blame you, I don’t want to risk a weird break-out either, it took me long enough to find the perfect facial cleanser/moisturizer combo. However, America is NOT the only country where people use Clean & Clear facial cleanser, Pantene shampoo or wear H&M Jeans. You will find comparable products to the ones you love and many with comparable prices, however, check prices before you go, if something is 3x as expensive and irreplaceable for you, BRING it with. Don’t forget though, it’s never bad to try a new shampoo, just smell it first! If you find that your favorite shampoo is available, maybe that item does not need to come with you on your 4,000+ mile journey. Another thought, You do NOT need to bring your 6 favorite pairs of shoes (leave your stilettos behind) or your CHI straightener (do people still use those?). If millions of others can live without American products, I think we can do the same. I promise you will WANT to go shopping and the new stilettos you find will be just as great as the ones at home in your closet. Now, if we are all on the same page, feel free to read on to find out what I am packing.

A thought for you (This may be an analogy, watch out folks, gettin’ philosophical).

So, for my analogy, you have a whole grocery store of things you want but only $50 to spend, what do you TRULY need? Plus you have to figure in some things that you just want because hey, you’re you and unnecessary shit is always necessary. Here is my hypothetical grocery list (NEEDS vs WANTS):

  • Chicken (NEED)
  • Bread (NEED)
  • Peanut Butter (NEED)
  • Bananas (NEED)
  • Strawberries (A second fruit, that’s a WANT not a NEED)
  • Yogurt (NEED)
  • Sour cream & cheddar Ruffles (WANT)
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (WANT)

Ok, let’s take a look, there are some things I need and some things that I don’t really need because, hey, I work out and if I keep eating Ruffles like they are my only food source, people might really start to notice (hah).  I don’t need a Reese’s, I eat it just once and it’s all gone. I also don’t need strawberries. I want to get fruit so I choose bananas, but I also choose strawberries, do I really need both types of fruit? Most of you will say yes. I will even say yes in fact, but it is more desire than a necesity. Even though I don’t need the strawberries because I chose a different type of fruit, I still want them, so they are staying in the grocery cart, but the Reese’s might truly have to go.

So lets take this idea over to our suitcases. You have an entire wardrobe of things you want to bring but can only bring 50 pounds worth of things (assuming you don’t want an overweight bag or to bring an extra bag). This is where you have to decide what you WANT and what you NEED and NO, I don’t need the Reese’s. The Reese’s may compare to an outfit or pair of shoes that you can only see yourself wearing once or twice throughout your time abroad. The bananas/strawberries could compare to some boots, (you NEED boots) but do you NEED them in brown and black? Maybe there will be things you need but in what quantity? On the other hand, there will be some things that you don’t really need but bringing those things may just keep you sane in your own way. I will definitely have my boots, and maybe I might end up with my brown and my black boots, just because I am me and I am somewhat ridiculous in my wants and need, as I imagine you are somewhat too.

Moving on, a beginners guide to getting sh*t done: The atomic bomb

Leaving behind vs. Bringing with

whoops, an atomic bomb…

I personally, like to pack as if an atomic bomb has gone off (i.e. sift through all of my belongings, make piles and throw things in those piles and pray that everything I need has made it to the appropriate pile). As much as this method is successful, I do many times end up with too many random clothing items and never enough entire outfits (one pair of pants that is cute but doesn’t have a shirt that matches? #rookiemistake). So let’s just make this “atomic bomb” the first step. Throw things in to a “leaving in the US” pile, and a “bringing with to Europe” pile.

Woah, you have two piles now? HELLO, PROGRESS! *pats self on the back*

I personally like to take things in baby steps. So, after this first part I would probably give myself some time on Facebook, or just take a nap because I just really love to nap.

A beginners guide to packing: What comes next?

So, you have your piles. The one that’s staying in America doesn’t really matter, just throw it in your closet because you aren’t going to be around to deal with it so it’s really like this pile doesn’t exist. **Real (not sarcastic) advice: give some stuff to Goodwill. If this is an item that you can go a year without wearing, can it go to goodwill? This doesn’t mean your favorite college hoodie that you just couldn’t imagine yourself sauntering around Europe in but wear ALL the time at home. No, this means your too small or too big clothes that might fit perfect on someone else but don’t lie, it DOESN’T FIT ANYMORE! Give it to Goodwill!**

Ok, now onto the pile that is coming to Europe. HOLY @^#*^*%@. That is WAY too much stuff. Let’s call this a preliminary pile, I promise you this pile needs to be weeded out. Fold, re-fold, unfold, etc. ONCE you put something in the LEAVING BEHIND pile, DO NOT LOOK BACK. Once it is out of the running, it’s out. No turning back now, you are headed to Europe, and not everything you own will be so lucky as to join you.

We have gotten this far. What exactly is in my pile that I am bringing to Europe you ask? Here is my carry-on packing list and here is my checked bag packing list.