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
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.