5 Packing Tips for Europe from One Girly-Girl to Another

Kathryn Wilson is a student at the University of Denver and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Madrid, Spain.

Packing for any trip regardless of length can be a difficult task. However, packing for a four-month trip to a completely different country might top the cake. If you’re a girly girl like me who LOVES clothes too much to part with your favorite 3 pairs of boots, then listen up. Here’s what to make room for in your carry-on and what items can get tossed aside.

Denver, Madrid, Spain, Wilson, Demonstration of necessity to pack for your trip abroad Madrid, Spain-Wilson-Photo 1

  1. Bring Closet Staples 

Focus on packing clothes that you love and that can be worn more than with just one specific outfit. This includes but is not limited to: a great pair of jeans, a couple nice pairs of shoes (boots, sandals, and walking shoes), a couple shirts that can be worn from day to night, and a basic coat. By packing clothes that can be worn in summer and in the winter by just adding some layers (i.e. a tank top for the summer plus a cardigan and a scarf for the fall), you can save space in your suitcase for all the souvenirs and new clothes you’ll be bringing home.

2. Leave College/sorority Gear at Home

I know, I know– we all love our schools but going abroad is a time to truly immerse yourself in a completely different culture. It will be easy to spot you as a tourist with your sorority letters on a baseball hat and your schools t-shirt on. Also, wearing clothes that mark you as a tourist can leave you more vulnerable to pick-pocketers. If you truly want to focus on being apart of another culture, do some research, ask friends and find out what clothes will label you as a tourist and please leave those at home.

3. Accessories are Key!

While accessories may be an afterthought while packing, they are extremely important to pack with you on your time abroad. Focus on bringing a nice sturdy bag (with zippers) to ward off pick-pocketers and keep all your belongings safe. Sunglasses are another must! While protecting your eyes from the sun is an obvious plus, wearing sunglasses while traveling can hide your eyes from the locals and make it seem like you completely know what you’re doing (even if you don’t), which can make you less of a target in the bigger cities of Europe.

4. Leave Those Beauty Products at Home

One of the benefits of studying abroad in Europe is that there are SO many amazing stores everywhere! Save the extra space in your suitcase and pick up your shampoo and lotion once you arrive in the city. Make sure to pack some travel-sized goodies in your carry-on to last you until you get to the store, but buying these heavy products in Europe will save you some much needed weight to bring your absolute favorite pair of shoes along.

5. Quality over Quantity 

It is important to bring clothes that you know will last throughout all your travels. You don’t want your bag strap to break off while you’re riding the train to class! With that being said, it is important to find a balance between the clothes you bring. Make sure to bring good quality clothes, but don’t bring along anything you would be heartbroken about if it got lost or ruined. Similarly, make sure to pack clothes you are comfortable in. You will be walking all over Europe and even though those sandals are SO cute, your feet will thank you later if you pack a more practical pair of shoes instead.

Packing some of these items will hopefully make some room in your suitcase and allow you to have tons of space for all the wonderful finds you’ll be bringing home.

Want to read more about preparing for your time abroad? Read “The Myth of Over Packing:  A Girly Girl’s Guide for What to Pack”