Packing for your trip to Europe
You may also want to see the article, “Before you arrive in Salamanca.” The article briefly mentions some preparation trips and factors to consider when packing for your trip to Europe. Essentially, it says to pack light. From personal experience, it’s been better to underestimate than overestimate. Yes, you may be moving to Europe but it’s nearly a given that you won’t need about 85 percent of what you bring. Maybe not quite 85 percent but really, pack light.
We have also designed a printable checklist for you to reference. Remember that the checklist and guide provided herein is ideally for those that are moving to Salamanca, not traveling. This is important to know because we tried to keep the list as minimal as possible. Since you’re moving to Spain, where you can purchase things fairly cheap, it’s better to keep your luggage light and buy the things you’ll need here. Especially most of your electronics. It’s much better to purchase Electronics here, where you can have the built-in European plug, versus relying on the (usually weak) US-Europe converter.
Packing lightly for a move to Europe will allow space for you to bring home additional purchased stuff. Especially if you’re going to backpack around Europe before you get settled in Salamanca, you can get yourself a few little gifts for your new home along the way. Packing light will help allow you to travel much easier until you get settled in your destination. Less hassle transferring trains, running to busses, hiking up hills, etc. Once you’re settled in Salamanca, we’ll also detail where you can purchase things fairly cheap upon your arrival. Especially as most of it will be temporary use any way. Also, with lighter packing upon arrival, we hope to make your travel during your stay much easier to manage.
In our European clothes blog you can get an idea for what kind of clothes to pack, as well as ideas for how to stretch one outfit into seven outfits from a fashionista. Also, I just discovered from a Google+ news feed about a company called Scottevest. Their entire business is about designing clothes for travelers. What they released today is some outfit that holds all of your stuff and it has special pockets to help protect you from identity theft while abroad.
When it comes to your luggage tag, you’ll want to make sure that your tag is covered so that passerbys can’t skim to read your personal information. You’ll also want to make sure that all of your valuables and identity information is kept on you and not in your luggage, which may not always be directly within your eyesight.
Picking a suitcase:
When it comes to picking a suitcase to take to Europe, it is recommended you have a bag that you carry on your back. Until you travel from train to plane to bus for weeks straight, you won’t really get an understanding of how much of a “drag” pulling a rolling case can be (get it drag? Hah! Pun intended). Seriously get a bag that goes on your back instead.
For me, I’m much lazier than Kyle is. I don’t like carrying the big stuffed hikers bag. I just carry one or two shoulder bags and one backpack and that’s usually plenty sufficient. I like these bags because they are more organized (more pockets), less bulky and I don’t have to take everything out in order to find what i’m looking for. And that thing that I’m looking for always happens to be near the bottom. It’s a pain. Also, I don’t trust checking in my bag, I hate it. So if I can get away with stowing with me on the plane, I will.
Kyle loves his big tall hiker bag. It’s totally a preference. You may find this better for you as well. But the consensus remains (consensus means Kyle and I): don’t get a wheeling suitcase. Also, the backpacks are easier to stuff when you’re having to squeeze in somewhere, or squeeze it into a hostel locker.
If you do bring a large hiking bag, like Kyle, you may want to also pack a smaller bag. This will be useful for when you get settled into your Salamanca apartment and you want to start weekend traveling through the rest of Spain. For Kyle and I, we usually won’t need to do this since I bring my small bags. Once we get settled into our apartment, we just use my bags for our travel trips.
In addition to travel bags we also usually have a cheap pocketable bag that we use for groceries. This has been HUGE.
Check with your airlines on their specifications for traveling from USA to Europe. General rule of thumb is no more than 50 lbs/23 kgs for checked in bags. If you are flying within Europe such as through EasyJet and RyanAir, they have much more strict specifications on baggages. It’s worth it though, plane tickets can cost as little as 20€ with a few extra small fees. So when we pack, we pack for less than what we’d carry on those flights with the intention to allot room for gifts and buying junk when we arrive.
When it comes to toiletries, only pack the travel-size ones for your landing and to use until you get to your Salamanca apartment. You can find toiletries almost much cheaper when you arrive in Salamanca than what you paid for in the US. Unless of course you bought the high brand stuff, which i’m assuming you didn’t because you can’t really live luxury in this kind of lifestyle.
Here are a list of things you may want to pack for your trip.
- Power converters
Don’t forget. But you can also buy them in Europe so if you want to save luggage space, by all means.
- Photocopied documents
These are detailed in the “Before you arrive” article. You’ll want one to take and store with you, and one with your parents, friends or your apartment in the US.
- Unlocked cell phone that takes a SIM card
Pay-as-you-go cell phone service is very cheap
- Mini pad locks
You’ll want to lock the zippers together on your luggage whenever you’re traveling and you’ll want to bring a padlock for hostel lockers. We’ve also heard of some group travelers who bring some sort of bungee chord and they chord all their bags together when they eat out. That’s your call if you think that’s necessary.
- Cheap, pocketable bag for groceries
- Comfortable fashionable shoes
This is important, I think. Don’t pack tennis shoes to wear around every day unless you’re really wearing them to jog. It’s so American. At least try to assimilate a little. I’m sure you did a lot of walking all over your college campus and you were just fine. You can also buy shoes there for pretty cheap, there is a Zara and H&M and other such places with decent prices. So don’t try to bring your entire shoe collection.
- Appropriate clothes
If you’re like me you probably want to know what kind of clothes to pack to be European.
- Ear popping medicine
This may be helpful for the flight incase your ears pop constantly enough to irritate you, or enough to make you want to lay in the fetal position.
- Money Belt
- Light Poncho
- Freezer Bags
Freezer bags were difficult for us to find in Europe but we ended up using them for a lot of random things.
- Reusable Clothes
This is also better detailed in the European fashion article. A prime example of finding outfits that you can reuse is on the Petite Asian Girl’s blog here. She describes how she took one dress into seven different outfits.
- Travel blanket?
If you want pack a travel blanket. Depending if you want to take up the space for it. Try to be a minimalist but the nice thing about bringing this is that it can also serve as bedding for your hostels when you travel.
You’ll want both US cash for airport and Euros for airport, taxi, etc.
Most things that are listed on a typical ‘packing for Europe’ blog are for people that are vacationing there. Keep this in mind because if you follow them, you also run a high risk of over packing. Rick Steve’s actually has a good article about packing 101.
Please don’t pack the following items. They add so much weight to your suitcase and some aren’t worth the power converting risks:
- A blow dryer
Printable checklist (PDF may take a minute to load).