Have you booked your AESU trip to Europe yet? If not, you better hurry before your spot is taken! If you have, congrats for taking the first step, because now it is time to buckle down and start thinking about the dreaded thing that you will almost certainly procrastinate doing: PACKING. Good news, though: your trip is either in mid-spring or summer, so you don’t need to waste space in your suitcase bringing heavy coats and winter gear. AESU has got you covered when it comes to providing moral support and sensible advice for the daunting task of packing.
It is completely possible to pack everything you need to blend in like a local in Europe without having to sit on your suitcase to zip it shut. The #1 question to ask yourself every time you pack an item: Will I need this badly enough to justify carrying it throughout my entire trip? If the answer isn’t a solid ‘YES,’ then toss it aside! Will you need that huge towel and hair dryer + converter? Most hotels will provide towels for you, and if you are going to the Greek Isles, might as well purchase an inexpensive beach towel there to bring home as a souvenir. Tip from experience: Even if you use a converter, often your hair dryer/straightener will still get zapped from the current charge. Your best option is to use hair dryers provided in your hotels, split a cheap European mini hair-dryer with your travel buddies, or go sans blow dryer altogether; it can be a freeing experience.
Things you should bring: Well, here’s the great thing about travelling in Europe…anything you forget (besides IDs, passport, and electronics) can probably be easily and inexpensively replaced while you’re there. It is still a good idea to be prepared with the essentials, nonetheless. Bring 3 oz. travel bottles (try $5 GoToob bottles, they are made of silicone so you don’t waste a drop of anything!) of your liquids and pack them in your carry-on so they don’t spill all over your luggage. Bring one pair of bottoms (pants, shorts, skirts) for every 2 or 3 days of your trip. Long pants or skirts may be required to visit some religious sites, as well as shirts with sleeves. Bring short and long sleeve tops, as well as a cardigan or light jacket. Bring a nice outfit that you can wear for dressier occasions. Stick to a general color scheme to make mixing outfits simple, which allows you to take less. Layering is key – European spring weather can sometimes be chilly! If your trip is longer than 10 days, keep in mind that you will be able to do laundry at some point (bring a small packet of dry washing powder for this). Rain happens, so think ahead and pack a pocket-size umbrella/light rain-jacket and waterproof shoes. Take comfortable walking shoes, a pair of nicer shoes to wear on evenings out/dinners, and sandals if your tour includes a beach. Place shoes near the wheels of your suitcase to prevent your bag from toppling over while upright.
Rolling clothes will wrinkle them less than folding and take up less space. Place items you will need first or most often on top, and include a plastic garbage bag to keep dirty clothes separate from clean garments while travelling. Stuff socks and small items into your shoes to free up more space in your bag. Bring plenty of underwear! For toiletries, consider purchasing a small hanging toiletry kit. These keep all bathroom items secure in one spot, which makes keeping up with everything less of a hassle. Most European hotels have small bathrooms with tiny sink counters, so there won’t be a lot of room on them to place bottles/toothbrushes/etc.
Your carry-on bag needs to be small enough to fit into the overhead bin on your plane, and you should be able to lift it without assistance. In this bag, pack a change of clothes, just in case your luggage goes astray or you can’t get to it easily when you want to change out of your airplane clothes. Bring a durable water bottle that you can refill (very important to stay hydrated when flying and travelling in general). Invest in a neck pillow – they are cheap and make sleeping on long flights and bus rides much more comfortable! Cold and pain meds are handy to have, and if you get nauseous on flights or buses bring Dramamine. Also take a book, magazine, or old iPod with downloaded music/podcasts to keep you entertained during those travelling hours.
CRITICAL- Put your important documents and passport in a travel wallet and keep it with you at the airport and on your flight. Do NOT pack it! Make copies of your passport and carry them with you at all times in case something happens to the original. Whew, that is a lot of information! Here’s the final test: Pack EVERYTHING you are taking on your trip. Now, walk around the block, up and back down two flights of stairs, and back to where you started. Once you can do that without having to stop and catch your breath or struggle with your bags, you are ready. Consider yourself a packing expert now!
Pro tip: After reading this list, make a checklist of all the things you know you’ll NEED on this trip, making a point to cross off the things that you don’t need and packing the things that you do. It’ll help keep you organized and prepare you for the trip ahead!
AESU Travel with a Purpose since 1977
Be sure to check out all of our great Travel Tips and the Travel Tips for Europe before you head overseas.
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