Packing the Essentials

Packing the Essentials

To Pack or Not To Pack: That Is The Question

When packing for any length of a trip, whether that is a weekend getaway or a four-month excursion abroad, is the major source of stress when trying to pack. You don’t want to take too much, like that shirt you wore once three years ago, or too little, because shopping can get expensive. You don’t want to forget anything, like toothpaste, but don’t want to bring something that’s useless, like a hair straightener. There’s also the weight limit that airports have if you’re checking in bags and you don’t want to pay an extra fee (like I often do) for an overweight bag filled with things you’ll never use. Clothing depends on the whether, so focusing on that is pointless in this article, but I will admit that I rarely say ‘I wish I had packed more clothes’. More often than not I wish I had packed less because I end up wearing the same five things instead of the random pieces I bring ‘in case I might  need it’.

Here is a brief list of the things that I NEED to bring when traveling anywhere.

A Journal

I’m not a big journal writer. I don’t keep an updated journal every second, but I constantly update my favorite journal with addresses of people I meet, quotes I hear and the destinations/hostels I stay at. It’s more of a memory notebook filled with what time my classes are, pro and con lists, addresses of who will receive a postcard and phone numbers of important places. It also includes the addresses of the American embassies in case something happens.

One day, whether you write in it daily or monthly, you’ll look back fondly at the memories you’ve created. You may forget the name of the hostel or cafe you went to, but looking back at your writing will bring back all the nostalgic memories.

I love unique journals and recommend checking Etsy for some good ones. I love when they’re one-of-a-kind and I love supporting small businesses.

The Right Shoes

Bringing the right shoes may not make a trip but the wrong ones will destroy it. I spent three days running around Paris in high-heeled boots because I wanted to look fashionable. Trust me, my feet hated me by the time I returned to London. Packing a pair of sneakers (like Adidas Superstars) or a comfortable pair of loafers by Crown Vintage will keep your feet from bleeding and blistering. Sure, you may not have the cutest shoes but who actually looks at your feet when you’re walking around a city?

A Backpack/Satchel

I swear by my Northface backpack that has lasted over eight years. It has traveled to countless countries for weekend getaways and has helped me through all my classes. You can fit everything into a backpack for a weekend, and sometimes you won’t even need to check it into the airline. It’s the perfect size for a carry-on. I also have a very reliable Michael Kor’s satchel that fits my wallet, notebook, travel battery and sunglasses. It is my accessory when going into a city and not wanting to bring a backpack. It’s perfect. I love it. I need it. We all need a nice accessory like that.

Portable Battery

My mother got me one last time I moved to Europe and I didn’t think I would need it. Boy was I wrong. My Bose portable battery works PERFECTLY for me. It charges (relatively) fast and is small enough to fit into my satchel. It comes everywhere and works for any phone. I love it. I need it. It’s my best accessory.


My friend Ashley brings her GoPro everywhere and I’m so jealous. Sometimes I want to bring something smaller than my iPhone and GoPro’s have waterproof cases. For my iPhone I have different lenses that help with unique photographs. I love the fisheye one the best. However I see people using Canon cameras all the time and sometimes wish I could take amazing pictures. Sometimes I bring my Polaroid camera to help take cool ‘artsy’ photographs so I can frame them. Regardless, whether it’s a phone or a GoPro, make sure you have a camera that’ll take really good pictures for future memories.


I love real books but my Kindle Fire is something I bring everywhere. You’ll have downtime at the hostel or need some entertainment on the plane and reading helps with that. You can read the new Stephen King novel or a guide-book to help you get through Berlin but no matter what it’ll stimulate your mind. They aren’t that expensive and they take almost no time to charge as well!

Water Bottle

I got a Swell water bottle for Christmas but left it back in the states so I bought a Que one. It’s easy to carry when empty and expands when full. Hydration is key and you need to make sure that you can drink water when needed…and it’s cheaper than buying a new bottle every time you get thirsty!

So there you go: my personal packing essentials for short, or long, term travels! What do you always have to bring on your trips?!


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