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Packing for 7 Months Abroad: Decisions, Negotiations, and Sacrifices

I am currently in packing hell! Since I have been sick (all week!) and stuck at home, I've slowly been sorting what I want to take to Italy. Honestly, it is turning out to be a lot harder than I anticipated. Three months I can do, but seven months with multiple seasons is breaking me! I thought I would get to bring a lot more, but the further I got into sorting, the smaller my two suitcases became.

I started packing by pulling out everything I wanted to pack and laying it out on my bed. For the next three days my room (actually the entire apartment) looked like a disaster area! I then started sorting everything into three piles: 1) My must-haves, 2) My maybes or things I have multiples of, and 3) Things I would like to take, but could easily live without (or mail).

I then pulled out my packing cubes, which I swear by, and starting packing my must-haves, or non-negotables. This included:
  • A black striped top and a navy striped top - Striped tops are very versatile and much more interesting than a solid shirt.
  • A great cross-body bag - Allows for hands-free sightseeing and picture taking.
  • A travel wallet - Keeps your passport, currencies, IDs, tickets, and important cards organized. Mine also doubles as a cross-body and a clutch!
  • Hot rollers - Don't judge, it is the quickest and easiest way to maintain camera-ready hair while traveling, and I have yet to find a decent set in Italy.
  • My Tieks - or foldable ballet flats - Comfort and portability, need I say more?
  • A good camera and lens - I've said it before and I'll say it again, take more (and better) pictures when you travel! Pictures are the best souvenirs you can bring home (I have this DSLR and recently invested in this lens).
  • My favorite jeans - Jeans go. with. everything. They are also flattering and comfortable and you can't go wrong that.
  • Tights - Tights help you pack less, since you can pack one dress/skirt and wear it in multiple seasons.
  • My Hunter Tour Boots (red and navy) - These boots are packable, comfortable, and can handle both wet and cold weather.
  • Lots of underwear - Undies are small and lightweight, and the more you pack the less often you will have to do laundry!
  • My 2 favorite Kate Spade dresses - Wearing a fun dress that you feel amazing in will translate into your photos. Also dresses are much more versatile than you think!
  • My coats - I'll admit I am trying to pack way too many coats, but I can't help myself. So I have decided to sacrifice my overall number of items in order to bring more coats (because honestly that's all you'll ever see in the winter months... And could you leave this behind?).

Once my must-haves were packed, negotiations began for the remaining items. Do I really need to pack 27 tops and 15 sweaters? Yes... but sadly I can't.

I decided to toss most of my toiletries to make room for more clothing options, since I can easily buy toothpaste, face wash, body wash, shampoo, and conditioner there. I will take my makeup, but skip packing my blowdryer. In addition to tossing toiletries, I am also chucking extra shoes and accessories, since both are easily purchased in Italy... darn. It's all about compromise, people!

Here are some other things I'll be compromising on:
  • Things I have multiples of - Like puffer vests, sadly all six can't make the cut. I am hoping to get away with four (three for winter and one for spring).
  • Sweaters - Since I am going for broke on coats (and they are also super bulky), I am only bringing six or so sweaters. I might regret this, but unlike coats, sweaters can be cheaply purchased there.
  • Summer clothes - By the time I got all of my winter and spring items packed, there wasn't much room left. I never realized how bulky winter clothing is! I selected a couple of my favorite shorts and dresses and decided I would have the rest shipped to me in the spring.
  • Workout Clothes and Sneakers - While I would love to pack all of my favorite workout clothes, I am sticking to 10 complete outfits. I figured if I only did 5, I would have to do laundry every week. I am also planning on buying running shoes there.

I was making great progress with all of this until the worst happened... I ran out of packing cubes! So packing has been put on hold until reinforcements arrive (thank goodness for 2-day Prime!). I am hoping to complete my packing dry-run this weekend. That way I have a good idea of suitcase weight and fullness, and what will need to be shipped. I am also hoping to avoid wearing these items and keeping as much as possible packed for the next four weeks. Not sure if that will really happen, but here's hoping. Just in case, I am photographing everything along the way, which will help me repack in January and is a great way to document what you packed should your insurance ever need to reimburse you (#KnockOnWood).

Am I a complete loser because my big weekend plan is to finish a packing dry-run lol?
Happy Friday!

PS - Check back tomorrow for another fab freebie!

Ashley B
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  1. Sounds like a good list! But how expensive are running shoes in Italy? In Spain where I live, they're so much more expensive than at home. I always buy new running shoes when I make a trip back to the US!

    1. You're definitely right, running shoes are more expensive in Italy. But, I know I can find a pair that fits. I am less lucky with clothing in Italy (that I can afford), so I figure better to dump the shoes that I know I can replace and bring more of my well-fitting clothing.

  2. Great list! I like the idea of having items shipped to you in the spring - you can ship back most of your coats around the same time too. I'm totally enjoying following along on your packing progress. (And no, you're not a complete loser for your packing plans this weekend lol)

    Sweet Spontaneity

    1. Thanks Sarah, that makes me feel much better lol.

  3. Great lens! I have a micro 4/3 camera with a prime lens, they make such a positive impact on image quality :) Hope you're feeling better soon!

    1. I love my new lens! I've been playing around with it all weekend. I think I am getting the hang of it, but any advice you can give would be welcome!

  4. It certainly doesn't make you a loser. I realized today that since I'll be gone until almost February, I could transition in a few of my planned winter capsule pieces while I travel. This essentially translated into starting my packing even though I don't leave until Wednesday! To me, it makes sense to start early. I still have finals to grade, a house to get vacation-ready, wrapping up the semester meetings and a few books left to read. When you're going somewhere for more than a week, its best to start packing in advance!

    1. It was such a satisfying weekend lol, everything is packed neatly in its own packing cube! Victory!

  5. I'm having a panic attack just thinking about myself attempting to pack up for 7 months (and I'm not going anywhere!). I honestly can't wait to see the final product for you, I'm amazed at your travel skills!

    1. I have faith in you Alex, you could do it if you had to!

  6. Sounds like a good list, although I have to ask why four puffer vests?! It seems like you could do with 1 in a main color for both spring and winter...maybe two at the max if you
    Need variety.

    1. Yeah, 4 might be overkill (my roomie gave me a hard time about my puffers too). But I feel like they are such an easy way to add warmth and they are so comfy and versatile (I can also wear them when running in cold weather). Plus once I packed them in a compression bag they turned out to be really small and relatively light weight, so I am going for it. But if something does have to go, I will definitely have to give up a puffer (or two).

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