Up until 2015, I am pretty sure I could count the number of times I had been on a plane, on one hand. That did not change the fact that I had a dream to one day travel the world. Luckily, my better half also shares that same passion as I do. Come January of 2017, I thought I was basically a pro at this whole traveling thing because I now had my TSA Pre-Check and flew to California numerous times during the past two offseason’s in the NFL…but I was SO wrong! This past February I had the opportunity to travel throughout Europe for almost three weeks and I would like to share some of my insights about my biggest do’s and don’ts when it comes to packing. Stay tuned for future articles about Europe and the places I have been, and suggest to go!
• Nothing…just kidding, but not really. We made the mistake of each bringing a big suitcase, a carry-on bag, as well as Len bringing a backpack and I bringing a big tote. We should have both packed all of our belongings in one suitcase in reality. Once you are in Europe, or anywhere for this matter, and traveling from country to country, hotel to hotel, the last thing that you want to worry about is lugging your bags from place to place…especially if they break like mine did after our first destination (shout out to Len for carrying my 55 pound suitcase everywhere, and not leaving me in Europe).
• Bring comfortable clothes! You do not need to look like a super model everywhere you go. Of course, you want to have a couple nice outfits for a night on the town and for special occasions, but for sight seeing, and roaming around towns, the biggest advice I can give is to be comfortable.
• This leads to comfortable shoes. After packing eight pairs of shoes, I realized by day six that I was wearing my gym shoes almost everyday, unless we were going out or I was getting dressed up. When traveling, and being a tourist, you are more than likely walking just about everywhere. No one wants to be in pain, especially while on vacation.
• Next, bring very few outfits. When researching where you are going to stay, make sure that you find somewhere that offers a washer and dryer. Believe me, I would rather interchange five outfits for the three weeks I was in Europe, than bring twenty outfits because I wanted to “look cute”. Less is truly better.
• Outlet Converters. I made the mistake of not even realizing that different countries have different kind of outlets…meaning I could not even plug in my phone when I got to Amsterdam because they did not have a three prong outlet that was like mine in the US! Purchase the outlet converters before going to a different country and pack them! They are inexpensive and if you are planning on charging anything, or using any type of straightener or curling iron, you will indeed need these!
• Do not forget your headphones, computer and/or a book before you board your flight! Long flights can feel like a lifetime if you forget your headphones at home and have to listen to the guy snoring next to you the whole time. Keeping yourself entertained on the flight will make it go by faster, too! We brought a deck of cards on the plane as well and played different games against one another to help time go by faster too! After enjoying Champagne on deck and a full four-course meal for dinner and breakfast, you know I knocked out on that flight!
• Everything… If you even have to question if you should bring it, leave it at home. I brought five jackets and eight pairs of shoes…what was I thinking?! I was told that people from different countries would judge you if you were dressed a certain way but when we got there 99% of the locals were dressed the same way that I usually dress!
• Multiple pairs of shoes. Pick a couple pairs of shoes that you can interchange in and out with different outfits. Shoes are also bulky so you want to reduce the amount that you bring so that you have room for all your belongings in one bag!
• Full sized bottles of toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, etc. These items may seem like essentials to you, but they are also heavy items that add weight and take up space in your suitcase. Once you are at your destination you can purchase small versions of the items that you need so that you do not need to bring them back home once you depart.
• Bulky Clothing. Although when traveling in the winter, this may seem difficult, it is possible. Bringing zip ups, or sweatshirts, that can be worn over a shirt is going to be your best bet. Bulky items take up a lot of space and do not allow you to take many clothing items.
• Large Tote Bags. My Louis Vuitton tote is my favorite…It is so big that I feel like I can store so much in it…Problem is, when traveling, the last thing I want on me while being a tourist is carry a huge bag around. You do not need a large purse while on vacation; a wristlet or satchel will do just fine!
Overall, if you find yourself in another country thinking “OH MY GOSH, I LEFT MY FAVORITE SOCKS AT HOME,” guess what?! You will more than likely survive! When you look back in twenty-five years and reminisce about your trip, you will want to remember the places you visited, and the things you saw; not the miserableness that was brought upon you due to your overpacking.