Did you think packing to come to Europe was hard? Try packing to go home!
Posted by Andy Steves on May 19, 2015.
I’ve been attempting to pack for a week now. It’s safe to say it is not going as planned. Here’s some tips:
Ditch towels and hygiene products
- Your mom will be happy your home and love to make a Target run with you to buy some new $5 towels and the American hair products you were afraid to leave without in the first place. Same goes for over the counter meds. I promise you, there’s no shortage of Benadryl or DayQuil in the US right now
Wash and donate your linens
- Talk to your local charity shop and find out what they accept. Seriously, your duvet cover is worthless at home, you’ve got $30 comforters at Target. And that shirt you didn’t wear all semester? Donate that too. If it’s stained, throw it out!
- Make sure you evenly distribute heavy and light stuff between two bags if you have them (I ended up with one 25kg bag and one 17kg, then had to totally repack them both)
Make use of your carry-on
- I know you don’t want to drag that through the airport, but if it’s heavy and not a liquid, put it in your carry-on. Nobody is going to weigh it, and your breakables are probably safer with you than if they’re checked. Just don’t be carelessly swinging it through the airport
Ship rather than have overweight bags
- It’s definitely cheaper than paying $200 for one bag. Ship stuff you won’t need right away (like that winter coat) and have it shipped as slowly (and cheaply) as possible. Check with your school’s study abroad office for good companies. UPS was reliable for me when I shipped a box over
Easy on the snacks
- Yes, you probably can’t find stroopwafels in your local supermarket, but if you’re anywhere near a big city, you’ll be able to find a more European based store. Aldi is also starting to pop up around the country. You’ll find it again, and fall in love all over
Plan your souvenirs
- As much as you love your new city, you don’t need a mug, hat, hoodie, and stuffed animal all from one location. Pick one or two things you really want to bring home with you, try to make it something unique.
Gifts for friends and family
- You want to share your time abroad with everyone and that’s good, but everyone doesn’t need a gift. Something small for a few people is great, but your stories and pictures are way better. Your mom will love how you light up every time you get to that one weekend trip, or where you found the best coffee in the world.
Number one rule: if it’s not expensive and you can get it at home, don’t pack it
- You probably need to replace the two year old sneakers you ran around Europe in anyway
Before you leave Europe:
- Close your local bank account
- Spend those coins! You can’t convert them at home. Or, save them for your next adventure
- Make sure you do not pack anything you need into checked luggage. Medications and important documents should be kept in your carry-on
- Check what is and isn’t allowed back into the US
- Make sure you have contact info for all your new friends
- Make sure you are all set with your accommodations. How do you need to turn in your keys? Do you owe the landlord money? Do they owe you money? How clean does your apartment need to be?
- Ignore McDonalds until you’re stateside again. Fill up on local foods while you can
Good luck and Safe Travels Everyone! I hope it’s not long before you find yourself back in your favorite city