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How to Stop Crying When You're Trying to Pack for a Year Abroad

August 10, 2017
Travel Tips

Picture a big fat suitcase, all empty and lined with fancy organizing pockets sitting open on the floor. Now, picture me curling into a little ball and crawling inside. That is my life right now.

How the hell do you pack for a year abroad without pouring your whole life into the confines of your suitcase? 

This has been my endeavor.

Sometimes I wish I was one of those perfect little liars on Instagram that have their lives together with their closets organized by color, their homes empty of beer bottles and burrito wrappers, and their children dressed better than my church clothes. I bet they can pack their suitcase. Or...I bet they have an assistant to do that. The only assistant I have is my cat and he really is not that helpful.

But I digress.

I'm moving to Germany so naturally I am very excited. I will be staying there for a year, working as an au pair. And in all honesty, I wouldn't be surprised if I returned or stayed in Germany. I've tentatively looked at some schools but who knows.

So I'm trying to pack up at least a chunk of my life and move it over to Germany. I know I need things like toothbrush...but I mean, there is no guide to packing for moving abroad. I really wish there was! Aw shit-I have a blog. I can just make one myself.

| Voyaging Viking | How to Pack for a Year Abroad

1. Determine what suitcases you are taking.

Probably not taking one, and three is far too many. I am taking a larger suitcase and just a gym bag where I can stuff my clothes into.

2. Clothes

Uhg. Clothes are hard. If you're going to be there for a year, you are probably going to experience every season. In some places, like Hawaii or another tropical place, you probably don't need winter clothes.

The biggest tip I can give you is to use layers. That way, you can just get some basics and change them up every day. You don't have to have 100 different shirts for winter, spring, summer, and fall. You can layer them up, take off layers, and add accessories. Stick with the basics-I mean, aren't you going to go shopping while you are away? You can pick up some unique things while you're away.


-2 weeks worth of underwear
-2 weeks worth of socks
-4 undershirts-white and black tank tops
-1 pair of walking boots
-1 pair of non-descript sneakers (I have grey vans)
-5 pairs of pants (I like me some skinny jeans/pants)
-at least 1 nice outfit for special occasions

I am a firm believer that you need at least 2 pairs of comfortable shoes. Here is a guide to some good, comfortable walking shoes.

Fall Clothing: 

-2 turtle neck shirts for layering
-2 long sleeve shirts
-long, warm, waterproof jacket
-fleece pullover
-2 scarves

Winter Clothing:

-2 sweaters
-1-2 pairs of leggings to go under your pants
-warm hat and gloves
-2 pairs of wool/boot socks
-2 thermal shirts

Spring Clothing:

-3 simple fitted short sleeved shirts
-1-2 simple flowy shirts
-a rain proof jacket

Summer clothing:

-1-2 dresses or skirts
-1-2 flowy cardigans to go over tank tops

I am all about being able to make 100 different outfits without having 100 pieces of clothing. I am not a big clothes person so I am all about functionality. Some people might call this lazy, I call it smart.

3. Toiletries

Well, you can get most of this stuff abroad. Don't waste a lot of space on these unless you have some particular shampoo YOU JUST HAVE TO HAVE. I have a little organizer so I just fill that with travel size stuff and I'm good. I also bring: 

-extra contacts
-extra glasses
-tampons/pads (you never know)
-extra deodorant/antiperspirant (it isn't the same all over the world!)
-over the counter medicine
-prescriptions (I keep these in my carry on so I don't get in trouble)

4. Electronics

-ipod/mp3 player
-chargers...and maybe extra chargers
-invest in a good power adapter or 2

5. Other goodies

-water bottle
-wallet/passport wallet with lots of pockets
-extra purse or duffel bag for your weekend trips and excursions
-travel water bottle
-$200 in local currency
-stuffed animal or your boyfriend's shirt

You can see some tips on packing your carry on here

Hopefully this helps! I'm not sure if I'm going to pack much better but I guess I will at least get out of my suitcase and give it a shot.

| Voyaging Viking | How to Stop Crying in Frustration and Pack for a Year Abroad
Siggi Einarson

My name is Siggi-dubbed by my American friends because of the Icelandic yogurt-I am a writer, polyglot, and aspiring expat, not a cup of yogurt (unfortunately).

My love for travelling began with a trip to Iceland and Sweden to visit my family when I was just 15 years old. I spent so long dreaming of the possibilities of life abroad but I always figured these dreams were too far reached. Flash forward almost 10 years, here I am again, both cursing and thanking this damn travel bug.

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