The Art of Perfect Packing: Abroad Travel 101
So Spring Break is approaching, and you are one of the lucky duck college kids who decided to forgo beer on the beach and wet t-shirt contests judged by frat boys with Napoleon Complexes for a slightly more cultural vacation outside of America. All that is left to do is write your last essay and pack. But where do you even start?
Last semester I was lucky enough to travel around Europe for 10 days over my fall break. I recognize that sounds privileged, but guess what? I had to make out for rice and sleep in a 42 bunk hostel next to possibly the loudest snorer in all of Europe in order to afford the trip, so back off haters. Anyways, I was stressed before leaving because I put off packing until the very last minute. So my advice to you is to get crackin’ on the packin’ kiddos. Here are some essentials to take when leaving the country:
Your sanity. You will probably lose it after the first train strike in Italy anyways, but remember to stay calm and enjoy your time. You are probably going to see sights that you will never see again, so take it in and do not worry so much about butchering French and accidentally calling the waiter at lunch a “fat pig whore.”
Your passport. And passport copies. At least two of them. Also, a lot of times you will want to lock up your actual passport in whatever hotel or hostel you stay at, but always have a copy of it on you. This is useful for getting into bars and clubs if you are on the younger looking side (although most places in Europe, at least, will serve you if you can see over the bar). It is also useful if you happen to get stopped by the police for any reason after you leave those bars or clubs. Sometimes it is also helpful to have another form of ID, such as a driver’s license. In Amsterdam, for example, a lot of places will not accept a passport copy as proper ID.
Money. SO much money. You see a penny on the street tomorrow? Pick that shit up. Everything counts. You will for sure run into unexpected costs, so bring more than you think you will need. Stuff it your bra, shoes, purses, etc. Spread it out so if your bag is stolen, then you will not have to sleep on a park bench next to a Danish hobo. I advise getting cash in advance; a lot of banks will trade in dollars for euros, pounds, or whatever currency you need for free so you will not have to deal with international ATM fees. Regarding credit cards, some places in Europe actually have a mandatory pin for credit cards if yours does not have a chip in it. Simply call your bank ahead of time and ask them to create a temporary pin; it is similar to using it as a debit card.
A camera. An actual camera, not your smart phone. Yeah, you will stick out as a tourist, but chances are people are going to figure that out anyways. Besides, if you are paying for the trip, you will probably want something to remember it by.
An open mind. Don’t be that American who disregards all customs unfamiliar to them and seeks out a McDonald’s instead of a country’s specialty open sandwich. Embrace the new experiences, otherwise what is the point of even leaving your couch?
And whatever you do, DO NOT be that tourist with a selfie stick. I believe in you homie; your selfie game is still hecka strong without one.