The Packing Problem

As I sit here writing this post, it is a mere 11 days before my departure from the states. I have 6 full days left of work and countless people I need to see in order to say my goodbyes, and to top it off, I have not begun the immense challenge that will be packing. In typical me fashion I have left this burdensome task for the very last minute and as I sit here babysitting with essentially nothing to do, I find myself feeling like my time is being wasted up where it could be used in preparation for my trip.

The first dilemma I am facing as I mentally prepare to pack is how in the world I am going to get a year’s worth of stuff in just a few bags. As I mentioned in a previous post, I will be checking two bags on my flight, one large suitcase and one backpacking backpack. I just purchased a large shoulder bag to use for day trips that I will be carrying onto the flight, in addition to a small, or should I say very small, duffle bag and that’s it. 4 bags. 10 months.

Packing for a year is not an easy feat. To start, I’ve been looking online at various articles about how to pack as light as possible for travel abroad. Unfortunately, most of these posts have been useless, as the majority are geared towards people who will be backpacking or traveling during the popular summer months, where very little is required in terms of clothing. As for me, I am expecting to encounter all four seasons during my trip, beginning with Summer and ending with Spring, with a harsh Scottish winter in between, so unfortunately I have a bit more space I need to devote to clothing. I also will be living the life of a normal student, so I will be needing clothes for every occasion (formal events, interviews, who knows), as opposed to the summer traveller who can get by on a small array of sight-seeing outfits and requires less diversity.

To make up for the sheer amount of clothing I will have to pack, it has become apparent to me that I will need to sacrifice as many items as I can possibly go without, which may be easy to pick out for a month long trip, but is proving to be highly difficult for one of my duration. When I find something I cannot go without, I then have to decide whether it will be more economical to buy a copy of the item wherever I am, or to dedicate space in my luggage to it. For example, I have decided to forsake bringing a hair dryer, although I may purchase one in Spain if I decide I need it more than I thought (I can’t remember the last time I dried my hair). I have also decided to leave out a beach towel, as that will be an affordable purchase abroad and a huge space saver. Small things, however, I am afraid may add up and end up taking up more space in my luggage than expected.

I think the most difficult thing that I have encountered so far is the issue of shoes. I have a pair of Timberlands that will be perfect in snowy weather and are also a great style piece, and a pair of Hunter rain boots that I’m sure would get more than their fair share of use in rainy Scotland. My problem here is that they are both extremely useful pieces, but they take up a great deal of room, and more importantly, weight. Unfortunately, both are rather pricey items, due to their reputable quality and popularity, so they would be an expensive item to leave behind and end up having to purchase abroad. Additionally, I know that when I return to the states after my trip it will be necessary to leave a few items behind for the same reasons, so leaving brand new snow and rain boots behind after shelling out the money for them seems impractical and wasteful.

I will keep you all updated as I take on this task (hopefully this weekend and no later) with any unforeseen challenges or tricks I have learned. Thanks again for reading!


4 thoughts on “The Packing Problem

  1. Sometimes I wished I embraced the Japanese sense of minimalism….especially when any moving/packing is involved!

  2. i, too, traveled across europe during the winter months, and packing was a challenge. starting in iceland and ending in bosnia and spending a couple weeks in ireland and scotland during the snowy season, i had to be prepared for the cold without packing everything. advice i can give you: invest premium dollars in 1 lightweight, stowable, high count down fill jacket that packs down to about the size of your fist. i went with an arcteryx down jacket and it was sufficient alone in 90% of my excursions (even hiking mountains and volcanos in iceland and scotland in the snow), with an occasional extra layer needed. it’ll be expensive (my jacket cost $285), but you won’t need anything else to keep you warm. also, you’ll be in europe, so you’ll be able to get the things you need there. don’t stress on bringing them along when you can pick them up there. when you bring them back home, they’ll be like souvenirs!

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