Wow, that was easy. One of the biggest stress points of preparing for a big trip or move is packing. To eliminate this weight off my shoulders, I like to do a practice run before hand so I know what to bring and am not scrambling at the last moment. It's remarkable to me how easy it has become. Today I dedicated the afternoon to preparing my bags as if I was leaving tomorrow. In 2 short hours, wa-la! I'm finished with a few extra pounds to spare. I managed to fit about 40 pounds of clothes and shoes into a standard hikers backpack airporter bag to keep within the 50 pound limit, and the rest in a small tote and carry on sized suit case.
For those of you who are new to the big pack or find it an overwhelming process, here are some basics I go by. Keep in mind, I'm a girl and I like to look at least somewhat stylish in the city, so I tried not to skimp on outfits. I plan to be in Spain for about six months, so I packed for late Winter, Spring, and Summer time weather.
-My 3 favorite pairs of jeans and 3 other pairs of pants for night or day.
-3 sets of exercise/ outdoor and a fleece jacket
-3 light weight jackets (I'll be arriving at the end of the winter so I don't wanna lug around a giant coat)
-Enough socks and undergarments to last a week
-A bunch of little dresses that don't take up too much space and can be utilized for different weather by adding or taking away a jacket, sweater, tights, or leggings
-Also a bundle of short sleeve tops to interchange with the pants and skirts
-4 scarves (Europeans love their scarves)
-Tennis shoes, a pair of boots, sandals for when the weather gets warmer, and a few pairs of flat shoes that are super comfortable and match everything
-2 Purses and a small clutch
-2 bathing suits
Now I'm ready to prance around the city in the changing weather and prepared to stay for a while, not draining my bank account to shop for new stuff I forgot. A few other things to remember to bring:
-Books, maybe 2 or 3, and a Spanish/ English dictionary
-Electronics like camera, computer, ipod, etc and all the chargers
-Converter for your plugs
-Cosmetics and small toiletries; you can buy pretty much anything there, but it's good to have a starter so you're not scrambling upon arrival
-Passport, tickets, and other essential documents
-A few American souvenirs for when I reunite with my Spanish buddies
-Sunglasses, belts, hats, jewelry, and any other accessory that's small, versatile, and functional
I learned from the last time I made the transition that it's better to leave stuff home like decorative items, office supplies, and clothes for only certain occasions. In the long run, it's just better to have less to carry and trust me, you'll live without those things. You'll want that extra space for special items you can only get there and gifts for everyone back home.
This list is obviously flexible, but it's a good baseline to get started. And a practice pack is so so valuable, even if it does take a little extra time. Hope this is useful for those of you setting off yourselves! Safe travels and happy packing.