A year ago I began packing for my journey to Edinburgh, Scotland. I had no idea how to even start preparing my suitcases for the adventure to come. Scotland was a foreign land, with unknown weather, terrain, and fashion cultures. Living in Northern California for my whole life, I did not know how to gather clothing for a Scottish Autumn and Winter, let alone a trip that would require four months worth of garments. I scoured the internet for information to help me decide what to bring and how much to bring of it.
I found a bounty of blogs, YouTube videos, and articles written on how to pack for long term study abroad trips, and I planned my luggage accordingly. The most common advice I found was to pack much less than what you thought you needed. Why? This logic rested on the idea that I would land in my new home country and accumulate clothes from my shopping there. It was not a bad suggestion, and one I thought I would follow, and so I packed the bare minimum… Or my standards of a bare minimum. Since I would be not just studying abroad, but also interning at the Scottish Parliament, I would need a few more items to properly dress myself for working in such a prestigious place.
In the end, I packed something similar to what I describe below:
- Two pairs of jeans
- One cargo jacket
- One pea coat
- Four sweaters
- Four tops
- Two dresses
- A reasonable amount of underwear, socks, and bras
- Riding boots
- Two workout shirts
- Two workout shorts
- One comfy hoodie
- Running shoes
- Two suit pants
- One pencil skirt
- Three fancy blouses
- One blazer
- Ballet flats
- One pair of pajamas
While the following may seem like a lot or a little to some, to me it ended up being just enough. I found myself wearing the same outfits over and over again, out of need not want. I began to dislike my clothes and starting purchasing new ones as I did not have as many as I could to dress comfortably each day. Since I am a person who loves clothes and fashion, packing “lightly,” according to my definition of it, did not bode well.
To all those preparing for their own journeys abroad, I recommend packing a little more than what you think you need. It is better to have options, than be forced to find the nearest Primark and buy clothes so that you have something to wear. If you have the money for it, then by all means buy the store. However, in my case I had already paid a fortune to travel to Scotland and so I found it difficult to afford a new wardrobe.
If you do add things to your suitcase, I advise it to be in the form of additional tops. Bottoms can be easily worn multiple times. All you really need, unless you are working while away, is two or three pairs of jeans to get you by. Same with jackets and coats. However, tops make the outfit. They are also the items which need washing most frequently, and so having more of them also means saving time in between trips to the laundry mat.
First, pack the tops you think you will actually wear: your favorites. Then add ones that you are not totally in love with, ones you would be okay with parting with if you do find that you buy clothes while away. That way, you have options when you arrive, but will still have room in your suitcase for when you come home.
The places you travel will have new and exciting shops, full of beautiful new clothes. I am not trying to advise you away from them, but rather make it a decision to buy an item based off want, rather than need.
Pack wisely, future travelers, and feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.