Jen’s Guide to NOT Overpacking

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Some of my packing essentials...

I have a problem.

I’m an over-packer.

I pack too much damn stuff every single time I travel.

Okay, maybe not EVERY single time, but just about.  (I did a fine job last summer on my trip to Croatia going with just a carry-on suitcase!)

But on Tuesday, I have to be packed up and will be leaving this apartment, then will then be staying with my friend Bojana on the other side of the city.  It looks like I’ll have to leave Europe in a few weeks, due to not having luck getting a visa.  (Upcoming blog on that subject.  I might have to go home for a bit, but I now have a way to get EU citizenship – it’s just going to take a little bit longer.  So, I’ll be back soon.  Stay tuned for that update.)

However, looking at all the clothes I brought has me thinking, well, What was I thinking???

I decided I’d share some things I’ve learned – how to not over-pack.  I think it’s possible.  I haven’t yet achieved this goal, but I feel like I’m a few steps down the road closer to that destination.

Here’s the deal.  I’ve always liked pretty clothes, fun clothes, funky clothes…. you get the idea.  And I was working part time in a clothing store for four and a half years, so I’ve got quite the collection of clothes.  And shoes.  And fun accessories.  So when I was getting ready back in January to come to Europe, I had a very difficult time deciding what to bring.  I was hoping to be staying even longer, so I brought stuff for all seasons.  That was mistake number one.

Rule Number One: Pack for the season you are going!
Hoping to stay a REALLY long time?  Cross that bridge when the seasons change.  If you’re going in winter, pack for winter and maybe take a couple items just in case it gets warm.  Don’t pack a bunch of summer clothes.  Someone can mail you that crap later if need be.  Obviously, I haven’t even touched my jean shorts that I packed. Or my cute little sundresses.  *rolling my eyes*
Rule Number Two: You don’t need all that underwear!
Okay, I’ll try to stay out of TMI zone, but I’ve got lots of pretty undergarments that I really like.  However, it’s not like I’m going ages and ages without doing the laundry.  I did not need to bring all the myriad of undies that I brought.  You really just need a few pairs: some comfy ones for sleeping (and that time of the month), a few sexy ones to wear for your man, a few that match bras to make you feel all put together, and a few pairs that make no lines under your favorite clothes.  That’s it.  Not the fifty+ pairs I threw in my suitcase.  Sheesh.
Rule Number Three:  Do you really need all those shoes?
Yes, this is a tricky one.  I’ll admit it.  I thought I was being good.  I left my pretty pink leather platform sandals at home.  Same thing with the little orange wedges. I packed neutral colors and everything!  But I really didn’t need my little grey booties, or three pairs of flip-flops.  Or TWO pairs of tall brown boots – I should have chosen just one of those.  Just take a few basic essentials that go with almost all your clothes.  Period.

Rule Number Four:  How many outfits do you need for going out on the town?
I actually think I did pretty well on this one.  Since Miloš and I went out a lot when we were in Croatia, I DID need to pack a few outfits to wear out to the bars and clubs.  I had two dresses that I wore A LOT.  My little red dress and black lacy dress got pulled out every weekend.  The white dress, not as much, but it’s so super cute, I couldn’t resist.  And you can’t go wrong with packing a black mini-skirt for weekend wear.  So those items all came quite in handy AND don’t take up much room in a suitcase.  But some of the tops I brought never got pulled out of the closet.  I think I could have left one or two more at home.  Oh well.

Rule Number Five: Don’t skip the things that are important to you.
“Needs” are different for each person.  If you have the kinds of jobs I have, bringing the laptop is a given.  Same thing with some of my other electronic devices.  But I also  knew I was going to have to bring a few things that some people would see as superfluous, but were essential to ME.  I don’t go on any kind of long trip without my Winnie the Pooh Bear.  Yeah, you heard right.  I have a Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal that I sleep with every night.  And ever since Miloš visited me in Vienna of February last year, it’s been regularly sprayed with his cologne – his signature scent.  So for over a year now, I get to snuggle up next to a stuffed animal that smells like Miloš during our long stretches of time apart.  What can I say, long distance relationships are hard, and this is a little thing that gives me some comfort.  Winnie the Pooh is essential!
And even though I have ALL my pics on my computer, it’s nice to have a few real ones laying around, so I brought some framed pics along.  And DVD’s – they have come in handy on those evenings when my wifi has been acting up and I want to relax and watch something.

Other items I’ve found to be essential?

-Travel hairdryer.  (I got one here in Europe so I didn’t need an adapter.)

-My black hoodie.  Serves as a lightweight jacket on warmer days.  Layers well under my actual winter coat on super cold days.  Easy to slip on inside when you’re in a cool building.

-My tall black suede Aerosole boots.  I seriously go everywhere in those things.  They work for SO many situations (the dance club, job interviews, long walks) and are so comfy.  Love them.

-Outlet adapters for all those European outlets.  Duh.

-An extra tote bag.  (One that folds up easily.)  I’ve used it for packing stuff on short overnight trips, carrying my laptop around town, and just for taking along to bag my items at the grocery store.  I brought my cute pink Mickey Mouse one, but anything like that will do!

-Shampoo and Conditioner.  Yes.  But Jen, you might say, I can buy that stuff overseas!  Of course you can, but be prepared to pay at LEAST double for it.  Probably triple.  Just warning you.  I then took travel size containers with me to refill from the big shampoo and conditioner so I didn’t have to keep buying travel sizes.  I like my regular brands and I want my hair to look its best and stay healthy.  I’m not going to use cheap junk.  (At home I’ll sometimes splurge on the really good brands, but I usually stick to the nicer drugstore brands.)  My John Frieda stuff that I can get for $6 at home?  Yeah, it’s like 10 EUROS here!  That’s like $13!!!!  And at some stores it’s even more than that.  Body wash, I don’t give a crap – I got generic stuff at the local Hoffer for less than a Euro.  But I’m not going to mess with my hair!

-Perfume. If you have a favorite or a signature scent, bring it.  Again, it’s going to cost TONS more in Europe.  Don’t skip it.  I have a favorite perfume and you can’t even buy it everywhere here, so I have to bring it from home.

-Delicates bags for the laundry. If you’re going to be doing laundry in a washing machine, and you have fine fabrics, bring along those little mesh delicates bags. Or you’ll have to find somewhere to buy them.  Or wash your delicates ALL in the sink. Yuck.

So dear readers, those are some of my thoughts on the subject.  I’ll continue to figure this out a little bit better each time I travel.  I hope you will learn from my mistakes though.  ‘Cause having to pay for that extra suitcase each way to and from Europe is a major pain in the ass.

Some of my packing essentials...
Some of my packing essentials…
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Jennifer was initially drawn to Europe for two reasons: music and love.  She lived in Vienna for four years, and now calls Croatia home for much of each year, as she married a native Croatian. Since 2015, Jennifer has worked as a tour director and cruise director on European river cruises for a major American travel company, and has become an expert in all of the cities along her routes on the Danube, Rhine, and Main Rivers. She also has traveled to Disney World almost every year since 1985, and knows Disney World inside and out. As a travel agent, Disney World is her primary specialty, and she has helped many Disney newbies and veterans have amazing trips with her insider information.

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