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What I'm packing

Updated: Jun 28, 2018

As mentioned yesterday, the painters are here and things are starting to move quickly. After my post 2 weeks ago about struggling to let things go, I had a few motivating chats with some friends. As a result, I'm moving along at a much faster pace, and even C is surprise by my newfound ability to put things in the Moving Sale pile.


As a way to help clear things from in my closet, I began packing over the weekend. I was about 3 pairs of pants into my luggage when I realized that this trip is slightly different than most I've taken. First, I refuse to bring a large suitcase because I am not checking my bag. Second, I am going for 5 weeks, and that is significantly longer than most trips I take. Third, I have no idea where I am staying when I first get to Valencia and how much walking and/or metro riding I will be doing to get to school.


I also realized that, though I don't travel a ton, I do have a few things that I bring with me on trips to make my travels easier, safer, and more enjoyable. Today, I've put together a quick list of the things that I'm bringing which may help you in your travels (clothes not included).

There is one thing I know that will happen for certain when I get to Spain and that is that I will be walking a lot. As I mentioned above, I have no idea where I am staying for the first part of my trip while I'm in classes. All I know is that the apartments are far enough away from the school that public transportation is likely. Therefore, the first thing I made sure that I had for this trip was a comfortable pair of walking shoes. I found some B.O.C. Zamora slip-on sneakers in fabric, and they're perfect: stylish, neutral, lightweight, supportive and comfy. I'll also pack some blister bandaids, but I've worn these shoes (and the other 3 pair that I'm packing) and I've not had any issues.


The first time I went overseas I was 17, and I remember learning that my passport and extra cash should be kept in a money belt so that I couldn't be pick-pocketed. Those old-school belts just don't quite cut it anymore, especially with RFID technology on passports and credit cards. I found a lightweight, soft, RFID-blocking pouch on eBags for not much money. I won't use this in place of a purse, but I will feel confident that my passport and extra cash are safely on my body and not likely to be lost to someone with sticky fingers.


I love to read, so I always travel with a book. A friend recommended People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and it sounded like this would be a perfect read for this trip. The narrative traces a historical book back to 1490s Spain, and I look forward to using Spain to enrich the story, and the story to enrich my stay.


I don't think I've ever traveled anywhere for 5 weeks. Packing hasn't been too bad thanks to the PackPoint app (so useful, it made my first app roundup) which shows that I should expect weather in Valencia to be 45-60ºF while I am there. In the app, I indicated that I'll have access to laundry so my packing list includes 10 pairs of socks, 10 casual tops, 10 pairs of underwear, 6 pairs of pants, a skirt, and a dress. To help me keep up with what is dirty and what is clean, I packed a compact laundry bag. This bag has traveled to many places with me and usually comes home full of dirty clothes. I imagine this trip will be no different except that I will empty the contents into a washing machine in Spain a few times before I get back home.


For flights that last longer than 3 hours, it's a pretty good bet that I am going to fall asleep. To make myself as comfortable as possible on the plane--and to cut down on the yuck-factor of using unwashed, airline-provided linens--I bring my own blanket, pillow, and eye mask. These things go in my carry-on and make it possible to get off the plane having gotten a little rest. As an aside, I do keep the airline pillow and use it as lumbar support.


Given how many electronics I travel with, adapters are a must have. I usually bring 3 so that I'm not constantly unplugging my tablet to plug in my computer or phone. The biggest thing to remember is to check that the adapter matches the plug style in the destination country. I learned a little late that the UK uses slanted, tri-prong adapters after packing the round 2-pin ones, and scrambled for a few days until I found a local hardware store that had an adapter in stock.


Shabbat candlesticks aren't a must have, and they're certainly not for everyone, but I have a fantastic travel set that I bought years ago and I take them with me when I'm traveling sometimes. Given the length of my stay, I've decided that this is one of those sometimes. I'll take a single set of tea lights with me and hope that I find some there...worse comes to worse, I'll sneak over to the IKEA that I know is in Valencia and grab some during the week.

The last thing that I've packed is peanut butter. Most people think I'm a little crazy to carry peanut butter with me on my travels. However, as a vegan, I've found that carrying peanut butter provides a little protection against a whole bunch of issues. Didn't get my vegan meal on the plane? No problem! Can't identify what is in the vegetable soup? No problem! Need a little comfort food? No problem! I've done this for 7 years and it's saved my butt on at least 2 trips. It's a small, lightweight, cheap insurance policy against larger food issues down the pike.


Do you have any unique items that you pack when you're traveling? I'd love for you to comment below and let me know what they are.

#travel #travelhacks #planning #expatlife #packing #vegan #food

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Atlanta, Georgia | Valencia, Spain