Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

Cattolica International

How to pack like a pro

by Mônica Duarte

How it works in theory

First things first. Check the weather before you start packing. It's an obvious thing, but think about which seasons you will be spending at your new home. What are the activities you are planning to do there, for example: work out regularly, go to fancy places, enjoy a night out with friends, go swimming, walk around the city until you run out your shoes, stay cozy in your room?

After answering these questions, pack the most specific items related to those activities and then enough clothes for a maximum of two weeks – if you are going for a three-month exchange program. Yes, it is going to be enough, surprisingly. You need much less than you think. Furthermore, this allows you to travel with extra space in your luggage – which is a good thing because during the three months you might purchase things. 

How to pack for two weeks? To sort enough clothes for that amount of time I simply ask myself: does this t-shirt, for example, bring me joy? If the answer is yes, I will pack it. If not, I will leave it at home taking a rest for a few months...

How it really is

I started packing twenty days before traveling from southern Germany to Milan by bus. The suitcase stood in the living room for almost a month and I was putting everything that caught my attention in the apartment in it. Three days before the trip things really got worse than I thought. If you are a girl and not the minimalistic kind, you know what I am talking about. Toiletries, clothes and this and that for different reasons, well you never know... So after unpacking all that stuff I made a list of everything that I am used to wearing during a two week period and started from that point.

So I packed two coats, one leather jacket, four pairs of trousers, some shirts and pullovers, skirts and shorts, a cocktail dress and a pair of fancy shoes, scarfs, towel, bikini, flip flops, sandals, underwear. If you still have enough space, bring a carry-on suitcase – in case you need a little extra space... By the way: bed sheets and towels. If the place you are going to live doesn't provide that, you could bring yours from home. It makes the first night in your new place much more comfortable... And think about if you want to make short trips during the weekend and what your needs are.

Then I arrived in Milan. I noticed that people do dress up in the surrounding area of the university. But if you don't, it is also fine. Mind about dressing according to the weather and having fun. Or go crazy with your style and try out new things. Why not? And remember to bring studying supplies and an umbrella.

Last but not least... If you take any kind of special medication, do talk to your doctor about it, get a prescription and do some research on how you are going to transport it if you are traveling. And it can also be kind to bring something from your home country, so you can give it as a gift for someone special at the end of your journey.

So, this is how I packed. Surely my needs can be very different than yours. If you have never packed, don't worry: learn it by doing it. The more you do it, the better you will get.

A small list of tiny things that I always have when I travel

  • power adapter
  • two or three padlocks (some hostels have lockers, but no padlocks.)
  • plaster and wet wipes
  • tablet
  • headset and earplugs
  • pen & notebook
  • a needle and black thread

A small list of things that I will bring back home

  • lots of books
  • a flowerpot
  • a hamster
  • a bag full of memories