Fall 2017

A Crazy Adventure: Living Out of a Carry-On for a Month and Traveling 6 Different Countries

Last Spring, I decided to make a major leap into the unknown and spend one semester studying abroad in the United Kingdom. My study abroad placement took me to the city of Bradford, England. While the city itself was far from picturesque, I was able to form some of the most life-changing friendships.

This year for Christmas break, I made a crazy, elaborate scheme to visit almost all of my friends from my semester abroad. Though they were scattered all over Europe I was up for the challenge. Plus I would be able to see incredible new places along my journey. One month, 6 countries, and 13 friends to visit. But how was I going to live out of just a little carry-on-sized suitcase for a month?! Packing was a definite challenge, but here is what I did:

Thea's luggage by the baggage claim belt

I didn’t want to bring too much luggage or luggage that was too big. I was going to be traveling by plane, train, and bus. I would be changing my location every 3-5 days, so I needed to be very mobile and able to pack quickly and carry all of my stuff easily. I opted for my large Jansport backpack and a duffle-like bag. I also brought along a large tote bag to fill with things I might purchase or acquire along my journey.

Four pairs of pants, three sleeves from 3 shirts

I didn’t want too many clothes – just the essentials and a little extra just incase. I initially decided on four pairs of pants, but at the last minute (after the picture was taken) opted for three pairs. I wanted all of my clothes to be able to be worn together in an outfit and look decently put together, so I chose basic but very comfortable items.

All of Thea's packed clothes

I would be traveling around during January, so I wanted to be sure I would stay warm enough. One of my best packing decisions were long john pants and wool socks. These really came in handy when I was exploring Prague in 30°F weather. I knew I would want layers, but that I would also want T-shirts for my time in the warmer countries. I packed 3 pairs of jeans, 3 button-up blouses/sweaters, 1 wool peacoat, 5 shirts, 1 blanket scarf and 2 beanies, 1 pair of pajamas, long johns, 1 sweatshirt and 1 light jacket.

Non clothing items Thea packed

I wanted to keep the extra, non-clothing items I brought to a minimum as well. At the last minute, I decided to leave my camera at home and just use my phone for pictures. I think this was a pretty good decision, but if I had been going on a shorter trip or changing locations less, I would’ve liked to have had my camera. I really tried to go for minimum toiletry and makeup items. This has also been a struggle for me – my bathroom bag usually ends up being monstrous. I am super proud of how much I was able to consolidate. I brought along the flip-flops, little padlocks, and quick-drying travel towel for the time I would be spending in hostels. Bring locks and shower shoes if you’re going to be in a hostel! My universal plug adapter came in VERY handy as did my portable battery pack. Lastly, I think one of the most essential things to bring while traveling is a journal. Being able to reflect and think about the experiences you’re having is such a valuable thing.

Here are some bonus photos from my trip!


Sunset in the south of Spain


Cathedral in Madrid, Spain


Poseidon’s Temple in Greece


A church in Vienna, Austria


The Vltava river in Prague, Czech Republic


A palace in Bayreuth, Germany

Christmas Market

Christmas markets in Cologne, Germany

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