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Why I Ignored All The Travel Blogs

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. . .and packed whatever I damn well pleased.

Packing for your trip abroad is gruesome. Whether you’re heading to French wine country, packing your backpack for the Alaskan wilderness, or deciding which swimsuit you should throw in your weekend bag for that last-minute escape to Jamaica, the task is always daunting.

Everyone essentially sucks at packing. Like most, I too sought advice for how to cram every item I own into my three-piece luggage set and use every inch strategically as I packed for my year in the United Kingdom. I searched hours on the web for packing strategies and products to help fill bags “like an expert,” but alas none of the advice really resonated.

As I threw cardigan after cardigan into my obnoxiously large blue luggage case generously donated to me by my parents, I felt dissatisfied that these were all the things I would bring with me to a new country. I started to think about all the things that make me comfortable. I thought about what makes me feel like me, what makes me feel like home—and that fourth Urban Outfitters sweater was not one of them.

I thought about what makes me feel like home—and that fourth Urban Outfitters sweater was not one of them.

Channeling myself back to my rebellious teenage days, I decided to ignore all the blogs, forums and columns about what to bring with you abroad.

They said not to bring your straightener or blow dryer since the plugs will be different. Jokes on you experts, I ordered a straightener off Amazon with the correct outlet plugs before I left and packed it.

“Toiletries are a waste of space in your bag,” said travel professionals. Well, I brought all my favourite soaps, facial washes and lotions from home.

“Don’t bring your phone because you can purchase a cheap one there.” Psych! I brought my extremely cracked iPhone 6s with me and researched how to get a new compatible SIM card when I arrived.

“Don’t bring any home items with you since you won’t know what you’ll actually need until you get there.” Well, I brought sheets, a duvet cover, and an AeroPress coffee maker with me because I wanted to.

Yes, these things took up an ungodly amount of room in my bags. Nevertheless, not for a second since I’ve been in York, England have I regretted it for a moment. Being able to refresh yourself with your comforts from home the first day before you venture out into your new city was undeniably vital for me. Washing my hair with my favourite shampoo, applying my signature foundation and being able to feel like myself really boosted my confidence that first day in my new home, calming some of my nerves. Having clean sheets and bedding made my new place feel like home since I had been picturing that bedspread in my room for months. Hell, even having my favourite coffee maker still makes me feel like my place is really my own and not an Airbnb.

So yeah, listen to the blog posts, expert travellers, and your great aunt Matilda who went to Cancun that one time in ’87 if you want. For me, having all of those comforts from home when I moved to an entirely new country beat squeezing in that extra cardigan any day of the week.

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Published in Study Abroad Blogs
Kelli Kennedy

Kelli Kennedy is a graduate student at University of York in Comparative and International Social Policy. After multiple short-term study abroad programs during her undergrad, the California native is taking on the winters of England to learn how to change the world.

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