How to Pack for Weekend Trips
One of the most exciting aspects of any study abroad program is the heightened ability to travel easily. Whether you want to whisk away to a foreign country for a quick visit, or you want to explore a town that you’ve learned about in class, weekend trips are an extremely likely component of your study abroad experience.
Even if you don’t have the desire or funds to travel much during your semester abroad, chances are very likely that your program will include some weekend trips as a part of your learning experience. In that case, you will need to pack a small bag, which can be tricky. When you overpack for short, highly-mobile trips, you can feel weighed down by excess stuff. The point of trips is to enjoy the experience, so each item should be useful so that you can focus on your travels instead of your items. After taking a couple weekend trips (both for the program and with my husband), I have compiled some tips to help you pack more efficiently for the weekend:
RESEARCH YOUR DESTINATION
This is the first step to accomplish any sort of packing. Consider all aspects of your trip—temperature, local dress code, activities, accommodations. If you are planning to know a new culture, you should pack culturally sensitive clothing. For instance, even though women in Lima wear pants almost exclusively, many (if not most) women in the rural areas wear skirts, whether or not they wear the traditional clothing. However, if you are only hiking around, you should probably wear technical clothing. Another thing to research is temperature and weather. In the Andes, layers are extremely important. The temperature can fall very quickly, especially in the shade or at night, even though the days are extremely hot.
CHOOSE A SMALL BAG
Remember the personal item that you brought with you on the plane when you first came to your study abroad destination? That’s the perfect size of bag to bring for a weekend trip. I will usually pack a small 15-20L backpack, rather than a huge one. That way I don’t accidentally overpack. Remember that for weekend trips, you will be moving around a lot, so it can be extremely annoying to carry a huge bag.
PACK ONLY WHAT’S NECESSARY
Since you are only going away for a few days, pack the items that are only ABSOLUTELY necessary. An entire tube of toothpaste is way too much, so bring a travel tube or (even better) make a few toothpaste dots. Try to bring multifunctional items to cut down on space. Transforming clothing items like those from Encircled are exceptionally great for short trips.
UTILIZE SMALLER BAGS
This is particularly important, especially if you will be moving around a lot. It’s so much easier to find things if all of your clothes, toiletries, and travel items are in their own packing cube or pouch. Smaller bags also eliminate the possibility of losing items, because when you are finished using an item, you can return it to its place.
LEAVE EXTRA SPACE
If you are planning to purchase some souvenirs during your trip, leave some extra space so that you are not scrambling to make everything fit at the last minute. If extra space is a problem, then consider taking a small, foldable tote bag such as a Baggu to hold any excess items or carry the things you might need for the day during your trip.
And that’s it! Packing a bag for the weekend can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. The important thing is to not allow your possessions get in the way of a truly meaningful travel experience.