Thoughts, Packing Lists, & Memories of Going Abroad

veniceThere are only a handful of days (or weeks) before your trip abroad. It is an amazing feeling, but if you’re like me then there are also a million thoughts running through your head at this moment!
It is such an exciting time! I was nervous and I felt like I had so much to do, I felt like I was not ready to leave my house for over a month by just packing one suitcase and I had never been away for so long.
On that note, we will start with some packing tips!

packingAbout a week before my trip aboard, I started to organize and pack. A MAJOR tip from me, DO NOT pack the night before you want to go. Give yourself 24 hours to stare at your suitcase and think what do I need, or what can I take out.

It is not worth it to over pack! Bring outfits that you can mix and match and I promise that the shopping in Florence is amazing, so you leave space to fill your suitcase with all of the amazing things that you will buy! I wish I left room in my suitcase, I would have been able to bring back more food, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and gifts for other people.

Here are a few things that I wish that I DIDN’T pack:

• Wedges: cute in theory but not worth it at all! In Italy walking on the cobblestones for miles in heels? Not happening! Bring a cute pair of sandals instead or buy a pair when you get there! (Trust me you will want to buy more than one pair!)

• Jeans: You only need one or two pairs of jeans! It gets hot in the cities and you’ll wish you packed more dresses and skirts than jeans!

• Hair dryer: I didn’t bring a hair dryer, but I knew a few sisters that did!
The plugs in Italy are different and even with the plug adapters they not safe to use! Most hotels have them for you, and you will have access to them, so don’t worry!

• Too much makeup and products: I brought my whole makeup bag and that weight and space add up! Pick your daily favorites, and throw in a few things you put on as well. I also brought big bottles of hair products. Really you just need a small bottle (not value size) of shampoo, and miniature bottles of product, like texturizer, mouse, and gel.

And of course there are so many things I am SO GLAD I packed!

• Sneakers: I would walk up to 10 miles a day! Sneakers aren’t the cutest things to wear I know, but your feet will thank you later!

• Scarves: When you go into churches, you need to make sure that you can cover up. A scarf fits easily into your bag and also looks cuter than buying the cloaks the churches give you!

• Plug adapters: These are amazing! I brought two with me to plug in my laptop and my phone. They are a necessity when traveling abroad!

• Sunglasses, Sunscreen, Hats: Long days out and about will fry you if you don’t have sun protection! I brought a tiny sunscreen and it was perfect! And I bought the cutest hat in Florence that I still wear all the time!

• A good weekender bag for the weekend trips: I had a great over the shoulder bag that I would fill up for the weekend. It is not worth bringing a huge suitcase and walking blocks with it and lugging it up the stairs. I had plenty of room in my little bag!

unspecified-4• A big cross body bag!: A small purse will not be helpful when you are out all day! My purse carried my water, wallet, camera, scarf, and sometimes a snack! It wasn’t too big, and it is safer to have a cross body with a zipper!

• A nice camera: I invested in a camera and it was so great to have high quality pictures of everything. I think that our phones have great cameras until we try to print off all of the pictures! That is when you’ll wish you brought a real camera!

So after packing, there are still a million thoughts running through your mind about your flight over and getting settled in. My advice is to stay calm and prepare yourself.

• Check into your flight the day before and throw your ticket in your carry on the second you print it.

• Wallet, License, and Passport. You will think this a million times before getting on your flight and when you land, so put them in a spot that is safe but that you can check often!

• Take your time getting to the airport and get to the gate early! We got to our flights gate an hour before we boarded. It is good peace of mind.

unspecified-5There are so many memories that you will make on this trip. Don’t let yourself forget them! Bring a journal or write a blog like I did to keep track of the day-to-day things that happened. Always remember to take a picture of where you are and what you are up to! I forgot to in a few great spots and I regret it!

You are about to leave to go on an amazing adventure! Think of it that way and enjoy each day that you are on this trip. Time flies when you are having fun and this might be the best month of your life. I hope that everyone has so much fun!

So be safe, adventure, and eat a lot of gelato and pizza for me!

-Alexa Orban

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Travel Tips: How to Prepare in Case Your Luggage is Lost

travel_tips_by_CarrieAftera summer full of travel and adventures in Italy and at home, I was reminded that even the most confident and prepared traveler has lessons to learn. As a former Girl Scout, I do my best to adhere to the official Girl Scout motto “Be prepared.”
I arrived to the airport early, carefully packed and weighed my luggage, and made sure my passport, laptop, and quart-size bag of liquids were placed in convenient and easy to reach places. Despite my best efforts to plan ahead, I hit an unexpected bump in the road. Actually, I hit the same bump in the road twice. My luggage was lost both on my way to and from Italy this summer. Thankfully, I had taken a few precautionary steps to ensure a smooth arrival with or without my checked luggage. Unfortunately, there are also things that I only wish I had done or thought of. In honor of my temporarily displaced luggage, here are some tips on how to prepare in case your luggage is lost.
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Travel Tips by Carrie: What to Pack

travel_tips_by_CarrieWhat to pack…
This question seems to plague many even when taking a trip as short as two days. Imagine a month or even a semester in Italy! I, on the other hand, love to pack. If you don’t believe me, see my Top Ten Tips for Packing Luggage or my Favorite Things series. At the end of my last vacation, I spent the evening with a friend packing her suitcases.
One of my very favorite things is the PACK THIS Packing List (see image below). It really is the ultimate travel and packing list, leaving nothing out. Well, okay, I think it leaves a few important things out. There are some items that are rarely included on standard packing lists and that I believe can make all of the difference. The good news is that you likely have all of these items at home already and they are all also light as a feather (AKA won’t contribute to that critical weight limit).
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Tips for Traveling with Jewelry

travel_tips_by_CarrieTraveling with jewelry can be a tricky task, even for the most seasoned traveler. Deciding what to pack, how to pack it, or what to pack it in may leave you frustrated.
It has happened that (in a mad dash to get out the door) I have opted to travel only with the jewelry that I had on and nothing else. As Julia Roberts once proclaimed, “Big mistake. Big. Huge!” Look, I’m not the girliest of girls and I don’t have piles of sparkly things lying around (I mean, they’re medium-sized piles), but I do love jewelry. I love the way a colorful necklace can take an ordinary outfit and make it a conversation starter. I love the way I feel when I switch from simple studs and flats to chandelier earrings and heels for an evening out. There’s no reason why you or I shouldn’t be able to enjoy our favorite jewelry and accessories when we’re away from home, right? Follow these tips for traveling with jewelry and I guarantee you’ll save yourself time, money, and the regret of under-accessorizing.
Jewelry-travel-box Continue reading…

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Travel Tips by Carrie: My Favorite Things, Part I

Favoritethings. Julie Andrews sang all about them in The Sound of Music. You know, “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…” Oprah still gives her favorite things away, too. Well, I can’t carry a tune and I can’t very well compete with Oprah and give away a parking lot full of cars. What I can do is share my favorite travel items. I actually have a long (and growing) list of favorite products and goodies that make my plane, train, boat, and car rides more enjoyable. For now, I am going to start with my Top 3 Favorite Travel Items that are (coincidentally) for the neck and up. Don’t worry, this is just the tip of the iceberg. I’ll clue you in on my other favorites and those for the rest of the body and beyond. Just keep checking back with Travel Tips by Carrie! Continue reading…

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