17 Days to Italy: Pack What Makes You Happy

I had wanted to avoid anymore posts until a much closer date of my departure, but I have completely become lost with the notion of packing. Yes, packing. Today I spent hours and hours on the internet researching on packing methods, bags and accessories best suited for an extended European trip hoping to find real-life tips and resources on the dilemma of packing. Unfortunately after so many hours, I became frustrated and summarized that even with countless information, articles and blogs out there sadly most it was not noteworthy or useful. It truly upset that in a sea of literally hundreds and thousands of travel blogs out there, only a handful had credible resources, pictures and or summaries in preparation for a novice or frazzled traveler.  Most blogs emphasized on the glitz, glamour and blissful lies on what packing can and should be all for the sake of advertising a product or letting their readers think how grand it can be! Well… I beg to differ and folks if you do not know this already packing truly FUCKING sucks.

It’s not glamorous, it’s not easy and in my opinion it certainly is not that blog worthy, only if you want to bitch about it.  The sad thing is that as a Project Manager, planning on what I will pack for my trip to Italy has become quite daunting, with multiple project scope creep and changes. I was so upset that it felt like I wasted half of my day looking at countless web pages and online stores trying to find that “perfect bag” only to realize that…it does not exist. And if you do find one you better damn well be prepared to drop MUCHO dinero! I was so mad, that I wasted time looking for an alternate bag, already having a backpack which is made by eBags – the TLS Mother Load  – however it is a tad too big and heavy. Not to mention the color well…. it’s purple and not that there is nothing wrong with the color which at the time Amazon.com so bestowed on me – I am now longing for a modern look and neutral color. Ok I lied…back to the color… it’s “Dora the Explorer” purple and my hilarious twin brother quickly reminded me of the resemblance on this picture of me from Italy last year. Short hair, purple bag and t-shirt…dammit I think he was right.  fullsizeoutput_4aaDora or not, please know that I am super blessed and humbled for my trip! But for a trip like this,  especially an extended trip where I will be visiting multiple regions and countries with changes in temperatures and geographies I am a bit nervous. During my first trip to Europe in 2013, I learned a hard lesson and made the painstakingly mistake of bringing a wheeled carry-on with the option to convert into a backpack. Holy smokes, it was the WORST TRAVEL MISTAKE I made in my life! It was extremely heavy, no sense in using the wheels and on top of things, like most folks do on their first trip – I overpacked!

So a key lesson which I learned when buying a travel bag, ensure you become fully aware of the weight of your bag –  because it will only get heavier after you actually pack it. For me carrying that backpack/wheeled combo was a nightmare and when I did manage to throw it on my back I suffered from back pain aches and strain. From that lesson I was trying really hard to find a light and versatile travel bag which can accommodate three months of my life and not kill me in the process. (However, not all was horrible as I made sure to drink tons of Sangria which was quite tasty and also served as stress release for the added tension between my ex in addition to that shitty bag).  So folks honestly, rule number one be cautious of the PRE weight of your bag prior to stuffing it with more than half of the shit you will not use. Doing this will save your back from aches and pains along with avoiding unnecessary conflicts with your travel partner.

Once more lesson which I would like to share with you or more like “beef” about is Pinterest travel pins. Please do not misunderstand me, it is simply my opinion and although they are useful I think they are all geared to false travel realities.  Yes, I have fallen victim for these visual guides and I myself have fully pinned many all over my fucking travel boards. But – my word of advice…do not solely rely on these. Yes, they may be pretty to look at and most can be useful. However, if you are like me –  you will end up overspending and packing so much crap based on that fantasy pin only to later realize that you only used half of the shit you brought with you. I am not afraid to admit to this and I have fallen for this twice and today caught myself doing it again! End it! It will undoubtedly be another “Pinterest Fail”…move on.

In summary, the purpose of me writing to you today, is to not only venn but also caution you on the daunting tasks of packing. However it does not need to be this way. As I was writing I remembered how much stress I would allow myself when it came to packing. Now, with just sixteen days to go, I realized that this time I did not want to stress so much about packing. I was also reminded how much easier it is to prepare your packing with a partner or a friend, so if you have one GET THEM TO HELP YOU!  There is truly no need to stress over countless hours looking at what could potentially work for you, when you should focus what will make you happy and ultimately work for you. Take the time to look at the items you currently have in your closet and truly concentrate on the basic clothing necessities and toiletries which you know you CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT. Depending on which country your next travel will take you, focus on the things you know – you will NOT be able to buy or find. Here is an example of some of the items which I need to take with me and most likely would be costly or hard to replace while I am in Italy;

Annie’s Must Haves:

  1. Prescription Medications (Ensure you have enough to cover your needs based on your duration)
  2. Prescription Eyeglasses (Make sure you have a backup pair)
  3. Photocopies of your passport, IDs, identifying documentation
  4. Medical Information Card (Insurance information, Doctor Information, Allergies, Rx medications and family contact information)
  5. Backup cell phone (I kept my older version of my iPhone)
  6. Charging cables, cords, headphones etc for your electronic devices

Annie’s Basics: 

  1. Two pairs of jeans
  2. Three pairs of leggings (2 dress, 1 workout)
  3. Two skirts (Pencil and Box Pleat)
  4. Two sweaters (1 – Light, 1 -heavy)
  5. Two Dresses (1 – Midi, 1- A Line)
  6. Three Long Sleeve tops (Mix of Dressy and Casual)
  7. Four Short Sleeve tops (Mix of Dressy and Casual)
  8. Plenty of undies and I mean plenty (10-15)
  9. Bras (4 of them – black, tan, sports bra, sexy bra …hey I am still among the living)
  10. Two leather belts
  11. Two scarves
  12. Three Pairs of Shoes (boots, low heels and sneakers)
  13. One Dress Jacket
  14. One Outwear Jacket or Coat

This is what I took to Italy on my 10 day trip last year and I will tell you this… I used half of this. We were smart about our choices of hostels and or apartments where we had the convenience to do laundry or use the aka bathroom sink. It will be best if you choose light fabrics which will dry quickly while hanging overnight in your room. Again, do not stress and make sure you pack what YOU KNOW you cannot live without. If you are going to Europe there will be many places and opportunities for shopping, trust me!  So, no matter what – packing does not have to be overwhelming and even if you wait until the last minute you will manage to get it done. What truly matters is that you make it t0 the airport on time and your ass is on that airplane! More to come as my days progress!

Ciao! Annabella!

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