Packing Lists, Travel

How to Pack for 2 Weeks in Fall With Only a Carry-on

I’m not the kind of person who travels 80% of the time for work, but living in Jordan and doing a master’s program in Germany, I do travel internationally several times a year. It’s great, but costs add up (which I know now, since I made a grown up budget in Excel today) – and one way to save yourself time and money and general frustration is to pack light. Says the girl who almost never succeeds at this.

This is pretty much exactly what I ended up packing for two weeks in northern Germany (plus two days in Amsterdam) in November. I ended up bringing black boots instead of the brown ones here, but the only thing in here that was really unnecessary was my sunglasses. Living in Amman, I forget that other parts of the world are sunless, grey places this time of year. Believe it or not, I actually did use the workout clothes for running a few times and for yoga at night (when I wasn’t busy consuming delicious German beers and pizza). I probably will skip it on the next trip though, as I’ll only be gone for a week.

The only thing I wish I’d done differently is to pack more colorful accessories. Because I was in class with the same 20 people 9 hours a day for 14 days straight, I was pretty conscious of the fact that I was wearing the same grey cardigan and black coat every day. If I’d just been traveling around, not with the same people all the time, this wouldn’t have bothered me as much. This time around I might bring two scarves (neutral and something more colorful) and two cardigans (a more lightweight grey one and a newly-acquired wine-colored cardigan). Neutral colors are good to mix and match, but without a little variety, and if your outer layer always looks the same, you can start to feel limited. The amount of clothes itself was fine – I did laundry in the bathroom sink once or twice in my Air BnB.

By the end of the trip, my suitcase did not look anywhere near this nice, mostly because I came home with a lot of stuff: new black tennis shoes for walking, running shoes, a Brita pitcher and 6 months’ worth of filters, a video monopod and head, a blanket and sweater for Layth’s grandfather, a shirt for Layth, a scarf and shirt for me, and some other smaller gifts for family in Amman. I made it all fit in this suitcase and the Le Sportsac duffel bag I have folded up in there, but it was ready to burst. Thankfully, I don’t anticipate doing much shopping when I go again in February.

I don’t have packing cubes. I don’t have travel-sized designer cosmetics, but I am really good at researching and knowing exactly where I can get a tube of toothpaste or a hairbrush at 11 pm in a new city. I don’t have a trendy, brand-name suitcase. In fact, this suitcase was a panic purchase when I was leaving my mom’s house in Las Vegas – I packed a carry-on shoulder bag WAY too heavy and had no choice but to buy the only suitcase for sale in the terminal. Actually I think my other choice was a pink leopard print roller board bag. Even worse, I’ve realized this fits US carry-on standards, but not international. Oops.

Luckily I actually really like packing – by the time I’m done with my master’s, I should be a pro.

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