As I prepare for my adventure abroad in Italy, I thought I’d share with you a few of my favorite packing tips.
What to Pack:
1. Comfortable, yet stylish, shoes – The uneven cobblestone in Italy will require comfortable walking shoes – but unless you want to look like a complete tourist, leave the sneakers at home. Italian pride themselves on their style, particularly leather products. If you don’t have any shoes like this, buy some when you get there! A good pair of flats with plenty of cushion will suffice.
2. Layers – Ladies – bring modest clothing and lots of layers! If you plan on visiting some of Italy’s famous churches, you will need to cover up. Typically, churches will not let you inside with short shorts/skirts or bare shoulders. It’s always a good idea to bring extra layers so you can cover up if you need to. Keep in mind that it’s not just churches that are modest – Italians aren’t too keen on the “Jersey Shore” look so I would keep those booty shorts at home ;)
3. An outlet converter – European outlets are a different shape than American ones, so if you need to plug something in (who doesn’t nowadays?), make sure you bring a converter. They are relatively inexpensive and buying one or two will save you the hassle of trying to find a substitute when you get there. Ladies – check the voltage on your hairdryer and flat iron before plugging them in, otherwise you’ll end up frying them. Usually, European outlets can only handle a certain amount of voltage.
4. Less t-shirts, more extra space – Cut the amount of “lounge” clothes you would normally bring in half. You won’t need them. As I said before, Italy is one of the most fashionable countries in the world. Don’t plan on wearing your t-shirt and yoga pants outside of your bedroom. It just doesn’t happen there and depending upon your length of stay, you probably won’t need more than 3 to 4 “lounge” outfits. Your lounge clothes are your pajamas and nothing else.
5. Clothes you don’t want – Someone once told me that when they traveled to Europe they packed a lot of clothes they knew they wouldn’t want any more so that they could simply leave them there at the end of their trip and bring more souvenirs back. I think this idea is brilliant, especially if you plan on staying for longer than a few months. You will want to buy new things!
6. A good camera – This one seems kind of obvious, but seriously you can’t visit the most beautiful country in the world and not take a single photo. I personally enjoy taking an afternoon to explore a city and take photos. Not only does it provide for great souvenirs (that are virtually free), but it also forces you to open up your eyes and notice the small things around you.
7. A journal – You can write whatever you want in it, so long as you keep one. I like to bring something to write in so that I can remember experiences or people that I have come across during my journey. It’s also a great place to keep track of all the cities and restauratnts that you visited, particularly if you are keen on documenting your photos later.
8. A small to medium sized purse that shuts securely – This is another one for the ladies (sorry guys!). Italy is notorious for its petty theft, which often happens to tourists walking along the street. You will want to bring a purse that can hold all of your necessary belongings securely. I wouldn’t recommend a bag that it is too large, as you will most likely want something easy to carry and lightweight while touring a city. You should always keep your bag in sight and leave any uneccesary items back at your hotel or apartment, preferably locked away in a safe.
9. Your passport and visa – DUH. Again, this one seems obvious but you don’t know how many people I have talked to (including myself) who have left their house passportless. It’s such a small item, and it’s easy to forget. You definitely don’t want to have to miss your flight so that you can run home to retrieve it. It should be the first thing in your suitcase!!!
10. Currency – You will most likely get a better rate by ordering euros from your bank before you leave. Currency exchange stands in the airports typicaly charge a hefty fee for exchanging your money and you’ll probably feel much more comfortable having your money ready to go before you leave. Plus, most banks charge a fee to withdrawal money from a foreign ATM.
Things to leave at home:
- Sneakers – unless you’re training for a race while in Italy or staying for a long period of time, I would recommend leaving your running shoes at home. You’ll be walking so much and probably won’t need them.
- Expensive jewelry – remember what I said about petty theft? Don’t make yourself an easy target – leave any expensive jewelry at home. Plus, you might want to purchase some nice jewelry from Italy (the Ponte Vecchio in Florence is famous for its nice jewelry!)
And in the words of my mother…if you forget something at home, don’t fret. You will most likely be able to buy it when you get there. This is especially true if you are visiting a major city in Italy (Rome, Milan, Florence, Venice…). For example, I know in Florence there is an H&M, Zara and even a Sephora. Most grocery stores sell basic toiletries as well, so you really needn’t worry.
- Don’t forget to call your bank to notify them that you will be traveling to another country and may be using your credit/debit card there.
- Cell phone – most carriers have a global plan that you can add on for a month or so. If you’re staying for a long period of time, I would recommend canceling your old phone and getting a new plan when you arrive.
- Pack all valuables and a few extra outfits in a carry on bag –checked bags can often get lost or delayed.
- Bank of America has many global alliances – if you going to be in Italy for a long period of time, I would recommend opening an account with them. You will have virtually zero ATM fees!