5 Packing Hacks From A World Traveler

5 Packing Hacks From A World Traveler


Jetsetter tips for when your entire closet won't fit in a suitcase

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How do you pack for six months in a checked-bag?

No, really, I am asking you. Soon after New Years, I will be passport in hand at the airport leaving Florida for a six-month study abroad and internship program in London, England. Though I have traveled to over 18 countries, I still feel stressed by packing for trips.

In hopes of not waiting until the day before my flight to pack, I'm sharing my top five packing tips for travelers. Please use these tips to stay organized and sustainable during your next adventure.

1. Know your bare necessity travel items

My mom likes to say that she only needs three items while traveling: her passport, American Express, and a bikini. It is very easy for her to decide what else to pack because she has already identified her essential items. Everything else she might need can be bought there. You might be thinking, "I don't always need to pack a bikini!" I thought the same before our recent trip to Iceland. We wore our swimsuits under our hiking gear so we could float in natural hot spring pools while trekking past glacier covered passes. My mom's bare necessities can be applied to any destination, but I encourage you to identify your own essentials. My essential items include a reusable water bottle, headphones, and a scarf.

2. Keep travel gear together before you book the cheapest flight

The only way to survive last minute packing is by being prepared to grab-and-go your travel gear. I suggest keeping all of your travel gear in the same storage box or drawer, which will help you easily locate and pack these items. I like to store my outlet adapters, travel toiletry containers, and reusable plastic bags inside of my suitcases while I am not traveling. Now, these items are already packed once I pull out my suitcase the day before my flight.

3. Pack older items to donate as you roam

My favorite packing tip is packing older or neglected clothing from my closet and then donating those items abroad. I like to come back home with a lighter bag and have room for souvenirs or new clothing items. I also recommend wearing these items multiple times before you donate them to conserve room in your bag. Adding several different scarfs or a nice jacket can mix up your outfits for your Instagram feed. If you're staying in a hostel, there might be an option to donate your leftover toiletries or clothing to other hostel guests.

4. Buy second hand what you don't need new

Try shopping around at thrift or second-hand stores before you leave if you're more inclined to sport a new outfit while abroad. Shopping second hand is cheaper than purchasing new retail items, plus you can donate the items once you're done with them abroad. I recently purchased a London Fog waterproof trench coat at a Goodwill to bring on my study abroad. This coat has a retail price over $100, but I purchased it gently used for only $5. I plan on hiding from the cold London rains in this coat before donating it to a shelter after my program ends. I've saved money, avoided fast-fashion waste, and donated to charity by using this packing tip.

5. Take a picture of everything you've packed laid out

Finally, I recommend creating an online packing list to stay organized, and then taking a picture of everything laid out on your bed or floor for a quick reference while traveling. I was quickly able to remember whether or not I had packed a particular sweatshirt while I was in Peru by looking at the picture I had taken of all my gear. It is also fun to do a before and after photo with all your gear to see how much you've donated!

I hope these packing tips help you stay stress-free before your next trip. See you on the roam!

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To The Girl Who Hasn't Been Herself Lately

Your spark return, and you will shine like you were meant to.
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Life gets tough. Life gets too much to handle sometimes, and those times make you stronger. However, right now, it seems like you have lost yourself.

It’s difficult when you catch yourself not being you. When you do something or act a certain way and just wonder, “what did I do to deserve this? Why is this happening? When will it get better?” The way you’re feeling is not so much that you’re unhappy, you just feel weird.

Your day will come. I promise you. This is just a phase.

The day you realize how much you have grown from this point in time will be your reward. It is so hard to see now, and I feel your pain.

Your light will return to you. Your pure bliss moments, they are seeking you. Your laughter where your tummy aches is in your reach.

Our moods change far too often for us as humans to understand why, but the encounters you make every day have this effect on us.

You must remember the pure happiness you experienced before your first heartbreak, before the first friend became someone you thought they weren’t, before you lost your innocence. That was a time of true joy as you had not a care in the world for the things that would harm you. Better yet, you didn’t have the option to experience them because you were just a child.

The world can be an ugly place, and your attitude towards life can change every day. One thing is for certain: you did not lose who you are internally. We all put on a face for the world. For the people who we try to impress. For the life we want to live. For the things we want to achieve.

Your definitive personality is still in the works. Believe it or not, it always will be. Times like this change us for the better even though we can’t see it.

Your happiness will return. You will be a better, stronger version of you. In fact, you will be the best version of you yet.

Once this phase is over, you will be okay. This I promise you.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Sutton

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Traveling To St. Louis? Do These 5 Things When You Get There

Traveling to The Gateway of the West means there are lots of attractions you have to experience.

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The Gateway to the West. The Lou. St. Louie. These are just a few of the many monikers given to the city of St. Louis, Missouri. From its humble origins as a French settler's town to one of America's largest cities, St. Louis possesses so many great attractions, restaurants, and other features.

The best part about quite a few of the city's attractions is that they are free, so take advantage.

And while St. Louis has recently received a bad rap due to carjackings, violent crime and the unrest in Ferguson — the city still offers an immense amount of culture, attractions and downright gorgeous sights. It is still a city worth exploring and inserting yourself into.

Here are five ways to do just that.

1. Visit Forest Park

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I cannot stress this enough: if you do not go to Forest Park, you miss out on the city. The Art Museum, Zoo, History Museum, Muny Theater and Science Center call the park home.

Tour the utterly breathtaking scenery and environment of the park itself, and take the chance to learn about the setting for the 1904 World's Fair at the History Museum, as well as a key setting for the Civil Rights Movement, culture and organized labor.

You can find fantastic art pieces at SLAM, enjoy a summer show at the Muny, enjoy learning about energy, space and anatomy at the Science Center.

This is easily my favorite part of the city, and you will see why when you immerse yourself in the park. Oh, and everything listed above has free entry. Just as an FYI to prospective travelers.

2. Visit The Arch

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A visit to St. Louis cannot exclude a trip to the testament to the city's past as a gateway to the west. While the museum is always fun and interesting, a visit to the arch without a trip up the arch, with its' infamous elevators, is sorely lacking in a great view.

Once you ascend the arch, you will easily get some of the best views of the city skyline. It is a must-do.

3. Get to the City Museum

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A strange sight to see, the museum is both a kid's and adult's play-place. You can climb on just about everything in sight. Slides, tubes, airplanes and a bus that hangs off the side of the roof!?

Eccentric yet logical, immerse yourself in the warehouse and enjoy indulging.

4. Go to the Delmar Loop

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One of the best spots in the city, and there's not much to debate about the best part of the Avenue. Food? Choose between Seoul Taco, good pizza, Fitz's (where they'll bottle soda right in front of you), to the Snow Factory, where you can get some of the best-rolled ice cream around (and drop off a note too).

Entertainment? The Tivoli Theater and the Pageant remain two of my favorites. The Pageant hosts myriad concerts and artists year-round, while the Tivoli hosts many a great film. Hell, going there for a showing of "Rocky Horror Picture Show" is nearly a tradition now.

Drop a dime on a vinyl record, great books or any St. Louis themed merchandise on Delmar, too. It's worth the trip.

5. Catch a game at Busch Stadium

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Last, yet not least, go to a game at Busch.

Even as someone who has never been a fan of the Redbirds, the atmosphere is great. St. Louis has always been a baseball city, and it shows in the history and prestige of the club. Whether you sit close to the diamond or more tucked back, the energy is oftentimes electric and magnetic, pulling you into the crowd and immersing yourself in the atmosphere.

It is a thoroughly sublime experience, especially in close games.

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