What’s in your suitcase, Jess?

Note number one: My sister is leaving for Spain. On Wednesday. For four months. I am seeing her off at the airport.  I will die inside a little and probably cry.

Note number two: I asked her to write a blog post for me about what she packed for a semester abroad, and here it is!

Note number three: If you like making lists and you would like to send me a guest blog about what’s in your suitcase, I would love that!  Email some details about your trip (destination and duration) and what made the cut for your suitcase to bornagainminimalist@gmail.com.

A few months ago, I was approved for a study abroad program in Spain. A few days ago, my sister and I packed for my trip to Spain. Let me tell you, it was an interesting time.

My original packing list included items that I wouldn’t really need. Three hoodies? Twenty pairs of underwear, makeup, 5 t-shirts, 15 tops, the list goes on. My host mother will be doing my laundry once a week. I don’t need such an abundance of clothes. I’m not quite as minimalist-ey as Caitlin, though, so I didn’t want to pack just one week’s worth of clothing. I ended up packing only clothing that was extremely comfortable, easy to wash, could hang-dry, and actually looked good on me. I have already decided to only take the jewelry I wear on the plane (friendship bracelets, the necklace with my sorority’s letters on it, one pair of “nicer” earrings and my plastic ear plugs), not take any make up, and to minimalize my amount of “sentimental” items (1 stuffed animal and 1 small photo album).

I ended up packing:

  • 1 dressy tank top
  • 1 cami
  • 1 casual tank top
  • 1 cardigan
  • 1 pullover sweater
  • 1 long sleeve shirt
  • 5 nice tops
  • 2 t-shirts

For a total of 13 tops

  • 1 skirt
  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 1 pair biking shorts (for wearing under dresses and skirt)
  • 2 pairs of capris
  • 2 pairs of leggings
  • 3 dresses
  • 1 pair pj pants

For a total of “10” bottoms (leggings won’t be worn without another bottom and pj pants won’t be worn during the day)

I am also taking

  • 10 pairs of lightweight underwear
  • 10 pairs of socks
  • 3 bras
  • 1 zip-up hooded sweatshirt
  • 1 lightweight raincoat
  • 2 scarves
  • 2 headbands
  • 1 swimsuit
  • 1 towel
  • 1 pair of sunglasses
  • 1 stuffed animal (that I’ve had since I was 4)
  • 1 small photo album
  • And one change of clothes to stay in the bottom of my carry-on/backpack for the whole trip as a just-in-case while on a day-trip or while hiking


  • 1 pair of dressy flats
  • 1 pair of water-proof, all-terrain hiking sandals
  • 1 pair of tennis shoes
  • 1 pair of converse (to wear with any of my dresses when I’m not being fancy)
Jessica’s checked baggage.

Toiletries were where I splurged and probably packed more than I needed…

  • 1 each travel shampoo and conditioner
  • 1 box feminine products
  • 2 packages of baby wipes
  • 2 travel Kleenex
  • 1 deodorant
  • Contacts
  • 1 bottle contact solution
  • 1 face wash
  • 1 moisturizer
  • 1 bottle sunscreen (I burn unbelievably easily)
  • 4 packs of travel-friendly soap leaves (each pack is just a bit longer than a matchbook)
  • 1 shower-scrubby
  • 1 tube toothpaste
  • 1 toothbrush
  • Glasses cleaner
  • 2 bottles of shave cream (the only brand I use)
  • 2 body-sprays
  • My medications
  • A small first-aid “kit” in a sandwich-size Ziploc bag
  • 2 razors
  • 1 can bug spray

All of the toiletries fit into 3 Ziploc bags, a small cosmetics bag, and 1 small lunchbox which I will use once it isn’t full of face-cream and toothpaste.

Jessica’s toiletries
Jessica’s toiletries, all packed up nicely for compact placement in the suitcase.

Everything listed above has been packed in one  28’’x18’’x10’’ suitcase and one 26L backpack that will be my carry-on. I still have room in both pieces of luggage (for gifts for the host family, room for things to bring back, etc.)

Though some of these items may seem a little excessive, remember that I am a student with very limited funds about to study abroad in a foreign country. I am taking over a set amount of money and I have no extra money that can be sent to me, etc. So I am packing some toiletries to last me the entire four months that I will be in Spain. The clothes all work together. That camisole can be worn under any of my tops, which can all be worn under my black cardigan. When I land in Spain it will be in the 90s (the temperature, not the decade.  I’ll have running shoes in case the Doctor shows up though). I’m not taking many warm clothes, but I am taking easily-layered clothes. On a cold day I can wear my leggings under my jeans, a sweater over my shirt, and a jacket over that. The reason I am taking a small photo album is so I have something physical to hold and to share with my host family and others that I meet while abroad.

Caitlin’s addendum: She’s also packing a netbook laptop computer (and charger), Kindle (and charger — a gift from me and my partner preloaded with 600+ titles so she doesn’t get bored on the planes), and two American-to-European plug adapters.

Follow Jessica’s journey in Spain at http://www.sevilletoseville.wordpress.com.

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