After two plus months of travel, I have learned some key things about packing for trips abroad. Now, I was bit constrained because I was packing both for a two month stay in Lebanon as well as a month and a half backpacking trip through Europe. That said, here are a few key things I will remember next time I pack for abroad:

  • Know the weather and know the itinerary. If your trip has a hike up the tallest mountain in the Middle East planned, you’ll need a jacket and tennis shoes.
  • Know what you’ll need and what’s not available in the country. If you like NyQuil when you’re sick bring it with you.
  • Eliminate, eliminate, eliminate. You’ll add to your luggage so leave some room and eliminate what you don’t need from your bags.
  • Pack everything in advance so you know how it all fits and if it will work. Don’t leave anything to the last minute. 
Here are the things I was unsure about packing, but am so glad I did:
  • A neck pillow and an eye mask, which are still very handy past the transatlantic flight.
  • A towel
  • An extra pair of sunglasses
  • Extra socks
  • Vitamins and emergency medicine
  • A journal
  • Extra pair of headphones
Things I wish I hadn’t packed:
  • Text books, I should have researched it and known I could buy them cheaper abroad. Also, biggest mistake of the trip was renting a text book, which now has to trek through Europe with me so I can return it when I return to Portland.
  • Too many blouses
  • Too many electronics and valuables (these add stress and concern)


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Allison Swaim

About Allison Swaim

Allison is a senior at Portland State University majoring in Middle Eastern Studies and Political Science. On her 22 birthday, she will make her first trip abroad to Lebanon. While the emphasis of the trip is to expand her Arabic skills, she is excited to experience the culture of Beirut. She is interested in post-colonial political movements, nationalism and conflict analysis. Having strayed very little from the Pacific Northwest, Allison is ready for a new adventure. While she has prepared as much as she can for her journey across the world, she accepts that she has no idea what she's getting herself into.

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