It feels like just yesterday when I was scrambling around my house with clothes covering every inch of my bedroom packing for the adventure of a lifetime. Now, what does one pack for one of the greatest experiences of a lifetime? It is the most confusing and quite honestly nerve wracking process, but hopefully I can help you out and clarify the packing Do’s and Don'ts that will make your life a billion times easier during your adjustment into a pretty awesome culture shock.
I personally studied in Florence for the Fall 2019 semester, like just about 200 other Marist College Juniors, and had some of the most rewarding and culturally immersive experiences of my life. Studying abroad allows you to delve into your passions and find yourself, become surrounded by cultural beauty, and learn the intricate histories of the world all while partying it up in various countries. It is just as amazing as you are imagining, so let’s get down to business. Here are my biggest tips for packing followed by my ideal packing list.
Tip #1: BRING ONLY ONE SUITCASE
I know that just about everyone hears this tip, and just about everyone ignores it. I know it may seem like you need an extensive amount of outfit options and going out heels, but trust me that you do not need 2 suitcases of clothes. I survived with just one and then bought another for the trip home to bring back all that I had purchased. It saves an unbelievable amount of stress and money too! You will feel amazing when you only have to roll one suitcase around the cobblestone streets and make only one trip up all of the apartment stairs. Force yourself to create versatile outfits using a select amount of pieces in your wardrobe and be a little ruthless.
Tip #2: Don’t Bring Heels
Not a single soul wears heels in Florence for going out. The cobblestone streets make it impossible to walk without tripping even in sneakers. A nice versatile pair of low heeled booties is perfect and seriously all that you need. As a shoe junky, it seemed impossible to narrow down shoe options, but my biggest regret was bringing my stiletto heels that I never wore even once. They are a waste of space and precious weight in your 50lb limit.
Tip #3: Don’t Bring Any Large Personal Care Items
Leave the Shampoo, Conditioner, Body Wash, and even skincare products in the United States. Everyone seems to go overboard when packing these items, but a lot of space can be saved by purchasing the items when you arrive. Florence is filled with beauty and convenience stores to purchase personal care products, some even being american brands. KIKO Milano is my favorite place to purchase effective skincare and makeup products besides the multiple Sephora’s in the area.
Tip #4: No Room For Styling Tools? Buy Inexpensive Options in the City
My apartment complex was kind enough to leave us with hairdryers, and straighteners that have European plugs. This is a safer alternative to using your own because electrical problems may occur with the American tools due to voltage differences.
Tip #5: Bring Multiple Forms of Payment
Florence is a very safe city, yet fraud at ATMs and credit card theft is surprisingly common due to the large amount of tourism that Florence provides. I have had the unfortunate experience of theft, so it is important to always have a joint debit card that will rest permanently in your apartment for when the fraudulent card must be cancelled. You never want to be without a form of payment and you can never rely on the speed of shipping out a new card.
I highly recommend bringing 3 cards: One regular debit, One joint debit (backup in apartment), and One joint credit card that can be linked to your family in emergencies or for necessary groceries and goods. also bring some Euro with you because most places prefer cash payment. To prevent theft and fraud, I only recommend using bank ATMs that are located indoors such as the BNL Bank because it prevents the chance of tampered machines. (TD Bank is beneficial because there are no fees for overseas purchases)
Tip #6: Bring a Rolling Carry-On
Due to the large amount of walking to be done especially to get to the train station, a rolling carry-on is ideal for weekend trips! I packed a small cube shaped rolling bag that was the perfect size and a huge convenience. I have heard many complaints about lugging heavy and painful duffel bags across the city and you will never realize the benefit until you are the least winded of your friends. Traveling is stressful and very taxing on your body, so make it just a little easier for yourself and bring a bag with wheels!
Florence Study Abroad Packing List
Overpacking is the biggest regret among many study abroad students, so save yourself the energy and pack light! All essential sheets and towels are provided along with a fully furnished kitchen, so there is no need to throw in little odds and ends. Everything in Florence is within a very short walking distance, so finding a store similar to CVS is not as hard as you may think. My favorite is called Caddy's and has every essential product from makeup remover wipes and deodorant, to cleaning supplies. The grocery stores conveniently located all throughout the city are also an amazing place to find literally everything you may need!
I know that no one really wants to give the process a lot of thought, but if done correctly you can save yourself a lot of money and struggle. Be patient and start early for the best results when packing because it allows for time to organize your thoughts and what you really believe is necessary to achieve the best possible result.
Lastly, remember to leave any valuables home including your favorite T-shirt because, trust me, everything you bring with you might not make it back. Pack the basics and you will be fashionable and fine, so don't stress and enjoy the ride for its real purpose. Sometimes its ok to forget about the outfit and just enjoy the beauty and culture of an unexplored place.
Stay Safe and Happy Travels!
April Ann ;)