As I write this, I am flying high above the clouds, crossing over the length of the United States and the vast Atlantic Ocean. I am on a 9 hour flight to Amsterdam where I will have a 2.5 hour layover, and then connect to a 1.5 hour flight to Prague, my final destination.
My last few days and weeks in Houston were marked by spending time with friends and family, but also packing basically everything I owned into two checked bags, a duffel carry-on, and a backpack.
The first decision I had to make in regards to packing was whether I wanted to bring one or two checked bags. I will freely admit to having an overpacking tendency, but honestly, packing for ten months in a foreign country seemed to call for bringing lots of items. From previous ETAs I had heard the refrain that packing light is generally better, and that I could buy whatever I needed either in my Czech town or in one of the bigger Czech cities. While that method seemed reasonable, the decision to buy or pack is really dependent on each person. Personally, I preferred to pay slightly more for an extra checked bag than have to buy entire wardrobe pieces abroad.
After having made the decision to take two bags, my mom and I began laying out potential shirts, sweaters, pants, dresses, and shoes that I may take with me to the Czech Republic.
Here is where I mention how instrumental my parents were in this packing process. My mom started about two weeks ago— laying out clothes and other essentials in the guest bedroom so that I would have a better idea of what I had and what I needed. Both my parents and I were running around different stores trying to find last-minute items, and there were long days put into fitting everything into these suitcases. So a massive thanks to the two of them— I couldn’t have done it without them!
My packing list, which I have attached a picture of below, was split into multiple categories— Tops, Bottoms, Sweatshirts, Shoes, Backpack, Documents, Toiletries, and Miscellaneous. I then added an extra category— Things to Buy. I would recommend trying to figure out what you do not have in the house and may need to take with you— power adapters, sunglasses, winter jacket, etc. That way, you have some time to have your items shipped to you before departure.
Space and weight saving tips: I did my best to spread the weight of the heaviest items— jeans and sweaters mainly— across both bags. I rolled all of my t-shirts, I packed most of my shoes into the duffel carry-on to avoid that weight in my checked bag, and I stuffed socks into all of my shoes. In my duffel, I also kept an extra set of clothes, in case my checked bags were misplaced or temporarily lost.
The biggest factor in choosing what clothes I should bring was versatility. I needed to choose tops that would work in both casual and professional settings, on top of jeans, on joggers, and on slacks too. The same went for jackets and dresses— I wanted to toe the line between professional and casual to avoid bringing single-use clothing items.
My backpack consisted of all of my electronic devices— I was bringing a laptop, a tablet, a camera, and all of the related chargers and accessories. One of my more exciting purchases was actually a camera clip that would sit on my backpack strap and would allow me quick access if there was a shot I wanted to grab. I intend to create some vlogs while I am in the Czech Republic, and just from my time at the Houston airport, I have already seen how useful this clip has been!
When it came time to weigh the bags, I used a bag scale we have had for years. It loops onto the handle of the suitcase and then as you lift the suitcase, the handheld scale calculates how heavy the bag is. I was right around the 48-49 lbs mark for both bags, and the scale proved rather accurate, with no major troubles when checking in the bags at the airport.
For my travel day outfit, I chose clothes that were loose and comfortable, but also super functional. My jacket has 4-6 good pockets for easy access for my passport, chapstick, and phone. My pants also had lots of zipper pockets to help me make sure nothing important fell out as I made my way from airport to airport.
Packing for ten months was daunting, because it felt like no matter how much I took with me, it would still never be enough to recreate my home. Maybe the key is in realizing and recognizing that my apartment in Soběslav will be a home away from home, and as such, will be different. I am sure there was maybe some part of me that thought if I took enough things from home, I would not miss it as much. Truth is that I am going to miss Houston, my parents, my brother, my home, and my friends immensely, but I am also excited for what will certainly be a transformative and incredible life experience.
The most important item that I packed is a set of nine pictures— pictures of my family, of my friends, of some of my most enjoyable memories of the last year. This is my way of bringing Houston and the people I care about with me to the Czech Republic and paying homage to all they have taught me, as I journey forward in life.
See you in the next one.