Valley Overseas: Leave the Extra Shoes at Home

Photo by Katie McFadden

Flying across the pond to a foreign country is exciting and nerve-racking all at the same time. Time change, unfamiliar currency and sometimes a different language has the potential to create a bit of culture shock while traveling to a new place. Knowing what to pack can help reduce that initial anxiety to help make this experience as comfortable as possible! Here are a few items I felt #blessed that I brought with me, a few that I wish I brought and a few I didn’t need to bring.

What I Brought

Adapter and Converter

The outlets are different in Europe, so if you plan on using any electronic device that needs to be charged, you definitely want to make sure you invest in one of these! Converters are important for anything like a hair dryer or straightener because the voltage is different for the outlets. Basically, if you want to avoid melting your new hairdryer, consider buying an outlet converter. Both items can be purchased pretty cheap at Target and Walmart.

Inflatable Neck Pillow

The nomadic lifestyle suddenly sets in as you start to explore new cities and neighboring countries. Long hours on a bus or an overnight train can be made a little more comfortable with one of these. An inflatable neck pillow is small enough to keep in your travel bag and will become your most cherished belonging while trying to catch a few extra hours of shut-eye.

Travel Book

While waiting in the airport terminal, I strolled into a bookstore and happened to come across the Lonely Planet book section. My country’s book, Austria, happened to be poking out of the shelf. This book ended up being a godsend as it helped me find great places to eat, cool places to visit in Austria and even guided me to nightlife. Buying a travel book makes it a lot easier to find places to visit, touristy and non-touristy, and will help you take advantage of your time abroad.

Travel Sized Bottles

If you plan on traveling on the weekend, having a small shampoo and conditioner makes packing a lot easier! Smaller toiletries leaves more room for clothes, which we all know is a must.

What I Didn’t Need

Six Pairs of Shoes

As fashionable as I envisioned my abroad experience to be, realistically I only wear about three of the shoes that I brought. Not bringing the other three pairs would have left more room to bring something else or lightened my already overweight suitcase. I would suggest only bringing the shoes that you absolutely cannot live without, even if it means some sacrifice.

What I Wish I Brought

Ethernet Cable

Traveling obviously entails Instagramming and uploading pictures to Facebook so that friends and family can live vicariously (aka be jealous of) through all of the awesome adventures you are having. Not all places have wifi, so an ethernet cable is a great back up so that you can hook up to the internet in the comfort of your room.


Being homesick is completely normal, especially during those first nights of being away from home. Not seeing family and friends for weeks or months can be really tough for some people. Bringing a few pictures to hang up around your new living space is a great way to make you feel a little more at home.

Walking Shoes

As cute as I wanted to look in my Instagrams, I learned the hard way that my Rainbows and Vans are not made for walking. Exploring a new country entails walking for hours each day, so it is crucial that your shoes have good support. Also, consider buying Dr. Scholls inserts so that you can still wear your fashionable shoes while being as comfortable as possible.

Favorite Snack

Your favorite snacks may not be available in your host country. For me, that was Nature Valley granola bars. Packing a snack will make you feel a little more at ease, knowing you can nosh as you please on your favorite treat.

And don’t worry, if you forget anything at home you can most likely buy it wherever you are traveling to. Good luck and bon voyage!