I have only fourteen days before the long and grueling plane ride lands me in my favorite city in the world. My first post was only a few hours ago but I originally wrote the piece so many days ago that everything has changed. My nerves have subsided and my excitement has not dwindled.
Now that only two weeks time stands between me and my adventure I have a vital list of to-dos that must be done before departure. I find listing everything out will help me make sure everything is completed although it can look like an intimidating list to finish in such a short time.
1. Where is my passport? Is it in my carry on like it should be?
If yes great job, excellent start. If no, place it there immediately. Nothing is going to be worse than getting to the airport with all of your belongings and not having your passport.
2. Do I have any other documents that I will need in my carry-on?
For all students studying abroad though USM an entry letter is provided for you. Make sure this is in your bag. It will be much easier getting through customs in a foreign country if you have an official letter specifying exactly where you will be, when you will be there, and why you will be there. It saves the customs agent time (which they do appreciate) and saves you from having to explain a thousand things that you may forget the answer to.
3. Have I called my American bank?
It would be horrible to arrive in a foreign country just so your bank can shut down your cards for suspicious activity. I normally call two weeks ahead of my journey and tell them I would like to put a travel notification on my account. You do not have to tell them exactly what days you will be in which countries but do tell them start and end travel dates and every country you are going to visit. Trust me it saves a lot of headache.
The most important part of your entire pre-cursor to do list is packing. What do I bring? What do I not bring? How do I pack it all into one checked bag, one carry-on, and one personal item? Although everyone packs different I will let you in on a few of my secrets.
A. DO NOT bring your entire wardrobe with you. Plan for your trip based on the number of days you will be gone. I am leaving on the British Studies Program so that is approximately 32 days. For this trip I will pack
1. 3 pairs of pants, including one pair of slacks for more formal occasions.
2. 2 skirts, just in case I need a dressy outfit or want a nice look for the day.
3. 1 more formal/cocktail dress just in case.
4. 5 shirts ( some t-shirts, some nice blouses)
5. 3 pair of shoes ONLY. I know, I know how are you going to survive four weeks with only 3 pair. I promise it will be sufficient. One pair of comfortable walking shoes, one pair of nice dressy shoes ( I would recommend flats), and one pair of flip flops (for community showers if you stay in a hostel).
6. A select few accessories. ( Do not bring a necklace for every day of the week) I wear a lot of tank tops and cardigans with scarves. This would be included in this section. Be reasonable pack only what you will use.
7. Socks and underwear. The dorm I will be staying at has a laundry mat so I bring enough for seven days so I only have to wash once every week.
8. Make-Up. Only bring minimal amounts. It is not like you are going to be in a fashion show. You are going to want to explore the city not put on make up for two hours.
9. Hair products. Bring what you think you will use every day or almost everyday. Be reasonable. You will be outside. Most likely you will put your hair in a pony tail by the end of the day. (DO NOT FORGET hair ties and bobby pins, they are small and will save you, I promise)
10. Camera. Do not be the one who goes to a foreign country for a month and has nothing to show because you left your camera at home. ( Don’t forget the charger if you have one)
11. Something to keep you occupied on the flight over. ex. book or magazine just don’t go over board
B. Remember to check the airline website to find out about any forbidden items.
5. Any special circumstances?
Check-up at the doctor?
Do you live alone? If yes have you contacted your local post office to put your mail on travel status.
Do you have pets? Have you made arrangements for them?
Does your emergency contact have a copy of all important documents? Ex. passport, credit cards, drivers license, entry letter, hotel confirmations, emergency contact information.