Packing for a year

In roughly 26 hours, I’ll be leaving NYC for my flight to Stockholm. Recently, packing has been the main adventure as I struggle to figure out everything I will need and want over the course of the year (and, of course, how to fit it). I always think that the best way to do it is to pick a suitcase that is the maximum size of what you want to carry, or ideally  less than maximum, and then stuff it to the brim! Although this ratio of stuff to bring and suitcase size isn’t looking too good yet:


I wanted to do an extended post about packing and what I’m bringing because these posts have been a valuable source of advice for me. I have to give a big thanks to Nell Bang-Jensen of, who did a Watson 2011-2012 and wrote incredibly helpful posts for future Watson Fellows. I ended up getting the same suitcase as her (the Osprey Meridian, which was actually recommended by many different people I spoke with) and followed her shoe advice closely in order to get one nice shoe, one super comfy walking shoe, and one every day shoe (walking sandals). Feel free to check out the links in my “Bags” and “Shoes” sections below.  Also, Legal Nomads is a good general resource, especially for considering what to pack and being a solo female traveler:

What follows is a super detailed list of what I’m bringing, and that’s mostly for me in case I lose something. I’ll be unpacking and repacking countless times this year, so I wanted to have a good list of what I was taking beforehand. I’ve never done this for a trip before – not even when I studied abroad – but I hope it proves useful. And, if you’re interested, I hope this list helps you think of what you might need for your adventure!



  • Underwear: 8 pairs of ExOfficio (quick-dry travel underwear); 2 pairs regular
  • Sports bras and regular bras
  • 8 pairs of pants
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 16 shirts
  • 2 skirts
  • 3 dresses
  • 2 scarves
  • Socks
  • Tights and warm leggings
  • Pajamas
  • 2 warm sweaters
  • Coats
    • REI Windbreaker/raincoat
    • North Face black fleece coat

Shoes (again, thanks to Nell @

Medicine & Toiletries

  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, facewash, floss, comb, deodorant, razor
  • As recommended by travel consultations: Advil, Pepto Bismol, Immodium, and bug spray
  • Malaria pills


  • International charge adapters and voltage converter
  • NYC souvenirs to give hosts (keychains)
  • Cocoon sleeping bag liner
  • Quick dry towel
  • Washcloth
  • Camera: Canon PowerShot G9 X
  • Kindle
  • Blu mobile phone (in each country, I’ll swap in a new SIM card to get a local number there; I’m also bringing my iPhone to keep a US number just in case, though I will mostly use it as a WiFi device)
  • Watson passport holder with passport (of course!) and the “Getting it Right Guide”
  • Credit cards, Watson ID, Seven Corners travel insurance ID
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Swiss Army Knife
  • Notebook, paper, journal, etc.
  • Pencil/pen case
  • Sunglasses
  • Mini leather jewelry box (gift from my aunt Kate) with a couple pairs of earrings, watch, etc.

Now to see if it will all fit!


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