How To Pack for Extended Vacations

I, a fashion major mind you, was able to fit four months’ worth of packing into one checked bag, a carryon, and a backpack. If I can accomplish that, so can you! Here are some tips on how to pack effectively to give even the most fashionable people some variety within their abroad wardrobe.

  1. Layers

Just pack in layers. Bring a few tanks, a few v-necks, one or two light sweaters, a cardigan, a denim shirt, and some different jackets. All of a sudden one tank can be worn a bunch of different ways! You have to try to think of all the pairing possibilities you can have with your limited options.

  1. Jackets

Speaking of layers, what jackets you bring are important. Here is what I did: one leather jacket, one linen military style jacket, one wool coat, one zip-up hoodie, one linen vest, one cotton bomber. The majority of these jackets are very thin materials so I was able to roll them up tightly and fit all of outerwear in my carryon. The perk of multiple thin coats? I was never cold because I could bundle everything up at once!

  1. Wear a lot on the plane ride there

For example; I wore my wool coat over a heavy sweater which was over an oversized t-shirt. Then I wore my most comfortable pair of jeans to help save space, and a larger pair of boots. I know flying can be uncomfortable and exhausting and I bet no one wants to wear jeans on a plane but it really helped a lot with saving valuable space.

  1. Black essentials

I feel as if everyone’s go to outfit of choice for a night on the town involves wearing black. So bring a few basics to get the job done and rotate shirts and jeans and no one will ever accuse you of being the oh so dreaded “outfit repeater.” Let’s be real, no one notices when it comes to an all-black outfit, they really don’t. So don’t go too crazy with the night-life wear. I promise you don’t need it all as much as you think.

  1. Vacuum bags

I personally had the reusable rolling bags that create an airtight seal, but either version of this kind of space saving mechanism is so helpful. Granted, with all the space saved doesn’t necessarily mean you can pack even more because of the weight limit rules at airports. However, it does give some peace of mind that your favorite bras aren’t getting squished beyond repair on the way to your destination.

  1. Leave open space!

You and I both know you’re going shopping wherever you’re traveling to, so let’s plan for that shall we? You don’t need that extra “but what if I need this” shirt that you know you don’t even wear at home as it is. Trust me on this one, don’t pack in excess. I could name about 14 pieces I never wore that I brought with “just in case.” Do yourself the favor, and save space!

  1. Shoes

No you don’t need four different heel options as you gallivant through Europe. You really don’t. Bring your one pair of go to heels that you can genuinely walk in that are actually comfortable, and that’s it. You’ll wear them less often than you think. Bring some good sneakers, comfy sandals, and maybe a pair or two of closed toe flats. You and your feet will thank me later for this one.

Of course everyone is different and what you may want to bring doesn’t fit into any of these categories. But if you’re smart with how you pack your basics, you’ll have more than enough space to bring all the Instagram-able outfits you’ve already planned in your head. I hope this helps! Leave a comment with any other packing tips I’ve missed!


A College Kid’s Summer Struggles

It’s time to get real here, summers as a college kid are hard. I don’t know if I’m completely unique in my struggle this summer, but what better way to let go of some stress than to put words to it.

I’m currently working two jobs, one of which is unpaid for school credit. I absolutely love my internship don’t get me wrong, but with the two schedules I already have, it’s impossible for me to find a third job that will actually hire me with my very limited availability. So I’m struggling to earn the money back that I spent while abroad in Italy with only one paycheck. Let me tell you something, that’s not easy. I feel like an absolute jerk for having no money, because all of it is either spent on gas, food, or is saved. That’s leaving everyone around me paying for me when we go out to do fun things and although I’m very appreciative, I hate it! I feel awful about it and just down right awkward to be honest. I’m in such a weird spot when it comes to money lately.

Anyway, money aside, there are some other struggles as a college kid during the summer that I think are a little more relatable:

  1. No free time!

Summer is supposed to be the break season, the sit back and relax season, yet here I am wondering when I’ll have the time to actually do so. I know quite a few people in the same boat as me, with working multiple jobs and only having time to sleep in between them, so I’m stuck here asking when my “summer break” is supposed to begin.

  1. Summer classes

If you are anything like me, well, you think you can do it all. And you know what? You can! It’s just a really aggravating process to do so. I’m in the honors college at my school with a very intensive major and I’m a double minor. My semester schedules are pretty jam packed and don’t always work out how I want, so sometimes I’m left with taking summer courses to stay on track with graduating on time. So the whole no free time thing because of two jobs? Add two classes worth of homework in that mix as well.

  1. FOMO

Although you’re dog tired and all you want to do is sleep and recover from a long day of responsibility, the last thing you want to let your young self do is miss out on a fun night with friends. Even if the much better answer for yourself is to stay in and recoup, you bet your booty you’ll be out that night pretending you don’t have a care in the world because that’s just what you’re expected to do at this age. Ahhh the expectations of getting drunk and having fun, such a hard life am I right? But it really can add a whole different level of stress to your summer break self.

Before I let this thing get way too long, I figure I’ll stop it here and give one little bit of advice. If I can do all of these things and still find the time to take an occasional nap, so can you. I’m hoping this post reaches some viewer who is overly stressed out this summer and thinks they’re alone in the struggle. I’m here to say you’re not alone, and you will make it out just fine. So keep chugging along and accomplish everything you desire to this summer. You of all people should know you can.

Favorites of Florence

In case you didn’t pick up on the fact that I’ve been abroad from my last posts, I’ll remind you. I studied fashion for exactly four months in Florence, Italy. Anyway, I have some friends who are currently studying there for summer session, so I figured I’d talk about some of my favorite day to day pastimes in case they are looking for something fun to do. I’ll try to keep it interesting and avoid the basics, but some things you just can’t not do.

  1. Sitting outside the Irish Pub by the Duomo, having a drink, and people watching

Towards the end of my time in Italy, tourist season was coming into full swing. It was so fun just observing people as they take in the sights that have become normal to me. The Irish Pub had great happy hour deals and I’d spend multiple hours at a time there enjoying the view. Great spot.

  1. Bringing a bottle of champagne or wine to Piazza Michaelangelo

The classic outlook point in which every person who visits posts a picture of. It’s a must see, and I’ll be honest, it’s the header on this very page you’re looking at. Pictures really don’t do the scene justice, and going up there at sunset is a whole different level of beauty. Also, the whole “no open container laws” thing is pretty great.

  1. Getting lost

I mean this with all sincerity. Take a new path to your favorite coffee shop, or walk in the complete opposite direction of where you know the layout. Simply explore. The architecture in this city is absolutely unreal, and some of my favorite pictures from the past semester are of random alleyways. Trust me, you’ll end up somewhere familiar before you know it and can make your way back home. Just live a little and enjoy the city you’re surrounded by.

  1. Eating on the second floor of Mercato Centrale

I was fortunate enough to live in the central market, so it was a no brainer for me to check it out. However, from friends who have been in previous semesters, apparently it’s an unknown goldmine. The food in there is incredible, and so ridiculously cheap. I found myself eating there multiple times a week. It baffles me that some have never even heard of the place. It’s a shame really. But my advice here is to eat the pulled pork sandwich from the one artisan stand. It’s the bee’s knees.

  1. Getting gelato and sitting on a bridge

There are a lot of gelato shops around town, as well as many bridges to choose from to sit upon. As far as gelato goes, just make sure it doesn’t look like a colorful mountain in its container, and you’ll know it’s the real deal. Flat and ugly, that’s the good stuff. As for the bridges, I think my favorite would have to be the one West of Ponte Vecchio. Ponte Vecchio is Florence’s most iconic bridge, and the first one to connect the two sides of the river. It’s super colorful but also super busy and doesn’t give much of a view of the Arno itself. That’s why I liked having Ponte Vecchio behind me while I sit on the next bridge over. It’s quite the spot.

I think before I get too in depth here, I’ll keep this post short and sweet. I might make one at a later time including all the restaurants, cafes, and bars I frequented the most so for now, this is the end. The biggest piece of advice is to try to find something new to do each day. Florence is an incredible city with a little something for everyone, so make the most of it!

7 European Fashion Trends I Wish Would Hit the States Already

  1. Sports coats, all day everyday

The men in Europe are always dressed so smartly, I miss it already and I’ve been home for 2 weeks. I’m telling you, it’s very possible to have a sport coat or suit jacket for every season, in every color, in every fabric. For example, pairing a nice khaki linen jacket over a plain white button down that’s untucked with a well-fitting pair of dark wash denim for the summer? TO DIE FOR.

  1. Neck scarves

I love these little guys, and I bought 3 of them while abroad. Now being home, I don’t know when I’ll have the opportunity to pull them off. They instantly class up a V-neck and jeans into a fashionable and appropriate outfit.

  1. Head scarves

To keep the ball rolling with the whole scarf theme, I figured I’d toss these bad boys in here as well. I feel like it’s such a classic Parisian woman vibe to have a head scarf on, while eating a macaroon in front of the Eiffel Tower.  I personally never attempted the look, but I loved seeing it in every country I visited.

  1. The man purse

Picture this: a well-dressed man in his sports coat and beautiful leather shoes walking by in a hurry looking all important clutching his satchel at his side. What a look. Let’s be real, how convenient would it be for men in America to carry around a purse in a socially acceptable way? I bet a whole bunch secretly want to, and only a few dare attempt. But hey, a girl can dream.

  1. Embroidered everything

Now this is a trend that is slowly making its way into our world here, but I want more. The amount of denim just utterly covered in embroidered roses was amazing. Even some designer shoes are getting in on the action with embroidered floral patterns. I love it I love it I love it. I want more of it here ASAP!

  1. Tights

Now you may or may not be aware that showing a lot of leg as a women in Europe is just not common. In no way am I trying to say that the looks I got while rocking mini dresses were okay, but it really gave me a new appreciation for styling tights. I’m not just saying your classic everyday sheer pantyhose, I’m talking about glitter and script and florals and anything else you could possibly imagine! The tights are seen as the center piece in some outfits, and it was amazing.

7. Confidence

I think you’ll notice a theme with me ending all my posts in a cheesy manner, but this last one is so true. Everyone in Europe, both women and men alike, just wear whatever they feel like wearing! They don’t care how they look, and you can just tell. Yet at the same time, the quality and timeless pieces they’re throwing together in unique ways just look so good. It was very intimidating to enter one of the fashion capitals of the world surrounded by beautiful Italians looking amazing in an outfit I’d never dream of wearing. But you know what? I finally started to step out of my comfort zone a little and I think I’ve officially defined my style. Being in such an open and eclectic place both put the pressure on me to step up as well as gave me the comfort in knowing I’d still blend in. I hope I don’t lose this new sense of style now that I’m back home.

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Studying Abroad

1.       How much I’d miss it

This is an obvious one that’s super cheesy, so I figured I would start here. Of course I’m thrilled to be home with friends and family, but there are aspects about the abroad lifestyle that are hard to let go of. I’ve come back to three jobs, money stress, and a bunch of questions from loved ones that I just don’t feel like answering. I’ve gone from the most relaxed I’ve been in a while to instantly being pulled every direction. It’s a hard transition, and one I was not prepared for.

2.       How aggressive the men are in Europe

Now this by no means is meant to be a deterrent, I’m just an honest person and this fact was one I struggled with learning. Of course there are jokes about the men in Europe and their love for the sport of love, but it’s much more serious than that. The aggressive cat calling and following around was something new to me, and to think similar issues were bad in The States is a funny thought to me now. There were quite a few circumstances that I was not prepared to encounter while abroad, and at points it was very scary to me. Now if I were to know these things before going, it wouldn’t have changed a damn thing about my choice to study, but I wouldn’t have been so shocked by it all.

3.       How often I’d be cooking for myself

I used to think I could cook pretty decently for the age I am, but after eating nothing but buttered noodles and hamburger patties for the past four months, I have realized I cannot. I wish I would’ve taken the time to learn a few more simple dishes that would last me a couple of days instead of going into it blindly. Let’s be real, anyone who has been abroad will agree that it feels like a vacation the whole time. But that being said, it doesn’t mean you can eat like you’re on vacation the whole time and go out for every meal. That will kill your budget in less than a month.

4.       How important it is to stick to a budget

Speaking of budgets; HAVE ONE. Don’t be embarrassed that some other people you are surrounded by don’t have to be as frivolous. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. If you’re smart about it, you can do everything they can for much much cheaper. I set up a budget for myself the first night I arrived in Florence but I don’t think I looked at it again until about 2 months in when I blew through more than half my money. That was a big uh-oh. I’m currently quite in debt in the bank of Mom so do yourself and your family a favor, be smarter than me with your spending.

5.       How having the time of your life can happen when you are completely on your own

So I’ll end this on a sappy note, because I bet you expected just as much. I arrived to Florence with about 130 kids from my university. A lot of them had planned on going abroad together early on in their college career, and a lot of them all had their very best friend with them on this adventure. I did not. I simply had acquaintances. At first I tried my best to be outgoing and join in on what everyone else wanted to do, but it wore me out. I wasn’t happy. I was always the third wheel, and in some extreme cases, forgotten about while out on the town. It was a hard fact for me to come to terms with and it was a slow road to getting there, but I did get there. I started taking myself out on dinner dates, I’d watch the sunset over the Arno River with a cup of gelato, and I started to do whatever I felt like doing whether I had someone to join me or not. Sure enough, the right kinds of people started showing up in my life once I accepted that it’s okay to be on my own. I have made some incredible new friendships because I started to just be me instead of trying to fit in with who I already knew. Now every abroad experience is different, and I’m very lucky to have gone into this knowing as many people as I did, but it lead to the weirdest growing up lesson that I never would’ve thought I needed. So no matter who you know already or how you end up going abroad, you will have a kick ass time as long as you let yourself and sometimes that means being on your own. Hell, I still experienced the world whether I had people to share it with or not, so can you.