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When I was packing for my trip abroad I wanted to be as thorough (and light) as possible, so I consulted various travel blogs about how to pack for long-term (e.g. 1+ month) trips. While there were similarities in each list, I found that they differed in significant ways and did not quite meet my criteria as an academic travelling abroad. Many blogs suggested taking things such as bug repellent, travel cutlery, and netting. I doubted these would be useful in rainy London (or, Europe in general).

I wanted to write a post on packing after a few weeks abroad to see what items have come in handy and what items are still sitting in my luggage bag. So, here is a breakdown of what I packed.

Hopefully this helps another traveler wondering what to bring to Europe for long-term stays:

Packing   List Amount
zip-up hoodie 1
sweater 1
long-sleeve shirt 3
short-sleeve shirt 3
tank top 3
t-shirt 3
jeans 2
pants 1
conference pants 1
leggings 1
skirt 2
dress 1
pajamas 2
undergarments 8
socks 5
athletic wear 4
scarf 2
rain jacket 1
coat 1
belt 2
running 1
sandals 1
walking footwear: boots 1
Hygiene / Medicinal
quick-dry washcloth 1
quick dry towel 1
tylenol 1
chapstick 2
tissues 1
first aid kit 1
contacts 4
contact solution 1
hairbrush 1
mirror 1
hand sanitizer 1
ear plugs 1
nail trimmer 1
rubber bands 5
camera case 1
camera manual 1
ziploc bags 2
extra cloth bag 1
jewelry 5
umbrella 1
PhD Work Notebook 1
pencils 5
pens 5
sticky tabs 1
Conference Notebook 1
drop spindle 1
4oz. wool: Romney/Perendale 1
sunglasses 1
laundry powder 1
sewing kit 1
flashlight 1
lock 1
Fitbit (a pedometer) 1
Swiss army knife 1
Camera 1
Other camera lens 1
camera charger 1
SD card 1
webcam 1
Laptop / Charger 1
mouse 1
Nook / Nook Charger 1
Nintendo DS / Charger 1
adapter plugs 1
iPod/earbuds 1
Letters of introduction 3
UBC Student Card 1
Proof of Address 3
Bodleian library document filled-out 1
Passport 1
Photocopies of travel docs 8
wallet 1
credit cards 3
tube/subway maps 3
emergency contact numbers 1


This seems like an extensive list, but I had room to spare and the luggage bag came in underweight.* In addition to my luggage bag, I brought a purse (more like a book-bag) and a small packsack. Here are a few tips I’ve learned so far:

–You can buy most hygiene products abroad. I purchased shampoo/conditioner and other things the day after I arrived. I did bring a small shampoo bottle (to get the plane/taxi/bus smell out of my hair), so this can come in handy until you find a drugstore. In London, drugstores are plentiful; there is one a 5min walk from here.

—I haven’t used the towel or washcloth at all since towels are provided where I am staying.

—The packsack and purse have been quite useful. I’ve visited quite a number of farmer’s markets and put all my fresh produce and other items in the packsack, which reduces the use of plastic bags.

—Chapstick, tissues, and Tylenol: all must haves.

—Extra ‘general’ letters of introduction from your supervisor (if you are a student) are incredibly helpful. A number of libraries will request them for viewing specific manuscripts even though they are not required for other content. If you decide to wander through a multitude of manuscripts, as I seem to be doing, extra letters come in handy in case you run across a manuscript that requires special permission (this has happened to me three times now). The librarian may photocopy the letter, but they always ask if they can keep it instead. Bottom line: more letters are better, just in case.

—Make sure your adapter plugs suit the technology you are charging. I thought I had a pretty standard adapter plug, but my Nintendo DS and camera will not charge with it (fortunately, the camera will charge via computer).

—The hand sanitizer has, surprisingly, been helpful while walking around London.

—A heavy-duty umbrella is a must. I bought a light 6oz umbrella before I left for London and it is already broken. I bought another one while here and it, too, is broken. They are both semi-functional, but I’ve all but given up and will just walk with my hood up (which seems typical for Londoners). It rains a lot in London (I’ve only experienced two sunny days here in three weeks), but few comment on the wind and drizzle.

—Purchase a small map that has main streets and icons for the Underground, trains, and buses (and other subway/transportation information). My wallet-sized map is a plastic card that quickly pops up on its own when opened. I tend to pick a direction and walk for 5-7 miles—wandering various streets and neighbourhoods—so this map has proven the most useful for finding my way back again.

*Also: I had promised myself I wouldn’t pack ANY books, but I did end up bringing three (very helpful!) books with me:

1) Harold Murray’s 900-page tome, A History of Chess. Massachusetts: Benjamin, 1913.

2) Daniel E. O’Sullivan, ed. Chess in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Age: A Fundamental Thought Paradigm of the Premodern World. (Fundamentals of Medieval and Early Modern Culture 10). Boston and Berlin: De Gruyter, 2012.  (The book I am reviewing)

3) Bryan Peterson. Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera. 3rd edition. New York: Amphoto, 2010.

This concludes my post on packing!

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