The 6 Emotional Stages of Packing for a Move Abroad

While I write this post about packing for a move abroad, I really should be packing for my move abroad. I’ll write up lists all day, pin packing guides like a madwoman and lay out my clothes beautifully, but when it comes to the actual act of packing – I’ll put that off as long as I can. It’s currently Tuesday, however, and I move on Thursday, so unfortunately it’s time to face the music.

The 6 Emotional Stages of Packing for a Move Abroad; perfect for moving abroad or study abroadpassport case // vegan leather tote bag

Since I’ve moved to Arizona for college, LA for work, then back to St. Louis, you’d think I’d be a pro at preparing for a major move, but you would be thinking too highly of me. There is also just something much more decisive about an international transition that makes it that much more intimidating. I can’t just ship a couple pairs of jeans and that hairbrush I forgot to pack – that’ll set you pack several hundred dollars. My parents can’t just bring my forgotten photo frames when they visit me over a long weekend – I won’t be home until Christmas.

No, this move just feels bigger all around (I’m probably also being over-dramatic and procrastinating), so I thought I’d share the many emotional stages you’ll go through when stowing away your life for a move abroad, in case you’re ever faced with such a traumatic packing event.

Stage 1: This Will Be A Leisurely Affair
A week ago was such a happier, idyllic time. I was young, naive, and a whole expanse of packing days seemed to lay out before me. Instead of packing ahead of time, I’d take leisurely lunches, order a few more things to pack (because why not just add two five more things?) spend whole afternoons planning my future wedding on Pinterest and waste away the evenings out with friends (although I definitely think you should do this before you move anywhere). My packing contributions included making lists of what to pack and buying more things to pack.

Stage 2: Pack All the Things!
After a few days, the reality of moving abroad set in and I decided to make up for lost time and pack ALL THE THINGS. I laid out literally every piece of clothing I thought I could or would wear in London. Since I’m packing for the autumnal and winter months, and London is no LA, a lot of these items are bulkier sweaters, coats and vests – because who doesn’t go to London without a little faux fur – so while I made some progress, I knew not everything would fit in my two checked bags and one carry-on bag budget. I also didn’t really pack anything, but instead laid it out in our guest bedroom – so this stage doesn’t really count as “packing.”

How I Packed for a Move Abroad without Going InsaneThe carnage in my parents’ guest room.

Stage 3: Surely I’ll Wear/Fit Into This Jacket I Haven’t Worn in Two Years!
To help thin out my massive piles of clothing, I decided to set some ground rules. If I hadn’t worn it in one year, it’s not coming. If it doesn’t fit me right now, it’s not coming. These rules sound sane, but packing for a move abroad does strange things to a person. I envisioned myself losing a ton of weight from walking and becoming a model-esque European, and while losing weight may happen, I can force myself to wait until it actually does and grab my thin clothes when I’m home from Christmas. Pack what you actually wear and what will make you comfortable – not for a body or fashion sense you predict may develop.

Stage 4: Purge All the Things!
While I started culling through my stacks and eliminating items, I was tempted to go a bit overboard. Envisioning a minimalist wardrobe, I wanted suddenly to sell all my clothes and rid myself of the dreaded packing problem all together. I’ve given into this temptation during past moves and always regret under-packing. A little bit of a diva, I like options when it comes to clothing and being prepared for unexpected situations. While I did sell things I haven’t worn in over a year and am not packing all my summer clothing, I still am going to throw in one swimsuit for any spontaneous holidays that pop up. It’s all about balance.
I’ll be sharing more specifics in future posts about what I end up bringing for this move, but check out my favorite packing tools below:

Stage 5: Denial
This stage is the worst for progress, but seems to be my favorite to dwell in, even if not on purpose. My moving date encroaches quicker and quicker, but it just doesn’t feel real. I suppose I haven’t had enough time off yet, but sometimes I feel as if I’m on a little work holiday and could be heading back into the office any day now. I know it will feel VERY real when I’m getting ready to head to the airport, but for now I’m in this odd purgatory  where I know I’m making the move, but my mind hasn’t fully accepted the reality – and the packing work that comes along with it.

Stage 6: Acceptance
Currently I’m hovering somewhere between denial and acceptance. I had to say goodbye to one of my best friends today, and that realization felt like a bucket of cold water waking me from a dream. Suddenly, I feel the pressure of the move and being ready in two days. I’m still not in total freak-out mode, but I think I’m finally disciplined enough to buckle down and get shit done. One of my larger suitcases is packed after some hustling, and while the task is nowhere near finished, at least there is some progress.

Have you guys ever packed for a big move before? Any tips? Luckily, I don’t have to bring furniture or anything, but I always accumulate more clothes than necessary. You can follow my packing and prep adventures more on Snapchat and Instagram Stories.

The 6 Emotional Stages of Packing for a Move Abroad; definitely save if you're moving or studying abroad

Amalfi Coast Essentials

If you have spent any time here on Always, Erin (hi, Mom!), you’ll know that I love writing a lot about two things: the Amalfi Coast and packing. So, I thought I would do the obvious thing and combine these two loves and share my Amalfi Coast Essentials. My normal Carry On Essentials are here, so you can supplement those with these beach specific must-haves, tailored to that iconic Italian coastline.

Amalfi Coast Essentials


Beach Bare Necessities

No use heading to the beach unless you have a proper beach bag. A longtime Longchamp fan, this bag is perfect for carrying all your bits and bobs, smart enough to take out to dinner, and water resistant. Toss in a cute, yet compact, wallet to hold plenty of Euros for all of those lovely Italian leather goods that will surely tempt you. Of course, you’ll want your phone.  Even though you likely (and luckily IMO) won’t have Wifi while exploring, pack a portable charger. I took more pictures than on any previous vacation and was glad to have extra battery so I could capture that dreamy watercolor sunset at the end of a long day of touring.

While a bikini seems like an obvious addition, I’d like to remind you to pack at least two. I only brought one and definitely underestimated how much I’d be frolicking in the Med. Whether it’s taking a day trip to a beach club in Positano, diving off a boat in Capri, or just dipping into the hotel pool – you’ll be glad you packed multiple swimsuits for your multiple aquatic adventures. For that beach club in Positano (or really any beach on the Coast), you should wear water-proof flip flops. Amalfi Coast beaches are all rock or pebble, so you’ll want shoes you can wear right up to the waves since said pebbles can get scorching in the height of summer. My Birkenstocks did NOT cut it, so my poor toes were left toasty.

Paradise Protection

While we’re discussing the necessary summer armor, sunglasses (preferably of the colorful variety) are a must, as is sunscreen. This solid stick is perfect for travel, since you don’t have to waste precious space in your quart size bag for liquids or bother finding a 3oz version.  I have a bit of OCD when it comes to chapstick application, so this grapefruit Burt’s Bees option is always on hand. Once I’m lathered in SPF, to keep cool I like to shelter under this Panama hat and spritz with a bit of Evian mist, in between long, languorous floats in the ocean of course. They also just make me feel like some sort of Fellini-esque diva, so who cares if they’re a tad over the top.

Seaside Style

After a long day of sunbathing, drinking prosecco and swimming in the salty sea, you’ll likely want to duck into a restaurant (Chez Black in Positano is the perfect beachside detour) to enjoy a restorative glass of rose and nibble on antipasto. Pack a full-coverage cover-up that doubles as a dress to make the effortless transition. For post-beach beauty, I’m a big fan of this hair conditioning spray and Wet brush for making my rat’s nest of a hairdo look somewhat presentable. (Pro-tip, definitely pack conditioner for Italy – most hotels don’t supply it) As for summer make-up, I like my tan to do the talking and will just accentuate it using this liquid bronzer and solid blush with a few flicks of mascara. Then, voila, I’m coiffed for my Italian boyfriends and selfies, yet still undone and free-spirited enough to relish in la dolce vita.

Grazie for stopping by my friends! I hope this will help you prepare to your next trip to the Amalfi Coast- whether it’s your first or hopefully one of many! It’s one of my favorite places in the world, so it definitely keeps me inspired.

Check out more of my packing posts here:
Carry On Essentials
Coachella Essentials
Road Trip Essentials
Walt Disney World Essentials
Travel Beauty Essentials


Linking Up With:

My first Wanderful Wednesday hosted by Lauren of Lauren on Location, Van of Snow in Tromso, Isabel of The Sunny Side of This and Marcella of What a Wonderful World.

My first Weekend Wanderlust – hosted by a Brit & a Southerner! Please check out both link parties for more excellent travel content! Thank you!

Wanderful Wednesday

Weekend Wanderlust Button

#NSale Picks for the Traveler

If you’ve been hanging around the blogosphere the last few days, chances are you’ll have heard about the start of the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (check out Caitlin’s thorough guide for all the details and tips). Early access has started (sign up for a Nordstrom debit card if you want to shop now but don’t want a credit card), and it opens to the general public on July 22.  Instead of doing your typical sale “picks” post like every other blogger out there, I thought I’d add a dose of wanderlust and share my picks – specifically for the chic traveler. Grab your weekender, toss on a jet-setting scarf and get ready to tuck into your neck pillow for your next stylish journey, all featuring my #NSale picks:

NSale Picks for the Traveler


#1 A perfect duffel bag for your next weekend getaway. All the motivation I need for a road trip!

#2 When I go on vacation, I can’t be bothered to pack my entire makeup kit. This NARS set has all the essentials to do a natural look with a pop of pink. With a deep holiday tan, who needs a full MAC force-field?

More beauty sets:

#3 A Longchamp Le Pliage is my all time favorite carry-on bag, since it’s roomy but can easily fold up and be stashed in your suitcase. Perfect for any souvenirs you’ve snagged on your trip. Longchamp has improved upon perfection and made an expandable version.

#4 A cozy scarf to add a pop of color and keep warm on chilly planes or serve as an impromptu picnic blanket along the Seine.

#5 While this is more of an investment piece (but still under $100), I think every girl needs a cashmere sweater to wear on the airplane. That recycled air at 30,000 feet is freezing, and this sweater is a touch of luxury that can make a long haul economy flight feel a little bit more like first class. Buy it in a neutral color, so you can wear it forever and with anything.

More coziness:

#6 Jeggings are awesome for travel days, whether it’s by plane, train or road trip. You get the comfort of leggings, while looking much more put together. What’s not to love? I’ve been trying not to look like such a slob at airports and instead find comfortable items that are still stylish and not basically pajamas.

#7 Any seasoned traveler needs a monogrammed and classic passport case and luggage tag. Timeless.

#8 I like sticking to a carry on bag when travelling, so I tend to pack wardrobe staples in neutral colors, so I can re-wear and mix and match throughout the trip. To keep outfits interesting and unique, however, I gravitate to stand-out accessories like this flat brim hat. Adds a bit of mystery, doesn’t it?

#9 Adidas sneakers are on every fashionista’s feet this year, and thanks to Nordstrom this dope Stan Smith pair is on sale. You can look on-trend while exploring the Colosseum, but still have the most comfortable feet when climbing all those steps.

Stylish sneaks:

#10 While the Lonchamp is my favorite carry-on bag and I can go full Mary Poppins and stuff a small army in there, I always pack a smaller cross-body bag to use when I arrive to my destination. I want enough room for the essentials but don’t want to be weighed down when touring all day. This leopard Vince Camuto bag is perfectly compact but adds the right pop of sassiness with its leopard print.

#11 Last, but certainly not least, I found the most luxurious neck pillow to enhance your typically awful in-flight experience. It’s made of cozy faux fur and filled with lavender to help lull you off to sleep. Let’s be real, it’s not going to end turbulence or hush that crying baby, so pair with some ZQuil or Melatonin and you’re all set!

Happy shopping and happy travels, friends! I’m off to scratch some things off my Summer Bucket list! What are you up to this weekend?

NSale Picks for the Traveler


Walt Disney World Essentials: What to Pack in Your Park Bag

A trip to Walt Disney World is unlike any other and can be overwhelming with planning. You need to book your dining reservations, buy tickets, schedule Fast Passes, plan out attractions – the list goes on. Once all of your Disney magic is planned it’s time to pack your bags and fly to Orlando! But – wait! You can’t pack just any old bag for Disney. Luckily, I just returned from the Happiest Place on Earth, so I’m sharing the few necessary essentials I always stow away to ensure a Mickey-approved experience.

Disney World Essentials

First, you’ll need a compact and easy crossbody (similar here) to tote into the park each day. A large purse will simply be too cumbersome and will wear you out much quicker than riding It’s a Small World on repeat. Perhaps the most important item to pack is comfortable sneakers. There is SO much walking! We easily walked 10 miles a day, and I was so thankful to have these Nikes to prevent my feet from getting blisters or sore.

While we’re on the subject of shoes, if you’re going to Disney in the summer, I’d also pack some waterproof sandals, like these colorful Chacos. Orlando is prone to daily afternoon thundershowers, and you won’t want your park-hopping and Nikes to get bogged down by some puddles. Similarly, stash an umbrella (this one has great Minnie Mouse vibes) or poncho to keep dry and the touring going.

Of course, you’ll need a small colorful wallet a la this one from Rebecca Minkoff to hold the necessities like your park ticket and map. I love keeping these park tokens as souvenirs after the trip. Obsessed with taking photos, I’m sure to pack my portable phone charger to keep my iPhone camera ready to go in case any celebs like Chip and Dale make an appearance.

Disney trips aren’t all fun and games, however, and you’ll need to bring a few bits to protect from the elements. To guard from the intense Florida sun, solid sunscreen, sunglasses (love these reflective shades), and chapstick are musts. I also get a little heat relief with this Evian spray and take the edge off from a heat headache with this Aleve. Last, but certainly not least, you’ll need your own touch of Disney magic with some mouse ears or the perfect Minnie accessory.

Have a great trip to one of my favorite places, and I hope this post leaves you a little more prepared!

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Travel Tuesday: Coachella Essentials

Happy Tuesday, internet friends! Better yet, it’s Travel Tuesday – my favorite blogger linkup! With Weekend 1 of Coachella less than two weeks away (don’t worry, the inundation of posts should end then :)), I thought I’d share my essentials, so you can run out for any last minute necessities. While my car camping post linked to a few consummate packing lists, today I’m focused on the must-haves you’ll tote with you inside the festival. I shared a “What’s In My Festival Bag” last year, but changed it up a little this year to accommodate a few more newly discovered Chella hacks.

First, you’ll need the perfect crossbody bag. Mine is on its last legs and could probably be traded in for something more overtly bohemian, but I can’t bear to part with it. My grandma bought it for me in Italy, but it looks like you can buy some on eBay.  It is the perfect size and has so many pockets to keep all my little knick knacks organized. I’ll also pack a small wallet with just the bare necessities – ID, credit card, insurance cards and some cash – leave the gift cards at home in case you lose this. Last, but not least, make sure your wristband is on and activated! No use in packing the best day pack ever if you can’t even enter the fest.

More bag options:

Did I mention that it gets hot at Coachella? You will be spending hours in the heat of the afternoon sun in Palm Springs smack dab in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. Sunscreen and sunglasses are a must. On-trend reflective glasses will protect AND look great in photos. I may not wear them, but I”ll also pack ear plugs just in case the Guns n Roses set is too loud to take in unfiltered. I’ll also stash a bandana for those notorious nighttime sandstorms.

A technicolor dream-widget of sunglasses!

As I mention here, Coachella sun combined with too much tequila can sometimes lead to dehydration induced breakdowns. Don’t let your concert fun get ruined, so pack a few things to keep you refreshed and energized. I’ve learned my lesson and now always have Advil or Aleve in my bag. Visine and cough drops are great for freshening up after frolicking in the dust all day, and Aquaphor is a savior if your lips get sunburned.  Little luxuries like a hair tie and hand cream will keep you feeling good in the ultra hot and drying sun.  Similarly, lipstick is totally unnecessary, but I love this nude (Thalia) by Nyx to spruce up my otherwise natural makeup. Wet Wipes will be your Coachella secret weapon – perfect for wiping off a layer of dust, cleaning up Spicy Pie stains or in a pinch if you can’t find a sink to wash your hands.

While not required, a watch will come in handy if your phone dies and you still need to keep an eye on time to make all of your sets. Don’t wear something too expensive, as it WILL get dirty. While we’re talking phones, pack a portable charger, so yours doesn’t die mid Snapchat of the Cold War Kids set. If your phone does die, it’s nice to have a separate camera on hand, so you’re still able to document the best (aka most photogenic) weekend ever. Instax polaroids make nice keepsakes when your back to reality and in full withdrawal mode.

Thanks for stopping by, and let me know if there are any other must-haves that I should pack in my last minute planning/shopping spree!


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