Less than two weeks until France an still so much to do! Not only have I yet to hear back from my school (woooo!), I don’t have a suitcase, or a few other necessary items. I’m clearly so on top of it…just kidding. With an ever growing to-do list, I’ve started gathering things and making even more lists (honestly I love lists, that should be a theme on this blog). One of these lists loosely resembles a packing list, something I made to help me figure out what I really want to bring to France and what should be left at home.
My packing list seems to be about 734 pages which I don’t think is possible to fit in the size and weight constraints given by traditional airlines (some narrowing down is needed…obviously). With some items getting removed from the list and boxed away for me return to the US in 7+ months, there are a few items I’ve discovered are essentials for my stay in France.
- A USB Drive can save your life. Last year, when I realized I didn’t have enough copies before class, I could just plug into a computer, or even the printer/copier, to save time. Or the few times our internet network at the school completely crashed so I would not have been able to access powerpoint view googledocs OR my email. Another bonus was being able to work on new stuff in the teacher’s lounge during breaks and being able to save it to my USB to use on my laptop at my apartment or elsewhere. Even just having extra copies of important papers and documents always easily accessible is so handy. I’m bringing two…
- Realia is an awesome tool to use in the classroom. I think it’s especially helpful for younger kids. My high school students really enjoyed and benefitted from lesson plans where they could see real things. While I didn’t bring much realia last year, I had tonssss of photos saved to me….USB drive (see, life saver!). When we talked about restaurants and American foods I had photos of menus and recipes to pass around and share. This year I’m planning to bring a couple other lightweight things my students may enjoy as well.
- A swimsuit aka something I did not even consider bring with me to France last year. I figured I’m living in north eastern France, so why bother? But then came vacations with thermal baths, and beaches, and the like. Luckily a friend from home visited and brought one of mine for me, because all the ones I checked out in France were not cheap.
- Deodorant & other toiletries are important to consider when packing. I know when packing for a vacation or long trip, the first thing many people tell you to buy when you get there is toiletries. Last year, I did not listen to these people. Now, I am a big proponent of this! shower gel, eh. lotion, eh. But, there are a few things I decided to take with me to France this year. Number one being deodorant. Last year, I didn’t have to buy any weird, useless french rollerball or spray-on deodorant because I had enough of my own. Also makeup, which can be hella expensive in France. I had difficulties matching my skin tone in small town France. Finally, black hair care products. Toward the end of my time in France I discovered a store in the near-ish city that sold these products but were like double the price if not more. While I will eventually buy them, I’m bringing a few things with me to France to get my started.
- A power strip was not in my arsenal last year, and I quickly regretted it. I had one adapter, which is a must-bring to any foreign country with different style outlets, and basically no outlets in my apartment anyways. This year I’m bringing a second adapter and a small power strip. Helps with surge protection but also gives me more places to plug stuff in!
- Turkish towels are an alternative option to microfiber packing towels. Unlike travel towels, they’re huge. They’re still pretty light weight, fold down relatively small, and dry quickly. All the positive aspects you need when you shower at your hostel but need to pack your towel quickly. I found mine at TJ Maxx but there are tons of options on Amazon and Etsy both!
- Gifts for teachers, hosts, and other helpful people is a kind gesture. Last year I gave my teachers post cards from my home city, and small keychains. They were really appreciative of the gesture and my sentiments. They honestly deserved sooo much more being the kind and helpful people they were all last year.
- COPIES of important documents and forms because you never know what could happen. Maybe every French bureaucratic office needs a copy of something and/or something gets ruined or goes missing. Some copies could be kept on the handy dandy USB drive (never ending usefulness), but hard copies are always a great idea. I promise you will need them.
- Other things you think you may miss? Bring them! There are tons of articles with packing tips and flow charts and questions to answer to decide if you should really bring that one item. My opinion? if you really want it, bring it.* Nothing is worse than adjusting to life in a foreign country and really just wanting to lounge around in yoga pants and your fave t-shirt that you left at home because everyone said french people don’t wear those types of things. screw french people haha. Plus, you never know when the cravings for tacos may hit and seasoning packets are so cheap and lightweight to bring with.
*some exclusions may apply to to luggage size constraints and weight limits. Pick and choose carefully.
What are your packing/TAPIF essentials? Am I the only one who feels that taco seasoning packets are must-haves?