It’s not like I didn’t know. Over a year ago, I decided to apply to different programs where I could teach English in France. And truth be told, I didn’t look into many options outside of this dream. And despite COVID, I am heading to France to teach English to little kiddos through TAPIF and am psyched. All that to say, I have been mentally preparing for a year abroad. Yet the packing process is daunting no matter what. Today I’m walking you through how to pack for a year in France.
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First things first on packing
Start early. Period. I am the queen of procrastinating when it comes to packing. Like, how long does it really take? I’ve done this a million times before. If you’re moving abroad for a semester, year or even a summer, this is a different beast. There’s way more ducks to get in a row for travel longer than three months. I started packing three weeks before my departure date, and I even started putting items aside months in advance.
Right after starting early, my next biggest piece of advice on how to pack for a year in France is to set aside a dedicated area. For awhile, I tossed random items onto a chair in our foyer, and with only weeks until departure, I’m using one of our spare bedrooms. Having a special space means I can spread out and get a better idea of what I’m missing and what I already have. Even if it’s a corner of your bedroom, ease your way into packing by setting things aside as they pop in your mind.
The thing about moving abroad for a year is that you need to be prepared for all sorts of weather. I’m moving to southern France, and although nestled right on the Mediterranean Sea, it can still get chilly. Think through different pieces you’ll need in the next year, including ones that remind you of home. For example, French style is more sophisticated than American. And although I won’t be sporting a college sweatshirt or sorority tee, I want to pack a few items that make me feel cozy.
I purchased two XL clear compression bags from Target, which have proved to be a great purchase. These are the bags that you fill with clothes and then vacuum up the air to shrink it up. So basically magic! In retrospect, I probably could’ve gone with a smaller size because the XL bags really are extra large.
- 8 dresses or jumpsuit (I am obsessed with this black jumpsuit from Target.)
- 9 shirts
- 3 jeans (Still not over how cute and slimming these ripped jeans are.)
- 2 cardigans (one lighter, one thicker)
- Athletic gear, including this Athleta skirt
- PJs, including this super soft nightgown from Target
- Undergarments, including this comfy bralette, and socks
- Blanket scarf
- Down winter coat that easily rolls up (I have a Michael Kors down coat similar to this one.)
- Franco Sarto sandals
- Nike sneakers
- Adidas sport sandals
- Sperry boots
- Sam Edelman heeled boots
- Naturalizer sneakers
- Naturalizer leather tote
- Rain jacket
- Two swimsuits, including this slimming suit from Summersalt
I’m planning to buy the bulk of my toiletries once I’m there. Think shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc. This cuts down on space in my suitcase, but packing travel-sized items protects me in case I have a delayed flight — and is what I’ll need for weekend trips!
- Reusable travel-sized bottles from Target
- Kevin Murphy Full Again hair-thickening lotion
- Hair bands
- Feminine care
- Mini first-aid kit
- Hydro-Seal Band-Aids for heel blisters (actual magic)
- Sonia Kashuk makeup bag
- Dip Well manicure kit
Tech and Electronics
- Beats by Dre
- Apple earbuds
- Portable charger
Health and Home
- Prescription medications — talk to your doctor and insurance sooner rather than later
- Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen
- Small canvases made by my friend Annika
- Photos of family and friends
- Work contract
- Visa/passport (duh)
- Birth certificate
Personal and Miscellaneous
- Notebooks, including this Rifle Paper Co. journal
- Children’s books
- Card games
- Mini office kit (scissors, tape, post-its, pencil, pens, etc.)
- Teacher’s planner
- Hard candy and stickers for my kiddos
I hope this post and video helps you navigate how to pack for a year in France. Again, my best pieces of advice are to start early and to use those compression bags. Happy packing!