How to Fit Seven Months of Supplies in 2 (3?) Bags

“What are you doing with all those books anyway?” Ron asked.

“Just trying to decide which ones to take with us,” said Hermione. “When we’re looking for the Horcruxes.”

“Oh, of course,” said Ron, clapping a hand to his forehead. “I forgot we’ll be hunting down Voldemort in a mobile library.”
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

If there’s one thing I normally feel pretty good at, it’s packing. My family went up to Washington and Oregon at least twice a year to visit family, and almost always had a personal vacation too. In my  younger years we used to camp regularly too, so throughout the years I have become quite proficient at the art of stuffing necessary clothing and supplies into bags.

Unfortunately, no manner of packing experience could quite prepare me for this adventure.


The only other time I’ve had to pack for this length of time was in college, and I always had a car to fill rather than a few bags. I also had the knowledge I’d be back by Christmas at the latest, giving me time to grab more winter supplies if need be. This year, I won’t be coming back to the states until May. One of those times I wish I was Hermione and could just shove all my books and clothes into a tiny yet impossibly spacious bag.

Though this is certainly a challenge, I’m still trying to make use of the pieces of knowledge I’ve garnered throughout the years. And I decided I might as well share the few bits of information that I’m using to muddle through this colossal task.

  1. Versatility is everything! My policy with a clothing item is that if it cannot be used in more than one combination, it should be jettisoned. In other words, if I have one dress that cannot go with the shoes I’ve already picked, then it shouldn’t come along. Outfits should be able to be changed up. I love layers and accessories to help create new outfits out of a limited selection. Scarves and cardigans become my best friends because they can create new combos.
  2. It’s important to be prepared! While saving space in  your suitcase can be nice, I also think it’s good to err on the side of needing a different type of clothes. After a Fourth of July in Washington where I decided not to bring pants and nearly froze at the fireworks, I have learned that sometimes it’s good to have a backup for poor weather. Again, layers are your friends. Bring short sleeve shirts, but be sure to bring jackets or sweaters you can put over them. Better to not be miserable if the weather changes suddenly.
  3. But don’t overpack! Easy to get too excited and bring too much of everything. If it’s a short trip, look at how many days you’re going and count out an outfit for each day. If you’re planning on doing laundry, divide the trip into how many times you’ll wash clothes. 3 week vacation- 3 washes, is 7 pairs of clothes… perhaps less if you’re willing to wear something more than once (I usually pack fewer pants knowing they don’t get as dirty and can be worn more than once without too much trouble, but always pack enough underwear). Remember that hotel sinks can be good for quick washes, especially of small and lightweight items like socks and undergarments. img_0645
  4. Leave the entertainment at home. If you’re traveling for pleasure, it’s likely you’ll want to spend most of your time out and about exploring or finding other fun activities. While plane rides or long drives can be dull, don’t get overly excited about bringing books or electronics. Pick one or two things to keep you occupied. If you can afford to leave your laptop for a few days, do so! It will give you a chance to disconnect and enjoy your experience, make your pack lighter, and also be less of a hazard for potential theft or damage. E-books are my best friends on trips as they take very little space but give me something to do while in transit.
  5. Pack light clothes. I have been attached to cozy sweaters and wool coats too, but when it comes to space in your suitcase, taking much lighter and less thick clothes will benefit you. Again, layering makes it easy to stay warm while giving you more options in clothing.
  6. Roll your clothing! For whatever reason I find this seems to save space. It can also keep those nasty creases from appearing in your clothes, so I prefer it for my travels! Also, don’t be afraid to stuff things. I often stick shirts, socks, scarves, or other smaller items into shoes to save space! Every spare inch counts!14424042_10205674620265355_683461408_o
  7. You might be able to buy it there. So as I’ve mentioned, my travels have been largely to Europe and around the States, so if you’re heading to Africa or somewhere that might be a little more impoverished or culturally very different, this might be less possible. However, for those of you headed to Europe or traveling to somewhere in the states, remember that it’s usually not that hard to purchase supplies if you should forget something. This does remove some of the pressure in knowing it won’t be the end of the world. Still, it is nice to save money and can be better to plan ahead.
  8. Bring what can be tossed. So, while a full suitcase can be fine on the way to your destination, it often becomes a burden once you pick up a few things you might want to bring home. My advice for that? Take the older clothing you have that you’re getting ready to part with anyways. Sure, a few nice clothes are good for photos, but if you have a few things you can part with at the end of the journey, it gives you more space in your bag on the way back! (Although I will say I think photos probably make the best souvenirs!).
  9. Pack lists are your friends. I never pack without one. I always need it to organize, remind myself what I need, and to see how much I’m actually taking. I have a suggested one for any who’d like it. It may be overly feminine, but you can tweak it if  you don’t want to wear skirts or makeup etc. There’s room to add your own things and edit as needed. Hope it helps some of you!




First Stop to France: San Francisco?

“Life is a journey, not a destination” -Ralph Waldo Emmerson

So most of you are probably squinting and trying to figure out when San Francisco became a part of France. (Hint, it didn’t).  However, one important thing to know about a long-term trip to France is that it doesn’t begin in the country itself. Rather…it begins by going to the nearest French Consulate to apply for a visa. In my case, that’s San Francisco.

The first time I applied for a visa, I was so anxious about the whole process that I simply flew down to California for about four hours before turning around and flying back home. However, having gone through the process once I decided to make more of an adventure of it the second time around. After all, as long as you have your paperwork all together, the process for applying takes about fifteen minutes (or at least it did for me).

If I have any fellow travelers on their way to France who’d love to know more about the visa process, I’d be happy to put up an individual post, but for now I’d rather focus on some of the fun of getting to travel to this interesting city and explore.


So this post can’t really encompass “best things to see in San Francisco” because I’d already seen most of the major destinations. So if you’re expecting a post about the Golden Gate Bridge, Pier 39, and the Japanese Gardens, this is not the one for you. If on the other hand you’re looking for some more obscure things to see as a seasoned San Fran traveler, check this post out.

One of the first places I went was to the Mission District. I’d hoped to explore there and find a good place for dinner, but due to unforeseen circumstances had to return to my hostel before I could eat. However, if you’re in the Mission District here are two things I checked out and enjoyed.

Old Mission Dolores:

A beautiful old mission (the oldest in San Francisco), with a beautiful basilica attached. The orange stained glass is apparently unique, as the factory that made it was destroyed during the wars in Europe and the recipe lost. The cemetery and gardens are especially lovely and it’s only $5 to get in. Definitely recommended if you’re interested in seeing some of the early history of San Francisco and some beautiful architecture.


Dolores Park:

Though maybe not the cleanest, this park is a great place to go to people watch. It has a great atmosphere that speaks so fully to the interesting and diverse nature of San Francisco. If you’re looking to take a break and save some money, spend a little time sitting in this park just watching the city life!

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Of course, as I mentioned, my time in the mission district was cut short having to head back to my hostel. I managed to walk from Dolores Park, but I’d highly recommend making use of the municipal transport. The cable cars can be expensive, but the bus and metro services are only $2.25 and make it easy to get around.

On transportation I’ll also mention paying a little more for a hotel or hostel to be closer to the center of town can be worth it. Make sure you look into what kind of neighborhood it’s in, but location is important and can be worth a little bit more to save you travel time.

Hostel International San Francisco Downtown

For any young people (or regular hostel travelers) I’d highly recommend this place. I think it might be one of the nicest hostels I’ve ever stayed in, and it was right downtown making it easy to get around! They had friendly staff, good facilities, and a free breakfast (bagels, fruit, and coffee)! If you’re there on certain nights they have free tours and other fun activities. They also made a great recommendation for dinner for me, and were very helpful with navigating public transportation.


Mensho Tokyo

Since I wasn’t in the Mission District anymore, I had to ask my hostel for a recommendation on eating. After thinking for a minute, the man at the desk asked if I was willing to wait. I gladly told him I was.

He told me there was a popular ramen place, a few blocks from my hostel, but that it was extremely popular and I’d likely have to stand in line. I set off to check it out.

I got there and saw a line halfway down the block. It was nearing seven on a Wednesday night, so I was hesitant to wait. However, as I got in line thinking I’d look up other recommendations nearby, a waitress came out asking if there was a party of one. And voila! That was how I got into Mensho Tokyo without waiting at all.

The service was incredibly quick. I hardly had time to glance at the menu before being asked to order, so I asked for their recommendation and decided to go with that. What I ended up having was delicious, though I still am not quite sure what was in it. Regardless, it was an amazing experience and I was so glad I did it! If you have a small party and are willing to wait, Mensho Tokyo is amazing!


After eating I set out to go walk past Union Square and then to China Town, both of which were close by.

Union Square

There was a concert going on when I was there which was very fun! It also is just a great area for shopping and people watching. Another good free tourist place, so long as you don’t get too caught up buying things!


China Town:

This is probably in the more “popular” San Francisco tourist places, but it was close by, and seemed like it’d be fun to just walk around in. It’s definitely a mix of junky tourist shops and very expensive imported furniture and other items, but it is a fun place to explore if you get the chance. I had a British man ask if I was local in his hopes of finding a good restaurant recommendation. I’m afraid I don’t know of any, so make sure you research before heading into the area. It would definitely be easy to go somewhere not as good due to all the tourist traffic!


City Lights Bookstore

For any fellow English nerds or just book lovers, check out this fun bookstore just a little bit outside of China Town. It’s famous for publishing Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg and is just a great store that truly captures the spirit of the city. It’s also open until midnight, making it a great place to end a busy day!


My second day in San Francisco started with my trip to the consulate, before I headed down to the Embarcadero. Again, I’d done the Pier 39 tour, so I decided to try another area on the waterfront and see how I liked that. Here are a few sights I saw!

Ferry Building

This building that once was a stop for the ferries, now houses a public market. The farmers market is open on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday and I just happened to hit it right. It’s a fun place to stroll through and has a great selection of arts and foods!


San Francisco Railway Museum

Donation only so this little museum is a fun and free stop! It’s very small, will only take you fifteen minutes to get through, but it is good to get more historical information about these essential parts of the city. Feel free to check it out if you have a little bit of spare time!



It can be great to just stroll along the water too! Pier 1 has a great exhibit on the history of the waterfront, and again it’s free. So enjoy seeing a little more about this port city, while walking along the bay.


Roli Roti

Though I clearly don’t have many food recommendations, if you’re at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market, be sure to check out Roli Roti. They have delicious rotisserie style chicken and pork sandwiches and it is super delicious! I’m not even a potato person, but their rosemary fingerling potatoes about changed my mind! Just watch out for the seagulls if you decide to eat in the area. One snatched a bite of chicken straight out of my hand!


So that about wraps up my short stay in San Francisco! After my afternoon on the waterfront I had to head back to the airport. However, I had a great time exploring this amazing city, and I would definitely love to go back.It was certainly a great starting adventure.

If you have any other questions or maybe suggestions of things you’ve seen and loved please feel free to let me know.

For now I’m just looking forward to setting off to France after one last stop in America!


Share in my Adventure

“I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.” – Gandalf, The Hobbit

For any who still haven’t heard the news, on September 25th I’m going to be leaving the country to begin a new adventure. I’ll be moving to the town of Armentières, France to help teach English to high school students. Though I don’t know all the details yet, you may feel free to look into the town a little yourself and see where it lies on the map below. I am sure as I learn more about it myself I’ll have much more to share, but for now this is what I know.

While this journey is certainly an exciting one, I am indeed looking for someone to share in my adventure. And while I will extinguish hopes of either sneaking along in my suitcase or getting a free plane ticket, I want readers to understand that this is why I am creating this blog. This is a place where I can hopefully share the details of what happens to me while away, and possibly to continue sharing travel stories in the future as well.


As someone who’s traveled a good bit before, I hope that my stories can not only enlighten those who are curious about where I’m going, but help those who aspire to travel as well.

Sometimes I might post on travel advice. Other times I’ll simply share stories of my journey whether it be daily life in a French town, or further journeys abroad in Europe. But for the moment, I hope friends and family will keep this site in mind as a way to check in with how life is going for me. This next year promises to be an incredible one, and I want to share it with any who are willing to come along on this virtual journey.