How to Pack for One Year in One Suitcase

A year in Spain. I look across the room at my closet, and let out a huge sigh. I actually did it and packed for a year, but I’m leaving 90% of my clothes behind.

Four years ago I studied abroad in England for four months. I brought two giant suitcases, a carry on, and a large purse. I also looked like a hot American mess trying to roll down Heathrow airport with it all.

Imagine getting off the plane after an overnight 8 hour journey by yourself, feeling overwhelmed, jet lagged, and exhausted. You have to go to the bathroom and take all of your luggage with you. You then have to sit and wait five hours for the bus that will take you on a four and a half hour bus ride to Plymouth, England. One of your pieces of luggage decides it hates you and continues to fall over every fifteen minutes or so because of the weight imbalance, until you finally decide to just leave it there on the ground and block your aisle. Then the first thing the bus driver says to you as you wait to get on the bus with all of your shit is- “You have a lot of stuff.”

Suffice it to say. Never. Again.

So, keeping all that in mind; what did I say to myself this time? “Twice as long but half as much.” A personal challenge to pack for a year in one large duffel under 70 pounds.

One does not belong. This was a reoccurring issue. Gracie would want to be with me, but no place to lay on the bed. So she would just pick out any spot, shuffle its contents to the side, and proceed to take over. I finally caved and made her a spot.

Here is what I compromised down to (while keeping in mind that shopping in Europe is amazing…) :

Carry On

Inflatable pillow

Eye mask (who knows)




Face wipes

Basic recovery make-up

Slipper socks

Compressed travel blanket

Back up charger/ all chargers



All travel documents


Pair of Birkenstock knock-offs

Pair of high black boots

Pair of low black booties

Pair of sneakers

Pair of flats


1 winter jacket

1 trench

1 rain jacket

2 fall jackets (one blazer, one zip up)

3 sweaters

2 basic dresses

5 long sleeve shirts

7 short sleeve shirts

6 blouses/button ups

4 pairs of pants (one pair silk joggers, two jeans, one black jean)

4 undershirts (2 white, 2 black)

12 socks/12 underwear/4 bras

2 pairs black leggings (1 sport, 1 cotton)

1 pair tights

4 tanks

*fur vest*


3 hats (1 black, 1 straw, 1 winter beanie)

Pair of gloves


Scarves (apparently a go-to staple in Europe)

2 cross body bags

1 large bag

1 folding shopping bag


High fives all around, guys. Departure from America tomorrow. The countdown on my phone has officially changed over to hours instead of days.