Ready? Set? Start Packing!


Based on my own travel experiences and those of my students during their study abroad, I’ve put together this list for Summer 2018 students who are studying abroad in Florence.


  • Keep in mind that you’ll have access to a washing machine but not a dryer; the overwhelming majority of Italians hang their laundry to dry at their open windows. Pack clothing that doesn’t take a long time to dry.
  • Here are recommendations:
    • Two weeks’ worth of underwear
    • Light, wicking socks
    • No more than four tops made from light fabric
    • No more than four t-shirts, but try to avoid the “I’m an American!” announcement of brand names plastered across the front.
    • No more than five khakis, light pants, longish shorts, skirts, dresses, or rompers that are not denim. Note: on days when we visit churches (pretty common!), please observe their preferences of no shorts, mini-skirts, or sleeveless tops; a scarf around your bare shoulders will suffice.
    • Sleepwear (please no al fresco in the shared space!)
    • Swimsuit (if you want to get into the water when we visit the coast)
    • One outfit suitable for higher-end restaurants
    • 2-3 pairs of slip-on shoes or sandals
      If you have room in your luggage, you can always buy shoes in Florence and be the envy of your American friends.
      • Flip-flops and sneakers scream “I’m an American!” and are considered gauche in Italy unless you’re going to the beach or the gym.
      • Because of the cobblestone, heels should be left at home because the shoes or your ankles will break.

        Italy heels
        Her shoes might have been cute once, but after some wear in Florence, the heels are ruined.


Upon our sleep-deprived arrival at the airport, the chauffeur and Antonio Vanni carry our luggage to the van
  • On the plane, you can carry on one bag plus one smaller bag, like a large purse or computer bag. Stuff both of them full.
  • Less is more! Save yourself a lot of time and potential headaches by packing everything into a carry-on bag, such as a hiking pack that will fit into the plane’s overhead bins. I fit a month’s worth of stuff into an Osprey Porter 65 Travel Backpack.
  • Roll your clothes for least amount of space in your bag.
  • Use packing cubes! They help you stay organized and keep your bag from shifting as much.
  • Pack socks and underwear last to fill in gaps around your other things.


  • Strictly observe the rules of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for liquids to save enormous headaches. See for full details.
    • One quart-sized Ziploc bag containing travel-sized products of no more than 3.4 ounces OR
    • A “TSA approved toiletry bag” that is more durable than a Ziploc bag. These bags are available on Amazon or in some department stores.
  • Pack only the toiletries you will need on the plane in addition to sunscreen and MOSQUITO SPRAY With all other toiletries, you can find the same or similar products at drug stores, grocery stores, or the duty-free shops in the airports (or in the Sephora store, which is on the same street as the AEF).
    A combination cafe, bookstore, news stand, and stationery store in Florence


  • Pack your favorite pads, tampons, and contraceptives. You can purchase these items in Florence, but their composition might be different enough to be uncomfortable or otherwise unpleasant.
  • Ask your pharmacist to print a list of your medications. Bring a month’s supply of your meds with you due to the difficulty of transferring prescriptions internationally.

Other things to bring

  • At least one universal adapter that can charge your devices (here’s one similar to mine)
  • A laptop/notebook computer
  • A camera (if you are taking the Travel Photography class, it has to be one with an adjustable lens)
  • A journal for a handwritten log of your adventures (or wait to purchase a lovely journal from one of Florence’s many handmade paper shops)

    The window of a handmade paper shop near the AEF
  • Euros
  • A chip-enabled debit card with international purchase permission. I’ll be giving a lot more instructions about which ATMs to use while we’re in Firenze.

Things NOT to pack

  • No hair dryers, curling irons, electric shavers, or other devices. They will use too much electricity, blow a breaker in your apartment building, and will probably malfunction to the point of breaking. The AEF will supply things like hair dryers, or you might–gulp!–have to do without something.
  • No American money. Exchange all dollars to euros at AAA before leaving the US or at the official banks in the airport (not at the exchange kiosks!). The exchange rate varies by day, but it’s around 82 cents:1 euro. However, in Florence, most currency exchange places pay fifty cents or less on the dollar.

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