Our Italian Adventure: Packing
Updated: Mar 26
VIII. This part is called: How To Pack and How Not To Pack.
PART 8: I thought it might be interesting to share how we pulled off living in Italy for part of the year. I will post some steps we took.
We are in Puglia until the end of September, then back again in the winter.
The topic we will explore: How To Pack and How To Not Pack for a long-term stay in Italy.
Step 1: Recognition: I tend to pack for all the situations that might happen while traveling and behave as if I am going to a desert island where I have to rely solely on what I bring.
Recognizing this tendency has helped me to control it. I want to be prepared to live in Italy for three months at a time, but I don't want to be so overly prepared that I am bringing too much stuff.
So how do we walk this line?
Step 2: Make a list. This step involved creating two Google Docs, one for short-term European stays and another for long-term. For the long-term list, I started about six months before our departure and just wrote down what I use daily and every week: my toiletries, gadgets, clothing per week, etc. Every time I thought of something ("Oh, I forgot my Waterpik!"), I wrote it down on the doc.
Step 3: Needs vs. Wants: As I wrote things down, I created a category of "Wants" and started to put things there that were not so essential. One of these, for me, was brownie mixes with walnuts and a brownie pan. Lol.
Step 4: Zeroing in. My list is ongoing, but once I had most of the things on it that I use on a daily and weekly basis, it was time to zero in on categories:
Clothing: since I only stay in places with a washing machine (short or long-term stays), I would only bring enough clothing for a week. Washing clothing once a week is doable if there is a washer in the house.
Toiletries: We all have our particular shampoos, creams, or whatnot that we are attached to. Do I need to bring enough for months, or could I obtain some of these in Italy? I would need to investigate.
Gadgets: This includes things like a shaver, Waterpik, and blender. Yes, blender, but I put that under "Wants" rather than needs.
Vitamins, medications, etc. Again, could I obtain any of these in Italy rather than bringing months' worth?
Miscellaneous: under this category, I put everything else.
Step 5: Investigation. We wanted to find out what we could obtain in Italy, so we wouldn't have to bring a ton of luggage. So we did two things: we visited the area we live in (near Lecce in Puglia) about six months before moving here. We found the nearest large Mall (centro commerciale) to scout out what we could obtain here, which is about 85% of what we had on our list. Toiletries, t-shirts, clothing, beach supplies, blenders, vitamins...
The second thing we did was create an Amazon account in Italy and, to test the waters, we ordered some supplies (that is how I got my blender). I've noticed that on Amazon/Italy if you order the Italian equivalent of a product, it tends to cost less. In our town, Amazon products are delivered to a tobacco store to pick up.
Step 6: Elimination. Homework done. We had an idea of what we could obtain in Italy, so I went through my list and eliminated many items. I brought enough toiletries for a few days, clothing for a week, and a few small gadgets. Once I did that, I had room for my brownie mixes!
Step 7: The principle. The principle here is that I do not have to pack for any unforeseen event when planning an extended stay in Italy. If I only bring shorts, I can buy pants if the weather turns. If my Waterpik breaks (it did), I can get another one (it arrived in two days).
A little letting go does me good. Letting go of trying to control all possibilities leads to greater peace of mind. It's going to be O.K. I can get what I need during my extended stay in Italy. And, without even realizing it, I am also getting what I want.
Watch for my book coming around the 1st of the year: "Stories from Puglia: Two Californians in Southern Italy."
More next time.