Now that I’m back in the states, I can a bit more accurately suggest what to pack. I will try to avoid the obvious (I’ll assume you won’t forget your camera and passport). I apologize that this is probably going to be a bit haphazard. Kind of like my suitcase overflowing with things to be unpacked and then re-packed…
1.) Mini sewing kit. You’re on a budget. Clothes got a hole? Fix it. Purse tears? Fix it. Tights rip? Fix it.
2.) A strong flashlight. Practical.
3.) A decent backpack.
4.) Tupperware. Don’t waste food.
5.) For the ladies- panty liners are less expensive in the states.
6.) An unlocked cellphone so you can just get a SIM card.
8.) Gifts from home for teachers who help you get started off.
10.) A wallet with built-in coin purse. I found this practical for euros.
11.) Printed copies of the handbooks and important documents.
12.) A USB. You’ll use it at work.
13.) Bandaids to get you started if you’re as clumsy as I am…
If you take a teddy bear, it may get an adoring look from a Portuguese airport security guard who goes through your luggage. Just saying.
Don’t pack full-size shampoo and most body care items. You can get them in France, so don’t waste the weight. Pack things you might not mind leaving behind. Take an old towel and pajamas. Take that ratty sweatshirt, chances are you won’t wear a sweatshirt in public in France anyways. Take your slippers that are beginning to fall apart.You can donate some clothes to l’Armée de Salut before you leave.
The How Much Part
Money- Make sure to convert some euros! How many really depends on you. Will you be an au pair and thus not have to pay for housing? Keep in mind you don’t get paid right away and then your first paycheck won’t be in full. If you use Bank of America, you may get a better rate by withdrawing from a BNP ATM once in France. I’d suggest at least 300 euros au cas où and then that you withdraw as needed from an ATM. Make sure you’ve got money in your home bank account.
Socks and Underwear- I’d suggest about two weeks worth.
Clothes- Depends on the region. I would say it gets cold enough in the Gard region to wear a sweater and merits bringing a winter jacket, but you don’t have to worry about really bundling up. You can wear things more than once without washing. I probably took too many clothes. Oops. Also, you’re going to France. You can buy clothes. Short sleeved shirts: about 11 (too many) Long sleeved: about 10 (including sweaters, too many) Dresses: 4 (I don’t like wearing shorts and it gets hot), none fancy, though I took three belts one of which could dress up a dress. Pants: 4 jeans, 1 corduroy Skirts: 3. Sweatshirt: 1 Pajamas: 2 Tights: a bunch Scarves: 5 (I probably only “needed” three) Purses: 2, 1 big one really small. The big one went kaput and I had to get another Shoes: Sneakers: 1 (they went kaput), Boots: 1 (they went kaput in Bratislava) Flats: 4 (t00 many, but 1 went kaput) Sandals: 2 (one was enough, make sure you can wear them in hostel showers) Jackets: 1 windbreaker, 1 cardigan, I had to buy a winter jacket in France