Traveling tips and Day 0 in Dortmund :)

I wanted to wait a bit before posting tips on how to efficiently pack, and it’s proven to be quite useful, as now I can also share what happened at check-in and security.

It’s quite hard to fit most of your life in only 30kg, but so far I think I packed all the essentials I’ll need for 4 months.  I’m not going to make a list of everything I packed, because I am sure no 2 people pack the same stuff, but I will try to give some tips.

  1. Don’t try to fit your entire wardrobe in one bag! From experience, you’ll end up using only half of those clothes, and that would be a waste of space. Try and remember which of those you wore in the last week, 2 weeks, etc. Anything that’s been there and you haven’t worn in over a month, you can easily live without.  The exceptions will be, of course, summer or winter clothes (depending on the current season).

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  1. Check the weather! The best thing you could do is pack layers – so that you’re safe in either weather scenario.
  2. Don’t pack all your shoes – try to have only one pair of boots (if it’s cold), one pair of sneakers,  one or 2 of warm weather shoes, heels (I opted out, though) and some flip-flops.
  3. The best way to fit your clothes inside a suitcase is to roll ‘em up. You’ll end up saving loads of space, and when you unpack they’ll be wrinkle-free 🙂
  4. When it comes to toiletries, if you have any big shampoo or shower gel bottles and you don’t want to give them up, just buy some small 100ml recipients and fill some up, it will definitely save space. Also, remember you can buy stuff once you get there, so only pack the things you know you won’t find at your destination or some that will be quite expensive to buy again.
  5. 2 towels should be enough – you can pack those on top of everything you’ve put in the big suitcase, as they sort of hold everything together.
  6. Remember to pack a pillow cover, if, like me, you don’t fancy sleeping on one that’s been used before.
  7. Make a checklist with all the can’t-travel-without objects, like passport, train/plane tickets, money, cards, phone and chargers, etc. Once you pack those, you can relax knowing that if you forget something else at home, you’ll probably still be able to live and travel w/o.
  8. It’s probably a good idea to pack some photos of your loved ones – white painted dorm walls tend to look depressing w/o something on them, innit? Pack some blue-tack for this, also.
    *If you live in the UK, remember to google “free photo prints” and you’ll usually find websites like photobox, truprint,etc. that offer ~50 free photo prints and you’ll only have to pay 1 or 2 quid for delivery.  

It was all fine and dandy for me until I decided to pack my lovely electric grill that I thought I couldn’t live without, and a really heavy espresso jar.  Up until that moment, my suitcases were ok weight-wise, meaning the big one was around 23kg and the one I’d keep as a hand luggage was around 8. After I packed those last 2 items, though, my carry-on was weighing  nearly 11kg (3kg on top of the limit) and everything inside was really crammed. I decided to leave it like that and think of a way I could avoid paying fees at the airport.

Now, what I usually do is I leave my hand-luggage with the person that’s dropping me off at the airport or with the one I’m traveling with, until I go to the check in desk and drop off my checked luggage. This time, seeing that I was traveling alone, I had to find a way of hiding my hand luggage.  I was flying with Lufthansa, and I know they usually don’t weigh your hand luggage, but I just wanted to be on the safe side. So what I did was go on Couchsurfing and did a search on locals in Manchester. I came across a really nice guy that looked quite trustworthy and told him about my little problem, and he agreed on meeting me at the airport and taking care of my luggage for a couple of minutes, while I checked in.  We had a really nice talk when he arrived and I was, once again, impressed of how a total stranger would  waste his time helping others, just for the sake of doing a good deed. I found out he was a musician and was heading off to Paris in a couple of weeks to play his music. And if you’re reading this, I truly wish you the best of times on your trip!

Moving on, I got to Security. I passed through and was waiting for my luggage on the other side. I see it go down the other lane and I immediately realize I forgot to take out my liquid bag. A nice lady asks me if that’s my bag and if I could open it, and takes out the liquid bag, puts in on top of my luggage and sends it through X-rays again.  It should’ve come out the right lane this time, but oooh, snap. It’s on the wrong lane again. Another lady opens my suitcase again and starts taking out EVERY little thing I had inside and check it. At that moment I was going mental thinking I would never be able to organize everything again. She took her time, about 20mins or so, put my bag through X-rays again and this time it was alright. What she told me is that, apparently, my things were too crammed and they couldn’t see very well through X-rays what was inside. Piece of advice, keep it light if you don’t want to spend another half an hour at security rearranging your stuff and realizing they won’t fit in the suitcase again unless you sit on it.

From here on out, it was finally time to relax. If you ever fly of Manchester Airport, be sure to look for the smoking area, it’s absolutely lovely. It’s nowhere near as fancy as the ones in Germany, it doesn’t even have the usual glass walls. But it’s like you’re on a NY rooftop, it has that special vibe.


The flight itself was alright. Again, if you’re flying with Lufthansa, try ordering a beer, they’ll give you Warsteiner, which is absolutely delicious.  The wine, on the other hand, it’s really dry, so keep that in mind.

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Once I landed on Dusseldorf Int. , it was quite easy figuring out where the train stop was. To go to Dortmund University, you have to take a Sky train to the airport train station and then the S1 which will take you straight to the university. There are ticket machines before and after the Skytrain, and you’ll have to take a Single ticket to Dortmund (it doesn’t specify the station), which will cost around 12,50 euros.  The journey itself takes about 1hour and 10 minutes. Once I got the University, I got picked up by Steffi, the Erasmus coordinator who handles students from Leeds. She took me to my dorm and gave me the keys to my room – rants about that you’ll find in the next post 🙂

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