Packing for a Summer in D.C.

Posted on Thursday, Jun 29, 2017

It is not easy being a college student packing to live in the world’s capital for 10 weeks on a limited budget and space. With strict airline baggage policy and fees, everyone must be strategic on what they plan to take and wear for a long two and a half months. Not only do I have to wear professional dress every day to work, but I also have to pack for the nice summer days when I plan to be a tourist, hit they gym, and want to go to a nice dinner in the city.   

The first thing is to be knowledgeable on your airline’s policy and fees. This should be the first thing you look up. Second question you should ask yourself is: how much money am I will to spend on my baggage? Once you know, you stick to it. For me, my budget was $60. That meant I could take my personal item, carry-on, and check-in two bags that were below 50lbs.

Next, I had to go pack for the main reason I was coming to D.C. I was going to spend more than 40 hours a week at my internship, so packing my professional clothes and making sure they fit was my objective. I took out all my professional clothes, picked out the ones I still wore and felt comfortable wearing for an eight-hour work day. I then went back through all that clothes and separated all the tops, bottoms, and dresses that I knew I could mix and match. I was making space for the rest of the clothes I still need to take. My goal was to mix and match at least 10 outfits, so I could have at least two weeks’ worth of clothes. For footwear, I packed one pair of black loafers (comfy and professional) and one pair of black heels (that match anything!). 

Next, I had to pack for the summer. Can you say you lived in D.C. if you don’t spend time touring around and seeing everything the city has to offer? I wanted to dress comfortably and cool enough for the hot sun. For me, this meant shorts, maybe some jeans, and V-neck shirts. For shoes, I packed one pair of sandals, one pair of loafers, and my Chacos (which I wore on the plane flight since they can be heavy and take up a lot of space). For going out at night, I brought some simple summer dresses that I could wear and mix and match with my shoes.

After work and during the weekends, I am usually at the gym, so I had to pack enough gym clothes to wear for at least a week. It did not take up much space, but I had to make sure I had at least five shirts, four running shorts, four long yoga pants, training shoes, and running shoes.

After having had to pack for many trips in the past, I learned a great lesson, which is, lay out your clothes, pick the things you like, then go back and pick the thinks you like the most from the things you already like. My motto is that if I haven’t worn the clothes in the past month then it is not allowed in my luggage.

So far, my experience has been good. Yes, I re-wear a lot of my stuff for work, but I constantly mix and match to the point that someone would have to keep track of what I am wearing. At the end of the day it is about me getting my work done correctly, efficiently, and on time while sticking to the professional dress code.

I was able to make my budget and pack everything that I needed to. I took me a good four hours of packing, but after that I was ready to take over D.C.!

Anna Martinez
Department of Commerce - U.S. Foreign & Commercial Service
Washington, D.C. | summer 2017