What DO you pack for 1 month in Ukraine, anyway?

I’m currently meandering around Ukraine and Germany in an attempt to explore the lands and cultures where my grandparents came from to honor their past and pass on their heritage! As usual, it’s bound to be an adventure with a fair share of misadventures…

I’ve been met with a lot of enthusiasm and support when I explain to friends and family of the upcoming Motherland Tour and the hunt for learning more about the culture my grandparents came from (thanks, y’all!). Then there’s the occasional “You’re doing what?!”  that I try to let roll off my shoulders but can’t help but wonder for a split second if the whole thing is actually crazy. 

When I started packing for this I finally accepted that I am not a backpacker and I should stop pretending to be. After spending 3 months on the road for work, I got into a groove living out of my small rolling suitcase. It would throw off my packing equilibrium to switch to my awkward toploading-pain-in-the-butt 40L North Face.

“Packing for shoulder season is difficult” — my excuse for overpacking. Also trying to learn from past mistakes here… I figure it’ll be nice to only do laundry once a week instead of twice a week when I went overly minimalistic on past trips!



2 tank tops

2 3/4 length shirts (for autumn)

1 light 3/4 sleeved sweater (for autumn/Orthodox churches)

1 dressy top

1 pair jeans

1 pair leggings

1 black ruffle skirt

2 casual dresses

1 scarf (for covering head in Orthodox churches)


4 pairs of socks

1 bathing suit

rain jacket



Sandals (kinda dressy)


Flip flops (for shower)

Chuck Taylors (that I hastily wore to the airport and am hoping Frankfurt’s banking district won’t judge as I saunter around on my layover)



Canon T3i (with awesome PVC pipe pistol grip that my dad made! Thanks pop!)

0.45mm wide angle lens


Unlocked iPhone 4

HP Mini

Memory cards

1 TB Passport hard drive (I LOVE THIS THING.)




Shampoo, Conditioner (full-sized, too much hair to justify travel sized!)

Face wash

Hair jazz

Sunscreen w/ moisturizer



Wrinkle-release spray


First Aid Kit / Medicine

Bug spray

Allergy medicine

Pepto Bismal / Imodium

Alka Seltzer Cold Medicine




Quick dry towel

Silk sleepsheet

Elastic travel clothesline

Passport / Credit cards


Ukraine travel guide & phrasebook


Grandparents papers

Ancestry Stuff

Copies of paperwork: My grandma’s family tree (in German), my grandparents’ certificate of marriage in Wiesbaden, my grandma’s address in Mainz, instructions for their travel to Mainz-Bremhaven-New York City.

Screencaps from my grandfather’s trip to Ukraine in 1992


All of this packs nicely into my Samsonite rolling suitcase and Pacsafe Slingsafe backpack, plus a small purse. Through a series of trial and error on past trips, plus a lot of research on what others have brought… I think this is the combination that will work for me.

Stay tuned! (and for more real-time updates, check out my facebook page and twitter.)


Author: Laryssa

Laryssa has spent 6+ years working on an assortment of film and television projects. She writes about her experiences to help (and amuse) others. If she's not working, she's either traveling, reading or writing about travel, or planning travel. Follow , Twitter, or Facebook.

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