You’re anxiously counting the days until you depart and you are finally ready to start packing your things. But what should you pack for study abroad? Pretty much no one knows what they will need to they leave, so don’t worry! I put together this Study Abroad Packing List of everything you need when you go on a study abroad.
Packing for Study Abroad
You’re going abroad! You’ve got your flights, your apartment is picked out, but there is still so much to keep in mind just before you leave. And, there are a lot of questions in your head before you go abroad. You might be wondering if you need to take some extra language classes or purchase an extra travel insurance before you go. You could be looking for a way to get some extra scholarships to be able to afford your trip. Some other common questions could be:
What to pack in your suitcase should be one of the last problems on your mind. So, use the list below and check off all of the things you will need on your trip! But, don’t bring everything on this list – I’ll explain a little more about that later. Use some of my tips below about effective packing and with this list in front of you, you won’t forget something you really wanted to bring!
How to Pack for Study Abroad
Trying to stuff your whole life into one or two suitcases is hard, especially if you have never been to that country before.
Packing for a semester or even a year abroad is different from packing for a vacation. You aren’t going to be away for just a week or two. You will be settling in and getting to know your new temporary home for several months. That means, you will need things for your bedroom, for your studies, bathroom and so much more… Packing all of that might be a little unnecessary since you will need that space for more essential things. Read on and see how packing for a semester or a year abroad is different from packing for a vacation!
How Much Luggage Should You Bring to Study Abroad?
Every airline has different baggage requirements, be sure to check before you go. But, even if your airline allows two checked bags and a carry-on, I recommend only taking one checked bag. Is it even possible? Absolutely! I’ve done it.
You will probably accumulate a few things in your new destination and will want to bring some of those souvenirs back. I’ve always bought some local clothing when I studied abroad. Then, when you come home and use a purse or a shirt you bought abroad, it brings you happy memories from that unforgettable experience!
Usually, there is enough memories to fill up another suitcase, so remember, bring just one suitcase on the way there. That means you will be bringing two on the way back!
Study Abroad Packing List – Clothing
Think About the Climate
Before you start, think about the typical weather in your destination. If you are going over the summer, you’re in luck! You won’t need to strategize too much. But if you are moving to a colder climate, you should consider wearing a heavier jacket than you normally would to free up that space in the suitcase.
Consider Your Destination
Of course, there will not be one guide fits all! Consider where you will be going and decide on what clothing you will be taking. If you are going to a more rural areas, you might not want to bring a lot high heels and be more conservative with what you bring. In some areas you might not have access to go shopping at all times. Then, you will need to bring as many shirts and pants as you can to always stay comfortable.
Clothing Packing List
- 5 Casual Shirts
- 2 Dressy Shirts
- 3 Pairs of Pants
- 2 Dresses
- 3 Skirts
- 1 Warm Sweater
- 12 Pairs of Underwear
- 12 Pairs of Socks
- 1 Bathing suit
- Set of Travel Clothes
- House Clothes/Pajamas
- Comfortable Waterproof shoes for walking
- 1 Pair of Dressy Shoes
- Flip flops / use as house shoes
- Workout clothes and shoes
- Jacket (depending on destination and season)
That’s not a lot! But I promise, you really don’t need more! If you avoid anything from this list, do it! Most likely you will want to buy some clothes when you are travelling!
Study Abroad Packing List – Toiletries
- Small shampoo
- Small conditioner
- Travel-size body wash (there is no need packing enough body wash for several months. You will most likely run out anyway and it doesn’t cost a lot if you buy it as soon as you arrive)
- Everyday Cosmetics You Use
- Lotions for Your Daily Skin Routine
- Toothbrush, toothpaste and floss
- Feminine products
Don’t forget to get enough of your prescription medicine and first aid medicine for the whole time of your study abroad. It’s hard to predict if you get sick and it’s better be safe than sorry! Going to a doctor abroad could be expensive, depending on the country and I don’t recommend taking over-the-counter medications you are not familiar with.
Pack medications for headaches, upset stomach (very common if you are not used to the food) and other common problems that might come up while you are travelling.
Packing for Study Abroad – Electronics
Don’t over-pack on electronics, but bring everything necessary for studies and making memories!
- Cell Phone and Charger
- Laptop, Charger, Laptop Case
- Power Adapters( A Find of the Year! This power strip will protect your electronics as well as let you charge several things at once!!)
- Small Camera (Your phone can do a pretty good job on most of the pictures, but if you are looking for something of better quality and inexpensive, be sure to grab one to take all of the memories with you!)
- Portable Solar Charger – I’ve had this on most of my recent trips and it’s a life-saver. Instead of using re-chargeable power sticks, this one will charge itself from the sun and it’s lightweight and always on you!
Study Abroad Packing List – Extras
- Purse/ wallet
- Passport, visa, itinerary, plane tickets,
- ISIC card – a great student card to get to save money at most museums and tourist attractions! Check in with your study abroad office on how to get one!
- Take about $300 in local currency in case you need it for taxis and last minute expenses
- Backpack (for daily use and a carry-on)
- Travel water bottle – easy to pack, light-weight, inexpensive and durable – way to save the environment even when you’re travelling.
- Souvenirs from home for your host family or new friends.
Fun tip: I loved sharing something small with friends abroad when I talk about my country. Sometimes, I have small coins of currency on me and I give it to friends as a memory. Coins don’t cost or weigh much, but can be kept as a souvenir in your wallet or purse.
Extra Tips to Help You Pack for Your Study Abroad:
- Print and use the list below to mark off everything you packed.
- Get a luggage scale, and you will never have to pay for overweight luggage ever again!
- You can use these packing cubes for easy organization in your suitcase and they are very cute and durable!
- Toiletry bag, it’s affordable and compact. A great way to organize your toiletries and to be able to just pick it up and take to your next destination!
What Not to Pack When You Go to Study Abroad
You don’t need to literally try and put your entire life into suitcase. Yes, you should take a few things with you that will remind you of home, but try not to stuff everything to where you won’t have the space for necessary things. I usually exchange small cute items with my friends and family as a going away gift. That way I can wear it and feel closer to home.
Flat irons and blow dryers will most likely fry when you use them abroad. Many times I have had small electronics break even when I was using a converter. Laptops and cellphones are generally fine, but many other electronics were broken on my trips abroad.
Bulky or Uncomfortable Clothing
When you travel, you will automatically go for the things you are most comfortable in. That’s why if you take uncomfortable high heel shoes or pants, you will probably not wear them even though they look cute! Just go for tried and true and then you can buy new things when you travel.
All of these tips for packing and traveling came from my personal experience of many travel mistakes and misadventures. Check out more advice on what NOT to do when you are traveling abroad!
What do you always have to have when you study abroad? Tell me in the comments below!
Download a Printable Study Abroad Packing List here – print and mark off everything you packed!