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Guide to Packing for Study Abroad

What you should (and should not) pack for your study abroad trip.

Mckenzie Nevins

April 13, 2016

Guide to Packing for Study Abroad
Studying abroad can be an enlightening, enriching, and life-changing experience. For some of us, this tantalizing thought may even now be hanging on the horizon. But while visions of far-off places dominate our thoughts and dreams, it’s easy to forget the more practical aspects of leaving the country. So I created this study abroad packing guide to keep you from contracting packing-panic one week before your flight leaves (trust me, I’ve done it)!

What to Bring

Two week’s worth of underwear and socks are normally sufficient. That way you won’t have to do laundry weekly if you’re pressed for time. Research the typical climate of the country you’ll be staying in, but also find out what the current temperatures are in the days leading up to your departure. When I left for Ireland, I was prepared for cool weather and rain, not so much for the record-high temperatures we experienced in early autumn. Some years the weather deviates from the norm. Make sure you’re in the know.
Bring tops that can be easily layered. This is an easier solution when the weather cools down as opposed to bringing tons of bulky sweaters. Depending on where you’re headed, a good-quality rain jacket can also be an invaluable investment. Don’t forget one or two formal outfits. You’ll almost always come across a time when you need to look a bit nicer, and if you’re not prepared (as I wasn’t), things can get difficult rather quickly. Hiking boots are my favorite shoes to wear while traveling around a foreign country, but also consider throwing in a pair of flip flops for hostel showers. Of course, don’t forget shoes to match those formal outfits I just mentioned!
You’ll need an outlet adapter if you’re planning to plug anything in while you’re away. Research what type your destination uses, as they’re different throughout the world. Bring a few plastic bottles for carrying toiletries in your carry-on while traveling. The typical size airlines allow is 100 ml. If you want, you can ditch the rest of your shampoo, deodorant, etc. and buy full-sized bottles once you arrive. Freezer-sized Ziploc bags are perfect for packing large suitcases. Roll your clothes instead of folding them (you’ll be able to fit more this way), put them in the bags, then press all the air out and seal. You’ll be shocked by how much room this saves!

What to Leave Behind

I’d advise you not to load up on mementos from home. You’ll definitely want a few, but too many pictures and favorite stuffed animals will take up space in your heart as well as your suitcase. Studying abroad is an opportunity to open yourself up to new experiences and ideas. If you load yourself down with the old, you won’t have room for the new. Remember to leave room for souvenirs and gifts! Chances are, you’ll never want to forget your time spent away from home. So leave space for all the pieces of your adventure that you’ll want to bring back. I’m so excited for you and the experience you’re about to set off on. What are you waiting for? It’s time to get packing!

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