A lot of students—girls especially (sorry girls!)—tend to think it is necessary to bring everything they own on their study abroad adventure. I can tell you from first-hand experience that it’s not necessary! There is no use showing up to the airport in a foreign country with five suitcases when you only have two hands.
So, here are my top 5 packing tips for all of you adventurers out there!
- Narrow it down. Take everything you plan to bring and spread it out across your bed. Then cut the quantity in half. You will not need more than five pairs of pants and 10 shirts during your time abroad—especially if you take colors that are neutral and can be paired with different colored cardigans/jackets, scarves, etc. When I went abroad, I only took four pairs of pants, 4-5 tank tops/camisoles, 1-2 blouses, two cardigans and one coat. When I got to my study abroad destination, I bought five scarves. This was the perfect amount and I only needed one big suitcase, which still gave me plenty of room for all my toiletries and everything else I wanted to bring.
- Leave your beauty products at home. Do not pack your straightener/hair dryer/electric razor. You will most likely end up burning it out on its first use in another country. The best thing to do, especially if you live in an apartment, is to buy whatever hair/shaving appliances you need when you arrive, split the cost between you and your roommates, and use them communally. I would also recommend bringing travel-sized shampoo, soap, etc., and then replenish your supply once you’re settled in your new destination. That should be enough to hold you over until after orientation.
- Get an adapter for electronics. Invest in an adapter kit, especially if you plan to travel outside of your main destination (which you should) during your semester abroad. These kits typically range from about $10 to $20 but it will save you tons in the long run, and prevent you from constantly replacing new appliances while you’re abroad.
- Swap your computer for a tablet. I would suggest investing in a tablet of some sort to do all your school work. Hear me out! Computers typically weigh anywhere from 7-12 pounds and a tablet weighs less than one pound. You can download tons of apps to create and save documents (Google drive/docs is my favorite!) and buy a keyboard that allows you to take notes in class. Tablets are small and portable and you will be so glad you didn’t lug your computer along—I wish I hadn’t taken mine. I’m sure you’ll use your tablet even more once you get back home, so it will be money well spent!
- Pack efficiently. A really great method for packing your clothes is to either A) roll them or B) buy some vacuum seal bags. You wouldn’t believe how much room you save in your suitcase just by rolling up your clothes super tight! It’s a really great space saver when traveling! The second option is a personal favorite. Vacuum sealing your clothes is brilliant—it keeps your suitcase organized and your clothes look super pressed when you finally pull them out. You can also get essentially the same effect by rolling up the bag to push the air out…no vacuum needed! Either option is great and cheap for students who are on a budget!
Christine Weiler is an Admissions Counselor at CEA Study Abroad, an organization that helps students spend a semester, a summer, or an academic year studying abroad in 12 countries. Where will your learning take you?