What To Pack When Traveling Abroad

For me, when it came to studying abroad, one of the biggest concerns and causes of anxiety was packing. I mean, honestly, how could you possibly and successfully pack and prepare for six months of the unknown? From trial and error with my own study abroad experience, I now feel as though I am capable of telling the do’s and don’ts of packing for studying abroad. The following list may have to be adjusted depending on what country you are going to, what the culture is like, and the climate of your destination. Keep in mind I studied in England and traveled through Europe during the spring of 2018.

(Kara Lee)


  • International travel charging adapter! You will not want to go buy one your first night in your new place so shop beforehand at Target, Walmart, or Best Buy. Double check it is made for the country you are living in and works for multiple countries you want to travel to (the UK is different to other European outlets).
  • A carry-on backpack as your personal item (you can stuff your purse inside it), and pack a larger suitcase to check.  
    • Make sure it can be used for traveling on the weekend or shorter trips
  • Mini sizes of your favorite toiletry products to save room (this comes in handy for weekend trips).
  • Cosmetic/toiletry bags for organizing everything including underwear, socks, passport and important documents or tickets, etc.
  • Lots of layers for a change of weather – check the weather before landing.  
    • I lived in England so I purchased a raincoat within my first week of living there.
  • Comfy shoes – Tennis shoes, hiking boots, slip on’s, etc.
  • As the Bucket List family says, “Pack clothes that will look better dirty” aka PACK NEUTRALS.
  • Travel size Febreze or detergent. This will save you when you don’t have access to laundry. Trust me.
  • Clothing items you can wear with more than one outfit
  • Items you would be willing to get rid of. Don’t bring super nice items that may get ruined or stolen. The last thing you want to happen while abroad is to lose sentimental items!
  • Pictures from home – I brought pictures to hang on the wall in my dorm to make it homey right off the bat.
  • Travel towel, if you are planning to travel on the weekends.
  • Neck pillow for the plane ride, it helps make traveling more comfortable.
  • Bring little things that would be hard to find like command strips.

Leave At Home:

  • Straightener, curler, hair dryer, etc. – most of the time they will not work in Europe (even with converters) and could potentially be dangerous if you try.
  • Clothes you don’t normally wear in your hometown. If you don’t wear it now, you won’t want to wear it in a different country when you are already a little uncomfortable.
  • Heels or nice shoes.
  • Do not buy or pack items that you will only use or wear for one occasion.  
    • For example, I was in Dublin, Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day so I bought an Ireland crew neck that I would wear more than just for the holiday.

Other Tips:

  • Don’t forget anything; make a list before you start packing of everything you’ll need or want to bring.
  • Leave room in your luggage for souvenirs to bring back home after shopping!
  • Pack less than you think you need to.
  • Don’t overthink it.
  • You will never end up wearing everything anyway and if you travel with friends you can share clothes! (life hack).
Mattea Nybo

Lifestyle Contributor

Mattea is a twenty-year-old Communications student that was born and raised in the Midwest. She is an avid hot yogi, finds joy in bringing people together, and attends concerts frequently. She will be studying in Liverpool, England in the spring and hopes to use her writing as an outlet to inspire others.

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