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Packing for Study Abroad

It is nearly impossible to pack everything you want when preparing to study abroad. The trick is to pack what you need and what you can carry!  Here are a few tips that may come in handy while you are deciding what you should pack:

1. Assume you will over-pack

Everyone always over-packs. Take the time to carefully lay out what you are planning to pack and be very selective about what you really need to bring with you. Remember that this is not a permanent move, so stick with the essentials.

2. Clothing

It is important to understand the climate of your host country to know if you will need clothing for cold or hot weather, rain, snow, etc. Although as a student you will have more flexibility in dressing casually, it is a fact that European college students dress more formally that most U.S. students. Thus, you will likely want to bring more than just casual student clothing. At least one "business-dress" outfit is necessary for special occasions.

In an effort to blend-in with locals, most students find they are not comfortable wearing clothing that identifies them as an "American." However, many students do appreciate having a T-shirt with their home school name/logo to take pictures identifying their home school at favorite sites abroad.

3. Important documents

Passports, visa letters and other documents should be carried with you, secure yet readily accessible at Immigration. The same goes for money, credit cards and traveler's checks. Consider purchasing a small travel pack that can be worn underneath your clothing.

4. Medications and Contact Lenses

Take extra prescription medication, such as allergy medicines, asthma inhalers, birth control pills, etc. The amount should last you throughout your stay if possible. Medication sent from the U.S. may not get through Customs. Pharmacies will be able to fill most prescriptions, but getting a new prescription will necessitate a visit to a doctor. If you wear contact lenses, bring an extra set of contacts, cleaning solutions, your written eye prescription and extra glasses.

5. Luggage

You are allowed two suitcases of no more than 70lbs each if you are taking a transatlantic flight to Europe. When you travel within Europe, however, you will be allowed only one checked bag of no more than 44lbs. Make sure that at least one of your suitcases will be suitable for travel within Europe. We recommend a soft-sided bag that will not use up much of your weight allowance. Make sure you put your name and address on a luggage tag and inside your suitcase also, in case the suitcase breaks or is lost during your travels. Never leave your bags unattended!

6. Electronics and Cameras

You will need to have electrical adaptors for your host country, so it is important to know what electrical plugs are appropriate for your host country.  Furthermore, if you will be traveling in several different countries, it is recommended that you purchase a multi-country adaptor set. 

If you have a laptop, please feel free to bring it. It is usually helpful to have a WiFi (wireless internet) card as it can allow you to access internet at cafes, at your host campus (sometimes) or in your apartment (sometimes). Do not bring a desktop computer. 

Most students now bring digital cameras which are suitable for most photographic needs. If your camera requires special batteries, it is best to bring a spare set with you.

Film can be bought in your host country but it is usually less expensive in the United States. Do not put film in checked luggage as it will be destroyed by the new high-powered X-ray machines now being used. Normal speed film should not be damaged by carry-on x-ray machines.

Personal Belongings

Check with your insurance carrier if your personal or parent's homeowner' insurance covers your items abroad. You might need to purchase a "rider" or "personal articles floater" itemizing any high-value items with which you are traveling (i.e. laptops, jewelry, etc.). This extra coverage is inexpensive and should be purchased to cover the replace-ment cost of the item, not just the depreciated value.

It is recommended that you do NOT bring precious articles abroad. Leave valuable jewelry and irreplaceable items at home.