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