The Ultimate Study Abroad Packing List

Posted by on in Study Abroad

If you are off to study abroad, you are about to embark on an amazing, educational adventure. Before you head to the airport, you'll need to do some serious planning and preparation. This is a big trip to a foreign country, and to avoid overspending while away, you should be sure to pack everything you need.

The Basics

To start, you'll need the basics: clothes, toiletries for a couple of weeks, and of course your passport. Here is a quick hit list to make sure you don't miss anything:

  • Money
  • Passport and/or Visa
  • Driver's License and/or Photo ID
  • Prescription Medications
  • Glasses and/or contacts
  • Toiletries
  • Shirts
  • Pants/Shorts
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Shoes
  • Sweater
  • Jacket (light and water resistant)
  • Sleepwear
  • Swimsuit (be aware of cultural restrictions)
  • Belts
  • Hats
  • Slippers (don't underestimate the value of a good pair of slippers in a shared apartment or dorm abroad)
  • Shower flip flops
  • Sheets, blankets, and other bedding

When you are packing, remember not to over pack. You will have the ability (and need) to do laundry abroad.

Also, make sure the shoes you pack are comfortable. Expect to do a lot of walking, some hiking, and your regular walking around campus. Good shoes are worth their weight in gold while studying abroad.

Toiletry Tips

Take a look at where you'll be staying on Google Maps to get an idea of what stores are nearby. If you will be near a supermarket, you can pick up things like toothpaste, shampoo, floss, laundry detergent, and anything else you need.

Waiting to purchase these items can also speed up the security process at the airport, since you won't have any liquids to be checked against the legal allotments.

study abroad packing list

Each country is a little different, though, so if you are hooked on a specific brand, you may need to bring that along with you.

Pack Culturally-Appropriate Clothing

As study abroad site Go Overseas suggests, remember to pack culturally-appropriate clothing. That goes for both men and women.

You might be going to a country where a t-shirt and shorts works for class every day, but you may be headed somewhere that shorts and skirts are considered offensive.

Be Ready for Weather

Just because you are going to the beach in Mexico does not mean the weather will always be warm and sunny. The same goes with traditionally colder cities. Pack a variety of clothes to be ready for anything the weather may throw at you.

Also, be ready to travel to other parts of your host country or region. It's possible to experience all four seasons while traveling in one section of the world.

study abroad packing list

For example, while studying abroad in Jerusalem, you might encounter 100-degree days in the southern desert, snow in the northern mountains, and a mix of hot and cold weather on a weekend trip to Europe.

Study Abroad Spotlight suggests bringing clothes that work well for layering, as it may not be practical to pack things like heavy winter coats (depending on where you are headed). Also, don't forget your insect repellent and sunscreen.

Travel Electronics

Rick Steves has a great travel packing list you can scour to make sure you don't miss anything. He also reminds you to remember travel electronics like a camera, tablet, flash drive, batteries, headphones, outlet adapters, and power converters.

Follow this guide from The Study Abroad Blog for tips on fitting your life into two suitcases. (Pro tip: don't underestimate your carry on!)

School Items

Remember that the first word in study abroad is study. Bring any schools supplies you need that you will not be able to pick up at the campus bookstore or a corner market.

You should be able to easily find basic supplies like pens, pencils, notebooks, and paper. Don't head out without your laptop and a calculator (if you are taking a class where you may need one).

Prepare for Extra Travel

study abroad packing list

Just because you are going to study in a specific city does not mean you have to stay there your entire visit. You may find yourself hopping on a train, boat, bus, or plane to other nearby cities and countries.

For your travel needs, make sure you have other travel necessities like a small suitcase or backpack, money belt (if you are into those), and maps and guidebooks.

Rick Steves suggests skipping the fanny pack, as they're "magnets for pickpockets."

Emergency Kit

While everyone has plans for a fun and stress-free study abroad experience, things do go wrong from time to time. Here are some quick remedies to typical study abroad problems:

  • Travel first aid kit – band aids, triple antibiotic ointment, pain reliever, etc.
  • Basic sewing kit
  • Photocopies of passport and a couple passport-style photos (can help expedite any necessary replacements)
  • Records of all reservations, documents, and vouchers
  • Extra cash
  • Extra debit card and credit card
  • Study abroad health insurance card

The last item on that list is vital to ensure you are covered in case of an unexpected medical emergency abroad. If your study abroad program or university does not provide local coverage, StudentSecure international student health insurance is designed for students like you.

Not sure you're prepared for the negative aspects of study abroad? Check out these 5 disadvantages - and remedies!

Thoughtful Preparation Leads to an Enjoyable Experience

There is nothing worse than showing up to an airport without a passport, or landing in a new country and reaching for your laptop to find it isn't there. Prepare ahead of time for your departure and your return home to guarantee yourself a once-in-a-lifetime study abroad experience!


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