Home England What You Should (and Shouldn’t) Pack When Going Abroad

What You Should (and Shouldn’t) Pack When Going Abroad

by Madison Croxson
aifs study abroad student drinking tea in london, england

Well, I’m officially at the beginning of the end, and I’m sad to say my study abroad experience is coming to a close. I have about 10 days left, which means I’ve been here for about five weeks so far. In my time here, I’ve made incredible friends, had unforgettable experiences and done almost everything I had put on my “checklist” to do while I was here. It’s hard to believe that five weeks ago I was sitting on my floor back home in a suburb outside Baltimore surrounded by Ziplock space bags and heaps of clothes and shoes, wondering what the heck I was going to do. I somehow managed to get all of my clothes here, though I was actually one pound over the limit; the kind man let me through (bless Virgin Airlines). Point is, they put those limits in effect partially for compulsive over-packers like myself. Since I’ve been here, I have realized which things I’m glad I brought, which things I probably could have done without, and even a couple things from home I wish I had brought.

So if you’re planning a trip abroad, learn from my mistakes, and follow me in my triumphs to pack in the most effective way.


  • A “mini-emergency” kit (idea credit to my mom), with band-aids, hand sanitizer, hair ties, assorted travel size medicines, chapstick and mini sunscreen. It’s great to be able to throw it in whatever bag I take out for the day, and be prepared for whatever the day might throw at me.
  • A couple smaller purses for going out at night and quick trips so that I don’t have to bring my backpack everywhere.
  • A phone-charging case- they are a bit expensive, but really come in handy for those long days so you can continue to take plenty of pictures, and of course to have in case of emergency.
  • A couple cardigans/lightweight sweaters and jackets. Great for layering and the unpredictable London weather.
  • A towel from home. Every penny counts! Bring an old towel from home in your carry-on, and simply throw it away before coming back home.


  • Seemingly every pair of pants I own. Seriously? What was I thinking? Pants are heavy and took up valuable suitcase space. Especially since all I really wear when I do wear pants is black leggings or jeans. Bring a few (two or three) basics, and save the variety for your tops.
  • Clothes that I don’t wear at home/have never worn before. Again, not sure what the motivation was here, I’m guessing it was another case of me trying to prepare for any possible situation that might arise.


  • A reusable water bottle. Our dorm has water coolers, and I spend quite a bit of money on water bottles each week. It would have been smart to bring a reusable one from home that I could stick in my backpack every day.
  • Nail Polish. While they aren’t super expensive here, every penny counts when you’re a student living abroad! A couple colors would have been nice, since there’s no way I’m spending some of my funds on a manicure here!
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