Two years ago, on September 18th, I left for Spain. 10 days earlier, I started to pack. I used to look on Pinterest for packing tips and whatnot but honestly the best source to get tips for packing is from someone who has been abroad! I wished I would have asked someone who had studied abroad how they packed before they left.
Here are some useful packing tips for your study abroad experience!
1. Take one suitcase!
The biggest regret I have of my trip (although it is very minor) was bringing two suitcases instead of one. One thing that AIFS suggested was to pack lightly and I wish I would have taken that advice way more seriously. So, if you aren’t listening to the advice your program is giving you, please listen to me. You’ll thank me later. Nothing is worse than dragging two heavy suitcases through the cobblestone streets of Europe, and I’m sure it wouldn’t be a pleasant experience on any other continent either.
2. Don’t pack toiletries.
Save room in your suitcase by ditching the shampoo, toothpaste, body wash, etc. and just get all of those items once you get to your destination.
3. Bring good walking shoes.
I don’t suggest filling half your suitcase with shoes but, if you do, make sure you have at least one comfortable pair for walking with you. I did more walking during my study abroad experience than I ever have here in the United States.
4. Research the climate before leaving.
Adhere to this advice especially if you will be living in a climate that is much different from yours at home. In southern Spain, the climate was not much different from mine at home, but I ended up packing more winter clothes than I needed. It was was pretty warm for the first month and a half I was there and I barely had any summer clothes. So, do your research on the weather before you go!
5. Bring a change of clothes in your carry on.
In the odd case that your checked bag does not arrive when you do, bring a change of clothes in your carry on, as well as anything else you consider to be essential.
6. Staying with a host family? Pack a welcome gift.
If you’re living with a host family, bring a small souvenir from home for them. It’s a nice gesture they will really appreciate and it gives you a chance to show off where you come from! I got my host mom an Indiana Christmas ornament. Magnets are also a good idea.
7. Only bring clothes you wear often.
Don’t bring that sweater that you haven’t worn in over a year. If you don’t wear it at home, you won’t wear it abroad.
8. Save room in your suitcase for keepsakes that you get abroad.
I always bought one small souvenir from each place I visited & I was glad I saved room for them.
This post was contributed by Rachel DeMasi, who studied abroad with AIFS in Granada, Spain.