As you are frantically rushing to get last minute shopping done, saying goodbyes to friends, putting travel alerts on your credit cards, and making sure you are all set to go, packing may not be the first thing on your mind. Or maybe that’s not you. Maybe you are super focused and concerned about packing and making sure you have absolutely everything you need. That certainly wasn’t me — I started packing two days before I left and finished one day before (with the help of my girlfriend). Now that I have been abroad for 3 months, I have noticed some things that I wish I would have packed, as well as some things that I am really glad I did pack — the things that you may not think of.
So here you are, some helpful study abroad packing tips for things you might be forgetting about.
1. Power Adapters
This may seem really obvious, but so often it gets overlooked. No matter how hard you try, your US plug will not fit into a European outlet, and your laptop and phone battery will never last for months without a charge. Do your research to know which adaptor you need and get it before you go. I personally ordered mine from Amazon, which had much cheaper prices than any store that I went to. Also, if you are going to be traveling to other countries while studying abroad make sure your adapter will work there as well, otherwise you may need to buy one for that country too. Sure you could buy adapters when you get to your study abroad location, but keep two things in mind:
- You may not be familiar with the city or the language right away and it may be difficult to find a place to buy them.
- Your phone might die on the long plane ride and layovers in airports.
2. Water Bottle
Hydration is very important when flying and when studying abroad. For flying, try to hydrate yourself well before your travel date. For your experience abroad, being in a new place strangely enough throws off your body in more ways than just jet lag. I have been drinking water throughout the day, about the same as I do at home, but I have been slightly dehydrated the whole time I’ve been here. If you are worried about losing your favorite water bottle in a foreign country, you can buy one when you get to your location. Also, try to research if you can drink the tap water in the country where you will be studying.
3. Souvenir Space
This is something that I found out I didn’t “pack” enough of. I knew how much space I had in my suitcase and carry-on and decided I may as well fill it up with clothes and books and whatever else I thought I might want. I soon realized, upon getting to the Czech Republic, that I overpacked some things and under-packed others. For example, I packed a few too many shirts. I packed way too many pairs of shorts (I was too hopeful that the Czech Republic would warm up quickly and I would need them). I packed too many books because I thought I would do more reading here than at home. I didn’t pack enough pairs of socks and had to buy a few more pairs. And I didn’t “pack” much of any space to bring back souvenirs and gifts. Luckily for me, my mom will be visiting at the end of my experience abroad, so I can have her take some of the souvenirs back with her, but if you are traveling home alone make sure you have enough space for everything you buy.
4. Carry-On Clothes
This again isn’t something extra to remember to pack, but more a way of packing that may slip your mind. Make sure you pack at least one change of clothes in your carry-on bag so you can have at least one other clean thing to wear in case your luggage gets lost along the way. Hopefully this isn’t an issue, but unfortunately it does happen once in a while, and you don’t probably want to wear the same thing for a few days while they get your luggage to you. Along these same lines, try to pack the things you consider necessities into your carry-on so that you have them right away, just in case.
5. Favorite Snacks
There are two reasons I think it is important to pack a few of your favorite (non-perishable, due to customs regulations) snacks. First, the plane rides and layovers can be long and either: a) the airplane food isn’t enough or straight up isn’t good, b) airport food is really expensive, and c) you may just need a little something extra. Second, when you are adjusting to life in a new country it can be really nice to have a little comfort from home in one of your favorite snacks.
These are all of the really important things that I would suggest you make sure you have packed for your months abroad. While it is likely possible to get most of these things in the country you will be studying in, it will make things easier (and likely cheaper) if you bring them with you from home. With that being said, try not to stress too much about packing. You should be having fun and looking forward to your time abroad, and stressing too much won’t help. Take comfort in the fact that you will be in your new country for a few months, and you’ll figure out where to buy things that you may have forgotten — and that everything will work out. Enjoy studying abroad and happy packing.
This post on study abroad packing tips was contributed by Zachariah Kunz, who is spending his spring semester studying abroad with AIFS in Prague, Czech Republic.