In the weeks leading up to the start of your program, it’s normal to search for a study abroad packing list on Pinterest (I know you’ve all looked one up before), but they typically don’t focus on the little things that will, metaphorically, save your life while you’re overseas. Granted, some of those lists are dependent on the area of the world where you’ll be studying in, but most are transferrable to different locations.
Here are a few commonly overlooked things that I recommend adding to your study abroad packing list:
1. Que Water Bottle
This water bottle is made out of silicone and is easily compressible. Because of this, you can fill it up for class and when you’re finished you can either refill it or fold it up and stick it in your purse or bookbag. That beats paying €2 for a glass of water at dinner. At that point, just buy anything other than water!
I’m not going to get into the difference between an adapter and converter (we’d be here all day). Just know that your laptop and cell phone should be fine with only an adapter. An adapter changes the prongs on your plug into a shape that will fit the outlet of your host country, because different countries have different types of outlets There are some adapters that can be used in multiple countries and are good if you plan on traveling around. I also bought a cheap, simple adapter for €3 that is perfect for plugging in my phone!
3. Your Favorite American Products
This is kind of optional, but if there’s something you think you can’t live without while studying abroad, just bring it from home. For example, I only eat my salad with ranch, but guess what?! Ranch isn’t a thing anywhere else! So, I was out of luck and stuck with oil, salt, pepper, and vinegar… what do I do with that? I also brought packs of mini M&Ms because those are my absolute weakness. Additionally, I brought a 1 liter bottle of shampoo and a 1 liter bottle of conditioner. It was a little heavy in my suitcase, but it lasted me the entire semester!
Let’s be honest, this is the last thing you’re thinking about when you’re packing for a trip abroad. Many of my friends regretted not bringing their planners because they were not as readily available in Barcelona, where I studied abroad. I thought to buy a $3 agenda/planner at TJ Maxx before I left and it served me well while planning trips and keeping all my assignments in order.
Side note: you can also pack a few of your favorite colorful pens too!
5. A Keepsake from Home
It may take a little extra space in your suitcase, but it is so worth it! Bring along something of sentimental value to wear or decorate your room with. I brought a framed picture of my boyfriend and I, my favorite stuffed animal, and a photo strip of me and my little brother. These things are fairly lightweight, but they gave my room some character. I loved looking at them (and cuddling my stuffed dog) whenever I missed home. Studying abroad is a huge change, and you’ll want to keep some familiar things (no matter how small).