Great news! You’ve been accepted for an amazing study abroad program! You’re excited for the wonderful opportunity that awaits you; until, the big question finally hits you – “what do I pack before studying abroad?”
For many students planning to study abroad, the idea of fitting your whole life into one or two suitcases can be intimidating. Especially if you’ve never packed for anything more than a two-week vacation. Additionally, you have airline weight restrictions to keep in mind (you do not want to be paying excess package fees on a student budget!).
But studying abroad should not be a daunting experience. We believe that studying abroad is a truly invaluable experience for a student. Studying abroad provides students with a unique opportunity to experience different cultures, meet new people and discover new passions.
To ensure you have the most pleasant study abroad experience, we have put together a list of study abroad essentials.
Before packing, make sure you have a quality backpack suitable for travel.
Packing List for Study Abroad – Things to Consider
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When packing before your studying abroad, there are several factors you need to take into consideration. Some of these factors include the weather, the culture and the length of your stay.
Here are some study abroad packing tips.
What type of weather will you be studying abroad in?
It is important to take into account the weather and climate of the country you plan on staying in. We recommend looking up the weather forecast for your respective destination (try using Accuweather). Checking both the day and night time temperatures for the first and last few weeks of your stay will provide you with a rough idea of what you need to pack.
If you’re planning to stay in the Middle East or South-East Asia, it is worth noting that some of these countries can be really hot and humid. Some remain fairly hot year-round. Perhaps packing some lighter clothes with breathable fabrics will help. However, a few of these countries receive heavy rains during monsoon season, so packing a raincoat and suitable footwear is highly advisable!
On the other hand, if you’re traveling to a colder country like Kyrgyzstan, Russia or Canada, you may want to pack in some thermals, warm jackets, beanies and scarfs.
What is the culture like in the country you are planning to study in?
Doing some research on the culture of your host country can go a long way. What’s acceptable in one country may be frowned upon in the next. For example, if you plan on visiting certain countries in the Middle East, it would be best to pack more modestly. Avoid revealing clothing and try to ensure that your top covers your shoulders and naval, and that your pants covers your knees (this applies to both guys and girls).
Similarly, you may want to look up what is required of the various social events that might take place during your stay. For example, in Europe, some special occasions might require you to dress a bit more formally.
One reason for understanding the culture of your host country is to help you blend in. But more importantly, locals are more likely to warm up to you after noticing your efforts to understand and respect their respective cultures.
How long will you be staying abroad?
The length of your stay is most certainly an important factor when deciding what needs to be packed for your study abroad. Some might be packing for a semester abroad, and for some, a full academic year.
If you’re planning to study a semester abroad, you might only experience one season and would not need to worry too much about the weather fluctuating much. For those spending a longer time abroad, you will need to do some research on the types of climate and weather you’ll experience throughout your stay.
Study Abroad Packing Checklist
Once you have taken these factors into consideration, it is time to start packing! Below is a guide covering everything you will need for your study abroad.
Whether you’re a last-minute packer, notorious over-packer or someone who tends to forget things, this list is sure to help!
Study Abroad Checklist – Clothing
The following list can be tweaked to fit your wants, needs and of course – your style. You may not need to take everything on this list but these options should provide you with everything you’ll need.
- Underwear and socks (two weeks’ worth)
- Jeans or trousers (2-3 pairs)
- Shorts (2-3 pairs)
- Casual t-shirts
- Casual tops (long sleeve and short sleeve)
- Formal shirts
- Formal and casual dresses or skirts (for the girls)
- Suit (blazer and pants)
- Hoodies or sweatshirts (2 or 3)
- Leggings or sweatpants (2 pairs)
- Pajamas (2-3 sets)
- Bathing suit
- Scarf, beanie and gloves (for colder places)
- Thermal underwear (for colder places)
- Workout clothes (2 sets)
- Jacket or coat (one warm and one water-resistant)
- Flip flops or sandals (one pair)
- Sneakers, dress shoes, running shoes and footwear suitable for rainy weather
- Hat or cap
It is worth noting that you will most likely have access to a washing machine or laundry service. As such, to reduce the weight of your luggage, you may only need to pack a weeks’ worth of clothing. Packing clothing that can be drip-dried and do not require too much ironing is also helpful!
It also helps to choose clothing that can be easily mixed and matched, as well as layered. We recommend sticking to more neutral, solid colors as these tend to work best in casual, dressy and formal settings. (This does not mean you need to avoid more vibrant clothing altogether!)
Study Abroad Checklist – Toiletries
Toiletries can take up quite a bit of space in your luggage, especially if you were to pack full-sized bottles. We recommend packing smaller travel-sized bottles so that you do not need to purchase shampoo, conditioner or body wash right upon arrival. To ensure you have all the necessary toiletry items, we have provided a list below.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Soap or body wash
- Medication and prescriptions
- Perfume or cologne
- Razor or hair removal cream
- Feminine products
- Tissues or toilet paper
- Wash towel
- Contact lenses and solution
Study Abroad Checklist – Electronics and Stationary
As a student, one of your most useful tools is your laptop. Here is a list of all the necessary electronics and stationery you may want to pack.
- Laptop (and laptop charger)
- Cellphone (and cellphone charger)
- Earphones or headphones (your best friend on a lengthy flight!)
- Flash drive
- Outlet adapter
- Stationary (pen, pencil, calculator, notebook, etc)
Other Study Abroad Essentials
Below are a few additional study abroad necessities that you do not want to forget.
- Visa (if applicable)
- Boarding pass
- Student ID, driver’s license and any other identification documents
- Water bottle (it is important to stay hydrated throughout your travels)
- Backpack (useful for day trips and excursions)
- Lightweight sheets or bed linens
- Gift (for your host family)
- Purse or wallet
- $300 in local currency
Credit card (be sure to notify your bank that you’re traveling abroad. Your credit card may not work in all stores. Consider using a Travelex card)
Packing List for Study Abroad – Final Thoughts
Now you know what to pack when studying abroad. We hope that this list puts your mind more at ease so that you’re ready to take on the journey ahead!
Studying abroad is bound to be an unforgettable experience. It’s an opportunity through which you will learn new things, build new friendships and grow as an individual. Be sure to double-check that you’ve packed everything and most importantly, have fun.
If you’re been wondering what to do on your long weekends, take a road trip with your friends and explore your host country!