Categories: Study Abroad

15 Items You Need To Pack For Studying Abroad

If you’re studying abroad in the near future, you’re probably beginning to feel overwhelmed when it comes to packing. There are many lists online telling you what to pack (or not to pack) but it really depends on where you plan on going and how long you plan on staying. So I have compiled a list of all the essential items that practically anyone studying abroad should follow! 

1) Underwear

Okay, this one might seem like a given, but it is honestly one of the most important and precious items to pack when you are studying abroad. When you are studying abroad, there is always constant activity and new experiences to do, and usually, doing laundry is not one of those life-changing experiences. Whether you are located in one stagnant city or traveling often, access to laundry tends to be scarce, difficult, and time-consuming. Granted, you will definitely have to do your laundry eventually but it’s just best to pack a ton of underwear! This is so important, ya’ll. 

2) Day Trip Bag

This one often gets forgotten and leaves people totally screwed over. Part of the fun of studying abroad is that you are usually given time to plan your own traveling adventures! This means a lot of day trips and weekend trips. The bigger suitcases are great to keep at your main destination, but having a small duffle bag or backpack seriously saves your life for trips. You can usually make this a carry-on bag or pack it in the big suitcase. It makes your travel a lot lighter and less expensive! 

3) Walking Shoes

Having the right shoes while studying abroad is important but you can only really pack a few pairs. Make sure that one of those pairs is a comfortable walking shoe! There are a lot of cute shoes out there, but you must make sure that you have a comfortable pair that fits you right. Chances are, you’ll be walking a lot more than you normally do when you’re not studying abroad. This tip will seriously save your feet! 

4) Language Cheat Sheet

If you are traveling to a country that speaks a language that you are not as familiar with speaking, create a language cheat sheet of basic communication words and phrases before you start studying abroad. When you are studying abroad, more often than not you will be in a culture that is different from the one you’ve grown up in. It is your duty to educate yourself about the culture that you will be entering before you arrive so that you can humble yourself and fully appreciate the places you go to. One way to do this is by trying your absolute best to communicate with the locals in their native language. This is seen as both respectful and kind.

5) Quality Socks

This one is BIG. Find socks that are comfortable, quality, and long-lasting because chances are you will have to re-wear them over and over again. One tip when you’re looking for good socks is making sure that they are non-cotton and made from merino wool. This material allows your feet to breathe while you’re walking and prevents your feet from smelling!


6) Adapter Plug

One of the many things you need to look up before your head off on your trip abroad is which countries use which plugs. Yes, in different countries there are different types of wall plugs and some of them can potentially fry your phone. Do your research and you can find a quality adapter on amazon!

7) Rain Gear

You need to plan for any type of weather! One essential item to pack is a rain jacket and wellies. You definitely don’t want to spend your day avoiding the rain indoors. Many adventure company raincoats can be folded and rolled so that it doesn’t take up too much space in your bag. You really can’t go without one!

8) Respectful Nice Outfit

Other countries and cultures may not have the same cultural dress code as the culture that you grew up in. Be sensitive to the normal dress code in the city that you are studying abroad in. Usually, your normal outfits will be fine, but it is helpful to have one outfit packed in your bag specifically meant for if you visit a city, museum, or important place with a stricter dress code. We are serious that buildings have no problem turning you away at the door because of an outfit! Be aware! Be respectful to the culture!

9) Journal

Whether you’re an avid writer or haven’t handwritten something in years, you must take a journal with you as you study abroad. When you return, this quickly becomes one of your favorite possessions of memory and it is a great tool for self-reflection.  

10) Camera

Phone cameras, GoPro cameras, or a nice handheld camera should be essential to your packing list. While we bet you look like a stunner as you explore new cities and cultures, also be sure to capture pictures beyond just pictures of you and your friends. You will cherish these pictures and you can capture places through your own lens. How do you view this city? How do you view this culture? What captures your attention? 

See Also


11) Watch

Having a watch is extremely helpful in becoming acclimated to the time-changes abroad. Also, knowing where you need to be and when you need to be there is really important. When there is a time zone change, change your watch right away. As you look at it throughout the day, this helps with orientating yourself to the time change. 

12) Planned Clothing

While your wardrobe is limited to a suitcase, you need to be very aware of the clothes you are packing. We suggest laying out your outfits to see if you can mix and match all of them. The more combinations you can make from your clothing, the better off you are in the long run! We suggest adding a lot of neutral colors to mix and match! This is a BIG wardrobe hack when studying abroad. 


13) Wallet

Paying in cash is usually the way to go when you are dealing with different currencies. It is cheaper and easier! Have a wallet with you always that has your cash and coins in so that you are able to pay anywhere. 

14) Stamps

You usually can’t pack this item until you arrive in the country that you are studying abroad in, but they are so important! Having a few stamps on you while you travel is so helpful for sending letters and postcards back home. 

15) Weather Essentials

This one is simple: dress for the weather! Look up the places you will be visiting and the average weather of that season. If it’s chilly, a coat is so important. If it snows, pack a hat and gloves. If it rains often, make sure your clothes are rain-friendly!

We hope that this is a helpful start for your studying abroad packing list! Are there other essential items that you recommend packing? Let us know in the comments below! Happy travels!

Featured image source: http://generalizedloveliness.blogspot.com/2017/12/italy-travel-diary.html
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Julia Bergquist

Julia grew up in a town just outside of Chicago. She currently lives in Memphis, Tennessee where she is a junior Creative Writing and Literature major at Rhodes College. Julia prefers to spend her days outside writing stories for others to find joy in. Other than story-telling, you will find Julia running on her college track and field team and traveling the world.

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