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What to Pack for Study Abroad

What to Pack for Study Abroad

When I was packing to study abroad for a semester, I had a pretty hard time deciding what to pack and what not to. How do I fit three months of clothes into two suitcases and two carry-ons? You don’t. As Teen Vogue says, just pack basics that will be versatile and easy to use. They say to bring your favorite trench coat, solid tee, sundress, and accessories like a cute bag, printed scarf, layer necklace, patterned flats, and a good pair of boots to help you mix and match outfits. While that is a good base to have, you’ll need a little more than that. But most students (like me) will over-pack, and you want to avoid doing that. Here’s a list to help you figure out what you need to pack .


  • Underwear and socks for two weeks. If you’ll be in a cold climate or doing a lot of traveling to cold climates, also bring a pair or two of warmer socks like wool or something to keep feet warm. Thermal underwear is also good.
  • Short-sleeve shirts
  • Long-sleeve shirts
  • Hoodies/sweatshirts (only 2 or 3)
  • Jeans (2-3 pairs)
  • Shorts
  • Skirts
  • A belt
  • Sweaters/cardigans
  • Workout clothes (like 2 pairs or so)
  • Pajamas (2 sets)
  • Coats (At least one warm one and definitely a rain jacket)
  • Cold weather accessories (gloves, hats, scarves). (I forgot to pack these things, and I had to buy all of it, so definitely bring some if you are staying in a cold place or will be traveling)
  • Sandals/Flip flops (flip-flops are good for hostel showers)
  • Rain boots
  • Boots, sneakers, flats

When you are packing clothes, look for items that you can line-dry and that won’t wrinkle easy or rip. In my apartment we had a small little washing machine with no dryer, and I ruined a pretty good amount of my clothing because of that, so be careful with what you bring. You might not want to bring all of your favorite clothes.


  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Feminine products (I brought more than enough for the whole trip, but one month supply should be good)
  • Airport kit of toiletries that can be brought on carry ons. (When you travel abroad, it usually costs a lot of money to check a bag, so you want to have supplies like this so you can just use a carry on wherever you go)
  • Deodorant
  • Soap (body and face)
  • Lotions/Sunscreen
  • Contact solution and extra contacts
  • OTC medicines
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Contraceptives (just in case!)
  • Prescription medications (enough supply for your trip of course)
  • Makeup/perfume
  • Styling products

If there is a brand or a product that you use everyday and really like, I would suggest bringing enough for your whole trip. The country you travel to may not have what you like, so keep this in mind when packing your toiletries. And try to avoid bringing hair dryers and straighteners and just buy one when you’re there. My roommate blew a fuse a couple of times trying to use her hair dryer from home.



  • Passport (single more important thing you will need really, I used it all the time)
  • Other documents (make copies of your passport and insurance card just in case)
  • Local currency ($300 or so)
  • Credit Cards (make sure to let them know you’re going abroad so they don’t think there are fraudulent charges)
  • License (for when you go out. You won’t want to bring your passport just in case you drop it or lose it)
  • Purse/wallet
  • Cellphones (Lots of apps on smartphones for you to use WiFi, and I would suggest also getting a cheap phone and putting minutes on it in case of an emergency)
  • Electronics (laptops, e-readers, mp3 players and iPods) and chargers
  • Adapters and converters (I messed up my laptop battery when I charged it for too long without a converter)
  • Camera and chargers
  • Umbrella
  • Sheets/Pillow cases (the sheets that were on my bed when I arrived were covered in sand and dirt. Really glad I brought my own) (Also good for hostels)
  • Towels
  • Sleeping bag or something like that (also good for hostels, sometimes they charge you for using their sheets, and also sometime the sheets are a little gross)
  • Journal (you can keep a blog, but sometimes it’s easier to just have a journal right on you to remember things you might not remember when you have internet access)
  • Backpack (good carry on)
  • Hangers
  • Travel water bottle and plastic water bottles you can put toiletries in for plane rides
  • School ID (you can get student discounts at a lot of museums and things)

It may seem impossible to pack for study abroad, but it’s really just like packing for another semester at school. If I can fit all my things in two suitcases without going over 50 lbs, then you should be able to (I am a notorious over-packer. I can go away for a weekend and I’ll make sure to have 4 pairs of shorts, jeans, and at least 5 different shirts, plus sweatshirts, dresses, etc.). Don’t pack a shirt that you never wear at home, because you definitely won’t wear it abroad. You don’t need a different shirt for every day. Use some accessories that are small and will easily fit in a carry on to make it look different each time you wear it. You want to make sure you have extra room in your suitcases for when you go shopping for clothes or souvenirs. If you do forget something, there will be places to buy it while you are abroad. The most important thing is to just have fun and enjoy your experience.

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