Packing for a study abroad trip is very exciting but sometimes a little overwhelming. Not sure exactly what you’re going to need? Here are some awesome study abroad preparation tips from fellow travelers:
A Quick Overview
Making a complete packing rulebook is virtually impossible since no two travelers or trips are exactly alike. For example, if you are going to be visiting during winter in Europe, you’d definitely want to pack some thermal underwear.
Your personality also plays a part:
- Packing preferences: If you like to travel light, focus on taking layers you can mix and match.
- Personal fashion needs: Electrical output isn’t always compatible with blow dryers and hair straighteners, but if they’re essential for your beauty routine, pack one anyway.
Certain items make life much easier for first-time and veteran travelers alike. Here are 15 things to buy before studying abroad:
1. Portable Charger
These USB-enabled bad boys hold a charge or two for your phone, which can save your social life during the first hours or days abroad. It’s a good idea to investigate your flight aircraft to know whether it has inflight gadget chargers; if not, grab another portable charger.
2. Universal Power Adapter
Countries in Europe are notorious for their myriad of different power outlets. With a universal charger, there’s nothing to worry about; just make sure it has a connector for all the items you’re taking along, such as your laptop, smartphone or tablet.
At the very least, a smartphone gives you a way to carry a bunch of novels, guides and maps without the travel-unfriendly weight of books. Should you take your own phone or purchase one abroad? That depends on where you’re headed:
- Cost of electronics in the destination country
- Availability and cost of an international phone plan or local chip
In some cases, it’s cheaper to buy an unlocked phone – one not tied to any specific carrier – in the U.S. and buy an inexpensive prepaid chip when you arrive in Europe or Asia.
4. Tech Devices
For business-oriented study abroad – especially longer trips – laptops facilitate extensive notetaking and make it easier to do research and write essays; however, they also mean extra travel weight. Tablets are another great possibility, but make writing a bit more tedious.
5. Travel-Oriented Apps
Whatever tech you bring along, make sure it’s loaded with maps, travel guides, music, books, games, movie apps and any essential electronic pastimes you’re into. True, it’s fun to explore new cultures, but you’ll want some time to just relax too.
6. Backpack or Daypack
Getting around while using local transportation is much easier with a backpack. Make sure it has space for any day-trip essentials: laptop, sunblock, water bottle, snacks and a business/casual outfit to change into.
7. Lightweight Raincoat
Depending on the time of year, both Europe and Asia get a lot of rain. The key is something that offers maximum protection with a minimum of weight.
8. Travel Journal
This is an experience you never want to forget. Written travel journals can be more intimate and fun than their digital cousins, but you’ll have to remember to take along lots of pens.
9. Snacks: Trail Mix or Granola
At first, you won’t know where to stop if you get hungry while touring cities. Take snacks that are nutritious, reasonably healthy and designed to provide you with instant energy when needed.
10. Personal Care Products
Consider these helpful essentials:
- Toiletries: Skip basics like toilet paper, but take feminine hygiene products, sensitive skin items and makeup.
- Deodorant: If allowed, take along preferred deodorant or travel-size flasks of perfume or cologne.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste: Let’s face it … you’re going to want to brush your teeth after a long flight.
- Hand sanitizer: A good idea anywhere, if the airline allows it.
The more “normal” your morning routine is when you arrive, the more comfortable you’ll feel.
11. Professional Camera
Sure, you can snap photos with your smartphone too, but for passionate photographers, higher-resolution, once-in-a-lifetime pictures are irreplaceable.
12. Custom Earbuds
A pair of favorite headphones or portable speakers will work too; whatever the case, don’t rely on the cheap, uncomfortable earbuds you receive on airplanes.
13. Essential Meds
Headache medicine, anti-diarrheal pills and any current prescriptions should definitely be on your packing list, since you can’t be sure about availability wherever you are traveling.
14. Khakis and Comfortable Shoes
The quintessential traveler’s outfit, khakis with ample pockets make getting around a breeze, and they’re acceptable, lightweight and comfortable fashion in virtually any part of the world. Sneakers keep your feet happy no matter how much you tour.
15. Business Outfit
Business etiquette often requires a formal suit for men and a dress or business suit for women. Prepare your business attire ahead of time – including dress shoes or fashionable heels – to make a great first impression.
Other Must-Have Items
Don’t let friends or family discourage you from taking that essential piece of clothing or accessory you wouldn’t feel like “you” without. Staying comfortable is important for having a great time and exuding confidence to the new people you meet.