The Ever-Intimidating Study Abroad Packing List

It’s been a few years since I went abroad with International Business Seminars, but I’m happy to say that I have been traveling since going to Europe in 2016.

I’ve written a few blogs about how not to pack/not overpacking, but this past May I made a travel-changing discovery: packing cubes.

How I Discovered Packing Cubes

I did the stereotypical college graduation trip of backing through Europe for a month with three friends. I bought a 46-liter backpack to take, and that was it. To me, the guys had it easy. All they needed to pack was one pair of shoes, and they were good. I still brought three: flip-flops, Toms, and Chacos!

Anyways, back to the packing cubes. I was in search of a small stuff-able backpack since I didn’t want to drag my big bag around all the time. I found this little startup company based in PNW and saw they also had waterproof packing cubes. They were on sale, so I obviously bought four.

• 1 Large-tops/raincoat
• 1 Medium-bottoms
• 1 Medium- underwear/swimsuits
• 1 Small-toiletries

(All different colors, to remember what stuff was in each, too!)

Why These Packs are Great

I had an immediate advantage over my guy friends, because every time we got to a destination, they had to unpack EVERYTHING. I, on the other hand, just had to pull out my blue packing cube, and leave everything else in my bag. It also helped to make sure my bag was the same size every time we flew-Europe has very strict carry-on sizes (unlike in the US). These bags are waterproof-which means if some of your toiletries explode the rest of your clothes will be saved!

How ‘bout a quick environmental plug on this topic. We know plastic is bad. Most of our carry-on size toiletries are encased in plastic. I wanted to eliminate any and all liquids in my European travels, which meant no little plastic bottles. Shampoo and conditioner bars are game-changers. There are no plastics and no chance of opening your bag to saturated clothes. I highly recommend buying shampoo and conditioner bars! They will last far beyond your trip and cause no mess.

My waterproof bags came in handy when we were leaving Italy to go to Greece. We were in Rome and it started to absolutely downpour. We were flying Ryanair and gate-checked our bags because we didn’t want to pay extra fees to bring our stuff onboard. Well, in the 20 feet it took to get our bags from the gate to the plane, our packs were absolutely drenched. As a Washingtonian, I can vouch for rain, and it was POURING. Yes, backpacks come with rain covers, but I took mine out to stuff my rain jacket in the pouch. Whoops. BUT. All my stuff was dry when we landed in Greece, despite my pack being very, very, very wet.

Chances are, you won’t be taking a backpack with you on a travel seminar, because you won’t want to fold your nice business clothes. However, smaller bags are SO much easier to travel within Europe or Asia. Packing cubes will save your life and overall space. Plus, you won’t have to re-pack after each hotel (hopefully).

Anna Liljas View Full Bio

School: California Lutheran University

In each country we met with one to two businesses and had plenty of free time to explore. No other program offered this kind of itinerary.

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