What to Pack

“Wait, did I forget to bring my … ”

If you’re smart enough to have made it to college and been selected to study abroad, then surely you can figure out how many pairs of socks and underwear to bring on your trip abroad. That said, packing for an extended stay can be quite stressful, and it’s possible to forget something important. Luckily, we’re here to help. Whether you’re going abroad for a week, a semester or a year, you’ll want to make sure you remember to bring the following things:

  • ID. Even on the other side of the planet, the bars still check to see if you’re of age.
  • Student card. You may be eligible for some student discounts.
  • Electrical outlet / voltage adapter. Plugs don’t look the same overseas. Find out what special parts you’ll need to get your laptop up and running.
  • Comfortable walking shoes. Do you really want to have blisters all over your feet when you’re sightseeing in Paris?
  • Rain gear. It will rain at some point on your trip. Be prepared to go on with your plans in spite of foul weather. A poncho takes up less space than an umbrella and can be your best friend in a torrential downpour.
  • Travel journal. In 10 years, when you look back at what you did during your time abroad, those few sentences you jotted down at the end of each day will really help jog your memory.
  • Prescription medication. Get refills before you head overseas because it might be hard to do so when you’re there. Bring your prescriptions with you, too, though. You may have to show them to customs officers.
  • Over-the-counter drugs. You never know when you’ll need a painkiller, an antihistamine or something to ease your stomach. Trying to buy even common drugs in another country can be very confusing, so bring them with you. Make sure the packages are unopened when you board the plane.
  • Mini first-aid kit. You don’t have to be prepared to react to a major injury, but it’s a good idea to carry some disinfectant, gauze and band-aids with you. You may also want to include a bottle of hand sanitizer. It could come in handy at some point (get it?).
  • Contraceptives. The only thing more embarrassing than buying condoms is trying to buy them in a foreign country. Stock up on contraceptives before you leave. If you’re on birth control pills, make sure you have enough for your entire trip.

Pack every essential item - like your travel documents, health insurance information and medicine - in your carry-on luggage. Airlines still lose checked luggage occasionally, and you’ll be in a real bind if it happens to you. Also, remember to leave some room in your luggage so you can bring souvenirs back from abroad!

What to Leave Behind

It’s important that you don’t forget any important items when you pack, but it’s equally important to not over-pack. Leave these things at home:

  • Valuables. This includes jewelry and sentimental items that you can’t stand to lose. Also, leave the wads of cash and credit cards at home. Instead, bring traveler’s checks and a single credit card (with a big limit, if possible). That way, if you lose your wallet, it won’t be such a big deal to replace its contents.
  • Anything that you can easily purchase overseas. Empty notebooks and binders take up a lot of space in your luggage and can be purchased in any country. The same goes for most standard toiletries.

The Golden Rule

If you only remember one thing about packing for your trip, make sure it’s this: bring less luggage than you think you’ll need but more money than you think you’ll need.

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