How to Pack for Study Abroad

Frequently Asked Questions about Packing for a Study Abroad Program
Guest post by Fahima Haque

You managed to successfully navigate the stressful waters of choosing a study abroad location, the lengthy application process is now complete and you’ve been accepted to the study abroad program of your choosing. Now what?

Well, now comes the not so minor detail of packing – you know, actually planning and making it to said exotic location with everything you need and want. And for most people, packing is the dreaded factor in the equation.

I spoke with a study abroad veteran offered up her knowledge on her do’s and don’ts for preparing anxious students on travel essentials.

For Erika Huang, who spent January through May 2009 in Florence, Italy, organization was key. “I’m a worry-wart, and I’m big on making check lists. As December approached, I started writing down things I knew I’d need, but could easily forget. As I would go about my daily routines I made mental notes of things I’d need and things I wouldn’t. It was all a process of checklists,” she said.

Q: What was the hardest part of deciding what to pack?
A: Deciding what to take was terrible, especially for a girl…from New York…with tons of clothes. Plus, there’s a 50 lb. weight limit set by Lufthansa Airlines. I would have outfits and articles of clothing in mind and literally flip through each hanger and quickly piece in my mind what I would wear it with, how often, and if I really would because many people over pack and don’t wear many things even once. So the worst part was trying to really predict the number of times I’d actually wear a certain thing and classifying other objects as essentials or things I could live without or things I could get while there.

Q: Were you concerned with luggage weight restrictions?
Very! I wanted to give myself, if possible, five to 10 lbs. of space in each suitcase, because I was warned during orientation that I’d of course want to come back with stuff, i.e. souvenirs, clothing, random trinkets. It builds up and you want to be sure you’ll have space for it and still make weight.

Q: What did you regret not taking?
A: Floss, painkillers, cold and allergy medication, and vitamin C drops.

Q: Any useful tips or tricks to help prepare students?
Bring things that can double in usage and think ahead about items that are worth waiting to buy until you arrive because it’s just as cheap and you can trash it before you leave to save room. For me, I bought a small suitcase for my spring break trip to Paris, France. I didn’t want to pay 25 Euros to check a bag, so I managed to stuff a week’s worth of clothes and other things in there and then left it behind when it was time to return home.

So it seems however you choose to prepare to spend time abroad, there are some things you just can’t ignore. Be sure to give yourself enough time to gather your belongings and pack them into your suitcase. It’s never going to be as quick and or as you might assume.

Happy packing and safe travels!

This is a guest post from – the Internet’s leading source of information for students seeking a study abroad program.  Find your study abroad program at
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