So you’ve chosen to study abroad. Congratulations! This is going to be one of the best experiences of your life. Before you can take off on that flight across the Atlantic (or Pacific depending on where you’re heading), you have to take care of the logistics of the trip. It’s a pain in the neck, but these things will ensure a great and relaxing time during your trip.
One of the most crucial and important things for you to do pre-takeoff is pack. If you’re like me and love, love, LOVE clothes, then packing is a very stressful time in your study abroad timeline. What do you bring? What do you keep home? Do you need four different necklaces? The answer is no. I know, I know the periwinkle shoes and the navy shoes are completely different, but you can’t have your shoes and bring them too, or something like that.
Luckily I have been through this stress first-hand, so I want to share my tips with you so you aren’t pulling your hair out trying to get all the shoes to fit (sadly, they’re never going to fit).
Tip 1: Know your destination.
Is it hot? Is it cold? Does it rain a lot? Find these answers because the weather is going to largely impact what you should bring with you. For instance, I’m going to London. It rains a lot there, so it’s probably a good idea for me to pack an umbrella or a rain jacket. It doesn’t get too hot there, so I’ll probably only need one pair of shorts.
If you’re packing for a warm climate, I suggest bringing warm clothes, but have one outfit that is cold weather friendly incase Mother Nature decides to wreak havoc on the city.
Tip 2: Limit your pants.
Sure, your bottom may look good in several different pairs of jeans, and you might want to wear a clean pair every single day, but it just isn’t plausible for you to bring all those pants. Sad, I know, but we have to make sacrifices for this experience. I said it was going to change your life, I never said it was easy.
If you’re studying for a shorter period of time (i.e. six weeks), then you probably need two pairs of jeans at most. You can wear them more than one day before you wash them, and yes you’re going to have to wash clothes over the course of your trip. A longer trip has a little more breathing room, but I still wouldn’t recommend bringing more than four or five pairs of jeans with you.
Tip 3: Bring some disposable items with you.
There are some items that you can bring with you on your trip that you don’t need to bring back with you. If you bring an old pair of shoes, socks, and some underwear—really any clothing item—you can wear it/them for the duration of your trip, then chuck them before you leave. I love this tip because there’s some hidden beauty to it.
Doing this opens up so much more space in your suitcase for souvenirs, and I know we all love those dorky “I heart London/Paris/NY” shirts and other tacky souvenirs. This way, you don’t have to account for some extra space when you’re packing. You can fill that suitcase to the brim, and still be able to have room to bring goodies back.
Tip 4: Keep your clothing choices simple.
If you’re like me and like to experiment with clothes and wear some pretty out there outfits, then you have a lot of items that can’t be paired with a lot. For a study abroad trip, you should bring clothes in neutral colors or something that pairs with multiple outfits.
You can bring four items (two tops, two bottoms) and get four outfits out it. By keeping your clothing simple, you’re reducing the amount of clothes you have to pack but still keeping enough variety so that you’re not wearing the same thing every day.
Tip 5: Strategically pack your items.
I’ve saved this tip for last because I think it is the most important thing to remember when packing your suitcase. You can pack so much more into a small suitcase if you pack it in a way that leave no nook or cranny open.
Stick your socks into your shoes, ball your underwear under the cups of your bra, and roll every possible item that you can. You will be amazed at how much you can fit into a suitcase by just changing the way you fold an item. I’ve been able to fit six weeks worth of work clothes and shoes into one suitcase just by doing this. It works; trust me, I’m a traveler.
If you have any tips for me, email me at [email protected]. We’ll talk packing.
(Main photo from www.visitmysmokies.com)