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25 Essentials That Should Be on Your Study Abroad Packing List

Last Updated on September 15, 2023 by Natalie

Looking for the ultimate study abroad packing list?

Studying abroad is more than just an educational experience; it’s a transformative journey that expands your horizons, challenges your comfort zone, and enriches your life,

Whether you’re gearing up for a semester in a European capital, an exchange program in Asia, or a cultural immersion in South America, one thing is certain: preparation is key!

Here are 25 study abroad essentials that I packed for my study abroad journey (or totally wish I would have!)

study abroad

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure  here .

Packing lists for study abroad experiences may vary slightly, especially depending on location and time.

This study abroad packing list will be perfect for anyone packing for 3 months – 1 year abroad.

If you’re just going for a couple of weeks, this list will still totally help, just consider what you will and will not need.

These 25 study abroad essentials will help you have a smoother transition into your educational journey abroad.

Click here for your FREE study abroad packing list so you don’t forget a single thing!

study abroad packing list

Here are 25 Study Abroad Essentials

1. universal travel adapter.

EPICKA Universal Travel Adapter One International Wall Charger AC Plug Adaptor with 5.6A Smart Power and 3.0A USB Type-C for USA EU UK AUS (TA-105, Grey)

This travel adapter is my favorite because it works in the UK, Europe, Asia, Australia, and the US! If you can only buy one thing for your trip abroad, I would consider this the most essential for your study abroad adventure.

In fact, this is so important – I always travel with 2!

If you use something that blows it out (like a hairdryer or curling iron) then it can be a pain to replace, so I travel with backup.

I also love this adapter because it has 4 USB ports rather than the traditional two.

This can be very handy, especially if you plan on traveling around in hostels during your time abroad.

2. Quality Backpack + Day Bag

Osprey Women's Fairview 55L Travel Backpack, Night Jungle Blue

During your study abroad experience, you will likely travel around a bit (especially if you are living somewhere)

Luggage fees on airlines can cost you a pretty penny if you aren’t careful. Using these two tried and true bags, I spent six months backpacking Europe and didn’t spend a dime on luggage fees.

Before I left for my backpacking trip, I knew I needed something that was completely functional and the highest of quality.

I did oodles of research on the best backpacks in the world.

The Osprey Backpacks fit on most airlines and worked perfectly for me to live out of for months.

I’m convinced that Travelon’s Anti Theft day bag is the most perfect travel day bag ever. It’s so spacious and features anti-theft clasps on every zipper.

3. School Bag

Kate Spade New York Cute Canvas Tote Bag for Women, Canvas Beach Bag, Book Tote with Pocket, Stack of Classics

Whether it’s a canvas bag or a traditional backpack, a school bag will be needed!

This Kate Spade canvas bag is perfect for holding a few books and a laptop.

Alternatively, canvas bags are a really fun souvenir if you want to wait until you’re abroad to purchase one.

Leather Journal for Men - Handmade Vintage Journals Women, Mens Journal for Writing, Leather Bound Journal Drawing Sketchbook, Small Leather Notebook Journal, Unlined Travel Journal Leather MOONSTER®

You will certainly want to document your exciting and new experience abroad.

I know a journal can be a bit old school, but you will be so happy once you’re older to look back on this experience.

5. Mini Sewing Kit

Coquimbo Sewing Kit for Adults, Kids, Beginner, Home, Traveler,Emergency, Portable Sewing Supplies Contains Soft Tape Measure, Scissors, Thimble, Thread, Sewing Needles etc(Black, S)

Believe me, when my mom snuck this in my bag before I left, I actually rolled my eyes when I found it!

However, I was relieved to have it when a few of my favorite tops needed stitches.

A sewing kit is handy to have, and it’s so tiny it hardly takes up any room.

6. A Laptop

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 – 13.5" Touch-Screen – Intel Core i5 - 8GB Memory - 128GB Solid State Drive (Latest Model) – Platinum with Alcantara

If you are a student, you may already have this.

I’m sure you can always use your university’s library facilities if you don’t have a laptop.

However, with so many online courses these days, it certainly is more convenient to have one by your side.

The laptop that I’ve had forever is a Microsoft Surface Book .

The best thing about it is that it’s SO light, perfect for traveling.

Kindle Paperwhite (8 GB) – Now with a 6.8" display and adjustable warm light – Black

Traveling is all about packing light. Having a kindle (or your preferred e-reading device) is going to save so much room rather than lugging thick books around.

Whether you’re an avid reader in your free time or you have a long list of books for your program, a kindle is definitely a study abroad essential.

8. Travel Bottles for Liquids

Vitog Travel Bottles Kit, TSA Approved Leak Proof Portable Toiletry Containers Set, Clear PET Flight Size Cosmetic Containers for Lotion, Shampoo, Cream, Soap, Set of 11

Liquids overall are just such a pain to travel with. These bottles make things a little easier, especially if your favorite products don’t come in travel sizes.

9. Travel Credit Card

study abroad

A travel credit card is an often overlooked travel necessity.

When you use a debit card for a purchase or withdraw from an ATM in a foreign country, you are charged a fee every time you swipe that card.

I started with a Capital One Venture Card when I began traveling, and I highly recommend it.

Obviously, credit cards are a serious discussion among youth and I would encourage you to do your own research and consult with your friends and family before making any big decisions about your credit.

10. Headphones/earbuds

Apple AirPods (2nd Generation) Wireless Ear Buds, Bluetooth Headphones with Lightning Charging Case Included, Over 24 Hours of Battery Life, Effortless Setup for iPhone

Airpods are something I truly can’t live without! Whether it’s watching my favorite Netflix show or my morning run before class, my AirPods are in my ears constantly.

11. Water Bottle

IRON °FLASK Sports Water Bottle - 24 Oz - 3 Lids (Narrow Straw Lid) Leak Proof Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel - Hot & Cold Double Walled Insulated Thermos, Durable Metal Canteen

A student essential whether you’re abroad or at home! This sleek water bottle will keep you hydrated and stylish.

12. Extra Phone Chargers

KOZOPO Phone Charger, 6FT(2 Pack) Fast Charging (White Charger+2 * 6FT)

I would recommend traveling with 2 phone chargers .

Similar to the adapters, a phone charger is not something you want to be without – even for a day!

It’s best to have a couple of extras on you just to be prepared.

13. Swimsuit

ZAFUL Women's Sexy Triangle Bikini Set Floral Print Spaghetti Strap 2 Piece Swimsuit Crisscross High Cut Bathing Suit Maroon L

This may seem rather random but you never know when you’re going to take a dip.

Swimsuits are small and easy to stuff in your bag, it may be worth having one just in case. Even if you are studying somewhere cold and not tropical, you could find a super cheap flight to Lisbon or Morocco and want to go for a swim.

14. Tennis shoes

Damyuan Women's Athletic Running Shoes Walking Shoes Lightweight Gym Mesh Comfortable Trail Running Shoes Black,Womens Size 11

Good pairs of shoes are a suitcase staple.

I typically pack my favorite running shoes, quality sandals , a cute pair of shoes to go out in, and cheap flip-flops for hostel showers and the beach.

15. Unlocked Cell Phone OR International Phone Plan

iPhone 13 Mini, 128GB, Pink - Unlocked (Renewed)

Be sure to research your specific cell phone and how it will work in the country you’re going abroad to.

I have an iPhone and made sure to get it unlocked before I left.

An Unlocked Phone just means that your phone can be assigned to a different carrier abroad. This means you can easily buy a sim card in your study abroad country and use it in your phone.

Your phone carrier may also have international plans.

However, buying a sim card abroad is typically very easy and will be way cheaper than any international plan you sign up for. Also, half the time those international plans barely work!

If you aren’t careful, your phone plan can cost you thousands of dollars in extra international fees.

16. Travel Insurance

If you’re going abroad through a school, they should have insurance included within your fees (but always double-check!)

However, if you plan on traveling before or after your term, your school insurance likely will not cover it! Travel insurance is extremely important for your finances and your health.

17. Luggage Tags and Labels .

Lilly Pulitzer Pink/Blue Women's Leatherette Luggage Tag with Secure Strap, Don't Be Jelly

I’m a big fan of labeling literally everything I own. My luggage has these luggage tags and valuables like my journal, backpack, etc. are labeled with scotch washi tape .

Include your first & last name so people can find you on Facebook.

Also, add your country code before your phone number, and your e-mail in case they can’t contact you via phone number.

18. A Small Variety of Clothing Options

study abroad things to get

Pack whatever clothing best fits your destination. Additionally, you’ll want to pack a few different seasonal options just to be extra prepared.

Don’t worry about having the perfect wardrobe.

You can buy clothes anywhere and you may even prefer to buy new stylish clothes in your study abroad destination.

19. Towels & Sheets

REGAL RUBY 4 Pack Grey Bath Towels Quick-Dry High Absorbent 100% Turkish Cotton Towel for Bathroom, Guests, Pool, Gym, Camp, Travel, College Dorm, Shower

Depending on your university abroad and the move-in packages they offer, it’s very possible you won’t have towels and sheets for your bed.

While every university is different, just communicate with the study abroad office to find out so you can arrive prepared.

Want the ultimate travel hack? Order these things on Amazon to be delivered the day (or the day after) you arrive!

You could even get your roomies’ phone numbers from your study abroad office and see if any of them can keep an eye out for your package.

20. Extras of EVERYTHING! Medicine, Contacts, Retainers, Glasses, etc.

Opti-Free Puremoist Multi-Purpose Disinfecting Solution with Lens Case, (Packaging may vary), 2 Fl Oz (Pack of 1)

It’s not that you can’t access these items in most countries, but it can just be a bit more difficult.

You’ll need to stock up on contacts, birth control, any special type of medication, and anything else that is particular for you and more tricky to get abroad.

21. Light Rain Gear

Repel Umbrella The Original Portable Travel Umbrella - Umbrellas for Rain Windproof, Strong Compact Umbrella for Wind and Rain, Perfect Car Umbrella, Golf Umbrella, Backpack, and On-the-Go

Even if you are going somewhere warm, this packable jacket can be a lifesaver! I also always carry a small umbrella with me.

22. Luggage Locks

Master Lock TSA Set Your Own Combination Luggage Lock, TSA Approved Lock for Backpacks, Bags and Luggage, Colors May Vary

Locks are good to have as a staple travel essential. You’ll especially need these if you take backpacking trips on the weekends where you’ll be staying in hostels.

I personally have both kinds of locks shown above. I travel with 2-3 in case I lose one.

23. Toiletry Bag

NISHEL Travel Toiletry Bag for women, Portable Hanging Organizer for Full-Sized Shampoo, Conditioner, Brushes Set, Travel-Size Accessories, Pink

This toiletry bag is one of my all-time favorite travel products.

As a woman, toiletries take up the most space in my bag. Face creams, hair products, feminine care, medications, etc. It’s always the little things that add up the most.

24. Sunglasses

Quay After Hours Tort Black Fade UV protection Gradient Tint Lens

You’ll definitely want some sunnies for your adventures abroad!

25. Planner

The Happy Planner Mini Papillon, Papillion

Call me old-fashion, but I’m still a paper planner girl!

The first week of my study abroad was loaded with so many mandatory meetings and events. I was so happy I brought my planner to keep track of my jam-packed schedule.

study abroad travel pack

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These are such great recommendations when traveling abroad (even if you’re not a student). Power cords is one thing I always forget when traveling. And I love that packable jacket.

Yes totally! This list can honestly be used for anyone going abroad for a long period of time.

I have studied abroad as well and I would definitely say that the travel adapter and a good pair of hiking shoes were the most important for me. Oh… and EXTRAS of everything is so important too! I always stock up on my contact lenses before I travel somewhere for a long time!

Yes!! Contacts and medicine are especially important.

Ah I miss my study abroad days! I actually have the osprey backpack myself and it has been very handy during my travels! Nice comprehensive list!

Osprey is the BEST! Thanks Camden!

I’m so in awe of people who are brave enough to study abroad! I love travel but I’ve never travelled long term – I can’t imaging living somewhere else for such an extended time! It sounds like an incredible experience though and there are some great recommendations on this list. Living in the UK, I can fully back the idea of having a foldable waterproof jacket! It was one of the best investments I made to carry in my bag with the ever changing UK weather! It’s definitely a great investment to throw into my suitcase too! Thanks for the brilliant guide!

This is a fantastic list for general travelling, even if you’re not studying abroad!! Having a foldable rain jacket is a must whenever you’re travelling.

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31 Top Study Abroad Packing List Items for 2024 + What NOT to Bring

Girl studying by a pond

I am originally from Australia but studied abroad in the U.S. to get both my Bachelors’s and MBA degrees. I volunteered for 2 years in Europe and almost 1 year in India. My wife also studied abroad at Oxford for 2 months over a Summer to study photography.

We believe studying abroad is one of the most beneficial experiences possible for a college student. By learning outside of your domestic bubble, students have the opportunity to take in new cultures, see the world, and find new passions.

No doubt, preparing to go abroad as a student can be challenging (and daunting!), so we’ve put together a list of what to pack, what to wear , and what NOT to pack before you study abroad.

asher riding bike snow

What to Pack for Studying Abroad – 31 Essentials

1. universal power adapter.

The outlets in your new dormitory or apartment will likely be different from where you are from, no matter the country. This universal adapter has dual USB ports and built-in fuse protection and should suit your needs well. It works for 100+ popular countries and is backed by a lifetime replacement guarantee.

Power Adaptor

View on Amazon.com ➜

2. Jet Lag Relief

With study abroad programs spanning the entire globe, jet lag relief will be of huge support as you adjust to your new time zone. This brand uses chamomile and other botanical herbs to fight exhaustion rather than jamming your system full of harsh stimulants like caffeine.

jet lag relief

3. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

You’ll be studying at cafes, coffee shops, libraries, and an assortment of places near campus. While it may seem normal to hop on public or free Wi-Fi networks, these are susceptible to hackers that can steal your passwords, credit card numbers, and private information.

Anytime you surf the web (whether it’s on your desktop, tablet, or phone) – ensure you have a double layer of encryption with a virtual private network like NordVPN . It’s too affordable to ignore and even frees up access to websites that may be censored in many countries (common ones they block are YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Paypal, etc., and it would be a PAIN to go without these for a whole semester).

Another major perk that many people don’t realize – you can get cheaper flights and products because they can’t track your cookies or IP address! You’re welcome .


View NordVPN.com Plans ➜

4. Quick-Dry Travel Towel

A towel is one of the most versatile items in your packing artillery. This one dries 10x faster than cotton and will serve you throughout your travels as a drying rag, sweat bandana, seat cover, packing cushion, and much more. It’s one of the most absorbent microfibers we’ve found and is light as a feather for packing.

Quick-Dry Travel Towel

5. Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger

Your phone will be dying quicker than usual from taking pictures, using your GPS to explore new places, and googling answers to your favorite study Qs – so it’s wise to have a backup portable charger on hand. You don’t want to end up with a dead phone when it’s time to call an Uber or use the GPS. For smartphones, cameras, and more – it holds enough juice to charge two dead phones.

Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger

6. Travel Insurance for Study Abroad

Your insurance provider typically does not cover you overseas, which could mean facing outrageously expensive hospital bills and paying out-of-pocket. Even if you’re on your family’s insurance, it likely will not cover you when you’re abroad. Travel insurance is a wise safety net because it protects you in case of flight delays, cancelation, baggage loss, theft, international medical expenses, and other common travel issues.

We use Faye because they are the best in the game! Most providers are like dinosaurs and make you do tons of paperwork, pleading for the money that is rightfully owed to you. Faye , on the other hand, sends you money through their mobile app and makes the claims process super easy. They support you when you need it most and prevent an already expensive study abroad trip from becoming irrecoverable! Even if your parents chip in, it’s smart to spare everyone’s bank accounts from any potential emergencies.

Faye Travel Insurance

Get a quote in less than 60 seconds with Faye ➜

7. Windproof Travel Umbrella

We recommend arriving to your new home prepared for whatever the elements have to offer. This windproof umbrella is compact and comes in a handy carrying case, making it perfect for on-the-go. It weighs less than one pound so you can store it in your purse or backpack.

travel umbrella

8. Snacks From Home

Last time I went abroad, my stomach had a hard time adjusting to my new Thai diet. For the first few weeks, I desperately wanted something “normal” to snack on instead of diving headfirst into the local cuisine. In case this happens to you, bring with you some healthy granola bars, crackers, or any other simple snacks that can get you through that transition time.

Snacks From Home

9. Neck Wallet

This top-quality neck wallet will help you keep important belongings well organized and easily accessible. Having a neck wallet will be especially useful during your travels and upon your arrival while you settle in. Jet lag alone could lead to the misplacement of important documents like your passport! But this baby will discreetly hold your phone, passport, credit cards, cash, and anything else small that you want to keep covertly stashed under your clothes.

Available on HeroTravelSupply.com with an exclusive 15% discount using the coupon code “ HERO ”.

Neck Wallet

Or view on Amazon.com ➜

10. Hanging Toiletry Bag

Europe and Asia are especially known for painfully small bathrooms. You likely won’t have a ton of countertop space or storage room, so bring this hanging toiletry bag to consolidate your liquid bottles. It unfolds to display 4 giant pockets that hold your hygiene, makeup, and self-care products. It’s like a built-in shelf that can fit on any door, shower pole, towel rack, or hook.

This one by Eco Sun is perfect for dorms, hostels, or hotels. It’s TSA-approved and designed to be leakproof and stain-resistant, so it will secure any loose bottles or cosmetics that could spring a leak during rough transit. It’s way easier than organizing tons of little plastic sacks and still has clear pockets so you can easily see everything. Stow away the 360-swivel hook and take it with you wherever you roam!

hanging toiletry bag

11. Filtered Water Bottle

Most of Europe will have drinkable tap water, but sadly, a lot of the world does not have access to clean water. Even if bottled water is available, you don’t want to encourage that degree of plastic waste. This is why we recommend having autonomy over your water supply with this Brita filtered water bottle. It noticeably improves the taste and quality of your water (and if you need a more powerful one, the Grayl filters out bacteria, viruses, microplastics, and sediment).

Filtered Water Bottle

12. Multivitamin

Navigating foreign pharmacies can be overwhelming! And not to mention, overpriced! Many of your recognizable products won’t be available overseas and the product selection can be completely different (and often in another language) – so pack your staples from home and stock up on vitamins, Advil, cough drops, anti-nausea meds, and cold remedies. Make sure you ask your doctor for a 6-month supply of any prescription medications before you leave as well!


13. Natural Feminine Products

It can be difficult to track down the type or brand of feminine products that you’re used to in the States. For example, in Asia, tampons are only available in big cities. If you bring a big supply with you, that’s one less thing to worry about while you’re abroad. Women also don’t always realize that many brands use bleach to make the tampon white – use these organic cotton ones that are kind to your insides instead.

Natural Feminine Products

14. Location-Appropriate Clothing

Do some research about the country you’re headed to. Check the weather, the dress code (if any) at your in-country school, and definitely find out what kind of clothing is culturally appropriate. It’s always a good idea to keep a multipurpose scarf on hand to cover your shoulders in case you want to wander into a cathedral in Italy, or a Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka.


15. Packing Cubes

These organizers come in handy when you’re trying to pack your suitcase or even a daybag. I use two of them in my big backpack for multiple-day trips for clothing (it comes with laundry bags to separate clean items and dirty ones). Plus, you can carry a couple of smaller ones for essentials or school materials, moving them from your bag to your classroom to your drawer at home.

packing cubes

16. Walking Shoes

There’s a lot of exploring to be done in foreign lands! You may also be doing a lot of walking if you don’t have a primary mode of transportation wherever you’ll be staying. Go easy on your feet, and bring some comfortable sneakers. Here’s a pair for men and a pair for women.

Walking Shoes

Students are forced to read a lot for school, but you may enjoy a fantasy novel or recreational piece between classes. The last thing you’re going to want to pack in your overly stuffed suitcase or backpack is a bunch of heavy books. Download your travel guides and reading material that will keep you occupied at airports, on trains, and everything in between.


18. Universal Waterproof Phone Case

The world is 70% water. If you’re going anywhere near it, use this universal phone case that prevents damage by moisture, sand, or debris. For days of snorkeling in the Caribbean or playing on the beaches of France – this case converts any smartphone into an instant underwater camera (with sound!) Don’t neglect to attach a flotation strap in case anything sinks or gets too far out of reach, it will remain buoyant.

Universal Waterproof Phone Case

19. Lightweight Backpack

You won’t leave home without this one. A solid backpack like this can hold your computer and notebooks when you’re going to class. It will keep you organized and balance out the weight on your back, unlike a purse or laptop bag. It’s also great for weekend excursions and counts as your carry-on item for the flights!

Lightweight Backpack

20. Luggage Locks (TSA-Approved)

When checking your luggage at the airport – your things can be out of sight for long periods of time. We use these luggage locks to keep sticky fingers from roaming around our suitcases, backpacks, and more. They’re great for lockers and TSA-approved, so you won’t have any security hold-ups getting to your flight.

Luggage Locks (TSA-Approved)

21. Noise-Canceling Headphones

A good pair of headphones will let you listen to your podcasts while your roommate is sleeping, focus during studying, and entertain you on airplanes. These are noise-canceling and not too expensive. Wearing them in the library or common areas is also the international symbol for “leave me alone! I’m studying and need my quiet time.”

Noise-Canceling Headphones

22. Cooling Towel

For any warm areas, you don’t have to suffer through the balmy summers or sweat through long days outside. This cooling towel is a godsend (and slightly magical!) Simply add water and wring it out – it drops to 20-30 degrees colder than the outside temp for up to an hour. Need more frosty relief? Just add more water and enjoy it all day long.

cooling towel

23. Motion Sickness Patches

Long flights, windy roads, and coastal excursions don’t agree with everyone’s stomachs. If you’re prone to motion or seasickness, use these patches as a preventative measure. My wife field-tested this and many similar products – like a real scientist (or maybe a guinea pig) she tried them all, so you don’t have to! This one came out on top as the most effective for fighting nausea and dizziness.

Motion Sickness Patches

24. Flash Drive

You’ll need a flash drive to back up all of your files on a regular basis. Learn from my mistakes in school and the early days of working, I’ve lost all my files enough times to say it’s not worth it! Now I back-up everything on cloud-based storage AND a physical hard drive like this one. You never know when technology will fail you, and sometimes it’s best to have an old-fashioned contingency plan.

Flash Drive

25. Travel Sheets

Travel sheets are a game-changer. Not only can you use them in your hostel or accommodation, but you can also put a layer of protection between you and any dirty areas. You can use these on planes, trains, and long bus rides. They’re also nice if your stay does not have any sheets or they’re below your standard of cleanliness.

Travel Sheets

26. Clothesline

Many parts of the world do not believe in air conditioning, tipping, ice in soda, OR oversized laundry and dryer machines. It can be a slight culture shock, but most global citizens prefer the classic wind-drying method with a clothesline. This travel option will be perfect for hanging fresh clothes when your house mom or hotel doesn’t have an electric dryer, it works indoors or outdoors.


27. Raincoat

Rain is a common thread between most regions. For places like London, Paris, New York, and Costa Rica, a rain jacket will serve you well. This one is very stylish and lightweight but will give you that layer of warmth while keeping you dry.


28. Activated Charcoal

Food poisoning can hit when you least expect it. Since anything from fine dining to street food and tap water can cause it – you should be overly cautious with some detoxing supplements. We always travel with these because new places are known for shaking up your digestive system and forcing you into a brief adjustment period. These activated charcoal supplements remove harmful bacteria from your body more quickly so you can feel better, faster!

Activated Charcoal

29. Pocket Blanket

For picnics in the quad, backpacking, concerts, festivals (or times when you just want to hang outside for a while), a pocket-sized blanket is such a genius idea. Imagine just whipping out the perfect blanket when your group wants to stop and enjoy a sunset or watch a parade or evening show. You’ll be the MVP! This one is waterproof so your clothes won’t get wet, and it folds back up into this tiny carrying pouch.

Pocket Blanket

30. Journal

Ten years from now, you’ll want to look back on your time abroad without having to scroll through Facebook or Instagram. Keeping a physical journal can help your mind process all the cool new experiences you’re having and serve as a first-hand record you can look back on down the road. Here’s one with a built-in organization system for class, and here’s a classic one for sentimental reflections.


31. Thank You Note for Your Host

If you are staying with a local family, be sure to thank them at the end of your visit with a handwritten note. There is something very special about a keepsake in your own handwriting. And if there is a language program, they would love to receive the note in their native tongue to show how far you’ve come!

Thank You Note for Your Host

Other Study Abroad Packing List Items

  • Hand sanitizer or baby wipes
  • Contact Solution
  • Steripod Toothbrush Cover
  • Travel Pillow
  • Compression Flight Socks
  • Shaving supplies
  • Tide to-go pen
  • Cold Weather gear
  • Mosquito repellent wristbands
  • Toiletries set
  • Electrolytes
  • Physical map of your location
  • Important Documents
  • Student I.D.

What to wear while studying abroad:

What you should wear obviously depends on the country you’ll be studying in, and the prominent religion there. Definitely spend some time researching your destination’s cultural norms and weather forecast before deciding what to pack. A quick Google search of “what to wear in Berlin,” for example, should answer any questions you may have.

What NOT to bring while studying abroad

1. heavy liquids in bottles.

Even though you can pack liquids of almost any size into your checked baggage, weight rules still apply. Don’t weigh yourself down (and pay extra) unless it’s absolutely necessary. Instead, bring travel sizes of your toiletries!

2. Too many clothes/ shoes

You’ll probably want to buy things while you’re there. Bring dual-purpose, neutral-colored clothing that you can mix and match.

3. Culturally inappropriate clothing

You’ll get stared down (and lose respect) for wearing a tank top in countries like Myanmar where it’s unacceptable to show your shoulders. Research, research, research!

They’re just too heavy. Invest in a kindle!

5. Non-compatible electronic items

The voltage system in your new country might fry your hair straighteners, blow dryers, etc. It’s better just to buy those things in-country or bring extra adaptors.

6. More than one full suitcase

Remember to leave space so that you can bring home souvenirs!

FAQs about Studying Abroad

1. why should i study abroad.

You can work towards your education goals while you see the world and dive head-first into a new culture. What’s not to love? You might also make lifelong friends, pick up a new language, and stand out on grad school applications!

2. Where will I live while I’m abroad?

It depends on the city you’ll be studying in. Some foreign academies have on-campus housing (dormitory or apartment-style), while other programs will offer to book off-campus housing for you. Check with your specific program as soon as you’re accepted.

3. What will it be like going to school in a different country?

It will likely be scary at first (navigating a new city to your new classes with new teachers and friends!), but then awesome and life-changing.

4. Can I travel during my program, or have friends or family come visit me?

During my time abroad, our school gave us plenty of three-day weekends to travel. We also took lots of traveling field trips as a class! It obviously depends on your school, and how strict/ lenient their policies are. As far as I know, friends and family are usually very welcome to visit your campus while abroad!

5. What travel documents will I need before I leave?

Passport, student visa (if necessary), copies of health insurance, travel insurance, state ID/driver’s license, medical and vaccine history (just in case), and plane tickets.

6. How much does it cost?

It totally depends on your program. Check with your school and see if your tuition covers your time abroad!

7. How can I better deal with culture shock before I leave?

It helps to do a ton of research about the place, and look at plenty of travel blogs. Learn a few phrases in the local language, and maybe try some new foods from the place you’re going to. If possible, ask your university to put you in touch with somebody who has studied abroad with your program before you go!

Asher Fergusson

Asher Fergusson

  • College Study Abroad
  • College Study Abroad Blog

The Ultimate Guide to Your Study Abroad Packing List (10 Essential Items!)

March 19, 2024

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@cieestudyabroad Pack your bags! It’s almost time for your study abroad adventure #cieestudyabroad #studyabroad #internationalstudent #packing #packinglist #packingessentials #studyabroadtips #greenscreen love triangles - Happy Trees

Packing your life into a few bags for an adventure abroad can feel overwhelming, especially since you’re packing for the next several weeks (or even months) ahead. Don’t worry, though; we’ve got your study abroad packing list covered!  

Whether you're looking for a packing list for overseas travels, a list of study abroad essentials, or general advice on how to prepare to study abroad, you've come to the right place! Packing for your study abroad adventur e will be a breeze if you include our list of essential items in your luggage.  

We recommend you include the following items in your study abroad packing list:

Requisite Visa

Power Adapters and Converters

Prescription Medicine

Comfortable Walking Shoes

Essential Travel-sized Toiletries

School Supplies

A Large Suitcase

packing list study abroad

Item 1: A Passport  

Your passport is the ticket to your dream study abroad destination. Don’t forget it and certainly don’t lose it. Actually, it’s a good idea to make a photocopy of your passport just in case the original gets lost or stolen.  

Tip : If you do lose your passport, the U .S. consulate can help you get a new one, but photocopies of the original make the process much easier. 

study abroad passport and photo copy

Item 2: Requisite Visa  

You may need a visa, too, d epending on the country you’re visiting. As with your passport, it’s a really good idea to have a photocopy of your original visa in case something happens. Better safe than sorry! 

Item 3: Power Adapters and Converters  

Each country has its own kind of power outlet and adapter, and there’s a good chance your home chargers won’t work. With most essential items (phones, laptops, etc.) being electronic, you don’t want to run out of power!  

Verify which plugs and voltage are used in the country (or countries) you’ll be visiting, and purchase the necessary adapters and/or converters in advance of your trip so you don’t risk running out of power. Being without Google Maps in a new country? No thank you! Powered-up tech is a critical study abroad essential. 

Item 4: Prescription Medications  

If you take prescription medications, make sure you have enough with you to cover the length of your trip. Most doctors will be able to help you get the amount you need.   

If ther e’s a chance you run out while abroad, be sure to have a copy of your prescription to show local doctors. Also, remember to pack any medication in your carry-on, just in case your luggage gets delayed or lost in transit. 

Item 5: Currency  

Nowadays, many U.S. banks make it easy to convert to foreign currencies with a credit or debit card. Still, it’s always a good idea to carry petty cash with you in the event of an emergency. You can never be too prepared!  

foreign currency exchange for students on study abroad

Item 6: Comfortable Walking Shoes  

Travel ing to a new city means you’ll be doing lots of walking! Wherever you go, you’ll likely be spending the majority of your time commuting or exploring on foot, so be sure to invest in high-quality walking shoes that can withstand all-day wear and tear. Aim for comfort and avoid flip flops (trust us on this). 


Item 7: Essential (Travel-Size) Toiletries   

Some toiletries are more essential than others. While you can probably buy most essentials in the country you’re traveling to, it’s best to have some with you so you don’t have to worry about the basics, like shampoo, soap, and toothpaste to cover you during your first few days abroad.  

Tip : Stick to travel-size toiletries. Large bottles of your favorite shampoo will take up too much real estate in your suitcase. Save that precious space for the souvenirs you’ll want to bring home with you.  

Item 8: Your School Supplies  

Most students take notes on laptops or tablets, but we advise you still bring an extra notebook and pencil or pen just in case. Or, if you do like taking notes by hand, be sure to bring your favorite school supplies with you!  

Though foreign countries will have these on hand, it’s easier –  and sometimes cheaper – to bring them with you. Adding a few traditional school supplies to your study abroad packing checklist now means you’ll save your spending money for the fun stuff later. 

study abroad student with her backpack on the bus in spain

Item 9: Face Masks  

Travel is back on, but COVID has not yet backed down completely. Check the mask mandates of the countries you’ll be visiting. Even if masks aren’t required, it’s always a good idea to bring a few with you just in case. The same goes for hand sanitizer. No one wants to spend their study abroad sick. Stay healthy! 

Check out CIEE’s Health, Safety & Security Page for more information!  

Item 10: A Large Suitcase  

We hinted at this earlier, but brin g a suitcase with extra room (make that extra, extra room) . Or, consider bringing an empty suitcase. No doubt, you will find more than a few treasures you’ll want to buy and bring home with you. Make sure you have the space to accommodate souvenirs! 

Bonus Tip: Your CIEE Study Abroad Program Contacts  

Last but not least, make sure you have quick access to all your program contacts, including names, numbers, and the street address of your CIEE study center. It’s often helpful to keep your street address written in the local language for taxis or in case you get lost. We recommend having this information stored in your phone and on a hard copy somewhere. 

Ready To Pack For Your Study Abroad Program?

We hope you find these study abroad packing tips helpful! Now that you know what to bring, start exploring all of our exciting study abroad and internship programs and choose the one right for you!  


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Packing List for Going Abroad

The study abroad packing list.

I know students want a detailed list of what to pack when you study abroad, and we all get annoyed when someone says “its common sense”. Maybe you're creating a Europe packing list or Southeast Asia packing list. So, I’ve put together everything I thought you could possibly want or need when you study or travel abroad, keeping in mind both guys and girls. I wouldn’t expect you to pack everything I’ve listed, so use your own discretion. If you’re wondering how you’re going to fit your life into two suitcases, check out my appropriately titled post, “ How To Fit Your Life Into Two Suitcases “. Feel free to print out both posts and use them as your complete guide and study abroad checklist on how to pack when you study abroad. As for now, here is my version of the ultimate study abroad packing list!

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What to Pack For Study Abroad

Clothing checklist for study abroad:.

  • Underwear (two weeks’ worth)
  • Socks (two weeks’ worth plus a pair or two of wool socks)
  • Undershirts
  • Thermal underwear
  • Long sleeve shirts
  • Short sleeve shirts
  • Sweatshirt/ hoodie (2-3)
  • Jeans/ Khakis (2-3 pair)
  • A belt or two
  • Skirts (for the girls)
  • A set or two of workout clothes
  • Swimsuit (for those going to warmer climates)
  • Coat/Jacket (I recommend at least 2 – one for cold weather, and one that is water resistant)
  • At least one nice outfit for formal occasions *
  • Flip flops/ sandals of some sort (good if you’re going to a warm climate, but also good for hostel showers)
  • Sneakers/ dress shoes/ boots/ rain boots *
  • Cold weather gear (i.e. gloves/ mittens, hat, scarf)

Studying abroad is more than just an academic experience — it’s a life experience. A CEA education abroad expands the boundaries of your education and transforms the world into your classroom. With destinations in 21 cities across 12 countries, CEA offers a balance of academics and adventure to thousands of students each year. Where will your learning take you?

 Toiletries Checklist for Study Abroad * :

  • TSA Compliant Toiletry Kit /1-quart zip-top Ziploc bags
  • Shampoo/ conditioner
  • Toothbrush/ toothpaste
  • Feminine products (one month’s worth)
  • Brush/ comb
  • Razors/  other shaving supplies
  • Contact lenses and solution
  • Nail clippers
  • Over-the-counter medicines
  • Tissues/ toilet paper (you don’t want to be stuck in a bathroom when its run out)
  • Medications, if any


Forum-Nexus Study Abroad has a track record of 29 years of successful intensive summer programs around the world. Since 1990, over 3,400 students have participated in Forum-Nexus international multi-country summer programs in 15 countries.The courses are open to both undergraduate and graduate students, as well as to alumni seeking professional development.

Checklist for Studying Abroad Extras:

  • $300 in local currency
  • Purse/ wallet
  • Important documents (passport, visa, itinerary, plane tickets, ISIC card , etc.)
  • Outlet adapter
  • Sunglasses/ extra eye glasses/ contacts
  • Cell phone (you probably won’t be able to use it in your host country, but it’s invaluable if you’re stuck in domestic airports and need to contact someone for delayed flights, etc.)
  • Laptop and charger (don’t forget, you’ll need an outlet adapter for the plug on your charger to work)
  • Camera w/cords and charger
  • Sheets/ bed linens *
  • Bath towels *
  • Enough prescription drugs for the length of your stay (You need to make sure you are allowed to bring them into the country and that you have documentation, either the prescription or a doctor’s note)
  • MP3 Player/ iPod (for long plane/train rides)
  • Sleep sack/ sleeping bag (most hostels have sheets, however, some do not, some will charge you for them, and for those people that don’t like sleeping in unfamiliar sheets, I recommend a  Cocoon Travel Sheet .)
  • Journal/ diary (you’ll be taking plenty of pictures on your travels, but it’s always nice to have something to write in. Of course I recommend writing a blog, but you may not always have your laptop with you.)
  • Backpack (for daily use and as your carry while traveling)
  • Plastic bottles for toiletries for use in your carry-on or while traveling (the maximum is usually 100ml)
  • Water bottle/ Nalgene bottle (since the Nalgene bottle is plastic, it’s a lot easier to get through airport security)
  • A few hangers

* I have a method for packing these items, which you should include on your study abroad checklist; check out that post, “ How To Fit Your Life Into Two Suitcases “.

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68 top study abroad packing list essentials every student needs, study abroad , travel planning, 68 top study abroad packing list essentials.

Hey Travelers! If you are studying abroad soon, here are 11 of the top study abroad packing list essentials you will need to make your time abroad a breeze.

study abroad packing list

This study abroad packing list is different from the other packing lists found on the internet. I dare to say that this study abroad packing list is the best because we are going to go deeper than the basics like a passport, school supplies, and some clothes. No, for this study abroad packing list, we are leaving no stone un-turned. In this comprehensive packing list found below, we will look at what you should pack in your carry on and checked luggage. Additionally, we will discuss what types of electronics and miscellaneous items you should take. We we talk about clothing, we will talk about what you should pack from your studying abroad packing list if you are going for a semester or year abroad….or if you are going to a destination with multiple seasons.

You are going to be learning about what exactly you need to bring on for your study abroad experience. I studied in India for a semester and absolutely had a ball. It was one of the best times of my life. Because of my study abroad experience in India, I know exactly what is a must have essential to pack and what you can leave at home.

After reading this post, you are going to be a study abroad packing pro! You will know exactly what to pack for your study abroad adventure. Below are the 68 top study abroad packing list essentials you will need for your study abroad experience.

Study Abroad Packing List: Top General Items

For every study abroad experience you’re going to need the following items:

1. Passport

If you are leaving the country, a passport is a must. It is important to make sure your passport is valid for at least six months before you leave for your study abroad program. For U.S. citizens, you do not need a passport if you are traveling between the United States and the following territories:

According to Usa.gov , U.S. citizens also do not need a passport to travel to the following Freely Associated States:

  • The Republic of the Marshall Islands
  • The Federated States of Micronesia
  • The Republic of Palu

Source: USA.gov, Do you need a passport to travel to or from U.S. territories or Freely Associated States?, January 2024)

study abroad packing images

A student visa is a government-issued document from an embassy or consulate that allows you to study legally in another country for a specific period of time. Your visa will usually be an endorsed sticker or stamp placed on one of the pages of your passport. It is important to know if you need a visa to study abroad because you can’t study abroad legally without it if your host country and program requires one. Whether or not you need a student visa depends on your legal citizenship and study abroad program. It’s important to note that each country has its own rules and regulations when it comes to getting a visa. To know more about the visa process, contact your school and study abroad program for more information. Also, you can go to travel.state.gov to learn more about entry and exit requirements of your host country.

Source: IESabroad , Passport and Visa Requirements,

It is a good idea to make photocopies of your passport and visa before you travel. You will want to make copies for emergency situations, identification, security, etc. I also personally story a copy in my phone and email (sometimes you don’t have access to your email because lack of WiFi/internet).

3. TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, CLEAR (optional)

TSA PreCheck is a trusted traveler program from the U.S. Department of Transportation. This program allows selected travelers to get expedited screening for domestic and some international screenings.

Global Entry is a program by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, designed to expedite the entry process for pre-approved, low-risk travelers arriving in the United States from international destinations. It’s like having a VIP pass for clearing customs and immigration quickly and efficiently.

CLEAR is another airport security program. This airport security program uses biometric identity verification. At a CLEAR pod, travelers scan their eyes or fingerprints to verify who they are. Once successful verification is completed, a CLEAR ambassador whisks travelers to the front of the regular airport security line or TSA PreCheck.

I cannot personally tell you which program to get. However, if you travel internationally a lot, you may want to consider signing up for one or multiple programs. They will save you time while traveling.

4. Driver’s License

Consider bringing your driver’s license if you have one. A driver’s license are useful for several reasons. You can use your drivers license as another form of identification and can help verify your age. It’s super useful if you go to places like a bar or nightclub and they need to see proof of identification. Your drivers license can also come in handy if you need to drive in your host country or if you need to complete transactions that requires more than one form of ID.

5. Other types of documents

Besides a copy of your passport and visa, you will want to make sure you pack other documents. These documents are important and should go in your carry on . Some documents may include

  • A letter from your program
  • Proof of insurance
  • Emergency contacts (also store this information on your phone)
  • Housing information
  • Academic documents (test and language scores for example)
  • Health documents (vaccine card, prescription list from doctor)

6. Medication

Pack any medicine you are taking in your carry-on. Do not pack it in your checked luggage. Be sure to schedule an appointment with your doctor before studying abroad. You want to make sure you have enough medicine to last you for your study abroad experience. However, it is important to note that some insurance companies will only allow you to carry a specific amount of medicine at a time. For example, if you are studying abroad for the year, you may not be able to pack a year supply of medicine.

Before you study abroad, make a plan about how you are going to get additional medicine, if necessary. Some countries do not allow you to bring in specific medicine. Some medicine may be prohibitted. Similarly, you may not be able to mail some medicine. To read more about medication abroad, click the link below.

Related Post – Medicine Abroad: How To Pack For Your Trip

7. school supplies.

You may be going on an adventure of a lifetime, but don’t forget to check off school supplies on your study abroad packing list. You don’t need to overload your suitcase with books. But consider bringing a few notebooks to take notes or a binder with loose leaf paper. Whichever you prefer. Also, toss in a couple pens and whatever you normally use on your home campus. If it’s possible, see what the professor requires in your host country. Textbooks may be a lot cheaper overseas. Some professors might not even require textbooks and everything is online. It depends on the professor and host institution. If you can get hold of your syllabus beforehand, or talk to a peer who has already taken that class, you may get some idea. Remember, you most likely can buy your school supplies when you reach your destination.

study abroad packing list pdf

Study Abroad Packing List: Best Luggage For Study Abroad

8. a big suitcase for the best luggage for study abroad.

Less is more when you are deciding what to take with you from your study abroad packing list. It may be tempting to overpack, but you may regret it. If you overpack, it might be more difficult to carry and drag around your suitcase when you are arriving. You may have to take public transportation when you first get to your study abroad destination. It’s not fun hauling a heavy suitcase down a flight of stairs. Trust me, I know because I’ve done it. Also, consider the fact that you will be accumulating more stuff during your time abroad. If you think at any point you are going to want to go shopping, or at the very least, buy souvenirs, you’ll want to leave space in your luggage to accommodate those things.

Even if you have to buy an extra suitcase, it can add up. Usually, checking an additional bag can result in hefty airline fees.

They key is you want to pack less than you need. Ideally, it’s best to bring a little over a week of clothes. I say just over a week of clothes just in case you don’t have time to wash your clothes. You want to pack clothes that can be mixed and matched with other pieces seamlessly. Colors like black, white, grey and beige go well with almost anything. Just remember to pack enough underwear.

For me, when I studied abroad in India for a semester and worked abroad for three months in Vietnam, I brought one large suitcase. In India, I used compression vacuum bags. When I worked in Vietnam, I used packing cubes. I found that a large suitcase was the best luggage for study abroad and more than enough for a semester overseas. For both India and Vietnam, I packed light. I packed about a week’s worth of clothes.

best luggage for study abroad

9. Carry On

The next piece of luggage you should check off your study abroad packing list, is a carry on. Carry ons should not get checked, when you’re at the airport. They should hold all your essential documents, medications, valuable items, toiletries, an outfit, and pajamas. For carry ons, I like the ones that are light weight and can roll in any direction.

10. Study Abroad Backpack

In your study abroad packing list, you should think about the best study abroad backpack. This study abroad backpack can also count as personal item at the airport. You should consider packing a backpack because not only can you pack your laptop and school supplies in it, but it also can be helpful for weekend trips. When you go away for the weekend, you can pack all your things in your study abroad backpack. Generally, they are lightweight and easy to travel with.

Best study abroad backpack

Study Abroad Packing List: Luggage Continued

Purses are great to throw those few lightweight essential items from your study abroad packing list. Purses are great for moving around everyday in your study abroad destination.

12. Bag for dirty laundry

On your study abroad packing list, consider packing a bag for dirty laundry. This item is often overlooked, but it is super useful when you want to separate your clean and dirty clothes. This bag doesn’t have to be anything fancy. You can also look into getting a lightweight, collapsable hamper.

13. Packing Cubes For Study Abroad

Adding packing cubes to your study abroad packing list is a must. I love packing cubes for study abroad because it keeps all my items organized. Packing cubes study abroad are an essential!

packing cubes study abroad

Study Abroad Packing List: Electronics

14. laptop / tablet.

Live it up at your new destination! Have a great time. While you are exploring a new culture and seeing the top tourist destinations, remember the main reason you’re there: to study. Having a laptop or tablet may make it easier to study and write your papers. Also, if you get board, you can pop on your favorite show.

15. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)

VPNs can be beneficial to you while studying abroad. VPNs allow you to securely access a remote computer over the internet (source: Oxford Languages). Virtual Private Networks encrypts your personal data, overcome website blockers, and conceals your IP address (Source: azure.microsoft.com). If you’re still wondering whether or not to check a VPN off of your study abroad packing list, here are a few benefits in laymen’s terms:

  • Enhanced personal security . You are more protected from cyber attacks and potential eavesdropping. You also may have an extra layer of protection when you’re using public WiFi.
  • Avoid geographic blocks . Some of your favorite streaming platforms or websites may not be available in your home country. Or these streaming sites may only show region-specific content. To be able to watch what you want at home, a VPN may be necessary.
  • Privacy . It makes it harder for companies and websites to track your online activities.

If you do decide to get a VPN, it’s important to remember to read the reviews and go with a trusted service. All VPNs are not made equally.

16. Unlocked Cell Phone

Everyone’s got a cell phone nowadays. But what do you do with yours while overseas? You will need to decide if you want to keep your phone plan from home or not. Depending on how long you’re going to be in your new destination, you might cancel you plan. Or you can look into getting the international plan. Some phones cover certain regions.

Newer phones have an E-SIM in which you can keep your sim card from your home country and get an electronic sim card that will give you data in your host country. If you use an E-SIM that is different from your phone carrier, you have to get your phone unlocked.

If you decide to just replace the sim card from your home country when you reach your destination, you will also need your phone unlocked. With an unlocked phone, it’s possible to use a sim card with a local carrier.

Other Cell Phone Options

There are other phone programs you can look into like Google Fi. With Google Fi, it charges a certain amount per month and you can talk and make calls back to the United States. It’s important to note, that depending on how long you’re overseas, Google Fi might turn off. It is only allowed for a specific amount of time while you’re overseas.

A free option is Google Voice. You can port your number and make calls to the United States for free. You just have to be on WiFi.

Another option you can look into is getting a phone and just leaving it on airplane mode the whole time. When you have WiFi, you can access the internet, or use apps like What’sApp to text family and friends. The downside to this is that if you’re out and about, or there is an emergency, or you want to use a ride share or GPS, you won’t be able to use your phone unless you have a plan from back home. This uses data, which can add up and be expensive.

Another option is that you can just buy a cheap burner phone when you are your host country. Then you can just use your phone from home, in your house, apartment, or dorm room if you have internet/WIFI. Sometimes this option is preferred if you are worried about getting your phone lost or stolen.

study abroad packing list for students

Study Abroad Packing List: Electronics Continued

17. chargers.

Definitely don’t forget your charger to charge your phone and other electronics. Nothing is worse than trying to use your electronics and can’t because the battery is dead.

18. Headphones

Wireless or with cords, consider packing some headphones in your suitcase. They come in handy if you want to listen to music, a video, podcast, or talk with family and friends without an audience.

19. Waterproof phone case (optional)

If you plan to be around water during your study abroad experience, a waterproof phone case can be effective against allowing water to ruin your phone or device. It will keep them dry and protected while you’re snorkeling, swimming, or doing any type of water sport.

20. Portable Power Bank

You don’t have to have a portable power bank. Of course, you can use your charger and plug it into the wall. However, a portable power bank can make your life a whole lot easier. When you’re in the airport or out on the go, power banks can be incredibly useful. You don’t have to worry about finding a charger. Nor do you have to stop and charge your phone or electronics. You can keep going. They can also come in clutch when you are in an emergency and your phone is dying and you need to get home.

21. Adapters or Converters On Your Study Abroad Packing List

On your study abroad packing list, definitely consider bringing either an adapter, converter, or both. Many people use the words “adapter” and “converter” interchangeably. However, when it comes to your electronics, they have different significances.

Around the world, you will see that electrical plugs and outlets differ. Depending on what country you’re in, you will see different socket types and plug shapes. An adapter is a device that allows you to plug your electronic into a different type of electrical outlet. Adapters do not change the electrical current or voltage. Their only purpose to create a physical connection between the electrical outlet and your device’s plug.

The terms “adapter” and “converter” are often used interchangeably, but they refer to different things when it comes to electrical devices used while traveling abroad.

On the other hand, a converter, allows you to not only plug your electronic device into a different type of outlet, but it also changes the voltage of the electrical current. Countries may differ on their voltage standards. The United States, for example, operates with 110V. In other countries, they may use 220 – 240V.

Many types of modern and up to date electronics are flexible and designed to work with different types of voltages. Types of electronics include cellphones, laptops, and camera charges. If this is the case, you only need an adapter to fit into your host country’s outlet. It is important to note that some products and appliances like hair curling irons, hair dyers, are not dual-voltage. In this case, you may need a converter to make sure they work properly and nothing explodes. For items like hair dryers, I strongly recommend you to to buy these items when you get to your host country. Just get a cheap one. That way you don’t have to worry about voltage.

Before you travel, research the voltage your host country uses. A simple Google search will tell you. And when shopping for your adapter or converter, note that they may be sold separately or they may be sold as a single device. It depends on the product. Be sure to be cognizant of what you’re buying so you will have a smooth time in your host destination.

22. Streaming Device (optional)

Hopefully you don’t spend too much time in your room while studying abroad. However, if you want to wind down and relax, a streaming device can be for you. If you’re a person that wants infinite entertainment options, a streaming device could keep you entertained. Consider checking this item off your study abroad packing list.

23. Power strip (optional)

If you’re bringing a ton of electronics, you may want to check a power strip off your study abroad packing list. Power strips can be useful if you have more electronics than outlets in your room.

24. Portable Hard drive (optional)

Another idea to consider on your study abroad packing list, is a portable hard drive. If you’re someone who takes a lot of pictures or video…or use a lot of memory, a portable hard drive can be your best friend.

25. Professional Camera (optional)

For me, a professional camera is completely optional. I say this because nowadays, the quality on your cellphone for pictures and videos are just as good. If your hobby is taking picture or you’re a professional vlogger, then a professional camera can be right for you.

26. Lightweight Phone Tripod (optional)

If you plan on getting epic pictures or investing in your selfie game, a lightweight phone tripod may be necessary. The tripod should be compact, lightweight, and durable. They help you to take better pictures and avoid blurry photos. With these tripods, you can experiment with different styles like long exposure and motion blur. Again, this is a totally optional item on your study abroad packing list.

Study Abroad Packing List: Toiletries

When you are thinking about your study abroad packing list, do not overpack your toiletries. Take travel sized products and buy the full sized items when you get to your host destination. However, if you have a favorite product that you can’t live without and know you can’t buy it at your host destination, just get the full travel size. Pack the full travel sized product in your checked luggage.

For example feminine products like pads or tampons. This is up to your preference. If you don’t care which types of pads or tampons to use, get them in your host country. If you have a preference, stock up on them at home. It’s worth noting that some countries, may not carry certain items like tampons.

Also, for Black or African American female students, I would suggest packing your favorite hair products that might be difficult to find in your host country. Again, full sized products, pack in your checked luggage.

study abroad travel pack

Study Abroad Packing List: Toiletries for Carry On

Here are some toiletries to consider packing in your carry on. All items should follow TSA guidelines. Liquid, creams, and gels should be no more than 3.4 oz and fit into 1 quart Ziplock bag. The products that go into your carry on should be travel size. Examples of toiletries to put on your study abroad packing list are:

27. Toothbrush and travel sized toothpaste 28. Mouthwash 29. Deodorant 30. Glasses 31. Contact lenses and solution 32. Feminine products (a few to get you through your trip) 33. Wipes or a facial cleaner 34. Basic makeup essentials (if you wear make up. Just make sure not to pack full makeup in carry on). 35. Lotion 36. Hand sanitizer 37. Pack of gum 38. Face mask

Study Abroad Packing List: Other Items to Consider For Your Carry On

39. Identification documents (as mentioned above) 40. Medication (as mentioned above) 41. An extra outfit – In case your luggage is lost or you have an accident on the plane. 42. Pajamas – In case your outfit is lost 43. Cell phone and charger 44. Electronics and headphones 45. Anything valuable 46. Reusable water bottle – It’s great to pack a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated during your journey. Also, you will save money at the airport because you don’t have to pay for high priced water bottles.

study abroad travel pack

Study Abroad Packing List: Checked Luggage

What items should you pack in your checked luggage? Generally, heavier and bulky items should be packed in your checked luggage. Items that cannot go or are not permitted in your carryon should be put in your checked baggage. Study abroad packing list items that you should consider putting in your checked luggage include:

47. AirTags – If you are worried about your checked bag getting lost, I would put an AirTag in your bag so you can track your suitcase. It’s also worth noting that some airlines will give you the option of tracking your bag via their app or text. However, in my opinion, it’s always good to be a safe as possible. 48. Full sized toiletries and products – shampoos, conditioners, lotion, sunscreen, etc. 49. Non essentials electronics and gadgets – a camera tripod, example. For me, I try not to put anything valuable in my checked luggage. 50. Clothes – clothes that you may want to put on your study abroad packing list include:

  • 51. Shirts – Depending on the climate, long sleeve and short sleeve
  • 54. Skirts or dresses
  • 55. Underclothes – bras and underwear
  • 57. Shoes – tennis shoes, flip flops, dress shoes…for more bulkier items like boots, buy them at your host country or perhaps someone could send them in a care package. If this is the case, be aware that heavy packages sent internationally can be expensive. Sometimes you have to pay import fees.
  • 58. A nice formal outfit – this could be for a dinner or an event.
  • 59. Pajamas
  • 60. Scarf or bonnet
  • 61. A swimsuit
  • 62. A sweatshirt or jacket – even in warm climates, it may get cold in the evenings. Or it can be cold on a train, plan, or another form of transportation.
  • 63. workout clothes

How Many Clothes To Pack For Study Abroad: A Semester, Year, Or Multiple Seasons

If you are traveling abroad for a semester or year…or if you are going to a place with different seasons, and not sure what to pack, check out the following post. Determining how many clothes to pack for study abroad can be confusing. In How to Pack For Long Term Travel , I break down everything you need to know when it comes to packing for long term travel, like a study abroad experience. It will make knowing how many clothes to pack for study abroad a breeze.

Related Post: How To Pack For Long Term Travel (work or study abroad)

Study abroad packing list: miscellaneous items to pack in your checked bag.

  • 64. Small umbrella
  • 65. Travel sized detergent packets – To get you started when you study abroad, buy some laundry pods and put them in your checked bag. This is completely optional because you can just buy laundry detergent abroad. Packing a few, might hold you over while you are getting adjusted to your new home.
  • 66. Small first aid kit – Life happens unexpectedly, so be prepared. It never hurts to add a small first aid kit to your study abroad packing list.
  • 67. Padlock – If you’re going to be traveling and visiting hostels, I would pack a small lock. Sometimes you will need a lock to keep your belongings protected.
  • 68. Travel Journal – If you want to remember all you did on your study abroad experience, I highly recommend writing it down or capturing it in a video journal.

study abroad travel pack

This post was all about building your study abroad packing list. On this study abroad packing list, we covered over 68 items. Remember whether you are building a study abroad packing list Spain, study abroad packing list Italy, or a study abroad packing list Europe, you will want to pack less than you need. These are all just suggestions. Customize this study abroad checklist so that it will fit your needs.

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Study Abroad Packing: What to Bring, What to Leave Behind

study abroad travel pack

Mose Hayward

Travel Nerd

I’ve interviewed former students and a long-time trip leader about what you should pack — and, just as importantly, not pack — for study abroad trips.

Add to that my own two study abroad experiences and a decade of living in all sorts of countries for extended periods.

The result: some quite strong opinions and sage advice on what’s worth taking for foreign study stays of a few months to a year.

Kamila, the study trip leader, in particular emphasizes that students should not overpack . This is by far the most frequent mistake and the bane of those who work with students travelling abroad. You need to bring much less than you think; and often it’s better to just buy local products later on the spot if needed.

The most frequent mistake: PACKING TOO MUCH! An honest post-trip assessment usually shows that students take about twice as much stuff as actually needed.

But we also think there are a few essentials to pack, and we’ve got recommendations for each.Most students on study abroad will build a temporary life in their chosen city, but also travel a bit. So it’s all about striking the balance of having the necessities to be comfortable while not carrying so much that it will be hard to move about. Here’s a look at how students can find that balance.

A Sturdy, Leak-Proof Hanging Toiletry Bag for Dorms, Hotels, Hostels…

Sunscreen and sunglasses, an unlocked phone, or a great phone plan for americans on foreign trips, printed picture of you with your family, one typical food, sauce, brandy, sweet, or other goodie from your home region.

This article was published on March 19, 2018. It was updated with more items on September 5, 2018. Revised product recommendations on Feb. 6, 2020.

What You Pack Your Stuff In

Versatile, and lightweight-yet-sturdy luggage can make a trip much easier.

A Favorite Wheeled Pack for Study Abroad

There is a reflex among young people to opt for the travel backpacker pack, and it’s true that there are some benefits in the flexibility of being able to pop the bag up on your shoulders — whether for a flight of stairs in the Paris metro system or walking up to your beachside bungalow in Brazil. You can check out the major Osprey backpacks as recommended by an outdoors trekking expert if that’s your cup of tea, or if you’re planning on lots of hikes/camping while abroad.

But we think that for study abroad, backpacks are vastly overrated. Most students are much happier rolling your luggage on wheels.

Fortunately there’s a perfect combo option: the rolling travel backpack. These backpacks’ straps can be tucked into a slot when not needed, and you can simply roll the pack behind you.

Our favorite full-sized rolling travel backpack is a bit expensive but very well worth it: the Osprey Farpoint Wheels 65L (Men) or Osprey Farpoint Wheels 65L (Women) .

These are light but full-featured, and extremely durable. They come from Osprey, a company offering a solid warranty on its pack builds, and a history of great follow-up should anything go wrong, anywhere in the world.

Osprey Farpoint Wheels 65L

We have full coverage in our review of the top rolling travel backpacks  (and we also cover other options).

As people gain travel experience, they inevitably learn how to pack less and less in order to give themselves more freedom for improvising on the road. I myself now travel and work internationally for six months at a time with only a rolling backpack carry-on. While this might be too much (too little, really) for most study abroad students, if you’re ready to give ultra-light travel a try, you can check our recommendations for the best rolling backpack carry-on , which is the same model essentially but in a smaller size.

A Daypack/Backpack

Don’t make the mistake of only having your large luggage; you’ll want at least a small backpack for carrying an umbrella, notebooks, a laptop, water, and other essentials to class and on long days out walking around and sightseeing.

The rolling pack we recommend above comes with a detachable daypack, which makes it perfect for carrying everything all in one piece when necessary. Otherwise, consider a pack with straps or hooks that can attach on to your main piece of luggage.

We recommend in particular Osprey daypacks and discuss choosing among them at the link.

study abroad travel pack

The best toiletry bags / dopp kits for study abroad must hold up well over time and be flexible and useful enough to function as a home base for grooming supplies and makeup through any extracurricular road trips before, during, and after the study period.

As mentioned in our in-depth article on the best toiletry bags , we think these should have a few key features: a hook, so that they can be hung anywhere while in use; a small mirror for when you’re really roughing it and don’t have one; and a transparent plastic compartment for liquids so that you don’t have to change over to a plastic bag just to pass through airport security.

Also, vitally, they should be able to securely isolate any cosmetics or soaps that might spring a leak during travel.

The two best options are from reputable companies that offer great build quality and warranties:

Osprey Ultralight Zip Organizer, Shadow Grey

  • We think the best small toiletry bag is the Osprey UltraLight Zip Organizer . It has all of the features mentioned above and is great for the light travel, overnighters, and as a hanging supplement to a larger toiletry bag that you plan to check (for example paired with the Osprey Ultralight Padded Organizer ).

eagle creek Pack-It Original Wallaby Hanging Travel Toiletry Bag - Compact Zip Up Organized Storage for Travel Essentials with Detachable Clear Pouch, Black

  • The best large toiletry bag is the Eagle Creek Pack-It Wallaby Toiletry Organizer . It also has the key features we mentioned, but is large enough to be your only home for soaps and cosmetics during a semester or year of study.

That said, our heroic study abroad trip leader Kamila simply carries her liquids in a zip-lock bag. No fuss, easy to see everything, and disposable if it gets dirty.

NALGE TRAVEL KIT MD, Acrylonitrile Styrene

I highly recommend this Nalgene Bottle Kit , whose small liquids bottles have handled years of road abuse and never leaked. (Every other brand I’ve tried has ended up leaking a bit, especially with the pressure changes in airplanes.) The kit which comes with various size bottles (note that a few are over the 100 mL limit for carry-on liquids).

Note that while you can certainly pack all your favorite toiletries, globalization means that you can now generally get whatever major brands you might like in whatever country you happen to be studying in. So you don’t need to pack toiletries for your entire semester abroad. (Americans should however note that Americans often find foreign deodorants and antiperspirants to not be as “powerful” as those in Europe, and may want to prepare accordingly. I personally wonder if there isn’t something toxic in American sweat-blockers that isn’t allowed in Europe, though I haven’t found confirmation of this.)

What You Should Wear for Foreign Study

Functional, multipurpose, comfortable clothing — and you need much less than you think.

Specific recommendations vary according to your style, gender, body type, etc. But there are a few constants to keep in mind for study abroad trips.

First, try to pack clothing items that serve many purposes (such as a sarong as a dress at the beach, a hair scarf, or a shawl).

And to be prepared for chilly or colder weather, think layers of clothing rather one coat for every eventual shift in temperatures. With layers you can fine tune the number over the course of your semester or year for any temperature.

And finally assume that you will also buy a few clothing items at your study destination, once you realize what you actually need. Buying local can also help you blend in better, and give you souvenirs to remember your stay at the end of the trip.

And to be prepared for chilly or colder weather, think layers of clothing rather than a bulky, heavy coat. This way you can fine tune the number of layers over the course of your stay for any temperature.

Comfortable Shoes — Prepare for Lots of Walking on Cobblestones/Rough Roads

Many students who come to Europe in particular are surprised by just how much they end up walking — and on uneven roads. Have comfortable shoes, and make sure they are well broken in before you travel.

While some Europeans (hello, Paris!) have mastered walking long distances on cobblestones in heels, it’s not for everyone. Don’t get overambitious. Almost everyone wears their heels much less than they think they will while travelling.

For Lingerie: A Washing Bag

BAGAIL Laundry Bag Mesh Wash Bag for Intimates Lingerie and Delicates (1XL,2L,2M)

A washing bag is an easy thing to pack that protects both lingerie and, if your bras have underwires, will protect the washing machines of your host family, dorm, or wherever you are staying. Washing machines in new places can do unexpected, powerful, deranged things to delicates like bras and panties.

Travel Water Bottle

Collapsible Silicone Water Bottle

A good travel water bottle is collapsible, so that it takes little space when not in use. It can be emptied before hitting airport security, and then refilled. And it is sturdy enough for daily use to keep you hydrated in your university classes wherever in the world you roam.

A good water bottle shouldn’t use BPA plastics, which can leach into your water and cause hormonal issues ; even the alternative plastics that replace BPA could possibly be problematic .

We thus think that collapsible silicone water bottles are the best choice for their safety and convenience.

The more traditional and very Spanish choice is the bota , a sheepskin vessel that squirts.

Microfiber Quick-Drying Travel Towel

Most places that you stay will provide towels, but it’s nevertheless nice to be prepared for hostels or long road trips with a small microfiber travel towel . They pack up very small, dry quickly, and can be incredibly handy to have in your bag when on the move.

Also consider Eagle Creek’s XL Microfiber Travel Towel if you like something bigger or to take to the beach, or if you like to have a huge towel to wrap around you.

Passport Holder and/or Money Belt

study abroad travel pack

A good passport holder will hold not just your passport but also other basic documents, extra currency, and spare credit cards and other cards. Many are marketed as “RFID-blocking” but there is almost no real-world stealing of information in this manner, so that’s unnecessary. Simply go for something in the size and style that fits your needs.

A money belt can also serve this purpose, and has the advantage of being able to be worn under clothing when you are in crowded places (public transport, nightclubs) to prevent pickpocketing.

Travel Socks

DARN TOUGH (Style 1903) Women's Hiker Hike/Trek Sock - Aqua, Medium

Quality merino wool travel socks don’t stink, because the merino wool quite successfully inhibits bacteria growth. Further, they can be washed by hand when necessary and dry quickly. We use and quite like the Darn Tough socks for women  and  men .

Tampons for Some Countries, or Menstrual Cups

In parts of Latin America in particular it can be hard to find much of a selection of tampons, as local women generally prefer pads.

If this is your preferred way to handle your menstrual cycle, and especially if you prefer a very specific size/brand, you may want to plan ahead. The variety of options may be limited.

Intimina Lily Cup Size A - Ultra-Soft Menstrual Cup, Reusable Period Protection, Thin Menstrual Cup for up to 8 Hours, Medical-Grade Silicone Women’s Period Care

Several female student travellers spoke very highly of menstrual cups such as the Intima Lily Cup , as they can save luggage space, are comfortable in hot climates, and work for both light and heavy periods. (They complained of the “collapsible” models as not being very durable, but loved this Intima we’re linking to for its very soft and comfortable silicone.)

The trick with menstrual cups is that you need to have access to an adequately private place wash your hands, take them out, and rinse them. The water bottle mentioned above may help, but at times when you’re out and about for long full days of sightseeing or studying you might prefer another method.

If you’re new to menstrual cups, make sure you have a cup that you like and are quite used to using it  before leaving for your trip (it can take some time to feel comfortable and find the right size and shape for you).

study abroad travel pack

Some plan to be total celibates on their trip abroad, while others fantasize wildly about the things they’d like to do with foreign tongues. (On my first study abroad trip, three out of the forty students in our group ended up not just dating but eventually marrying local Chilean sweathearts.)

Whatever your imagined plans, it’s wise be prepared. While you can always head to a local pharmacy on arrival, and yes, that’s a fun way to practice your language skills, also consider preparing ahead by ordering a stash of your favorite brand of condoms .

Needle and Thread or Sewing Kit

Coleman Travel Sewing Kit

Even if you don’t know how to sew, at some point in a foreign country you’re likely to learn, in a pinch, when you have to sew on a button. I’ve always been happy when I remembered to carry a tiny sewing kit.

Ideally it should have a few differently sized needles, some thread in various colors, safety pins, a tiny pair of scissors for cutting the thread, and not much else. This sewing kit is perfect.

UV-A and UV-B protective sunglasses are comfortable, protect your long-term eye health, and will, yes, make you look super sexy to foreign peers.

Your sunscreen should be, according to the experts , broad spectrum (UV-A and UV-B), water resistant, and at least 30 SPF. A great one that surpasses these requirements and is carry-on-sized packable is Neutrogena Sport Face .

You may also want a hat for long days out walking.

Tech Gear for Studying Abroad

Laptop: preferably a lightweight chromebook/macbook air/ultrabook.

Light laptops are easy to throw in your bag for a day of classes. We recommend at least eight hours of battery life and ideally they can share the same USB-C charger as your phone, if you have a more recent phone.

I personally love travelling in particular with a Chromebook, because everything is always online. They’re not expensive, and if the laptop gets stolen I can easily pick up right where I left off on any other machine.

If you’re just going on a week-long or two-week guided trip and won’t have traditional classes, a laptop may not be necessary, but a tablet or E-reader may be nice to have. Speaking of which…

For Reading and Language Progress While Studying Abroad: A Kindle

study abroad travel pack

Don’t carry heavy books! If you haven’t yet made the switch over to e-readers, an extended trip abroad is the perfect time to do so. The No products found. allows you to take with an almost infinite supply of both books from back home and books about and from your target country. It’s light, a pleasure to use, and the battery can last for up to a month before needing a recharge. Kindles also have built-in dictionaries that can aid with reading and quickly looking up foreign language words on the fly. And you can even highlight a passage and have it machine-translated for you.

For serious readers, a Kindle Unlimited subscription provides access to a million books, plus audiobooks and magazines. It’s perfect for long train rides through Europe. As a student, though, it’s better to sign up for the free six-month trial of Amazon Prime Student , which gives you:

  • Free reading access to books, magazines, and audiobooks on a Kindle or any other device
  • Prime video, Amazon’s streaming video service
  • Free unlimited photo storage for cataloging the adventures on your trip
  • Free two-day shipping and other standard Prime benefits

Interesting that the trial period is six months, no? So you can cancel at the end of your semester abroad and pay nothing.

Finally, as pleasurable as the reading experience on a Kindle is, note that you can also just use the free  Kindle Cloud Reader to read e-books on other devices like your laptop.

Kindle Oasis

A Quality Universal Travel Plug Power Adapter (with USB-C)

Go into any electronics brick-and-mortar store and you’ll likely be sold a large and very overpriced kit with separate adapters for each country.

study abroad travel pack

Fortunately there are universal travel plug adapters that give you the flexibility of going anywhere in the world with just one adapter. And should you buy an electronic product in the country where you are doing your study abroad, you’ll also be able to use the universal adapter to convert that plug for use in your home country.

The best all-in-one USB-C universal travel plug adapter that we’ve reviewed is the Epicka Travel Adapter .

Three of those ports are a USB-C, so you’re all set for fast-charging (it works) on the latest phones and devices. It also has standard USB-A out ports and a universal plug outlet for plugging in electronic devices from the USA or from anywhere in the world. That, plus it’s one of the smallest and lightest options out there.

This is not a voltage converter and so should not be used to plug old, high-power high dryers into sockets with a different voltage. But laptops, phone chargers and other electronics are fine; they show the voltages they accept on the plug (generally 100-240) and so they generally work anywhere in the world with the help of just this plug adapter.

Portable Extra USB Battery

Anker Portable Charger, Power Bank, 40,000mAh 30W Battery Pack with USB-C High-Speed Charging, for MacBook, iPhone iPhone 15/15 Plus/15 Pro/15 Pro Max, iPhone14/13/12 Series, Samsung Galaxy, iPad

A small extra battery can make an enormous difference on the road in a foreign country, since we rely on our phones to do so much: navigate, translate, call a ride via app, take photos, and more. We’ve analyzed all of the batteries for USB-C phones and our favorite large capacity battery for travel was the  Anker 40K 30W USB-C Power Bank . On a full charge it can recharge a smartphone many times over and can even charge USB-C laptops decently.

In Brazil , I have even used an Anker battery to quickly recharge my phone around the house sometimes, as there were limited and very hard-to-reach outlets. So a battery like this can be useful if outlets are limited, hard to reach or sometimes not working (because of frequent power outages for example).

Foldable Hair Dryer

Conair Travel Hair Dryer with Dual Voltage, 1600W Compact Hair Dryer with Folding Handle, Travel Blow Dryer

While you can also buy or be provided with a hair dryer wherever you’re going, it can be useful to take along a foldable travel hair dryer that can run on different voltages.

Cell phone plans have hefty roaming fees when used abroad, and so to avoid them one can  buy an   unlocked international phone  before leaving and then purchase a new prepaid SIM at the airport or a phone shop upon arrival in the new country (this means swapping out the phone’s SIM card).

This is invariably cheaper than using an international version of one’s home mobile phone plan. It’s true that in some countries getting a local prepaid SIM can be complicated (because of required documentation or technical flaws), but in most cases it’s just a trip to a cell phone shop, and usually your passport is enough.

study abroad travel pack

However, for those from the USA there’s now another great option, and it’s what I personally use everywhere on the globe. Google’s  Project Fi   (use my referral link, save $20) has completely changed how I connect internationally.

Now I land in a foreign airport and am immediately on the same very affordable internet connection just about anywhere in the world. This means that the moment I arrive in any country it’s easy to immediately can get an Uber, search public transport options, look up currency rates online, communicate with my hosts, and the rest. Project Fi works without expense and hassle, and the system is lovely to use throughout the length of my stays, whether for days, weeks, months, or more. It’s the safer and more convenient way to always stay connected when switching countries, because I never have to think about it.

There’s a bit of a combo-upside-downside in that you always keep your same USA phone number. This means no hassle of changing anything, but also that you don’t have a local phone number in your host country. However, since people in most countries now rely on Whatsapp, Facebook, Viber, or other messaging apps rather than SMS, the need for a local number is almost entirely obsolete in daily life.

Also, the newer Pixel phones that work with Google fi have dual SIMs, so you can have both your home USA number and your local SIM for the country you’re in, simultaneously. These are sold in unlocked versions.

And for the USA (the only place I know of where SMS use is still quite rampant) note that in any case Project Fi does provide free SMS-ing to anywhere in the world, from anywhere in the world. It’s nice for staying in touch with your SMS-happy friends (and especially parents) in the USA.

Have Your Documentation and Cards Ready

Everything’s online, and yet somehow we still use paper passports, money, and more. And it can be worthwhile even having paper copies of a few things that you’re now used to seeing exclusively on screens…

Both Paper and Cloud-Stored Copies of Your Important Documents

It’s wise to carry a photocopy of your passport, any necessary visas, health insurance, travel insurance, emergency contact, bank phone number (in case your cards are stolen), and itenary (print your travel receipts for safety, even if you’re travelling on planes or booking trains that accept E-tickets). These can be very useful should your original documents get lost or stolen.

You should also upload a good scan or useable photo of your passport and other documents to DropBox , Google Drive , Amazon Drive , or any other secure cloud service (they all have basic free versions); this ensures that you can download them at the drop of a hat (I’ve even shown documents to an authority on my phone’s screen when I was in a pinch — not as good as the real thing, but useful).

These services also offer a better way to store and share a large archive of photos and videos from your trip, rather than storing them on a local device that can get stolen or lost.

Credit Cards: Prep for Travel

Advise your bank and PayPal that you will be travelling and accessing your accounts from abroad. As a security measure, banks frequently block cards if there are attempts to access them from a new country.

Also ensure that you have a pin number for your card (Americans) as this is necessary for use with credit card readers in other parts of the world.

And finally, check what fees you will be paying for foreign withdrawals, and the exchange rates as well. Schwab Bank offers a free checking account with no ATM fees (my referral link — may offer both you and I a bonus), and even refunds the fees charged by any foreign ATMs. This is by far the best plan I’ve seen for Americans travelling abroad, as foreign ATM fees can really add up, and the checking account otherwise has no monthly or annual fees. You will need to also sign up for a brokerage account in order to use the checking account, but don’t have to actually use the brokerage account or invest in stocks.

Check this listing for recommendations for debit cards for students coming from other home countries.

Your Prescriptions and Medications

Since the country you are staying in may not have the same brands or their pharmacies could question a foreign prescription, it’s easiest to just pack any medications that will be necessary for your entire trip. Pack them along with your prescription in case you face any questions, or need to try to replace them.

If you will need to fill a prescription while abroad, check that the same brands/versions will be available in the destination country, or which to get if not.

Not only is this a nice, old-school, tangible way to remember your loved ones back home, it’s a great way to break ice in conversations where you don’t necessarily have the language skills to get much else across. People can be curious to see where you came from and who is important to you. It can even help to promote trust in far off lands where you seem a bit alien.

If you don’t have a good printer, there are some cheap postcard apps — and these can also be useful for sending photos back home in a semi-old-fashioned way, especially to those (older?) relatives who aren’t following your every move on Instagram.

Other Stuff

Language prep for study abroad.

To really hit the ground running, you need not just any language skills, but those targeted to the dialect of your host university. For instance, if you’re going to Spain, the Latin American phrases that you’ve learned won’t be of much use. And if you’re studying in Montreal you’d be much better off preparing for that (dreadful, but cute) Quebecois accent rather than European French.

University language classes and private schools are rarely equipped to help you with these and other particular challenges of living in a specific locale. Your learning would be much more efficient and motivated with language teachers who are actually native to the country and region where you will be studying.

Fortunately, this is imminently possible via online lessons. In addition, one-on-one personalized classes are likely to be both far cheaper and way more useful than anything you’d have at your home university or private language school.

study abroad travel pack

Our favorite forum for finding talented online language teachers from anywhere is Italki ; I’ve personally used it for years to work on my Russian, Italian, and Serbian, as well as for short-term brush-up on local accents in other languages (such as Brazilian Portuguese).

The site has all kinds of teachers — from highly polished professionals to amateurs — who can also be wonderful for just helping you practice your target language and accent. Some of the teachers are fellow university students and you may even be able to find a language coach who is in the exact same university as where you plan to attend.

Prices vary by teacher but are generally extremely reasonable, especially compared to offline options. I recommend working with several different teachers rather than just one, in order to get exposed to a variety of perspectives and language patterns.

For more, I have a lot of other language-learning hacks — born of my battles to better communicate while studying and living everywhere.

This can be a great way to remember your home, connect with others, and share across cultures.

Don’t  bring or send some huge box of goodies from home, however. Part of the reason you’re going abroad is to (learn to) enjoy the local fare!

Things NOT to Pack for a Study Abroad Trip

A lot of the other packing advice for study abroad out there can be dated (even to pre-mobile phone times: seriously, bring a map???!!! a watch???!!!) or suggest packing unnecessary stuff that will ultimately just weigh you down.

Generally you should also keep in mind that with globalization, you can buy pretty much the same products anywhere in the world, so there’s no need to stress too much, and definitely no need to bring anything that you’re not sure you’ll actually use. Avoid the “just in case” items.

Here are our recommendations for what NOT to bring:

  • Paper maps and travel guides (these weigh you down and digital versions of guides like Lonely Planet can be purchased instead)
  • Foreign currency purchased through your bank (you can withdraw local currency from an ATM on arrival at a much better rate; it is wise however to bring $200 or so of hard American dollars or Euros as a backup)
  • Travellers’ checks (fortunately these are completely obsolete)
  • Dictionaries and other books (use your Kindle as mentioned above, plus WordReference , Reverso , Google Translate , and other online tools)
  • Blankets and pillows (our study abroad trip leader says that some of her students always bring these for some reason, and have a terrible time carrying them around)

That’s it for our recommendations of what to bring, and what not to bring. Your additions and advice are welcome in the comments.

study abroad travel pack

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The Ultimate Study Abroad Packing List

As the Managing Director for a study abroad program that runs on four continents and includes primarily field courses, I’ve made lots of packing lists in my day.

I’ve also traveled to 82 countries, many on my own while living out of a backpack. So while every study abroad packing list will be different, and every location and program has its own needs, here are some things to consider when packing for your study abroad adventure.

I don’t advocate for buying a lot of stuff to study abroad. After all, you already have clothes, shoes, and, presumably, everything you need to go to school. Anything you really need to live in a country? They sell it in that country. So whenever possible, don’t buy lots of new stuff before you go!

Save your money for in-country expenses, keep your bag light, and be comfortable in your own clothes.

That said, if you’re missing something that you need and can’t find someone to borrow from, or you just aren’t sure where to start, here are some ideas!

Table of Contents

The Perfect Bag

Power adapter, travel umbrella, lightweight rain jacket, insect repellant, motion sickness medicine, portable clothes washer, travel pillow, collapsible water bottle, giant scarf, appropriate-for-everything dress, dry shampoo, journal and pens, medications and copies of all prescriptions, phone and laptop cases, sense of adventure, sense of humility.

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A universal adapter is a great, cheap option that can be used again and again in your travels. Think about bringing a power strip that you can plug into the adapter so that you have multiple outlets! Be sure to check that the country you’re visiting is included in a universal adapter.

It could be if you’ll only be in one country, that a smaller adapter makes more sense and you can easily pack a couple with you (for example, leaving one attached to your phone cord). Some students choose to buy a phone or computer cord matching their study abroad country’s outlets so they don’t have to worry about having an adapter with them at all times.

(PS – power strips generally cannot be carried onto airplanes, so if you bring one, put it in your checked bag!)

Remember that an adapter is NOT a converter. (Converters are generally heavier and more expensive.) So some items that are dangerous at a different voltage, such as hairdryers and straighteners, may not be advisable to bring to your study abroad program (and may not be allowed).

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Buy on Amazon

I know some people consider this excessive, but I generally like to bring a travel umbrella. Whether you’re getting to class with your laptop or traveling with all your possessions on your back, a travel umbrella can be an easy and affordable way to make sure everything stays dry.

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While you can likely buy insect repellent at your program location if you need it, having at least a small bottle with you ensures you’ll have it at all times. Avoiding mosquito bites helps you stay comfortable and can prevent serious illnesses. A small bottle of 100% Deet can last a LONG time, since you use very small amounts, and is easy to carry.

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I would consider this a study abroad essential. You can restock abroad, but having some in your bag can turn a miserable experience into a pleasant one. From stormy ferry rides to twisty mountain roads, turbulent airplanes to unexpectedly bumpy trains, have some of this in your bag.

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Doing laundry during study abroad can be expensive, inconvenient, or both. One great option is to simply wash items as needed in the shower. Admittedly, you don’t need any special products to do that! But if the idea of washing clothes in the shower sounds tricky to you, you can save money and time with a product like this one (which fits easily in your bag).

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Learn what apps are popular in the places you’ll be visiting. Do they use Uber or Grab? Do they use WhatsApp or Line? Are there local food apps that can help you? Do people use an app to pay directly from their phones? Google Maps and Google Translate are likely helpful almost anywhere, but a few new apps can make things a LOT easier for you when you arrive in your temporary home country.

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I always travel with a giant scarf. Need a blanket? Need a towel? Need a pillow? Need to cover up a stain? Need to cover up to visit a temple or other modest location? Need a privacy screen? Need a tote bag? Need a beach cover-up? Need a skirt? A top? A head-covering? A bedspread? A decorative wall hanging?

Guess what: a big scarf can be all these things. Get a BIG, light one and thank me later.

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This one is specific to people who wear dresses, but if you do, this is a great study abroad item. A comfortable black dress that has long sleeves and covers your knees is GREAT to have in your bag.

If you need to attend a faculty dinner, a concert, or a funeral, you’re covered. It’s appropriate for almost any religious building or service, for a graduation, or for any school event. It’s appropriate for an interview or giving a presentation. It also works for walking around the city, going to dinner, or really anything. You can dress it up or down, accessorize it differently, and keep it in your closet year after year. (PS – it has pockets!)

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Whether you keep notes on your phone app, a journal on your laptop, or a paper journal, keep notes of your study abroad experience. Even a voice recorder or video recorder would do! You’ll want to remember the experience forever, and this will help. If you are a pen-and-paper person like me, this set is almost indestructible, lasts forever, writes clearly, doesn’t smudge, and is also fun for coloring.

Bring your prescriptions – and check to make sure you can bring what you need into your country of travel! Also, bring copies of your prescriptions (it’s good to keep a digital copy on your phone as well), and store your prescriptions in your carry-on luggage in case your bag gets lost.

Bring over-the-counter meds you routinely take as well, so that you have them if you feel sick and you can show them to a pharmacist to easily buy more if needed. Items you sometimes use, like glasses or a wrist brace, you’d want to bring too. Better safe than sorry!

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Whatever you pack, be sure to bring your sense of adventure to your study abroad experience. Try new foods, talk to new people, and make an effort to learn the local language and culture. You may feel tired or overwhelmed, but once you’re back home, you’ll be happy that you took advantage of every opportunity that presented itself.

Get out and have adventures, but don’t forget your sense of humility. You are a guest in the culture you are visiting, and you are there to listen, learn, and grow. Take the opportunity to experience another culture without judging it, and watch yourself change in positive ways.

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Photo of author

Jane Stine, JD, M.Ed.

Website: Loop Abroad

Jane is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Loop Abroad, rated GoAbroad's Top Study Abroad Program for 2018. She has lived in Costa Rica, Brazil, the Bahamas, France, Portugal, Nepal, and Thailand, and has traveled to 85 countries and all 7 continents.

Study Abroad Packing List

packing bags for a trip

Choosing what to pack for a study abroad trip requires some thought. With airline weight restrictions in mind, you only have so much room in your baggage to accommodate everything you need. 

Whether you pack at the last minute or plan ahead, this packing list has all the standard essentials for a successful trip: 

Carry on bag

Beginning with the essentials is a good idea when making a packing list. Things a student needs on an international trip include:

  • A large suitcase - Consider airline size and weight limits when packing a bag, and allow space for souvenirs.
  • A carry-on bag - Such as a travel backpack or day bag, that fits inside the carry-on limits and allows for simple access to papers while on the road.
  • Wallet with an ID - Always carry personal identification with you when traveling.
  • Some local cash - Bringing local currency if you want it immediately upon arrival is advisable.
  • School materials - Pack any resources you will need for your classes, keeping in mind that there will be stores where you can purchase more.
  • Medication - If you take any medications, develop a plan to avoid running out overseas.

Laundry for packing

Think about the seasons you'll encounter and pack enough clothing for two weeks, allowing for a decent rotation before needing to do a wash. Choose lightweight, breathable materials if your study abroad location is in a hot climate, like at Arizona State University. If you're traveling to a colder region like Seattle in the Pacific Northwest, you'll need additional layers and accessories to stay warm. Instead of heavier sweaters and hoodies, wear thinner, insulating layers such as base layers, long-sleeved shirts, and light sweaters. 

Do not forget to bring:

  • Shirts 
  • Pants 
  • Undergarments
  • At least two pairs of shoes
  • Long-sleeve undershirt 

Seasonal hats

Two passports

While your passport is the most significant identification document you'll need on your trip, it's not the only one you'll need to carry. Officials may request verification of your student status, and you should provide the necessary school papers to back your claim. You may also want any health-related paperwork in case you need medical attention. This list isn’t comprehensive, so contacting your SAF counselor is critical to determine what paperwork you need.

Here are some of the documents to consider packing:

  • Passport - This is the most crucial document for going abroad.
  • Visa - To demonstrate legal status if necessary
  • Insurance information - Travelers' health insurance is a valuable investment in case of a medical emergency.
  • Housing details - Many customs agencies want you to offer an address where you will be staying.
  • School acceptance letter – Evidence of admission into the program you'll be attending.
  • Emergency connections – Any local and international contacts you may call for assistance.
  • Local embassy information – In case any complications or problems develop during your stay.


Certain toiletries are more vital than others. It's advisable to bring some with you so you don't have to worry about necessities like shampoo, soap, and toothpaste during your first few days abroad. Buy travel-size toiletries to save on bag weight, knowing you can buy more in your new city.

Make sure to put any liquid toiletries on your travel packing list in your checked luggage since only small amounts are permitted on the plane. Here are some toiletries suggestions:

  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Hand sanitizer


phone and laptop

Electronics are an essential part of modern life. Most of us use our phones, tablets, and computers regularly for business, entertainment, and photography. Remember to look up what outlet plug you'll need for where you're traveling, or purchase an international one with several converters in one unit.

Some of the gadgets to remember include:

  • Phone charger 
  • Electronics converter 
  • Additional cables

Other Items

Computer and coffee

Here are some more items you may want to bring along:

  • A sewing kit

When you're ready to start packing, refer to this list to ensure you have everything. Once your baggage is ready, remember to prepare for your trip by reviewing some TSA tips and tricks.


  • Tuition Insurance
  • Renters Insurance

The Ultimate Packing List for College Students Studying Abroad

study abroad travel pack

Embarking on a study abroad adventure is an exhilarating experience that opens up a world of possibilities and cultural immersion. As a college student preparing to venture into unknown territory, packing efficiently and thoughtfully is critical to ensuring a smooth and successful journey. To help you navigate the packing process and ensure you have everything you need, we’ve compiled the ultimate packing list for college students studying abroad.

From travel essentials and academic supplies to clothing, toiletries, and beyond, this comprehensive guide will ensure you’re well-prepared for any destination, climate, or cultural experience that awaits you. So, get ready to pack your bags and embark on an unforgettable journey of learning, discovery, and personal growth!

Travel Documents:

  • Health insurance card with contact information
  • Emergency contact list (include phone numbers and addresses)
  • International driver’s license (if planning to drive)
  • International Student Identity Card (ISIC) for discounts and student benefits
  • Copy of your birth certificate
  • Global roaming plan for your mobile phone

Money and Banking:

  • Local currency for immediate expenses
  • Credit cards (inform your bank about your travel plans and inquire about international transaction fees)
  • Debit card(s) linked to your bank account(s)
  • Spare cash in your home currency (for emergencies)
  • Money belt or a secure wallet for carrying cash and important cards


  • Portable external hard drive for backing up files
  • USB flash drives for transferring documents
  • E-reader or tablet for reading and studying
  • Portable Bluetooth speaker for entertainment
  • Voltage converter or transformer (if your destination has a different voltage)

Clothing and Accessories:

  • Casual clothes for everyday wear
  • Formal attire for special events, dinners, or presentations
  • Lightweight and breathable clothing for hot climates
  • Warm clothing and layering options for colder climates
  • Sturdy and comfortable shoes for walking and exploring
  • Flip flops or sandals for warmer weather
  • Boots for colder climates
  • Hat or cap for sun protection and style
  • Travel-sized sewing kit for quick repairs

Toiletries and Personal Care Items:

  • Toothbrush holder for travel
  • Travel-sized toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, etc.)
  • Makeup and skincare products
  • Nail clippers and tweezers
  • Hairdryer or straightener (if needed, check voltage compatibility)
  • Compact mirror
  • Personal hygiene items (contact lens solution, menstrual products, etc.)

Bedding and Linens:

  • Travel-sized pillowcase
  • Bed sheets or sleeping bag liner
  • Lightweight blanket or sleep sack
  • Towels (bath and hand towels)
  • Earplugs and eye masks for better sleep in unfamiliar environments

Kitchen Essentials:

  • Reusable water bottle with a filter
  • Travel-sized cutlery set
  • Lightweight and collapsible food containers
  • Small cooking utensils (spatula, whisk, etc.)
  • Ziplock bags for storing snacks and leftovers
  • Portable coffee maker or French press (if desired)
  • Non-perishable food items from home (if allowed)

School Supplies:

  • Laptop or tablet (with charger and necessary software)
  • Notebooks, folders, and binders for organizing coursework
  • Pens, pencils, highlighters, and erasers
  • Sticky notes, paper clips, and binder clips
  • Scientific calculator or graphing calculator (if required)
  • USB hub or adapter for extra ports
  • Portable printer (if needed)
  • Planner or calendar for scheduling and deadlines

Miscellaneous Items:

  • Travel guidebooks or language phrasebooks
  • Travel-sized laundry detergent
  • Portable clothesline for drying clothes
  • Travel-sized iron or steamer (if desired)
  • Travel-sized first aid kit with essential medications
  • Mosquito repellent and sunscreen
  • Universal sink stopper for doing laundry
  • Travel-sized umbrella
  • Portable luggage scale for weighing bags before departure

Remember to research the destination country’s customs and regulations regarding items such as medications, electronics, and food. Packing a small bag or backpack as a carry-on with essential items is also advisable, in case your checked luggage is delayed or lost.

A well-organized and thoughtful packing list is crucial for a successful study abroad experience. By considering your destination’s requirements and culture, you can ensure you have everything you need while enjoying your semester. So, pack wisely, embrace the adventure, and get ready to make lifelong memories during your study abroad journey. Bon voyage!

How GradGuard Can Protect Studying While Studying Abroad

College students can benefit from GradGuard, which provides cost-effective insurance coverage that is customized to their specific requirements.

How GradGuard Can Protect You While Traveling Abroad:

  • Tailored coverage:  GradGuard  offers a variety of insurance products that can be customized to meet your specific needs.
  • Affordable rates : As a college student, you likely have a tight budget. GradGuard’s insurance products are designed to be affordable, with rates often lower than other insurance options.
  • Easy enrollment:  GradGuard’s enrollment process is simple and straightforward, with online applications and quick approval times, without having to jump through many hoops.
  • Peace of mind : With GradGuard, you can have peace of mind knowing that you are protected from unexpected expenses that can derail your college experience. Whether it’s a stolen laptop, a medical emergency, or a sudden need to withdraw from school, GradGuard’s insurance products can help you recover and move forward.

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Study Abroad Packing List

two students backpacking in New Zealand's mountains

Don't know where to start? Let us help!

Deciding what to pack for study abroad is no joke. You only have a few bags to fit all the essentials for your time abroad - plus airline weight restrictions to keep in mind! After advising thousands of study abroad students and interns every year on what to pack for study abroad, our IES Abroad Advisors put together the ultimate study abroad packing list.

Whether you're a notorious over-packer, a last-minute packer, or the kind of person that always forgets something important, this list covers all the basics and includes packing tips to keep in mind. 

Please refer to your Predeparture Guide to see what specific items related to COVID-19 you may need to pack, such as masks or a negative COVID test. 

Download Our Packing List

  • Passport and visa (plus copies, just in case)
  • "Print Me" document sent by IES Abroad about 2 weeks before program start date
  • Driver's license/photo ID
  • Plane tickets
  • Printed CISI insurance card
  • Credit/debit cards
  • Cash in local currency for initial on-site expenses (check your predeparture information for recommended amount)
  • Photocopies of important travel documents (your passport photo, visa, etc.)
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Tablet/E-book and chargers
  • Laptop and charger
  • Camera (if you are taking one) and charger
  • Portable power bank
  • Emergency outfit (in case your luggage gets lost or there is a major delay)
  • Travel-size toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste) and a toothbrush
  • Tissue pack
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Gloves (if wanted)
  • Antibacterial wipes
  • Empty, reusable water bottle
  • Hair brush/comb
  • Glasses/contact lenses for duration of program
  • Prescription medications for duration of program
  • Preferred over-the-counter medicine
  • Menstrual hygiene items
  • Shaving supplies
  • Preferred skincare/makeup
  • Pants, shorts, and/or skirts
  • Sweater or sweatshirt
  • Workout clothes
  • One or two nicer outfits (for events or formal dress internship placements)
  • Coat/jacket (check the weather in your host country)
  • Raincoat or waterproof jacket
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Dress shoes
  • Flip flops/shower shoes
  • Accessories/belts
  • Travel/overnight bag and/or travel purse
  • Padlock to lock luggage when traveling or in hostels
  • Small, quick-dry towel
  • Travel pillow
  • Travel journal
  • Lint roller

Packing Do's and Dont's

“You are much more important than what is in your backpack and the things that will best equip you for the journey ahead can’t be held in your hands—so grab that luggage, put on a brave face, and go!” Soledad T. • Yale University • Granada – Study in Granada

Get our packing list!

Whether you're a notorious over-packer, a last-minute packer, or the kind of person that always forgets something important, this list covers all the basics and includes packing tips to keep in mind.

study abroad travel pack

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What Should I Pack? Study Abroad Essentials

Contributed by, connect with isep.

Interested in studying abroad? Sign up to learn more!

So you’ve been accepted to study abroad and you’re ready to go to an exciting and faraway destination. You’ve registered for classes, you’ve secured your visa, and you’ve booked your flight — now you just have to pack. But… what on earth are you supposed to bring? There are numerous “what to pack for study abroad” lists out there, but most leave out some important items, like…

Your thinking cap. This is STUDY abroad, remember? Take as many opportunities to learn as you can — both inside and outside the classroom. Ask your host family about the history of the town you live in. Join a local music group, book club, or sports team and get to know the host culture first-hand. Take a cooking class. Volunteer in your community. And of course… don’t forget to actually go to your classes.

An open mind. Say yes! Try new things! Step out of your comfort zone! Be open not only to exciting adventures, but to the realization that people may think or feel differently from you, or that everything may not be as you expected. Which brings us to the next item you should pack…

Memories from home. The (shocking!) truth is, study abroad isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. There might come a time when you feel homesick — it’s a normal part of spending a semester overseas. So don’t forget to pack some small items from home to cheer yourself up when you’re feeling blue. Bring a DVD of your favorite movie, tack up photos of loved ones in your new room, or create a music playlist that makes you think of home. The best part? You can share all of these things with your new study abroad friends!

Your sense of humor. One of the best parts about studying abroad is the knowledge that you will inevitably commit a cultural faux pas. Whether you inadvertently ask a passerby for war instead of the train station or accidentally mistake the men’s bathroom for the women’s (both true stories), you are probably going to make a mistake or two. And you know what? It’s okay! Mistakes are part of the learning process, so there’s no sense in stressing. Have a good laugh and treasure the fact that you will have an entertaining (albeit mildly embarrassing) story to tell to all of your friends.

Flexibility. Face it. You’re probably going to forget to pack something. Fortunately, that’s when your problem-solving skills kick into action! If you’ve forgotten your [INSERT CRUCIAL ITEM HERE], you will either learn to adapt to life without it, or figure out a suitable alternative. Being flexible will not only help you pack your suitcase, but you’ll have an easier time interacting with locals from your host country, too.

Looking for more packing suggestions? Check out our travel tips on our Pinterest board here . And if you’ve got a study abroad packing list of your own, share it with us! Submit a blog post.

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Study abroad resources and articles

Study abroad packing list, packing principles for studying abroad.

The rule of thumb is that you should pack what you can't buy or isn't worth buying abroad and you have the actual physical space to pack it (without adding another luggage). In the following points we collected the most important principles and tips to pack your luggage and make the most of studying abroad.

1. Luggage weight and dimension limits are not completely harmonized between airlines. We provided some reference points in the table below, but in order to avoid unexpected luggage fees, ALWAYS check the luggage allowance rules of your airline provider!

IATA (International Air Transport Association) luggage recommendations

In total that is between 39-50kg / 86-110lbs. That should do it. If you packed more than that, chances are you overpacked. Overpacking may cost you dearly at the airport (overweight luggage fee or added luggage) and carrying all that luggage through cities with zero escalator is not fun at all. Not to mention that you will not wear or use half of what you packed.

Take out the items that will most certainly wait for you at home. Also please do not pack illegal and suspicious items, ALWAYS check with your airlines' regulation if you are in doubt. You don't want to be stranded and searched for hours at the airport and potentially miss your flight.

2. What to pack in your hand luggage? All your personal documents, electronics and a spare outfit in case your check-in luggage is delayed (or in rare cases lost).

3. How to pack your check-in luggage? In order to save space, bottles and fragile objects (placed in a plastic bag first) can be wrapped in socks, underwears and T-shirts instead of volume boosting packages.

4. Seasons and semesters. If you go for a semester you may need to pack for 1 or 2 seasons, depending on the climate. Those who study abroad for an academic year or more, need to pack for all seasons. If you go for more than a year, most likely you will buy some new clothes abroad anyways (some will go clothes shopping on the first week, but that's not an option for everyone).

Check the expected weather for the whole period of your study abroad program. Yes, they have a cold winter in most of Northern America, Northern Asia and Europe.

5. Distance matters. Your study abroad packing list may be shorter in case you are going to study in a neighbor country. You can go home 'any time' or your parents and friends may drop off some supplies every once in a while.

6. Consumer prices in your host country can be significantly higher or lower than the price range you got used to. If you are going to study abroad in Switzerland or Norway, you might want to pack almost everything you could ever use abroad in order to economize. In some cases paying for an extra luggage could be cheaper than buying toiletries in the host country, so do the math before. On the other hand if your host country is India or The Philippines, you might decide to go with a half empty luggage and buy almost everything abroad (if you are brave enough to leave without your favorite brands).

7. Pack interchangeable clothes to multiply the variety of your outfits. Your jeans or skirts should match any of your shirts and walking shoes or dress shoes. Most of your clothes should be appropriate for layering.

8. The international student lifestyle involves loads of traveling and you do not want to spend your study abroad program with cleaning, drying and folding all your clothes. Also you surely do not want to spend your time complaining about how you lost your favorite and most expensive designer clothes. So by that logic, your study abroad wardrobe should consist of durable and comfortable clothes that do not require special care.

9. A luggage only gets heavier abroad. You may assume that your luggage will be lighter on the way home. Legend says there were international students whose luggage weighed less on the way home, but it is highly unlikely. Unless you visit your home country and drop off part of the originally packed goods, your souvenir and gift filled baggage will weigh more. Let alone all the foreign magazines, books and other items you bought just because you liked them.

10. Brand matters. Some countries do not have certain products or brands you used and trusted before. International students from Western countries often have a hard time finding proper deodorant, toothbrush, tampons and other items in the Far East, Middle East or Africa. Vice versa, international students with non-Western cultural background might find Western shops a bit strange (overstocked stores may cause shopping dilemmas). If you are picky about your toiletry, makeup or sauce brands – bring enough of them from home.

11. The 'just in case' packing method. Forget about it. In case you need a ball dress or a diving suit, you order it from an online shop or you will go to a physical store and get what you need like everyone else in the host country. If you are not being selective you may end up bringing 3 oversized check-in luggage - and all the trouble with that.

12. Save, save, save. If you take your laptop and external hard drive with you, save the most important documents on your desktop, another external drive or use cloud service providers. Better be safe than sorry, you don't want to lose all your family pictures and selfies.

13. Accessories abroad. Just like you should not take the most expensive clothes with you, it is not advised to take any expensive, one of a kind jewelry to your study abroad program. They might be damaged, lost or stolen and that would surely mark your semester abroad.

14. Bring souvenirs to your host family and future local and international friends. Bring them something unique, let it be your national food or drink or any culture specific item. Pack several small, inexpensive but symbolic souvenirs for up to 10 people. They will appreciate it.

We listed the factors you have to consider when assembling your study abroad packing list. Now let's see what do we find in the luggage of an average international student!

Pack your 'life' and go

Your study abroad program is around the corner and you have a vague study abroad packing list. You are reaching for the bathroom scale to measure the empty weight of your luggage. You asked everyone about this, watched some packing tutorials, but you still hesitate whether you should pack your entire wardrobe (you know, just in case) or nothing else but a Hawaii T-shirt and sunglasses. Hold your horses just for now.

Our packing list guide is based on the experience of more than hundred international students studying abroad all over the world. Even so, let's be real here: there will always be personal needs and country specific items to take with you. The following study abroad packing guide is not sacrosanct, so if there is something crucial for your survival, feel free to add it to your personal packlist. We are giving you a reasonable guide with several options to include or leave out, so besides the essential items you weigh yourself what is worth taking with you.

Remember to revise this study abroad packing list and guide again, some days before your departure. Also, you may need to do some preparation to get ready for studying abroad.

Guide to round up your study abroad packing list

The categories below help you to have a quick overview of what you need to pack for studying abroad. The colors and abbreviations indicate the importance of each item in descending order. In general it is a good idea to use plastic bags to separate your stuff.

study abroad travel pack

Personal documents & electronics

Personal documents

Keep them in your pockets and pack the rest in your backpack (deep inside) or cross-body bag. Before you leave your house, double or triple check where you put your passport, travel tickets, wallet and prescription medicine.

  • passport and additional ID photos
  • health insurance card or proof
  • passport and insurance copies (kept separately)
  • purse/wallet
  • 100 USD worth local currency in cash
  • travel tickets or boarding passes
  • emergency contact list
  • learning agreement (for exchange students)
  • diploma and trancripts (for full-degree students)
  • ISIC / student cards
  • travel itinerary
  • travel dictionary (mini)
  • journal / diary


Keep the most expensive items in your backpack or cross-body bag and put the least important electronic gadgets in your hand luggage (check in the power strip).

  • mobile phone and charger
  • laptop and charger (plus case)
  • outlet adapter
  • universal battery charger
  • camera (adapter and charger)
  • memory cards (phone/camera)
  • flash drive
  • external hard drive
  • MP3 player / iPod
  • e-book reader
  • power strip with converter

Clothing - come what may

Everyday clothing

Pack half of them in your hand luggage and the other half in your check- in luggage (mostly on the bottom as a bedding for fragile items). If eight short sleeve shirts are too much, pack six. If you don't wear T-shirts, don't pack any. You may choose any combination, as long as you pack clothes for one-two weeks (or else you will be tied to the laundry room).

  • 7-14 underwears
  • 7-14 pair of socks
  • 8-10 short and long sleeve shirts
  • 3-5 T-shirts
  • 2 buttons up
  • 2 sweatshirts or sweaters
  • 2 pants, jeans or khakis
  • 2 sleeveless shirts or tanktops
  • walking shoes
  • multi-purpose jacket (rain and wind)
  • multi-purpose pants (colder and warmer weather)
  • slippers or flip-flops

Winter/formal/training clothing

If you are going in the winter you will wear the heaviest clothes to save space. In case you are going in the summer, but you are taking winter clothes for the next semester, then you might need to pack it in your luggage, however some airlines allow you to take 1-2 items in your hand (free of charge). ALWAYS check with your airline provider!

  • winter coat

Pack them in your hand luggage or wear them. You may need to attend an official event (e.g. holiday, ceremony), have a video job interview or want to look nice on a class presentation.

  • suit / nice dress

Pack them in your hand luggage. Even if you never trained before, maybe you will find someone who helps you out. Remember, you go to study abroad to try new things.

  • preferred training outfit
  • running shoes
  • bathing suit or swimsuit

Toiletries abroad

All metal goes to the check-in luggage. Keep the contact lenses, deodorant, brush and other essential toiletries in a plastic bag in your backpack or cross-body bag

  • contact lenses and solution (bring extra)
  • brush or comb
  • nail clippers
  • plastic bottle for toiletries (100ml max volume)
  • shaving foam
  • sunblock/suntan lotion
  • face wipes / hand sanitizer
  • face lotion /moisturizer
  • folding hair dryer

Girls' clothing and toiletries

Pack them in your check in luggage. These items have to be packed in addition to the clothes of the every day clothing section above. International students rarely wear extreme high heels, because it is neither practical nor necessary. Though if you want to be the one in 15cm (6inches) heels, no one will stop you (but it might be better to buy a cheaper one in your host country).

  • 2 pair of tights
  • 2 casual dresses
  • 2 going-out outfit
  • heels (no stilletto)

All metal goes in the check-in luggage and you can pack the rest in your hand luggage or carry-on. Keep it simple, pack them with the rest of the toiletries above.

  • tampons and pads (for 1 month min)
  • hair ties and headbands

Convenient and safe travel

Keep these items with you or in your backpack / cross-body bag. You will be able to refill travel size toiletries when you are traveling in your host country. Other items can increase your comfort level or help to pass time.

  • travel size toiletries (soap, toothpaste and shampoo)
  • small snacks for the first few days, bagged soup
  • travel pillow
  • plastic bottle (for refill)
  • travel guide
  • digital luggage scale
  • playing cards

Over-the-counter medicine: pack them in your check-in luggage, hopefully you do not need them on your way to your study abroad destination.

  • adhesive bandages
  • allergy medicine
  • cold and flu medicine
  • motion sickness medicine
  • painkillers
  • certain contraceptives


Whatever you can - wear it. If you don't need it during traveling put it in the check-in luggage or carry-on (no metal).

  • souvenirs for local and international students
  • earplugs and sleeping mask
  • XL size towel
  • vitamins (check in advance if your brand is available abroad)
  • 1-2 smaller books (for your own entertainment)
  • plastic bags (multipurpose: traveling, dirty clothes, packing)
  • folding umbrella
  • Swiss Army knife with corkscrew
  • wrist watch
  • luggage lock (small padlock)
  • pens, pencil, small notebooks
  • mosquito repellent
  • reminders of home: some pictures, favorite stuffed animals

What not to pack

These things seem like you can't live without them, but they are heavy, sensitive or your roommates will use them more than you do. Save yourself from the trouble and don't pack these in your luggage.

Items you won't need:

  • clothes that you haven't worn in a year
  • textbooks (the host school probably has a library)
  • heavy readings (take your favorite)
  • expensive jewelry
  • extreme high heels
  • ironing set
  • curling iron

One last thing. You do need some sweet reminders of your home, but if you pack too much of them, eventually you will take another luggage and you delay your acculturation process and increase the chance of facing a more severe culture shock.

Now get that luggage rolling and enjoy your host country!

study abroad travel pack

The Abroad Blog

The Perfect Study Abroad Packing List

Table of Contents

Posing with my travel backpack while studying abroad

So you decided that you are going to spend one of your eight semesters of college studying abroad… smart choice. When it comes to packing for an entire semester, the task can seem daunting. Sure, it’s easy to remember to pack sneakers and pants, but what about all of the little things that may make your life easier when traveling throughout Europe? I have put together a packing list for study abroad full of useful items that most people may not think of, along with some general tips and tricks for when it comes time to squeeze as many items into your suitcases as TSA allows.

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Study Abroad Packing List

1. reusable water bottle.

Fun fact: You have to pay for water in most European countries. Kiss the idea of free, cold water goodbye for the next four months, and get used to paying for bottled water or seeking out drinkable tap water. Most hostels and bars will fill your reusable water bottle for you free of charge, which will end up saving you a tremendous amount of money.

2. Luggage Lock

When I first heard about hostels in Europe, I stressed over the thought of having to protect my belongings as I slept. Turns out, hostels provide you with lockers or bins so that your things can be safely locked away… if you bring a lock. Before leaving for study abroad in Europe, pick up a few luggage locks at a travel store. When I flew, I frequently locked my luggage to ensure that my belongings were safe and was glad that I always had an extra one handy.

Photos are an excellent way to relive a special moment, but writing your thoughts and feelings down is even better. When I was studying abroad, I spent some time everyday journaling what I saw, how I felt, and what I did. I am so glad that I did this so that I can always remember the places that I visited and the experiences that I had.

4. Watch/ FitBit

Before studying abroad, I recommend investing in a watch, or even better, a FitBit. Having to constantly pull out your phone to check the time puts you at more of a risk of pick pocketing. I found it to be much more convienent to be able to see the time easily on my wrist. I saved up for a FitBit Charge 2 before I studied abroad so that I could see the time along with how many steps and miles I had walked. Somedays, while sightseeing major European cities, I walked more than ten miles!

5. Comfortable Walking Shoes

A must for all the walking that you will be doing. I often wore white Adidas sneakers because they were super comfortable, but still cute. This is probably the most important item on this study abroad packing list!

6. Umbrella/ Rain Jacket

Since you will end up spending a lot of time outside, be sure to pack a small umbrella that can easily fit in a carryon. Additionally, I bought myself a fashionable rain jacket before I left for Europe that kept me warm and dry in style . A pair of waterproof shoes, ideally rain boots, are also a good idea.

7. Backpack

I highly recommend purchasing a backpack for Europe. I constantly used mine as my personal item for flights and used it for class. Also, a backpack is perfect for sightseeing because it stores and consolidates everything that you have, including a camera and water bottle, so that you don’t have to hold anything. A few of my friends just used a cross-body bag and found it to be impractical. Choose a backpack that is secure or that can be locked so that nothing is stolen out of it. My backpack had a hidden pocket on the rear side of the bag (that faced my back) where I stored my money and passport.

8. Shower Shoes

Just like college, be sure to pack your shower shoes. Flip flops are a necessity for showering in hostel’s communal bathrooms and an absolute must on your study abroad packing list. Also, if you plan on taking trains through Rail Europe — they will for sure come in handy!

9. Portable Chargers & Converters

Although most trains and buses are equipped with outlets, a portable charger is a good idea to have while traveling. Your phone will loose battery quickly from all of the photos you take and from international cell phone service, so definitely invest in a portable charger before you go. It is smart to always have a working phone on you in case of emergencies. Additionally, converters are necessary. Most countries in the EU use the same outlet, but if you visit the UK you will need a different converter. I bought myself this converter kit before I left and it worked out great.

10. Medication & Toiletries

European grocery stores will sell everything that you need, but most of their brands are different than the US. If you use specific products that you know probably won’t be sold, make sure to buy extra and bring them with you. Also, European pharmacies are fantastic, but they don’t have all of the same medications. I packed myself medications that I would need incase of illness, along with a first aid kit.

If you can, go abroad with a nice camera. The camera that I brought to Europe with me was a DSLR Canon T5i Rebel. Before I left for Europe, I took a beginners photography class in Boston (link here ), so that I could use my camera to its full ability. I am so glad that I did this because the photos that I took came out incredible and now hang on a wall in my room.

12. Luggage Tags & Passport Cover

Luggage tags are necessary while traveling so that luggage can be easily spotted and returned to you if lost, which unfortunately happens more often than not. Additionally, before I left for Europe, my sister gave me a passport cover which protected my documents adorably.

13. Eye Mask

Useful on overnight flights and bus rides to block out the sun and makes it easier to sleep.

14. Headphones & Ear Plugs

Headphones are a necessity while traveling, along with ear plugs to help you sleep more comfortably on public transportation and in noisy hostels.

15. Neck Pillow

If you plan on traveling Europe as inexpensively as possible, you may wind up traveling via overnight bus. If so, you should purchase a neck pillow to make sleeping in a seat more bearable.

Study Abroad Packing Tips

I hope that this study abroad packing list is helpful to you! The most difficult part about packing for me was choosing what clothes were appropriate for the classy, European style and the changing seasons. I was advised against packing graphic t-shirts, along with packing interchangeable clothing and dressing more conservatively- this helped me to blend in more with the locals and become less of a target.

I packed six pairs of shoes, which I found to be enough and more fall/winter clothes than summer clothes. Additionally, I packed everything in two large, 50 pound, checked bags and in one small, carry-on suitcase. Aside from having to manage all three suitcases in the airport at the start of the semester (my family took home one of the large suitcases when they visited in November), I thought that this was a good amount of storage.

Make sure to leave yourself room for souvenirs while packing, because you will end up buying a lot as you travel throughout Europe. You can do this by rolling your clothes instead of folding them. This was so helpful for me when I was studying abroad in Florence !

Another clever packing tip is to flatten a foldable duffle bag on the bottom of one of your suitcases and pack over it; it takes up minimal space and this bag can act as a weekend travel bag, or as an extra bag to check in the airport on the way home.

Have more tips for a study abroad packing list? Send them to me! Also, here’s a helpful article about everything you need to know about studying abroad in Europe vs. Australia . 

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What to Pack for a Semester Abroad

So you just got accepted into a study abroad program? First of all, congratulations! Studying abroad can be one of the most life-changing opportunities.

From seeing new places, to meeting international students from all over the world, to being immersed in a different culture, students gain so many amazing experiences that they wouldn’t otherwise get in their home country.

One of the first things you should think about is what to bring to your new home. Packing can be overwhelming, especially if you’ll be overseas for an extended period of time.

It helps to think long-term and prepare for all scenarios you’ll encounter, but to also be mindful of overpacking. Ultimately, it’s crucial you’re fully prepared for wherever your study abroad adventures take you.

Here’s a helpful study abroad packing list when planning for your upcoming semester overseas.

Access our free Study Abroad Packing Checklist PDF here >

Table of Contents

What to Pack: Study Abroad Semester Essentials

Let’s start with highly recommended essential items that are particular to packing for study abroad trips.

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Important Documents

Your important documents should be at the top of your packing list. These include your plane ticket, passport, student visa, and healthcare or insurance cards.

Be sure to make photocopies of everything. Having copies will make things so much easier in case they get lost or stolen.

Power adapters and converters

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There’s nothing worse than running out of battery. Since you’re moving to a different country, it’s likely your chargers won’t be compatible with the country’s outlets or even electric voltage.

Power adapters help your plugs fit into the shape of foreign outlets, while converters change the outlet’s voltage to match your device. Be sure to double check what’s used in your country!

We recommend: Bestek all-in-one converter and adapter Belkin SurgePlus charger

Good walking shoes

Whether it be commuting to your school or simply exploring your new city, you’ll be doing a lot of walking.

Depending on your destination, you probably won’t need to pack more than a couple of pairs of shoes, but good walking shoes are a must. Invest in a durable, high quality pair and your feet will thank you.

toiletries list for travel | Minimalist Travel Toiletries List for Women

Toiletries are one of the most important things you’ll pack since these are items you’ll be using everyday. From natural deodorant to toothbrush and toothpaste, we’ve included all of the must have items in our free study abroad packing list download below.

For the ladies, see our minimalist toiletries list for women to help you pack for a hassle-free trip!

Cash, Credit Cards, Foreign Currency

When it comes to money, we recommend researching variables like the country’s common mode of payments and the foreign exchange rate to find what will work best for you.

Usually one of the easiest ways to make transactions is through a no-fee debit card or credit card. But it’s always a good idea to travel with some cash in the local currency in case of any emergencies.

See more of our recommendations for cash, credit cards, and ATMs .

Basic School Supplies

In the hectic process of packing your home essentials, you might forget to pack things you’ll need for your classes. You should be good to go with the basics: notebooks, pens, highlighters, and Post-its.

Having all of these in a small pouch is a great way to not lose anything.

Host Family Gifts

If you have the opportunity for cultural exchange in a homestay, or even if you have a local program leader, it’s always a nice gesture to bring a gift from your home country.

See our recommendations for host family gifts here >

Study Abroad Packing: Nice-to-Have Items

Here are some highly recommended items that you might like to have on your semester abroad.

Packing Cubes

study abroad travel pack

The goal of any study abroad traveler is to pack light and efficiently. Packing cubes are rectangular fabric cubes of joy which will make packing your clothes much easier. Not only does it compress your clothes to make more space in your luggage, it makes everything so neat and organized too!

Pack smart! Checking out tips we’ve shared on packing hacks of frequent travelers . We Recommend: Eagle Creek packing cubes

Reusable Water Bottles

Our Sahara water bottle is excellent for staying cold, regardless of the outside temperature. Put an ice cube in there in the morning, there’s a good chance it will still be intact at the end of the day! They’re a bit hefty but we’ve managed to cart them around on all of our trips. We Recommend: Tiger Water Bottle 1.5L  

Lightweight Raincoat

You never know what kind of weather you’ll find yourself in when you’re running to class or exploring and sightseeing in your new country.

A pro-tip for these unforeseen situations is to carry a lightweight rain jacket with you. This is a practical choice as it’s less bulky and takes up less space compared to a compact umbrella. A good light raincoat makes all the difference in the world especially when you’re traveling.

We’ve shared some ideas on finding the right light-weight travel jackets for you if you’re looking for the right rain gear or other light weight layers.

In addition to prescriptions, it’s a good idea to stock up on your essential over-the-counter medicine. This can include medicine for pain and fever relief, antihistamines, cough drops, and antidiarrheals.

Having these readily available saves you from inconvenient trips to the pharmacy.

Books or E-Reader

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Whether they’re for class or for leisure, books take up a lot of space. We recommend bringing one or two at most.

But if you have a hard time choosing, invest in an e-reader! E-readers allow you to have hundreds of books in one slim, portable gadget. They’re a lifesaver for long flights or when you don’t want to carry heavy textbooks.

Undecided on what book to bring for your next trip? Consider these books for travelers .

Studying abroad is a life-changing experience but it can also be a lot to take in and remember! While there’s always social media and taking photos, sometimes you just want to live in the moment. Keeping a journal helps you document all of these memories.

Years down the line, you’ll look back and be grateful you were able to capture everything in your journal.

Order The Study Abroad Journal here >

Sturdy Compact Umbrella

study abroad travel pack

A good windproof umbrella for travel is light-weight, compact, and sturdy. This is why we have used the Totes brand for years. We Recommend: Totes Compact Umbrella

Canvas Shopping Bags

study abroad travel pack

In addition to grocery shopping, there’s a good chance you’ll find multi-purpose uses for canvas bags on your study abroad trip. We Recommend: Cute Grocery Tote

study abroad travel pack

We were gifted an excellent digital point-and-shoot which we carry with us on most trips. If you’re not a travel blogger or photographer, your smartphone will probably do the trick just fine. Don’t forget to bring extra memory cards as well. We Recommend: Sony RX100 VII

Quick-Dry Towel

This is a great packing item when staying in hostels that may not provide towels. It is multi-purpose and can even be folded up as a pillow in a pinch. We both have thin, quick dry towels from REI that take up very little space.  We Recommend: REI Co-op Multi Towel

Luggage to Pack for Study Abroad     

So now that you’ve decided what to bring, what’s the best way to pack everything?

To make traveling as easy as possible, we don’t recommend bringing much luggage. These essentials are a good start: a large suitcase to check in, a smaller carry-on bag or suitcase, and a backpack .

backpacks for study abroad

Bringing a backpack will be useful as it can double for your day bag for class. Depending on where you’re studying, you’ll find that students don’t use backpacks prefer tote bags or handbags. In this case, you can still use your backpack for any short trips you take out of the city.

We recommend: Osprey 55 men’s backpack Osprey 55 women’s backpack REI Co-Op Big Haul Rolling Duffel

Day bag or small laptop backpack

As mentioned, a day bag is one of those multi-purpose items that will definitely get a lot of use. We recommend looking into a  laptop bag that’s not only functional but versatile. This way you can use it not only for school but for going out and even traveling.

See all our travel bag recommendations here

Clothing: What to Wear During Your Study Abroad

study abroad travel pack

When thinking of what clothes to pack for your semester abroad, you should have a few things in mind.

First, do research on the country’s climate . If you’ll be experiencing a few seasons in your host country, then pack a variety of layers.

Having an assortment of short and long sleeved shirts, light jackets, cardigans, and sweaters will give you tons of possibilities for layering depending on the weather.

Second, consider the country’s culture and religion . Most countries have different standards of what’s considered casual wear. For example, athleisure may not always be appropriate like it might be in the United States. Other countries might also be more conservative, which you might see reflected in the campus dress codes.

Third, you can never go wrong with basics. Avoid bringing statement clothing that you won’t get a lot of use out of. Instead pack staples like your classic white shirt or good pair of denim jeans that can go with a variety of outfits.

Lastly for shoes , don’t bring more pairs than you’ll be needing. Aside from the essentials like comfortable walking shoes and flip-flops for the dorm bathroom, pack another versatile pair that you can wear to multiple occasions, such as going out and class lectures.

Download our handy study abroad packing checklist for a more detailed clothing list.

Read our recommended travel clothing article next >

Technology Essentials for Study Abroad

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In this day and age, many people can’t imagine traveling anywhere without their tech essentials, especially students.

For classes alone, you’ll be needing your laptop for just about everything. This includes all other accessories like your earphones, laptop charger and a bag/case to carry it around.

If you’ll be studying in public spaces like coffeeshops and using their Wi-Fi, make sure that your laptop has a VPN to protect your privacy.

Aside from your phone, don’t forget to bring your charger and power bank, which will be extremely useful when you’re running out of battery while you’re out and about.

Lastly, while not essentials for everyone, we recommend packing an external hard drive or a thumb drive to back up and store your files in case anything happens to your electronics.

Check out our full list of tech essentials for nomads here.

Packing for Summer Study Abroad

Summer study abroad programs probably mean warmer weather. There’s a good chance you can leave bulky sweaters and coats at home.

That said, it’s still smart to layer. You never know when you might encounter freezing cold air conditioning or chilly evenings. 

Consider packing a good sunscreen , sun hat, and quick-dry or moisture-wicking clothing for summer. Don’t forget to read up on culturally appropriate clothing, as warm weather outfits tend to be more revealing and may not be acceptable in some places.

Packing for Fall Semester Study Abroad

Packing for Fall/Winter - How to pack for a month in Europe | Intentional Travelers

If rain is common in Fall where you’ll be studying abroad, decide if a rain jacket or a compact umbrella would be more convenient. In places like London where rainy days are also quite cold, a jacket can serve both purposes, whereas wearing a raincoat could get really uncomfortable in humid areas like the Caribbean.

Don’t forget a pair of comfortable, water resistant walking shoes .

Packing for Winter Study Abroad

Packing for study abroad in winter of course depends on the climate. In much of Spain and Southern Italy, for example, winters are mild and don’t get too cold. Other locations might have snow and freezing temps.

For cold climates, it’s probably worth investing in a warm coat, even if it takes a lot of space in your luggage. A scarf, gloves, hat, and long underwear are good winter essentials.

Winter outdoor activities often require bulky gear, so if you think you might want to do something like skiing, try to think realistically about how often you’ll actually go. If it’s just once or twice, it might be worth renting gear rather than taking up precious luggage space.

Packing for Spring Semester Study Abroad

Like Fall, study abroad in Spring is likely to bring a range of weather. Check the average temperatures and rainfall to help you choose clothing layers and water-resistant options for your packing list.

What Not to Pack for a Semester Abroad

Neck wallet – It’s smart to protect your money and IDs, but traditional travel wallets are uncomfortable. Try these alternatives instead.

Uncomfortable shoes – The best way to explore any city is to go on foot so it’s best to wear your comfiest pair of shoes. Quick tip! Pack some flip-flops which you can use both for sunny weather and dorm showers!

Unessential valuables –  Pack light and bring only your essentials. Minimizing valuables for travel is always wise to lower your risk of loss, damage, or theft.

Non-compatible electronics – Check the voltage in your host country. Blow dryers and other electronic items from home can get fried if using a different voltage. Best to buy those in country or bring adapters.

Culturally inappropriate clothing – Read up on the country’s culture and religion, since these affect how people dress! The last thing you want is to feel out of place or bring negative attention to yourself while traveling.

Once you have everything planned and packed, you are all set to conquer your semester abroad. Don’t forget to review our packing list of essentials and remember to dress according to the weather!

study abroad travel pack

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Study abroad packing list.

packing list

You’re anxiously counting the days until you depart and you are finally ready to start packing your things. But what should you pack for study abroad? Pretty much no one knows what they will need to they leave, so don’t worry! I put together this Study Abroad Packing List of everything you need when you go on a study abroad.

Packing for Study Abroad

You’re going abroad! You’ve got your flights, your apartment is picked out, but there is still so much to keep in mind just before you leave. And, there are a lot of questions in your head before you go abroad. You might be wondering if you need to take some extra language classes or purchase an extra travel insurance before you go. You could be looking for a way to get some extra scholarships to be able to afford your trip . Some other common questions could be: 

How to Travel on a Budget?

What if I Feel Homesick? How do I deal with it?

What will Actually Happen When I Study Abroad?

What to pack in your suitcase should be one of the last problems on your mind. So, use the list below and check off all of the things you will need on your trip! But, don’t bring everything on this list – I’ll explain a little more about that later. Use some of my tips below about effective packing and with this list in front of you, you won’t forget something you really wanted to bring!

How to Pack for Study Abroad

Trying to stuff your whole life into one or two suitcases is hard, especially if you have never been to that country before.

Packing for a semester or even a year abroad is different from packing for a vacation. You aren’t going to be away for just a week or two. You will be settling in and getting to know your new temporary home for several months. That means, you will need things for your bedroom, for your studies, bathroom and so much more… Packing all of that might be a little unnecessary since you will need that space for more essential things. Read on and see how packing for a semester or a year abroad is different from packing for a vacation!

How Much Luggage Should You Bring to Study Abroad?

Every airline has different baggage requirements, be sure to check before you go. But, even if your airline allows two checked bags and a carry-on, I recommend only taking one checked bag. Is it even possible? Absolutely! I’ve done it.

You will probably accumulate a few things in your new destination and will want to bring some of those souvenirs back. I’ve always bought some local clothing when I studied abroad. Then, when you come home and use a purse or a shirt you bought abroad, it brings you happy memories from that unforgettable experience!

Usually, there is enough memories to fill up another suitcase, so remember, bring just one suitcase on the way there. That means you will be bringing two on the way back!

Study Abroad Packing List – Clothing

What First Week Abroad Feels Like Fountain Barcelona

Think About the Climate

Before you start, think about the typical weather in your destination. If you are going over the summer, you’re in luck! You won’t need to strategize too much. But if you are moving to a colder climate, you should consider wearing a heavier jacket than you normally would to free up that space in the suitcase.

Consider Your Destination

Of course, there will not be one guide fits all! Consider where you will be going and decide on what clothing you will be taking. If you are going to a more rural areas, you might not want to bring a lot high heels and be more conservative with what you bring. In some areas you might not have access to go shopping at all times. Then, you will need to bring as many shirts and pants as you can to always stay comfortable.

Clothing Packing List

  • 5 Casual Shirts
  • 2 Dressy Shirts
  • 3 Pairs of Pants  
  • 1 Warm Sweater
  • 12 Pairs of Underwear
  • 12 Pairs of Socks
  • 1 Bathing suit
  • Set of Travel Clothes
  • House Clothes/Pajamas
  • Comfortable Waterproof shoes for walking
  • 1 Pair of Dressy Shoes
  • Flip flops / use as house shoes
  • Workout clothes and shoes
  • Jacket (depending on destination and season)

That’s not a lot! But I promise, you really don’t need more! If you avoid anything from this list, do it! Most likely you will want to buy some clothes when you are travelling!

Study Abroad Packing List – Toiletries

Study Abroad Packing List Toiletries

  • Small shampoo
  • Small conditioner
  • Travel-size body wash (there is no need packing enough body wash for several months. You will most likely run out anyway and it doesn’t cost a lot if you buy it as soon as you arrive)
  • Everyday Cosmetics You Use
  • Lotions for Your Daily Skin Routine
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste and floss
  • Glasses/contacts
  • Feminine products
  • Medications

Don’t forget to get enough of your prescription medicine and first aid medicine for the whole time of your study abroad. It’s hard to predict if you get sick and it’s better be safe than sorry! Going to a doctor abroad could be expensive, depending on the country and I don’t recommend taking over-the-counter medications you are not familiar with.

Pack medications for headaches, upset stomach (very common if you are not used to the food) and other common problems that might come up while you are travelling.

Packing for Study Abroad – Electronics

Don’t over-pack on electronics, but bring everything necessary for studies and making memories!

  • Cell Phone and Charger
  • Laptop, Charger, Laptop Case
  • Power Adapters ( A Find of the Year! This power strip will protect your electronics as well as let you charge several things at once!!)
  • Small Camera (Your phone can do a pretty good job on most of the pictures, but if you are looking for something of better quality and inexpensive, be sure to grab one to take all of the memories with you!)
  • Portable Solar Charger – I’ve had this on most of my recent trips and it’s a life-saver. Instead of using re-chargeable power sticks, this one will charge itself from the sun and it’s lightweight and always on you!

Study Abroad Packing List – Extras

  • Purse/ wallet
  • Passport, visa, itinerary, plane tickets,
  • ISIC card – a great student card to get to save money at most museums and tourist attractions! Check in with your study abroad office on how to get one!
  • Take about $300 in local currency in case you need it for taxis and last minute expenses
  • Backpack (for daily use and a carry-on)
  • Travel water bottle – easy to pack, light-weight, inexpensive and durable – way to save the environment even when you’re travelling.
  • Souvenirs from home for your host family or new friends.

Fun tip: I loved sharing something small with friends abroad when I talk about my country. Sometimes, I have small coins of currency on me and I give it to friends as a memory. Coins don’t cost or weigh much, but can be kept as a souvenir in your wallet or purse.

Extra Tips to Help You Pack for Your Study Abroad:

  • Print and use the list below to mark off everything you packed.
  • Get a luggage scale , and you will never have to pay for overweight luggage ever again!
  • You can use these packing cubes for easy organization in your suitcase and they are very cute and durable!
  • Toiletry bag , it’s affordable and compact. A great way to organize your toiletries and to be able to just pick it up and take to your next destination!

What Not to Pack When You Go to Study Abroad

packing fo study abroad


You don’t need to literally try and put your entire life into suitcase. Yes, you should take a few things with you that will remind you of home, but try not to stuff everything to where you won’t have the space for necessary things. I usually exchange small cute items with my friends and family as a going away gift. That way I can wear it and feel closer to home.


Flat irons and blow dryers will most likely fry when you use them abroad. Many times I have had small electronics break even when I was using a converter. Laptops and cellphones are generally fine, but many other electronics were broken on my trips abroad.

Bulky or Uncomfortable Clothing

When you travel, you will automatically go for the things you are most comfortable in. That’s why if you take uncomfortable high heel shoes or pants, you will probably not wear them even though they look cute! Just go for tried and true and then you can buy new things when you travel.

All of these tips for packing and traveling came from my personal experience of many travel mistakes and misadventures. Check out more advice on what NOT to do when you are traveling abroad !

What do you always have to have when you study abroad? Tell me in the comments below!

Download a Printable Study Abroad Packing List here – print and mark off everything you packed!

Study Abroad Packing List

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What a Fantastic List! This was something I definitely regret not doing when I was in school. I love to travel, and even though I may not ‘study’ this list is great for anyone traveling abroad!

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Yes! Especially if you are going abroad for longer than a couple of weeks! Thank you!

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Love the broken down lists – a great reference point! It’s amazing what you can forget.

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great post for someone who is looking to study abroad for a semester! Thank you 🙂

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Such a great list & very spot on! I’m such an over packer so when I pack for long trips I really try to be selected with what I bring. I lived in Sweden last year for three months & I didn’t use my hair dryer one single time, so that’s definitely something I can leave at home next time!

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Great list! I’ve considered buying a solar powered charger but I’ve read mixed reviews. Did it work well for you?

Yes, it charges several devices and fast! It can also charge during the day as you are hiking or walking around the city. Just attach it to your backpack! It’s my favorite buy that I take everywhere!

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Great post.Your article really helped me lot.Thank you for amazing tips.Have a good day.

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Packing List and Travel Essentials for Study Abroad

Wednesday, 19 Apr 2017

Packing list study abroad

If you are planning a period of study abroad, you will no doubt be struggling to fit your life into a suitcase. Packing lists will be growing by the minute as everything in your room assumes the status of essential item. This is not your average holiday packing list, however. You will want to make the most of your time studying abroad, and a carefully planned travel essentials list can help you do that. If you are struggling to identify the most important items to pack, Send My Bag’s study abroad packing list is here to help.

Study Essentials

The reason you are moving abroad is to study, so make sure you pack what you need to participate in class and to complete assignments from the start. You will need:

  • Key textbooks
  • Books from the reading list
  • (Bilingual) dictionary
  • Notes from related courses
  • Stationery kit – pen, pencil, eraser, ruler, etc.

Clothing and Accessories

You will no doubt be able to do laundry during your stay, so don’t think you have to pack enough clothing to last the whole semester. The clothing you bring will depend on the climate you are moving to, but here is a sample packing list of travel essentials:

  • Underwear for at least a week
  • Socks for a week
  • 7 t-shirts/ tops
  • 4 pairs of jeans
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • Bathing suit
  • Light jacket
  • Heavier coat
  • Hat/ scarf/ gloves
  • Workout clothing
  • Training shoes
  • Smart shoes
  • Outfit for a formal occasion
  • Baseball cap

Toiletries, etc

Pack as many toiletries as you would when going on holiday/ vacation. Thereafter, you can purchase what you need once you arrive, when you need it.

  • Small shower gel
  • Small shampoo/ conditioner
  • Make up remover
  • Moisturiser
  • Sanitary products
  • Hair styling product
  • Contraceptives
  • Hair straighteners
  • Contact lenses and solution

Bring any meds that you rely on in sufficient quantities to allow you time to source them in the host country, as well as a supply of off-the-shelf medication to combat the effect of long journeys and the change of environment. Pack these in your carry-on luggage:

  • Prescription meds
  • Painkillers
  • Indigestion tablets
  • Cold and flu meds
  • Plasters (band aids)

Make your new accommodation feel like home and combat homesickness by packing a few much-loved home décor items with you, such as:

  • Photos of family and friends (plus Blu-tack)
  • Colourful cushion or throw
  • Favourite mug (carefully packed)

You will obviously buy food once you arrive in your host country but it can’t hurt to have a little something in your luggage to keep you going. You could also pack a food item that you love but that you know you won’t be able to come by in your new location.

  • Cereal bars
  • Sweets (candy)
  • Food item specific to your home country

Technology/ Entertainment

Having access to a laptop and a phone will mean you can stay in touch with home throughout the settling-in process, helping you to combat loneliness. Think about purchasing a data bundle for your smart phone to use during the first few days in your host country.

  • Laptop (with a few downloaded movies)
  • Travel adapters
  • (Noise-cancelling) head phones
  • A couple of fiction books
  • Favourite magazine


Don’t be caught out by missing documentation. Research everything you need to bring to gain access to your host country and to enrol at your institution. Make sure you pack these items in your carry-on luggage, in case your checked bag gets lost:

  • Visa documentation
  • Driving licence
  • Letter of acceptance from the host institution
  • Other information provided by the institution, e.g. relating to student accommodation
  • EHIC card, if travelling to another European country
  • Travel insurance details 

Pack things that will make it easy for you to quickly settle into your new home, especially in the period of time before you set up internet access or purchase a local sim card.

  • Guide book about the host city, with a map
  • Information on public transport from the airport and around town
  • Credit card with no foreign transaction fees
  • Cash in the host currency to last you a week or so

If you still think you will struggle to pack everything you need to study abroad within a manageable amount of luggage, you can easily send the rest to your host country with Send My Bag.

There is no need to pack just the travel essentials. Instead you can have that extra outfit, those notes you may or may not use, and that emergency supply of chocolate bars. Just stick them in a suitcase or box and have Send My Bag deliver it to your new accommodation. Visit our student page to find out about the service that thousands of international students are using to help them recreate a home from home when studying abroad.

We have plenty more top tips for studying abroad, including ‘ Top Ten Tips for Your Third Year Abroad ’ and guides to studying in France , Germany and Spain. You might also want to check out opportunities for taking a degree course that uses English as the language of instruction . If you would prefer to spend just part of your degree studying abroad, you could consider taking part in the Erasmus+ programme or working as a language assistant .

Are you thinking about studying in the UK? Find out what visa you will need and check out our ‘ Moving to the UK Guide ’.

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Best Places to Study Abroad

Settling on the best place to study abroad can be a fun but scarily important decision to make. You have to choose a college or university that will provide you with the quality education you need as well as the social and extra-curricular life that will enable you to thrive. It also helps if the institution is located within an exciting town or city that offers plenty for you to see and do. To help you make a decision on which college abroad is best for you, here is Send My Bag’s list of top cities for international students in each (habitable!) continent.

Documenting Time Abroad

How to Document Your Time Abroad

In years to come you will look back with fondness upon your time spent studying abroad. Gradually, however, your memories will fade and details will be forgotten. This is why it is important to make the effort to document your experiences when they happen. We aren’t suggesting you spend the whole time looking through a lens at the expense of actually enjoying yourself, but that you take the time to document the places you have visited, who you went there with, and the things you did there. There are a myriad of different ways to document your time abroad, from travel scrapbooking to vlogging. To help you choose which method is best for you, Send My Bag brings you seven ways to record your time abroad.

Gap Year Ideas

What To Do During Your Gap Year: 10 Gap Year Ideas

If you have put university on hold for a bit and are looking for some gap year ideas, Send My Bag is here to help. We know that putting off your university career for a whole year is not a decision taken lightly, so we want to make sure you fill your gap year with activities that will benefit you and your CV. Choosing one or all of the following gap year ideas should keep you on the right track.

Study in Europe

Study for a Degree in Europe

For most UK students, time spent in Europe is restricted to a third year abroad, usually as part of the Erasmus+ scheme or a language assistantship . But a significant number of students are choosing to complete their full degree course in a university on mainland Europe. 

Third Year Abroad Working

Spend Your Third Year Abroad Working

You don’t have to be part of a scheme like Erasmus+ or the Language Assistantship to enjoy a third year abroad. Instead, you can plan your own activities, like taking on full or part time work, or jobbing as you travel around different locations. While taking an Erasmus+ course or being a language assistant gives you invaluable transferable skills, you will get more immediate experience of a working environment if you choose to work ‘in the real world’, which will have direct impact on your employability.

Study in France

Study for a Degree in France

Want to study for your degree in Europe? Why not choose  France with its high quality of living, vibrant cities, excellent food and its numerous world-class universities, such as the renowned  École normale supérieure ? Read on to find out if you are eligible, how to apply and how much it would cost to study in France.

British Council Language Assistant

Instead of studying at a European university as part of the Erasmus+ scheme , you could spend your third year abroad as a British Council language assistant. Assistantships operate in numerous European countries, run by different organisations in different countries. If you are studying at a UK university, you will apply through the British Council for an assistantship position in another European country. The British Council Language Assistantship scheme allows you to spend an academic year abroad helping to teach English to schoolchildren, in either a secondary or primary school.

Study in Germany

Study for a Degree in Germany

Why not choose to study for your degree in Germany , with its many excellent universities, such as Heidelberg University ? Read on to find out if you are eligible to study in Germany, how to apply and how much it would cost to study there.

USA Student Visa

What Visa Do I Need to Study In The USA?

Study in the usa on an f-1 visa.

If you wish to study in the USA , you will most likely require an F-1 visa. This visa allows you to study at an academic institution in the US, such as a university or secondary school, or to take an English-language course. This is different to a J-1 visa, which is for participants of work- or study-based exchange programmes. The F-1 visa is also distinct from the M-1 visa, which is for international students taking a vocational or non-academic course.


What is the Erasmus+ programme?

There are a number of ways that you can spend a third year abroad but one of the most popular is the Erasmus+ programme, which allows you to work or study abroad. Read on to find out what the Erasmus+ programme is, who is eligible for Erasmus+ and much more.

English-Language Courses

English Language Degree Courses in Europe

There are a number of English speaking universities in Europe that offer courses taught in English, which is great if you are not proficient in other European languages. These universities can be found in countries such as the Netherlands or Sweden . In the last in our series on 'studying in Europe', Send My Bag takes a look at how to apply for a degree course in the Netherlands and Sweden and how much it might cost you. You can also take a look at our previous blogs to learn about studying for a degree in France , Germany and  Spain .

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Study Abroad Packing List for Dubai: Discover What You Need to Pack


  • Updated on  
  • Jun 24, 2024

study abroad packing list for dubai

Are you moving to the luxurious and happening hub of the UAE, Dubai? Living or studying in Dubai has countless benefits. The City of Gold offers modernised accommodations and infrastructure, a family-friendly atmosphere, and low violent crime rates. It’s no wonder why you have chosen this stunning city as your destination. But you also need to ensure that you don’t forget to carry the essential items and mandatory documents to avoid any hassle later on. Now, let’s dive right into our packing list for Dubai without any further delay. 

This Blog Includes:

Essential documents, electronics, personal care, miscellaneous, study abroad packing list for dubai: travel finance, what not to add to your study abroad packing list for dubai, baggage limit for international students going to dubai, study abroad packing list for dubai: additional tips, study abroad packing list for dubai: important items.

Forgetting to carry essential items like academic documents and electronic gadgets can cause a lot of hassle and frustration later on. Hence, make sure you are taking with you all the mandatory items. So, see below the comprehensive study abroad packing list for Dubai:

Here are the travel and academic documents you need to carry:

  • Passport Photos
  • Student Visa
  • Acceptance Letter
  • Bank Statements
  • Academic Transcripts
  • Certification of Health

See below the clothing ideal for Dubai:

  • Polo T-shirts
  • Semi-formal Shirts
  • Light Jacket
  • Light jeans and trousers
  • Camisole tops
  • Sundresses and Kaftans
  • Linen Jumpsuits
  • Warm Cardigan

Here are the electronic items you must carry:

  • Plug Adapters

The essential personal care items for Dubai are as follows:

  • Toothpaste and Toothbrush
  • Sanitary Products of Choice
  • Tissues or Baby Wipes
  • Shaving Necessities

Check out the miscellaneous items below:

  • Medicines 

Download the PDF below to know more specific items to include in your packing list for Dubai.

Also Read: Heading to Australia? Here’s Your Complete Study Abroad Packing List

Now that you are aware of what items you need to include in your packing list for Dubai, let’s see what travelling and living expenses you can expect to bear. 

You are now familiar with what items you should include in your packing list for Dubai along with your living and travelling expenses for the city. See below the items you are not allowed to carry there. 

  • Narcotic Drugs 
  • Crude Ivory and Rhinoceros Horn
  • Gambling Tools and Machinery
  • Forged and Duplicate Currency
  • Cooked and Home-Made Foods
  • Dangerous Weapons

The following table shows the weight and size limit of the baggage. Please note that these limitations are as per Air India and they might vary depending on the airline you choose. 

Also Read: Study Abroad Packing List Korea: What to Pack?

We hope we provided you with all the information you need regarding your packing list for Dubai. Now, let’s look at some crucial tips you should know before taking off to this stunning destination. 

Medical Insurance: It is worth getting medical insurance before flying to Dubai to deal with any ongoing or emergency health issues.

Plan Out Your Living Expenses: The city has a high cost of living, which is why it is a good idea to plan out your budget in advance.

Follow The Rules: Dubai boasts a low crime rate due to its harsh punishments and a zero-tolerance outlook. The city has a lot of rules and regulations that you should brush up on. So, it is advisable to research all the rules and regulations of the city before moving there. 

Relevant Reads:

Answer: Ensure to carry all the required documents and personal belongings with you. 

Answer: Yes, all kinds of casual wear are allowed to be worn in Dubai. 

Answer: Here is a list of items you are not allowed to carry to Dubai: 1. Narcotic Drugs  2. Crude Ivory and Rhinoceros Horn 3. Gambling Tools and Machinery 4. Forged and Duplicate Currency 5. Cooked and Home-Made Foods 6. Firearms 7. Dangerous Weapons 8. Alcohol

We hope this blog gave you a complete overview of the packing list for Dubai. Stay tuned to Leverage Edu for more such content on student life abroad. Thank you for reading!

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Abhishek Kumar Jha

Abhishek Kumar Jha is a professional content writer and marketer, having extensive experience in delivering content in journalism and marketing. He has written news content related to education for prominent media outlets, garnering expansive knowledge of the Indian education landscape throughout his experience. Moreover, he is a skilled content marketer, with experience in writing SEO-friendly blogs. His educational background includes a Postgraduate Diploma in English Journalism from the prestigious Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), Dhenkanal. By receiving an education from a top journalism school and working in the corporate world with complete devotion, he has honed the essential skills needed to excel in content writing.

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Americans are the worst (globally) at taking vacation time: Here's how many days we take

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  • Americans take the least vacations globally, averaging just 11 days.
  • Only half of Americans plan to use all their allotted time off.
  • The French are doing the opposite. In the survey, France won the spot as the country that gets the most days off, about a month.

Summer vacation mode may be in full swing, but it turns out Americans aren’t the ones packing their bags, according to a new study by travel platform Expedia. 

Expedia’s 24th annual Vacation Deprivation Report, which surveyed 11,580 people across 11 countries in March and April, found Americans to take the least vacations globally. Sixty-five percent of U.S. respondents said they feel as if they don’t take enough time off – the highest rate in 11 years.

Americans not only receive the fewest vacation days each year, averaging just 11 days, but only half of them even plan to use all their allotted time off. 

Going abroad? Here's how to to tip in Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand

How much time off do Americans take?

The study found that Americans take 11 days off a year on average.

The reasons are all too relatable: Americans said they’re just too busy, and planning a vacation can be “overwhelming.”

Compared with the rest of the world, Americans are almost twice as likely to go a year or more without taking a vacation. Japan, France and Hong Kong were all found to have healthy holiday habits in the study. (Hong Kong respondents actually took more time off than their earned paid time off.)

"Vacations are not a guilty pleasure, yet that's the way Americans have been treating time off for years now," said Mel Fish, vice president of Global Public Relations, Expedia Group Brands, in a statement to USA TODAY. 

“Guilt, hustle culture, and the stress of planning a trip are why 65% of Americans say they're 'vacation deprived,' the highest rate in over a decade of Expedia tracking it. With more than half of Americans not using all their PTO annually, despite getting the fewest amount of vacation days globally, we're clearly overdue for an overhaul when it comes to our relationship with vacation time.”

Even worse, about 19% of Americans said they save up their vacation days for a big trip and end up not even going. 

While Americans grind away at work and manage their busy schedules, the French are doing the opposite. In the survey, France won the spot as the country that gets the most days off, about a month. (You may have heard of the famous French August shutdown , when many businesses close and people get away from the cities.)

In Japan – one of the surveyed countries where its residents take the second-least amount of days off at 12 days – vacations are spread out throughout the year, about every month or so. That contributes to the Japanese having one of the lowest levels of vacation deprivation, according to the study. 

Americans may want to follow suit and take that step to finally book the trip on their bucket list. Going on vacation comes with a slew of benefits for someone’s well-being , like reducing depression. Taking a trip even helps us show up in our daily lives and jobs better. Unfortunately, Americans ranked the lowest out of the 11 countries for prioritizing rest and relaxation during their trips. (Seriously, turn off the email notifications.)

“You know how sometimes your computer needs a reboot? Our brains are much the same,” said Becky Spelman, a psychologist who partnered with Expedia, in a statement to USA TODAY. “Over time, work stress can build up to an unsustainable level and our brain functions start to slow down and work less effectively.” 

Tips to book that trip

◾ Go for the long weekend. Because a big annual trip can be costly and come with a lot of pressure, opt for booking shorter getaways, like a long weekend . Although holiday weekends can cause prices to surge, taking a Friday or Monday off for a long weekend during shoulder season means fewer crowds and lower prices. 

◾ Use technology. Artificial intelligence travel planners and price trackers are at our fingertips, and those can make the research and planning of booking a trip a little less overwhelming. Using a flight tracker to monitor flight costs can help you score the best deal. And if you don’t know where to go, an AI travel planner from Expedia or Booking.com can help you find accommodations and even decide on a destination based on your interests. 

“When we take a break, it’s easier for our brains to absorb new information, process new sensations and create new memories – a process known as ‘cognitive flexibility,’” Spelman said. “The benefits can last long after the vacation is over. By taking time off and ‘rebooting’ our brain, we return refreshed, which can lead to longer-term job satisfaction.”

Kathleen Wong is a travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Hawaii. You can reach her at [email protected] .

The Key Points at the top of this article were created with the assistance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and reviewed by a journalist before publication. No other parts of the article were generated using AI. Learn more .


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