The excitement building as you get ready to study abroad can be one of the best feelings, until you think about how you’ll pack all of your “stuff” to take with you. For those planning any type of extended trip overseas, it’s important to take a step back and ask: “Do I really need this?” Simply, you can’t (and shouldn’t) take everything you own with you, but you’ll want to take what’s necessary and beneficial to your trip.
The Association of International Educators notes that 304,467 U.S. students applied for credit while studying abroad from 2013 to 2014. That’s a 5.2 percent increase from the previous year in individuals going overseas for their education. There’s no doubt that studying overseas is valuable and desirable. But how will you pack to get there?
Don’t Carry, Ship It
One of the best ways to get most of your necessary items overseas is to ship them rather than carry them with you. Using a courier can save you a significant amount of money. Most airlines charge baggage fees that quickly add up. If you know where you are going, arrange for a local resident, perhaps whoever you are staying with, to accept your luggage and packages via a courier shipment. Be sure to send it at least a week or two in advance of your arrival.
Get to Know the Area
Perhaps one of the most important steps to take is to learn what you really need when you visit. Here are some considerations before you pack a single item:
- Is there a dress code you’ll need to follow?
- What are the weather trends in the area where you are traveling? Pack clothing to match those trends and save room by eliminating what you don’t really need.
- Will you have laundry facilities? If so, try choosing a few basic bottoms that match up with numerous tops so you can mix and match. Then, launder items frequently, reducing the amount of clothing you need to bring.
- Don’t forget the shoes. Research the best type of shoe for the area. It’s nearly always best to bring comfortable shoes that can handle a lot of walking.
- Bring clothes you’ll feel comfortable and confident wearing. What’s more, be sure you’re willing to wear those items more than once.
Pack Essentials You Can’t Forget
A number of items are must-haves when traveling overseas no matter how long you plan to be gone. These are items that are hard to replace if you forget to bring them or lose them once you arrive in the location. Here are some must-haves:
- Medications (be sure to talk about getting refills from overseas providers if necessary)
- Legal documents including your identification and passports. For items such as birth certificates and copies of your transcript, make digital copies to store online so they don’t get lost.
- Electronic items such as your mobile phone charger are important. Note that some countries use a different electric outlet, so you may need an adapter.
Be sure to pack in a way that’s going to be highly efficient. Instead of just one piece of luggage, pack a couple of smaller bags. This way, if one gets lost, you still have some backup. Ship what you can and then pack a few smaller bags to take with you on the plane.
Here are some must-haves to include:
- Undergarments and socks
- Enough clothing for a week (if you can launder it)
- Jackets to match the climate
- Clothing to sleep in, work out in, go to a formal event in, etc.
- Comfortable shoes
- Gear for any type of trip you plan to take (hiking into the mountains or skiing)
There’s a lot to plan when it comes to overseas travel. The good news is, most schools offer the help you need to get ahead of the game. Take some time to talk to your counselor as well as any family you may be staying with to learn what they’ll be providing. Remember, you’ll probably be able to replace most of what you need locally – so don’t panic if you forget something.
This article was contributed by guest author Susan Burger.