Less is more! Really! There will be opportunities to purchase anything that you truly need, and packing excess or just-in-case items will be limiting in how quickly and efficiently you can travel. Running through a train station with a backpack, a purse, two suitcases, and a cup of coffee is something that no one wants to deal with (I’ve been there!). Try to limit yourself to a backpack and a suitcase, or whatever you are comfortable lugging around town with you. Think about excess baggage charges on trains/planes when choosing the size of your suitcase.
Things to leave at home
- Anything that holds sentimental value that would be devastating to lose
- Your social security card, or any other cards (credit, membership, etc.) that you won’t be using while abroad
- Anything that may be considered a weapon (e.g. pocket knife, pepper spray)
- Large handbags or fanny packs – not as safe as cross-shoulder purses or money belts
- Hair dryers, curling irons, or straighteners – if necessary, you can purchase these items once you arrive on site. Outlets and voltages vary country to country, so your electric devices may not work while abroad
Things to pack in your carry-on
Recommended to use a backpack that can be used later as your bag for day trips
- Travel documents*
- Passport & State ID*
- Credit card/ATM card*
- Health insurance information*
- List of contact information, including phone numbers and addresses (parents, Overseas Office, in-country contact, program leader, host family/residence hall)*
- Airline ticket/reservation confirmations*
- Laptop & charger
- Playing cards
- Prescription medications in their original containers and doctors’ notes
- Change of clothes
- $150-$250 in local currency
*Make a copy of these documents, and keep the copy in a separate place (checked suitcase) just in case.
- Necessary or recommended clothing will depend on program location and length of stay. Use your best judgment in determining the number of items you bring, but remember that less is more! There will be opportunities to purchase items that you really need, and packing less initially cuts down the weight of your bags and leaves space for you to bring items home that you collect along the way.
- Make sure to look into the weather of your study abroad location, and if you’re doing a full year program keep weather changes in mind. Items that can be layered are good for multiple seasons.
- Bring items that can be easily mixed and matched, items that don’t require special laundering, and items that aren’t particularly bulky.
- Well-rounded, but simplistic wardrobe (number of each item would depend on program location/climate) – for example:
- Pants (3)
- Shorts (1)
- Dress/skirt, at least one should cover the knees (2)
- Tank top/under shirt (3)
- T-shirts (6)
- Long sleeved shirts (2)
- Sweater/sweatshirt (1-2)
- Raincoat (1)
- Socks & Underwear – brings some wool socks too if you’re going somewhere with colder weather
- Pajamas (2)
- Swimsuit (1-2)
- Dress-up outfit (at least 1, possibly more if your program requires a business-casual wardrobe to internships/volunteer programs)
- Pack comfortable, sturdy shoes. Regardless of where you are traveling, you will be walking A LOT.
- Having waterproof shoes is always a good idea.
- One pair of shoes for special occasions
- Sneakers, especially if you plan on playing a sport or working out
- Electric converter/transformer and adapter
- The adapter allows you to fit the plug from your US device into an outlet that is not the same shape, but a converter is necessary if the current also differs.
- Small first aid kit
- Gift from home for your hosts (homestay)
- Mementos/photos from home
- These will provide a sense of comfort for you, and those you meet while abroad might enjoy seeing these little tokens
- A couple of good books. If on a program with a group of LC students, try to coordinate bringing different books to swap during your time abroad together
- Luggage tag – include your permanent address as well as your in-country address
- Toiletries – purchase full sized products once you arrive on site when possible
- Small first aid kit
- Glasses/Contact lenses and solution
- Mini shampoo/conditioner
- Feminine products