Knowing what to pack for your program abroad can seem like a daunting task. Most likely, your program provider or home institution has a list of items they share with participants preparing to go abroad each year. However, this MAY be your first time flying, EVER! And if that’s the case, there are some basic things to keep in mind as you begin packing for your adventure abroad. Additionally, there may be some items that pertain to your identity that will be important to bring with you. With that in mind, here are some of our recommendations for what to pack.
The amount you can pack will vary depending on the airline you travel with, and sometimes the destination as well. Luggage restrictions vary by airline, so be sure to check with yours before you start packing. A few reminders:
In addition, proper packing is more important than ever due to heightened security measures. Check the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website for the most up-to-date information on regulations and screening processes.
There is no perfect formula for deciding what clothes to pack. You are unique, and what you will pack will be different from other students. To help evaluate how much and what kinds of clothing you will need, ask yourself the following questions:
Your answers to these questions will help you decide what kind of clothing will be appropriate for your trip. Use the list below as a starting point for what clothes you will take:
Some products you use at home may not be available abroad. This is particularly true for products specific to your culture. If you think you may have a hard time finding certain products abroad, be sure to pack what you’ll need for the duration of your trip. These may include, but are not limited to:
It’s hard to imagine going abroad without your every day, trusted electronics, such as your cell phone or laptop. As a student, it might be a basic requirement to have a laptop in order to complete homework assignments, or a cell phone to help you navigate your new home.
However, we do not recommend bringing expensive electronic equipment abroad. If you decide to bring electronics - from digital cameras to hair products, you will likely need to pack an outlet converter because the voltage used in other countries differs from the U.S. Here is a suggested list of electronics you might want to pack, as well as considerations for each item:
Unfortunately, even with a converter, your electronics still may not work properly. For many appliances, it’s more convenient and safer to purchase them once you arrive in your host country.
It may be hard to imagine living without the electronics you use everyday, but remember, don’t bring anything you can’t afford to lose.
Many countries will have similar hygiene or medical products that you can buy once you arrive, but depending on where you study, everyday products you take for granted may not be readily available. Here are some suggestions for hygiene and medical products to bring:
If you’re going to study abroad, then you may be required to pack some of the basic items necessary to be a student. Although some of these may be provided to you, or can be easily purchased once you’re in your new country, you may be particular about what you like to use. Regardless, here are some suggestions:
Tips for packing
Now that you have an idea of what to pack, here are some of our basic tips for how to pack. Keep in mind that you may end up buying tons of new clothes or souvenirs for your friends and family back home. You always have the option of buying another suitcase while you’re abroad, but that might not be the most cost-efficient solution. (Especially if you already packed 2 suitcases!). Here are our basic packing tips:
Want additional packing advice? Check out some of our articles:
“I wanted to study Arabic in order to connect with my family, history, religion, and culture. I previously lived and worked in an Arabic-speaking country and wanted to learn Arabic more formally in order to maintain personal and professional...”
American Councils for International Education