I got a few questions asked on my Instagram (follow me @_thepinkchickadee) in the past few months about how I packed for my summers studying abroad back in college. So, for context, I studied abroad when I was in college for a month in Sansepolcro, Italy (a small town in Tuscany about 90 minutes from Florence), London, England (AND stayed in Kensington Square right by the home of Prince William and Kate Middleton of Kensington Palace!!!), and San Ignacio, Belize (a small town located in the rainforest region of Belize AND just steps away from the Cahal Pech Mayan Ruins). I spent a month in both Italy and London and approximately 3 weeks in Belize. That all being said, I learned A LOT about packing and how to pack for being away from home for two months at a time (Italy and London was a back to back month-by-month program) AND living out of one suitcase for it all, too.
Luggage – when it came to luggage, my Dad bought me a set of Caribbean Blue Travel Pro suitcases (a carry on and larger bag to check) when I graduated from high school. That summer after I graduated from high school, I travelled to Bulgaria and Greece for two weeks and my Dad wanted me to have a set of high-quality suitcases for my upcoming travels, as he knew that Bulgaria and Greece would be the first of many trips for me. Indeed, he was NOT wrong – haha! So, that being said, definitely INVEST in high-quality luggage before studying abroad and traveling a ton. I would suggest for study abroad bringing a large enough suitcase under 50 pounds (the challenge for sure) to check and put a smaller duffel bag in that checked bag for weekend trips which you WILL take as well as to HAUL all of the souvenirs that you buy, too – if you’re me then this is necessary. At the same time, definitely get luggage tags, too, so you can easily identify your luggage at ALL times. The same goes for passport covers since every United States passport looks the same on the outside.
Clothing – Research the climate of the place(s) that you are going to be studying abroad in and/or KNOW that you will be visiting while abroad. Study the climate for the approximate dates that you are going to be there (a basic Google search can give you information!). If you are going to London, for example, you may want to bring a pair of rain boots or buy a pair there to save luggage space. Yes, Hunter Boots and Doc Martins ARE cheaper in England than they are here. The same concept goes for leather goods in Tuscany and Longchamp bags across all of Europe. At the same time, be sure to think of some of the outfits that you may want to pack, given the sites that you will be seeing. I know for me, that I like to wear certain things to certain places (such as an elegant dress for a river cruise in Paris) or a shawl and maxi dress to cover my shoulders and knees in an Italian cathedral (as per the dress code there). You also want to bring as many pieces that can be interchangeably styled/worn multiple times and with different things (think along the lines of a capsule wardrobe). For me, that meant a lot of solid tops with printed skirts and both solid and printed dresses. Accessories can ALSO make an outfit unique and are super light, too. Luckily, most home bases for study abroad have laundry facilities which are worthwhile using while there at least on a weekly basis. The following are tips for packing clothing wisely:
- Roll all garments – that way, you can fit more things in your suitcase
- Use packing squares – trust me, they are my best friend when I travel and SO convenient and portable for when packing, too
- Use zippered pouches for non-clothing items, such as jewelry – that way, they are sealed and not visible to the common eye. I usually use my Ipsy pouches, bright The Dollar Tree pouches, and Stoney Clover Lane pouches
- Organize clothing by color, type of garment (e.g. dresses, pants, tops, etc.) – it’ll be MUCH easier to find everything when you unpack everything upon arrival
- Pack anti-wrinkle spray and Tide To Go – so, clothing items that are prone to wrinkling during the trip abroad will be LESS wrinkly when you unpack and hang them up AND all of those wine stains can come out before laundry day approaches
Shoes – In case you didn’t hear it from me, PACK A PAIR OF COMFORTABLE SHOES!!! You will be walking a ton. Whatever those shoes may be for you, make sure they are comfortable BEFORE you leave the country. I bought a pair of Crocs flip flops that I thought would be comfortable, only to wear them throughout two Italian towns and suffering from PLENTY of blisters throughout the day. So, to my surprise, I ended up wearing my already broken in Classic Jacks Jack Rogers sandals. I also regularly wore an adorable classic pair of Elie Tahari flats – sadly, I ripped those to their inner core, but they were beautiful and already broken into while abroad.
Toiletries – This is something that you can easily purchase when you’re actually abroad. Many countries sell the same toiletries or at minimum similar toiletry products to what you can find in the United States. These toiletries include – shampoo, conditioner, makeup remover, soap, body wash, lotion, and much more. Italy has a Lush store that I bought a lot of shower essentials from as well as the grocery store in Sansepolcro and the local convenience store in London known as Boots. I did bring my own makeup products and skincare products, as my skin is sensitive. BUT, I did only bring one versatile eyeshadow palette which was an accomplishment for me for two months. I also brought my own haircare products, too. TRUST ME, all of those toiletries take up a ton of weight in your luggage, so it’s definitely worth just getting what you need while abroad instead and throwing out before you leave (definitely buy what you need for the time you’re there, too).
Technology – Make sure to bring your phone, laptop, headphones, cameras, Air Pods, chargers, cords, plugs, and all other necessary devices while abroad. As for chargers, make sure you buy at least 2 adaptable plugs to the outlets within the country that you’re going to be studying in. EVERY country is different and most outlets differ by continent. My Mom bought me two plugs off of Amazon that I use to this day. Amazon is definitely the way to go to buy, but be sure to look up reviews, too. Definitely pack all technology-related items in your carry on when you board the plane, too.
Medicine – Make sure that you have at least a 90 day supply of all needed medications before you go abroad. Trust me, you never know what could happen and you want to be prepared. I always like to keep my medications in a sealed pouch that is not clear that way nobody knows the medications that I take. At the same time, it’s important to carry a doctor’s note for all prescribed drugs that you are taking, too, because you literally never know when you’ll need it. Put these medications in your carry on when you board the plane as well. ALL 90 days. Trust me.
To read about my study abroad experiences, look no further than the following posts:
- My Month in London: https://pinkchickadee.com/2020/09/05/my-study-abroad-experience-in-london/
- My Month in Sansepolcro: https://pinkchickadee.com/2020/08/06/my-study-abroad-experience-in-tuscany/#/
- My 3 Weeks in Belize: https://pinkchickadee.com/2020/08/22/my-study-abroad-experience-in-belize/
- My Weekend Trip to Florence: https://pinkchickadee.com/2021/08/19/throwback-thursday-my-trip-to-florence-italy/#/
- My Favorite Trips Abroad: https://pinkchickadee.com/2021/10/12/a-lookback-at-my-trips-abroad/
- My Study Abroad Reflection 3 Years Later: https://pinkchickadee.com/2021/08/12/my-study-abroad-reflection-2-years-later/#/
- My Weekend Trip to Paris: https://pinkchickadee.com/2020/07/18/bonjour-a-girls-weekend-in-paris/
Now that you’re packed, it is the time to go live out your study abroad dreams!!
XOXO – Katie <3