Packing for study abroad

The Ultimate Guide: How to Pack for Study Abroad

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Right, it’s time for you to pack your whole life into a luggage or two and start your new journey. But the question is how to pack for study abroad wisely?

You have gone through all the difficult steps towards studying abroad, from motivation essay to interview and visa. Now trust me, it’s the fun part, but really important though.

So what do you pack and do what you leave behind? The weight allowed is limited and you want to make sure you don’t forget and regret anything.

Normally, you will be allowed to bring 1 checked baggage, 1 carried on and 1 backpack. I know some airlines might allow more, but let’s just assume that. 

Here is the ultimate guide on how to pack for study abroad for you.

White and grey luggage with 3 smaller bags for study abroad

What to pack

1. Checked baggage

  • Big and heavy clothes (Jackets, hoodies, sweatpants, jeans…)
    Often, it is allowed to weigh from 30kg to 40kg depending on the airline, so I always put the big and heavy clothes there. That’s just common sense. Remember to fold, roll or press, do whatever it takes to take as little space as possible
  • Towel
    This will be a big towel, like a shower towel. It’s quite heavy so yes, stuff it right in there.
  • Shoes (stuff some socks inside)
    I always pack about 3 pair of shoes. 1 pair for daily use, like the most comfortable one. 1 pair of running shoes, to do sports (if you don’t do sports, you should start doing it). And 1 pair for special occasion, like the one that look so good you might kill whoever stepping on it.
  • Swimsuit
    Yeah, you definitely should pack swimsuit. Unless you despise swimming or going to the beach.
  • Medicine
    Is this like an Asian thing? All of my Asian friends always brought Chinese medicine with them. You’ll never know when you need it, but for sure you will. Going to a new country with different weather will make you sick easily and going to the hospital before you settle down is not a good idea.
  • Extension Cord
    Trust me, you will definitely need this.
  • Indoor slippers
    This will make you feel comfortable the moment you move into your new place.
  • Cold weather gear (mitten, scarf,…)
  • Journal
    Yeah you might wanna write down your experience, thoughts and impression. Beside, you will make lots of beautiful memories there so make sure you save them.
  • Spice, snacks and food from home
    For the first few days when you don’t know where to cook, eat or do grocery. Also, for those days when you miss home.
  • If you still have more kg, big bottles of shampoo,  shower gel and deodorant,…
    I know people say these are not necessary because you will buy them there. But if you still have extra kg, I think you should because it will save you all the confusion of which product to use and it might save you money too.

2. Carried on baggage

This is the baggage that you will have to carry with you to the airplane along with your backpack. And it’s often allowed 7 to 12kg depending on the airline

I always put things that are handy and small here because I don’t wanna carry heavy stuff with me.

  • Toiletries all in one small bag
    toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, razors, nail clippers, small bottles of shampoo, deodorant,… I always put all those small things in a toiletries bag so I won’t lose them. 
    Unless your flight is a long one that is either overnight or lasts ages and you need to use your toothbrush, just keep this bag in the carried-on baggage, or else, put it in your backpack
Travel toiletries in clear plastic bag packed for study abroad
  • Small clothes items
    light T-shirts, skirts, dresses, shorts,…
    Like I said, it shouldn’t be too heavy so I would put light clothes in.
  • International adapter
    You’ve gotta do some research to see which adapter to use in the destination country. But I would say just buy an international adapter which has every kind of adapter in one.
  • Laptop and chargers
    People often put their laptop in the backpack, which will make it twice as much heavier to carry. I always leave it in the carried on baggage so I can just drag it instead.
  • Underwears (2 week worth)
  • Feminine products
    If you are a female, don’t forget this. It’s always better to be prepared while you settle down in the new country full of new and foreign products. Especially if you’re traveling to a non English speaking country.

3. Backpack

This is the one bag that you will have to put under your seat inside the plane. I would put the most essential items here, items that I will need to all the time during my travel like passport, phone and phone charger

But trust me, you don’t want this bag to be heavy at all. Nothing is worse than carrying a heavy bag walking around the airport with 2 other luggage.

  • Important documents
    Maybe you need to bring a copy of your Letter of Acceptance or something like that to show at the border control. Keep those documents ready in your backpack so it’s easiest to reach.
  • Passport and Boarding pass
  • Wallet (Money, ID Card, Credit Card)
  • A book to read on the plane (unless you have Kindle)
    I always bring a book to read on the plane or at the airport, just to kill time.

What not to pack

  • Hangers
    No you don’t need it. Or at least it’s not urgently necessary on first few days of arrival. They just make your luggage heavier and harder to pack.
  • Hair dryer and curling iron
    For people who are going where the voltage is different, leave these items home. I know you wanna look good but even if you use the voltage converter, they will still fry. The best is to buy new ones once you get there.
  • Brand new clothes
    What I mean is, don’t go buy a bunch of new outfits to prepare for your new journey. I always recommend people to bring clothes that they are comfortable with. 
    Trust me, once you get there, there will be lots more options for you to choose. Or if you still wanna buy new clothes, make sure you completely feel comfortable on those.
  • Too many sentimental items
    Bring a few gifts from your friends in case you miss home. But from my personal experience, I never use them. They always end up dusted in the corner of my bookshelf.
    So don’t pack too many sentimental items, leave them at home.
  • Blanket, pillow,…
    Just don’t pack these please, your dorm will take care of this. You will be fine

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