The hardest about study abroad is figuring out how to pack. You don’t live in this foreign country, so the weather patterns are unfamiliar. You probably don’t dress like the civilians. There’s many things to consider and it’s pretty stressful ngl. Here’s my way of making this stage of the adventure easier:
This might seem trivial, but it’s actually crucial. Study abroad was my first solo trip that incorporated an airport. My professors (Hi Bustos and Park!) stressed that we’re going to be carrying our own bags. Our luggage cannot slow us down. We had a train to catch and they’re very punctual. If we couldn’t easily handle our luggage, it wasn’t the right one for us!
I took this advice seriously because I have noodle arms and being daddy’s girl means that my dad takes care of my luggage. I chose to take a carry-on size suitcase. Yes, you read that right. Carry on size suitcase. Before you follow my footsteps, consider the following:
- Are you going to be in cold weather? We both know big coats and boots will not fit in there with the rest of your clothes.
- Do you have access to a washing machine or laundromat? Yes, it’s legal to repeat parts of an outfit or even whole outfits! If you don’t have access, you need an outfit for every day.
- What’s the length of your trip? My study abroad trip was a month long. Don’t expect to fit a semester worth of clothes in a carry-on suitcase!
- Will you be moving between locations? Ask yourself if you can lug around a 1/3 of your closet without ease.
These are essential questions because they make you think realistically. All parts of traveling should be comfortable. That brings up the next important part of picking your luggage: the quality. There are few things in life that demand excellent quality and luggage is one of them. A good quality bag will have a sturdy handle and stick (I’m so informal lmao but I couldn’t find the official name). You’ll have to be manhandling your bag as you pull it off baggage claim and stuff it into the overhead carry-on bin. The stick comes in handy because your bag will be able to withstand of your luggage full of souvenirs post trip. A good quality bag will also have wheels that turn 360 degrees. Your bag will be able to keep up with little resistance as your run across the airport!
Here’s a list of top suitcases just in case you’re in the market for one. If you’re saving coins to spend shopping on your trip instead, visit your local Ross, Marshall’s or TJ Maxx for affordable name brand suitcase! That’s what I did and it worked out. Just make sure to shop with time if you visit these stores because you’re not always guaranteed to find what you’re looking for the first time.
Fill that suitcase!
Now that chose the appropriate bag for your trip, you can start deciding what you should pack. Similar to when picking luggage, you must consider the weather, the length of your trip and places you’re going to when choosing outfits. Here are some important things to consider once you decide the prior:
- Summer clothing is not the same outside of America. No shade to Americans, but we won’t hesitate to pull out tiny teeny shorts when it’s scorching hot outside. Not everyone thinks like us — in Spain, people kinda just deal with the heat and dress with jeans and knee length shirts. I even saw light dresses. No one really gravitates towards short shorts.
- Dress comfortably. Chances are that your trip will be slammed with activities. You’ll most likely wake up very early, wear that morning outfit until the night and change into a nighttime outfit if you’re not too worn out. Prioritize being comfortable over being fashionable. Find ways to incorporate comfortable walking shoes. Roads are different every where you go, so you must consider your feet. Tie a jacket around your waist because you’ll never know when you’ll encounter an insufferably cold room.
- Pack efficiently. Most people overpack on trips. We get scared we’d forget something and regret it, but we almost never wear all of the extra stuff we bought. Security is important, but being realistic trumps it. The most common advice I came across online pack articles of clothing that can be worn in a variety of ways. Think of the staples in your closet and how you re-wear them in numerous ways. Vacation is a perfect excuse to strut in a new wardrobe, but consider how much space that’ll take up. Remember to leave some space in your bag for souvenirs. Don’t lie to yourself; you will shop when you’re abroad!
If you want outfit ideas, check out Pinterest. Below are a couple of pins I used to guide me and others for popular travel destinations:
These packing guides were extremely helpful for me. I had no idea they existed until I went on Pinterest. It’s convenient to see actual clothes pictured so I know how my closet matches. You don’t have to buy exactly what’s in these images, but it guides if you plan to shop for your trip. The most important to remember is to pack what’s comfortable and your style without offending your host country. If you want to see exactly what I wore during study abroad, check out my France, Spain and Morocco style guides!
Do you have other travel tips for packing? If you need more help, a lot of people film themselves packing and explain why they chose certain items!
Thanks for reading! 💋